Saturday, May 31, 2008

60 lb COBIA!!!
by Robin

We left out at 6:30 this morning and cleared the port by 7:30. We were met by 4 ft waves with 5-7 sec intervals and then a pretty big wind wave to boot which made it feel slightly like being inside a washing machine. We could only chug about 18 mph to our first destination, the weather buoy.

At 100 ft of water depth, we put the trolling lines out, heading east to the buoy. Not long after that, in 115 ft of water, we had our first knock down on the naked ballyhoo. It was a phin (mahi mahi). Good size one! I cleared the lines, moved poles and children as fast as I could. Jack handed the pole to me when he was boatside and then he gaffed him. It turned out to be a 16 lb bull dolphin! Jack's first bull.

Lines go back out, heading to the buoy when we make a couple passes. Another naked ballyhoo gets hit and after a good battle, I bring a beafy barracuda boatside. Jack cuts the wire and releases him. I'm sure the barracuda was in the 15 lb range. Beautiful, teethy fish, but toxic to eat.

Lines go in again and we begin to troll down to our first bottom fishing location about 5 mi away. By this time, the waves are doing a number on my pbj sandwich and so up it comes. So much for ginger pills to settle the tummy. A little while later, my youngest starts vomiting too. Not fun. Our eldest, so is our known vomiter, is comatose in his beanbag chair.

Finally, we get a hit on one of the lines. I take the pole because Jack wants me to feel the fight of a big fish. I reel and reel. We can see the fish about10 or so feet below the boat. It looks to be about the size of Jack's mahi. It made a couple runs and finally, it pulled the hook out of its mouth. No fish. Awww.... Sometimes this happens even when no mistakes are made on the part of the angler.

We start bottom fishing on a couple of numbers that Jack's friend gave him. Nothing, nobody home. My nausea is growing again and so I have to hang my head over the side of the boat again. At this point, the only thing that helps me is to totally lay across the cooler and close my eyes. I have no strength. Seasickness is like kryptonite to Superman. It can take down the best of men (and women).

So, Jack is driving and fishing! On the 3rd or 4th bottom hole, his "Grouper" hole, he drops down a sardine. I'm thinking this is about 90 ft of water but I can't be certain due to seasickness. Whack! His pole gets bent to the gunnel. After a lot of grunting, he pulls up a huge Warsaw beast! He was as big as our net! Jack had to help me lift the net over the side of the boat. He weighed in at 25 lbs.

Our eldest is sleeping in his bean chair and calls out, "What's going on?" I said to him, "You might want to turn over and look at the fish laying next to you." Boy, was he shocked.

Now, my adrenalin is pumping and seasickness is slightly better. Jack goes back over the spot and I drop down some sardines. I keep getting short Snapper. Good fight but all had to be released to grow to 20". So, I drop again and get a good head shake like a snapper. It's coming up easy and I say to Jack, "I'm sure it's a 15" snapper." Well, I no sooner saw a flash 20' or so under the boat and the thing spooks for the bottom. The reel is singing. I'm holding on for dear life. Jack loosens the drag some and I give him the pole. The fish comes up and goes down a couple times. I had to give Jack 2 bottles of water during this fight.

Finally, a beast pops up 30 ft behind the boat, surfacing like a shark. The pressure is off, right? I grab the camera to snap the large shark picture. As I'm putting the camera back Jack CALMLY says, "It's a cobia." Being June Cleaver, I say, "Oh sure honey, good joke...."

I take a 2nd look and.......... oh my........... it's the largest cobia I've ever seen in my entire life!!!!!! He tries to make a couple more dives but the fish is as tired as Jack. I took the pole another time and he dives again. Jack has to bring him up. I get the pole again and Jack grabs the gaff.

He gets a clean shot, but now, to heave. I pull the head w/ the line and Jack gets the body (poor thing) We all practically lay on the boat floor in exhaustion. Nobody moves for the first few minutes. I'm looking at this things head in disbelief. What if he decides to come to life and fight putting him in the cooler? I decided to tail rope him. This is no easy feat. The first time, the tail came up and barely brushed across my face. The 2nd time, I got quite the good smack in the mouth but at least I got him.

Ok....... so now we got him "hogtied" & gaffed. He's not happy. Sixty pounds of not happy fish in the boat can be bad. When trying to help speed things along, our knife broke. Thankfully, nobody got hurt by the flying blade. (God is so good!) Another 5 min later, we are able to finally get him into the cooler. It's a tight fit but he's in.

