Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ummmm...... No FISH
by Robin

If you ever happen to see me announce a fishing day and then 2 days go by with no pictures.... um, ..... there's no fish. Sometimes we call it a skunking.

Well, actually there were barracuda and kingfish caught but Jack took no pictures and didn't give me hardly any information other than the water was dirty & green very far out. Green water = kings & barracuda. I think he pulled in a barracuda. Gave his portion of the kingfish meat away.

Weather held out pretty nice. Today, we had a nice Gustav band all the way up here. It was a quick wind & rain that ended as soon as it got started.

Jack said that the company was good. They guys enjoyed hanging out together outside of work.

I don't think the seas will be fishable in the near - future thanks to Hannah (primarily) and Gustav. Next time seas & money coincide, I'll be going.......... and there WILL be fish pictures.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

by Robin

Looks like a crew of guys from Jack's work are all getting together and heading offshore tomorrow in Mike's boat. Seems like a lot of fishermen are either not fishing or sharing in gas expenses. We're praying for good weather to hold out as long as possible and then also for when it hits, not to have lightening involved.

I'm missing fishing but tomorrow isn't a good day for me. Too many other prior obligations (i.e. schooling) & I'm still dealing with some fibromyalgia pain. Jack will just have to pull them in for me (& take pictures).

Today, we skipped our original plans of Sea World and ended up putt-putting at Pirate's Cove in Orlando. We learned so much about Blackbeard's life as we walked around the course. Then, we had an early dinner at Margaritaville at City Walk (by Universal Studios). The guys were craving "Cheeseburgers in Paradise." I had salad and conch soup. We had a cool booth, sitting under rods & reels & fake outriggers filled with fishie flags. Lots of atmosphere in there. They even have a timed volcano go off twice during your meal. Lights flickers & you hear thundering noises, much like it does at the Rainforest Cafe. Orlando has some really interesting stuff in their restaurants to attrack tourists. I don't know how often will eat there but I'm willing to try new places that involve fish replicas and lots of saltwater character.

Happy Fishing and don't forget to check back in to see what Jack caught.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

by Robin

First, let me preface my story to say that I can find only one true species of sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus; however, I tend to see two, sometimes three, differences as I check out the web.... Atlantic Sailfish and the Indo-Pacific Sailfish. There seems to be a lot of controversy over this species because of the variation of weight & color depending on what coast they're found on. (copyrighted pictures of baby sailfish from the FL Museum of Natural History)

This article will explain more on sailfish characteristics and I love the picture at the end of a white sailfish, which is a first for me. Not a true albino but definitely white with some blue flecking.
Now onto my story:

Here is the sailfish that we caught last month. He weighed approx 65 lbs. We had only one line out as we just started trolling. He slashed the naked ballyhoo with his sword a couple times before Jack free-spooled the line out since it wasn't hooked up to an outrigger yet. That gave the sailfish enough time to go back for what he thought was dead kill still in the water and swallow it. We were trolling in approx 90 ft of water, east of Port Canaveral.

Anyhow, the colors were vivid as he lit up for the fight. It took only 10 minutes for us to bring him to the boat. I took hold of the business end, which was crazy but I'm thoroughly proud of myself for not wimping out and begging Jack to handle it for me.

I learned many new things during this experience. First, breath deep and don't panic. If you lose it, ok so you lost it. You were going to release it anyhow. Secondly, when Jack says to catch up with the fish before he gets spooled (loses all the line on the reel), that doesn't mean to hit the throttles at full speed, turn on a dime and nearly toss Jack out of the boat. It really means, bump it in gear and slowly turn the boat towards the fish as Jack reels line in as humanly fast as possible. Don't outrun your angler's ability to reel. ha ha.

Third, give the fish plenty of time to chill out & get done jumping. This ol' boy gave me two heart attacks as he decided to jump back up at the same time as my intent was to bend over and grab his bill. Fishermen have been gored before and I didn't want to be on that statistics list.

Fourth, grab that sword and don't let go as if (and it does!) your life depends on it. He's going to shake so just know that ahead of time. If you've followed my 3rd point, this should shorten your time shaking and lessen the risk of injury. This of this act as if you're the late Steve Irwin jumping on a gator's back, covering the eyes. Once you grab it, you're committed. Hesitancy and indecisiveness will kill or injure you. If you have the least bit of doubt, don't do it.

Fifth, after your fishing partner grabs the tail (this may take a couple attempts as well) and you lift the fish up for great photo ops, don't attempt to lay the fish in the floor of the boat. While I don't advocate yelling at your spouse, I'm very glad Jack yelled to stop me before I let go of that bill. We throw every other fish on the cockpit floor to catch our breath & wear them out; but, this is one that would be tricky to recatch. Maybe, .........possibly, deadly to you and possibly deadly to the fish.