We dropped a couple more times for a keeper snapper in various locations but gave up. We headed 18 miles in to home. We were stopped at the mouth of the port to allow a sub to pass through. Interesting.

I couldn't even lift the cobia up for the pictures. It is a personal best cobia for our boat and us. I'll probably add more pictures later. Here's what I got so far (downsized). My biggest cobia before this was only 22 lbs. I'm 5'1" and this cobia was nearly as tall as me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The APPLE....
by Robin

They say the apple never falls very far from the tree. It's true.

Here, Dad and I are outside fileting the mahi that I brought up from our local waters. We had a very wonderful & fresh seafood dinner on Thurs night.

Mom steamed some mahi and Chilian sea bass while Jack grilled the other side of mahi for the boys. (I bought a whole 5 lb fish.) Then, Mom made basmati white rice and sauteed spinach. Then, the meal was completed with a Hong Kong style sauce, which had ginger & soy sauce as two of the ingredients. It melted in our mouths. Mom is a great cook. We enjoy sharing recipes, especially fish ones.
by Robin
I'm a bit short on time, so I'll mostly give labels. These pics are taken at my parent's lake house. On Friday, we spent the afternoon playing on the canoe, paddle and row boats. Afterwards, we did a little fishing before we had to run out to a dinner date with friends in another city.

Mom and Dad in the row boat first, while......

Jack and our youngest were in the canoe.

My oldest son took me for a paddle boat ride. I ended up doing a lot of the pumping after a while. He later took a liking to the canoe, making solo runs & taking his brother around.

The water level is very far down in Lake Lanier, even though it is back on the rise. All these rocks should be under water.

After all this fun, it was time to put some worms on the hooks and fish. Nana had a secret bass hole that she was sharing with her grandsons.

If you click to enlarge this, you'll see that both boys caught (double hook-up) Lrg Mouth Bass, not at Nana's spot but around the corner from it.

The boys also caught a couple of these. I'm not sure which type of catfish this is, but they're all notorious for dangerous spines in their fins.

Then for a couple of us, there was the long walk back up the hill. A "Green Mile" for some of us that are very out of shape. Little man is encouraging me. FYI - this is only about 1/6 of the trail back up, but it is the steepest part. My heart was already pounding through my chest. I pretended I needed a picture but what I really needed was angioplasty.
It looks like we may be offshore on Friday. Seas are suppose to be 1-2 ft. We're hoping to put some mahi and bottom fish in the freezer. With gas going up, we've got to make the most of every trip.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

by Robin

Nope, but we sure did see some foreign creatures.

I hope to be posting some fishing pictures again soon. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend on the water. Remember, safety first!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

by Robin

No, it just looks that way. We're on vacation this holiday weekend.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 16, 2008

by Robin

We left off last with us in the heart of the channel. We passed all the tourny boats waiting to go home. We passed this under-construction dry storage building. Oh...... and Jack is trying to park Mike's 32' Luhrs between two multi-million dollar yachts.

I went to the front of the boat to throw the docklines to whomever would receive them. I was so totally freaked out about Jack's having to park this boat, I didn't catch a picture of the tight spot he had to hit. Parallel parking in high school was a piece of cake compared to this.

I did however, manage to take a picture of the 4 kids who had climbed back in the tower to get a great view of Jack's parking the boat. If you look closely in the window, Jack is turning the wheel and concentrating on the task at hand.

So, Jack is headed totally straight into the center of the open dock area at what seems to be way too much speed for my comfort level. If I hadn't had squid & ballyhoo smell all over my hands, I would have chewed my nails down.
I'm restraining myself as we're less than 10-15' from the dock's edge and Jack hits the reverse throttle. Then somehow, he manages to have a mixture of momentum and slight engine pressure to make it turn 90 deg to the left, pivoting on the nose. Just another slight bump in forward motion and we've slid exactly between these boats! I was speechless. Honestly, I had no idea that my husband had such a way with large boats. It was it was on the edge of dangerous & sexy mixed into one. I was proud, for sure; but honestly, it was down-right James Bond sexy. It was smooth. It was stylish. It was....... amazing. If strutting was allowed on docks, I'm sure he would have done it. He was beaming when he looked at me.

Above is the boat that was to our backside. It had gorgeous teak/gold (brass?) chairs on the middle deck. Below is the 50+ foot yacht to our left (there were some odd angles on the dock. It's hard to understand from the pic below- so just trust me). Also, the 3rd center console boat was gone by the time I took these last 2 photos. So imagine just one more boat between us and the yacht below.

The 15 minutes that we were there, we saw both the owners of these boats get out and talk with each other. I was pretty sure that they both had eaten caviar on crackers, sipping champagne, for dinner appetizers.
Ok....... so from here on out, we have to hustle because fueling finished at 5:15 and marina gates closed at 5:30! We had 15 min to get the boat forklifted out of the water, things unloaded into our trucks & suv and then move them out of the gate before it locked.
Somehow, we managed to do this feat. Then, we spent another hour washing down the boat before parting. Jack had an all-day craving for fried chicken so I picked him up a box on the way home and I got myself some Chinese food. Between chips, lemonade and Chinese food, I swelled up huge and my fingers were numb. (Must. eat. healthier. on. fishing. trips!)
Maybe over the weekend, I'll show you the pictures that Jack took for me while I was picking up my Chinese food. He's a real comedian.
Happy Fishing Y'all. We probably won't be fishing this weekend or next. Lots of commitments.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

by Robin

We left off a couple days ago while we were all catching red snappers. Helen was pretty happy about her luck bottom fishing. I think Mike liked it too but maybe trolling is more his thing.

After we were all finished up with fishing, it was time to call the kids out of the tower. It's like their own mini-fort in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They sure do enjoy themselves up there. (Excuse the water blurb there.)

My eldest climbs down. It may look like an easy feat but trust me, it is not. By the time you add in wave rocking, speed which the boat is traveling, wet or salty hands and pure end-of-the-day exhaustion, it can be a challenge.

It scares me to death to see my little one travel up & down but he's been very blessed so far to still maintain his death grip. One thing worse than going up & down the ladder while on the ocean.....going up & down the ladder while it sits on the shipyard blocks, after soaping & hosing down all the boat parts. I, all-of-a-sudden, got a huge fear of getting down the steps after I was all wet & sudsy in the tower. My heart fluttered and I had an adrenalin rush. The only reason why I'm still not up there today is because I didn't want my family to laugh at me.
Ok, back to the story, ..... son comes down ladder, son bends over side of boat, son proceedes to barf. I hate feeling to helpless in making his seasickness disappear. After it was out of his system, we sat down together and snuggled. I'm so glad he still snuggles at 11.5 yrs. I took this self-portrait of us.

Twenty miles and 50 minutes later, we make it to the mouth of Port Canaveral. Oh..... home port never looked so good. It had been close to 12 hrs on the water at this point. We passed 2 ships on the way in. Behind my son is the Disney cruise ship.

Once we clear the jetty rocks and we start getting into the heart of the channel, we have a No Wake zone. This one isn't for manatees, but rather because they want no horsing around while recreation boats are loading/unloading, cruisers are going by and commercial fishing boats are also thrown into the mix.
Below is a picture of our approach to the docks that we would have normally used IF we fished in our own boat. There were stories told that it took people 2 hrs to go from boat to loading because of the long tourny lines. I wish I had some ability for a wide-angle lens. This is a fraction of the boats waiting.

Here is another view looking back. Each white speck you see is another boat. It was insane. This is why we hate to fish Sat/ Sun.

We arrived back at the marina fuel dock about 5pm. There are 2 multi-million dollar yachts & a center console already tied up. Jack approached the dock perpendicular to parking it. It was the only way to fit a 32' boat in a space about 37' long.
I was scared to death but I held in my urges to scream as I sat on the front of Mike's boat, holding the dock line. ........ to be continued.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I interrupt the Tourny saga to bring you this joke........ (not an issue at my house. LOL)

A husband and wife came for counseling after 20 years of marriage.When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a passionate,painful tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the 20 years they had been married.She went on and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness,loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list ofunmet needs she had endured over the course of their marriage.

Finally, after allowing this to go on for a sufficient length of time,the therapist got up, walked around the desk and after asking the wife to stand, embraced and kissed her passionately as her husband watched with a raised eyebrow. The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze.

The therapist turned to the husband and said, 'This is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do this?'The husband thought for a moment and replied, 'Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I fish.'

Monday, May 12, 2008

REAPING some HARVEST - Gal 6:9 con't.

As I wrote earlier, Jack decided it was time to switch up the game plan. Helen had never caught a snapper before in her life. Jack brought along his hand-held GPS to mark numbers as we went over bottom that looked good while trolling.

When trolling produced nothing, Jack looked up some spots near our location that could produce some snapper fun. The first spot was the location where Jack and Bill pulled up this monster -Warsaw Grouper

As soon as we put poles in the water and baits hit the bottom, we were getting action. It wasn't a 30 lb grouper, but it was something. Fun.
I was the first one hit. 17" Red Snapper. Legal size is 20". Released.