While I'm on the subject of killing a sailfish, the rumor goes like this. You are allowed to legally take one sailfish per boat, as long as you report it to the "authorities" as soon as you dock your boat. My sport fish book says to not take one home unless you've inadvertently killed it. However, in the world of fishing, many recreational fishermen are conservationist-at-heart and know billfish numbers are dwindling. They have set a personal standard for catch & releasing these fish without having government limits put in place. It makes me feel pretty good about the sport & my community of fellow anglers. So, we don't handle the fish harshly, take pictures quickly and then release after reviving it in the water.

In this pic, I'm about to put its mouth under the water to run the water through the gills. Jack has lightly bumped the boat in gear to gently force water through, not drown it. It takes less than 30 seconds if the fish isn't too exhausted and then they take off swimming.

Finally, give plenty of high-5's to your crew. You only have moments to share this rare experience. When I was reviving this fish, I really didn't want to let go of the moment or the fish. What a magnificient and majestic creature, uniquely formed and brilliant in color. I wanted to study it, gaze at it, touch it and make it my own. But, his home is the open ocean. It's a bit like that butterfly that you have to set free if you love it, only more dramatic. You can see butterflies at sanctuaries. I've never seen a sailfish at an aquarium. It's a special gift to see one up close. I imagine people who go to Africa and see wild animals or those who dive with Great Whites must feel the same way I do. You're blessed to see one and you're more blessed if they don't kill you in the process of seeing them. It's a special appreciation and deep respect for God's creation.

Here is a sailfish caught in Costa Rica by a customer of Jack's. Look at the size of that big daddy!! He is a deep-dark coloration and a solid 30-40 lbs more than our fish. Look at that sail!

Here is one more photo of another sailfish around Costa Rica that has the same coloration but much larger than our fish. I'm guess at least another foot or two larger. I'd love to one day fish the Caribbean waters.
Happy Fishing!!
Looks like Jack may be fishing with Mike on Friday. I'm staying behind because of appointments. Hurricane Gustav will probably ruin the waters after that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

by Robin
This is what fishermen do in the off time.

by Robin

We still have power at this point. Fay's eye wall is very close to moving off of us after sitting over our area, near our area, skiriting totally around our area for over a day & a half. We had 5"+ of rain last night. My rain jar overflowed. I emptied it at 11am and will be able to judge how much is still coming when I report tonight.
We saw about 20 power trucks head down US 1. Yeah!! Power is very spotty and I suppose a lot of that has to do with limbs down. Praise God there hasn't been a lot of lightning, heavy winds or structural damage with Fay. Below is a series of video & photos that were taken mostly this morning when we took a small outing to check out the local & neighboring community. Thank you everyone who has emailed or called to check on us. Looking at the radar is much more intimidating than actually riding out the storm. Of course, I say this as a woman who has not lost power. I may not be as chipper had God not kept our power on. (Thinking of that hymn, "There is power, power, wonder-working power, in the blood, of the Lamb!...") So, I'll let you enjoy these pics for now. Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

FAY - day 2
by Robin

We had a pretty nice day considering a Tropical Storm was sitting on top of us. Not much rain or wind until 3pm. Then, it slowly picked up but nothing to bat an eyelash at. Here it is 8:45 pm and we're hearing big gusts & rain coming down in buckets. The backside of Fay is finally kicking us in the hiney as she leaves our area. Of course, Fay is stalled in her tracks, so she's going to continue to rotate to our north while we sit in the wall of the eye.

The biggest blessing out of this evening's events is that Melbourne (30-45 min south of me) is finally done with rain for a while. They're having the worst time with street flooding & backed up sewer. The city was asking that folks don't take baths, do dishes or flush the toilets frequently. Ummm.... that isn't very good.

I captured another pic from NOAA. We're SW of the eye in the red area of rain & storms. Basically, it is at the end of the word Orlando on the map. The meteorologist thought Fay would weaken, but they're wrong again. She's unpredictable is what she is. I think I see her strengthening & building up moisture for when she hit Daytona sometime tomorrow (if she moves).

When she hits Daytona, this will be her 3rd landfall in Florida. (1st Keys, 2nd near Marco Island) I have some great video of the wind from tonight, just prior to dusk. Maybe I'll have time to post it tomorrow. I'm sure the gusts are back in the 40's if not more.

UPDATE: Looks like a good day to go fishing tomorrow. Waves are down from 16' early this morning, now at 12 ft. - 20 nm offshore.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

by Robin


Some of the first easy bands of rain have come and gone. It's 6:30pm on Tuesday and one of the first severe bands has arrived. I hear thunder, see lightening, feel wind & rain hitting my face. The eye should hit about 3am.

I will update on this site as long as the power stays on. I will continue to edit down below. For now, enjoy the video out our back screen door.