Then Helen's daughter gets the next one. She is pretty pleased with herself but disappointed we have to release it.

Helen between her fish.

This is Helen's first red snapper - ever!

It was pretty evident to Jack that no large groupers were home but only small red snappers. We moved 2 mi over to another snapper hole. In this particular area, there is a wide area of good bottom debris. I think some sort of ship has broken up over time and the debris has spread with each hurricane. After hurricane season, we'll go to a known wreck and it won't be exactly there any more.

We called the kids out and let them continue fighting fish at spot #2. Again, a double hook-up, which is common with snapper.

My son pulled in one but then retreated to the tower. He doesn't do well with smelling the diesel fumes.
Here's Mike and Helen's son who pulled up his snapper. This was part of a triple hook-up. I didn't catch a pic of his fish, but Helen did.
I had turned around to see these two fighting their fish. My youngest grunted and fought this thing all the way to the top. It gives me giggles to watch him work so hard.......

.... for this snapper.
Eventually, all the kids went back up the tower to watch Helen and I fish. I took my youngest's light action spinning rod. I've always heard fishermen say that the bigget fish will take the lightest line. It ended up being true. I had hot pole of for the next while. This snapper was 19.5". Just shy 1/2 " of the legal limit. I also caught another 18" right after this.

We also pulled up some black sea bass and 1 trigger during our time at this hole. It sure was a lot of fun inspite of having nothing in the cooler. The sea bass and trigger were keepers but not big enough to bother with the mess.

Stay tuned for the ride home.........

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9
I last left off with Carnival Glory passing by us as we were about to clear the port entrance. I think we were already cruising at 22 mph aboard the Mabuhay (Philippino name) when I took this next photo. Sun had risen but was still hiding behind these clouds.
We spent the next couple of hours in cloud cover & haze after we set the trolling lines out at the Weather Buoy. We headed due east for the next several miles. There isn't much for a kid to do during this time, so we see a lot of sleeping bodies laying around. I wish I had taken more pics.
There were a couple times the boys were sleeping together on this chair. The other side was pre-occupied by a G-I-R-L, which is a bad word in my guys' minds. LOL. Not only was she a girl, but she had a stuffed animal in her hands. I tell you what, she could even fish with that thing in her hands!!
Anyhow, back to the story.....

Captain Jack loves to drive a boat and he sure got his fill of it on Saturday. His legs probably fell asleep if it wasn't for the fact that sometimes he'd go up the ladder to drive it from the top. I don't have a lot of pictures from when it was cloudy in the Gulfstream because I was incapacitated by wave action that sent me to chum the waters. I don't do 6 ft seas, even with ginger on my tummy.
Fishermen actually love to laugh at you when this happens and then thank you for chumming up the fish. Jack and Mike were actually pretty kind to me. Helen didn't want to know, as she was preventing a chain-reaction. LOL.
We topped out at 410 ft depth (40 mi out) but Jack brought us back in to 200 ft (out of the Gulfstream), into 3-4 ft waves. That's when I took this picture.
So, works. It did chum up a mahi. It took the far back flat line, making numerous jumps. Here is Helen putting the fighting belt on Mike. He made quick work of getting it up to the boat. Sadly, Jack went to gaff the fish at the same time it was eager to make one last dive. Basically, the gaff acted like a dehooker (removes the hook from the mouth) and the fish was released and swam away. A legal catch but it sure is hard to weigh in a fish that swims away.

After much jesting about that fish, there was nothing left to do but put the lines out again. We had some fish steal our ballyhoo but no official knock-downs to give us a good fight.

It was a gorgeous day on the water and plenty of blue water everywhere we looked, but no activity on top. Above, you can see the water is laying down to a near-flat look. Soon after I took this, Mike decides to change scenery. We did troll another area south, but we still had no fish for our efforts.

That's when Jack decided to switch up the game plan...... (to be continued)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!

Let me continue with the tourny news....

We did not win anything, but we were so blessed to have safety and fun. I also have a few stories for you that will unfold over the next few days, as time allows.

Who thinks of sunblock and sunglasses at 4am? Not me. That's why it is all packed up in a backpack the night before. (Funny enough, I did manage to shower and put some makeup at 4:30am.)
Honestly, I didn't even think of it at 6am when this photo was taken. Dead center of this picture of the Carnival Glory coming into port. It was emerging from some fog with it's lights glowing. In real life, it was very cool, almost eerie.