UPDATE: 10pm.
Seems like the same band of rain is upon us that was giving us the gusts at 6:30pm. Fay is VERY, VERY slow moving. It reminds me much of Francis in that manner. It is an endurance hurricane party which requires two bags of chocolate, not one. My friend, Renee, would say it requires 2 boxes of Oreoes, not one. Come to think of it, I'm guessing she's having to double that now with all her recently adopted kiddos. 4 boxes Renee? 5?

Anyhow, here is a pic of where Fay stands now. There are many more palm frawns down in the front yard. Winds are sustained 31, gusts 51 mph.

4:15 AM: We're in the eye of the storm. Jack woke me up from a deep sleep on the couch. I took all 3 dogs outside for one of those deperate potty breaks. Nobody wanted to be out when the heavier rain & winds were happening last night. Now, it was relatively peaceful and I thought to myself, maybe Fay has long past us. Nope. I get on the computer and see that we're in the eye.

The good news is that the front yard looks no worse for wear. 5 palm frawns down. Everybody is safe in their beds. Puppies are playing. Jack is awaiting news about when to travel into work. More updates later from the backside of the storm.

10:30 AM Still in the eye........
Dozen or more palm branches.

Lots of oak leaf bunches & branches around the driveway & yard.

Street has lots of pine needles, & spanish moss and oak leaves down.

2.5" rain. No wind, rarely a small gust, no rain. All dogs are happy.

As you can see, the eye hasn't moved much in 6 hours.

Monday, August 18, 2008

by Robin

On Friday, Jack took a coworker & his son-in-law out for a day of offshore fishing. In a sense, it was a charter. Coincidentally, our friends Mike & Helen and their kids were also offshore fishing. All these guys work together. I think that's nice for them to have a friendship outside of work as well as at the office.

I don't know any of the specifics other then Jack trolled from probably 100ft to the weather buoy, then south to Pelican Flats or there-abouts. They had plenty of morning knock-downs. His friend, Jeff, lost 3 fish in the fight or at the boat. Then, Jeff's son-in-law, takes the reel & he gets a keeper kingfish weighing approx 10lbs+. (sorry about the strange camera settings)

They had another "freight-train" hit a line, which was likely a wahoo or huge king. They lost that one too. At some point, they also caught a barracuda, nicknamed the spotted hoo or bonehead because their head is really hard. While out & about, they ran into Mike's family who were also trolling.

They were fortunate to have boated 7 mahi mahi the entire day. Of course, they stayed out longer. They have weather radar. Big storms blew through our area right after lunch, forcing Jack to make the decision to come back in by 2pm. I know Jeff was disappointed but that has happened to us numerous other times. There were 2 big cells which Jack passed through (with lightening) and behind it was another line of clouds. What Jack didn't know and I couldn't reach him to tell him via cell phone was that those set of cells dissipated as they went offshore. Oh well. Some days are like that when you're not Chief Meterologist with Viper or Dopplar Radar on your boat. We want to live to fish another day. Here are some of the clouds that Jack was looking at.

(Above - approaching the cell. Below - passing between them.)

Looks like this upcoming week will also be a bust thanks to T.S. (or Hurricane) Fay coming up through the state of Florida.

Happy Fishing,


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

by Robin

Not all offshore fish are HUGE. So, when we come across a situation where the fish are much smaller, we take that as an opportunity to excite the kids with fishing on their own. My eldest, 12yo, is able to work his own rod/reel and put on bait; but, my 8yo still needs some assistance. Here is a video of Jack helping him. You can hear the excitement in Jack's voice, as we've never seen a fish so aggressive that he ate a bare hook. Let me back up: He ate the bait & spit out the hook, but when my son reeled it back in to rebait, the "peanut" dolphin (mahi mahi) attacked a bare hook. It's actually common to do this since they are ravenous eaters.

(In fishermen's lingo, a peanut dolphin is anything below legal keeper size, which is 20" at the fork of the tail. Some fishermen will call a peanut anything below bragging size but still kept in legal limits.) The fish in the video is a baby - 1 ft. We did manage to find 2 keeper fish off the raft.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

by Robin

I absolutely love this action picture that Billie took of us last week. I think it describes a lot of what we look like when out fishing.
I'm in the white shirt at the back end of the boat, holding the net, looking intensely at the blue water to get a first glimpse of "Christmas". Anticipation. Excitement. Curiousity. Moments seem like hours. You know it will be there soon enough, but that doesn't keep you from straining your eyes to see the first shape from down below. In this particular case, we got the net out instead of the gaff. However, "Sluggo" was bigger than the net and so we got most of him in the net. I lifted the handle and Jack lifted the round rim. It takes teamwork to bring a fat grouper over the side. (It's not that Jack couldn't lift 35 lbs on his own, but after using so much energy fighting the fish, I'm sure his arms burned. I'd like to think of it as I'm helping.)