Here you can see it a little bigger. Sorry the picture isn't crystal clear. My camera wasn't loving the low light. As you can see, there are plenty of tourny boats ahead of us. Dawn is breaking or almost breaking over the horizon.

Here she is as she passes us. Nothing makes you feel small like being next to a cruise ship.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the morning of the tourny news.

Happy Fishing,


Friday, May 09, 2008

by Robin

We will be getting up at 4am, at the port at 5am, hopefully in the water soon after that, then competing in the Dodge Offshore Tournament. Because the entry fee is $0, everybody and their brother will be out there to compete as long as they are registered. My job is to make some egg salad & pbj sandwiches, fill water bottles, ice down sodas, get sunblock & chips corralled, poles & tackle piled at the front door, etc. Jack is likely heading down to the Captain's meeting with Mike (Captain of the boat we're fishing on) in a little while.

Please pray and wish us safety first. Tournaments like this (i.e. free) draw out some people lacking respect and knowledge. It will be a zoo at the docks and probably running all over each other's territory on the Atlantic ocean. Some Captains are very professional, but others aren't. This is why we usually don't fish Saturday/Sundays.

Secondly, we want God's will be done. Winning would be fantastic but fun is mainly our objective. Catching fish is great, but if we don't have a hero, we'll stay out and fish until dark. If we have a hero, we come in at 4pm to weigh-in the beast.

This is our family's 1st tournament. Oh, we aren't fishing in our boat, but w/ our friend's bigger boat. There will be 4 children on board. Again, safety is our biggest importance.Hopefully, next time I get on here, I'll have some results for you. Pictures are guaranteed unless my camera falls a couple hundred feet down to the ocean floor.

Edited to Add (ETA): As we ran our afternoon errands on Merritt Island, we saw numerous offshore boats at gas pumps and being toted around the roads. People are getting ready!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

by Robin

It was an amazing day. I woke up. I was alive and healthy. Saw my lovely family. Did some light shopping. I pull in the driveway to see our Mako, First Choice, hooked up to the suburban.

Since we won't be together for Mother's Day, this was my special lunch out. Ahhh, a man after my own heart. We put 'in' at the local docks. Again, it was a beautiful day. Sun was out, wind was blowing and sailboaters were peppered all over the place. I find it interesting every single time we pass one from Canada or New England. They really get around. This is a good one to click & enlarge.

I had the best time just taking in the sun's warmth and taking pictures. I even took one of my feet. I don't know why, but I do this a lot, even if I don't blog it. (It's such an amazing day - this may be the only picture I like of my legs. LOL)

Anyhow, we went through another channel that eventually takes you to the port & out to the Atlantic Ocean. We saw this abandoned building which could probably tell so many stories if it could talk. It sits just west of Sea Ray boats on the Bee-line.

My chauffeur was this handsome man.

We entered Harbortown Marina for lunch. The restaurant is called Nautical Spirits. They serve good seafood and fries. The first and only other time we went there was the weekend before we tore the boat apart for the makeover. Part of Jack's thinking was to finally get some after shots from the same angle as some of his before shots on his screensaver.

Here I am washing down the back for pictures. Pretty in Pink. Btw, they're coming out with pink rod & reels for lady fishermen now.

Anyhow, we all had a great meal. We look like tourist with taking pictures. That is a sailfish mount in the background. My guys all smiled so nicely.
Jack had fish tacos. They make the BEST! He walked away very full.

Son #1 had bacon-wrapped shrimp. In his mind, this is the ultimate combination of good foods. He's so lucky he doesn't have to watch his cholesterol.

Son #2 had chicken wings which he ate but claimed they were too spicy. I had a grilled mahi sandwich. While they did a very good job, I'm terribly spoiled with Jack's recipe. Nothing beats grandma's.... er...... Jack's.

Before leaving the marina, we walked the docks to look at the boats. A man was running some fresh water off his boat and it attracted a young manatee. Isn't he adorable? Click to enlarge him. Those are his nostrils taking in a deep breath.

Next, we headed back home. I got to enjoy my view from the pulpit. Little man showered me with Mother's Day kisses.....

.... while this handsome ladies' man drove us home.

It was such an enjoyable day. The adjustments that were made to the trim tab switches and raising the engine one notch all worked out well. Now the engine isn't dragging in the water any more.

(For those that love #'s, we ran 27 mph at 4700 rpm's today. Pre-makeover, we were running 27 mph at 4800-4900 rpms. We should be even more fuel efficient now.)

Happy Fishing Y'all. Looks like we're fishing in the tournament on Saturday. Look for a good report that day.