Jack does what he does best. Bring up heavy things from the bottom. I'm pretty wimpy on the reel so even if I were to catch something big, I have him help bring home the groceries. Anyhow, this was his fish from the start and I can feeeeeel the strain in his face as he tries to lift the beast off the bottom. The first 15-20 ft are the hardest. As the old fisherman saying goes, "You can't catch a grouper sitting on your pooper." My boys love this, of course.

In this particular case, we're lifting a fish off of deep bottom. Like 150-200 ft deep. Imagine trying to stay on a bucking bronco for 5 minutes instead of 8 seconds. It's eternity for the guy on the bronco but the audience would eventually get bored.
My youngest is still looking for Daddy's fish, but my eldest knows how long this fight is and he's decided to go around the backside of the walk-around to get a closer view down in the cockpit (back end of a boat.... front end of a plane. Clear as mud?). Once there, he can be a valuable asset if we need something handed to us or pictures taken. Plus, he knows that bottom fish are not likely to thrash once they get to the surface and are brought into the cockpit area. Now, a wahoo or cobia, that's a different story. He might have chosen to stay up front for one of those.

But, generally a fish that continuously lives in that type of water pressure doesn't do well once living without that pressure near the surface. Their eyes bulge out & their stomachs bloat up & out of their mouths. (see pic) If you plan to release a bottom fish after something like this, you have to release or vent "air" from their body cavity with a needle prick, so it all returns back to it's rightful place and they can then swim back down to the bottom of the ocean. It's rather hard to explain and I don't have the exact science down in my head.
Hope you enjoyed seeing our experience from the perspective of fly-on-the-wall or rather gull-in-the-sky. (I made that up. Like it? No? Ok. Won't do that again.)
Happy Fishing,

Saturday, August 09, 2008

by Robin

Fri morning, we took a driveway photo with the total count of fish. We like to do it in front of our boat's logo because, afterall, it's a Classic Mako. Still catching fish after 21 yrs!

I smell Christmas card contender!

Friday, August 08, 2008

by Robin

I'm going to do something I rarely do - give a timeline. Personally, I was curious about it and the camera keeps track of it. Neither Jack nor I wore watches (must get a battery in mine) but I knew the action was constant and we put a full day in at the Atlantic office.

7:36 Leave Docks. Coincidentally meet up with our friends from Orlando (Jack's coworker). Make introductions & make a plan.

7:50 Cruising - part with John & Billie a mile or so outside the inlet.

8:25 Still cruising - somebody's zonked!

9:45 -bottom fishing not working well. Short snapper, black sea bass & 1 lizard fish. Barracuda & remora show up so we left. We got only 1 keeper b.s.b. John does about the same on his first call over the radio to us.
We're starting to see nice broken sargassum weeds in the area & flying fish, so the first line goes in. Before Jack can get the 2nd line in, Sail is on (full story later).

10:05 hook-up w/ Sail.

10:08 Sail makes run under boat couple times.

10:10 Snap Sail pic (in all the excitement, we forgot to lift him up better and spread the beautiful sail)

(Click thumbnail to see colors!)
Released back to the water.

I'll have to write more about this another day and express my emotions better. That's me on the business end!!

10:10 Release long before my heart was ready to say good-bye. Jack bumps the boat in gear and I get his head down in the water and then revive him until he has enough energy to go. We're all tired but on Cloud 9.

11:00 - trolling towards John & Billie somewhere near High Bar now. Double-hook-up with Mahi & Cuda. (no picture - sorry) I was fortunate to get the mahi and Jack got the barracuda. I had the hardest time subduing that feisty mahi. Cut up my fingers with the wire leader.

11:20 - I discovered a raft on our way over to our friends. There were about 30 peanut to small legal sized mahi mahi under it, along with some triggers. We started catching peanuts & told John to sneak over to us. You never "advertise" too much over the radio.

11:30 - First legal (23")mahi under raft, caught by my youngest (not pictured because we got a video).

11:45 - Jack's first mahi from under raft. He's flipping out here. All 26" of him.

12:05 - Decide all the other mahi are spooked. Billie takes a quick pic of me with my 5 lb bull mahi caught earlier on the troll.

12:15 - zooming 10 miles further offshore together. We enjoy a fun series of pictures here. We took pics of each other's boats in action. This was not my best shot of their boat but it was downsized so I went with it.

1:00 - fishing in deep water, natural bottom, in the quiet Gulf Stream. catch our 1st fish - Choc Chip porgy. Very good white meat & makes a nice panfish, although we fried ours up today.

1:05 - John tells us to get over by them & get some of what they've got (20 lb snapper, scamp, porgy). So we practically fish on top of them (sorry 'bout that guys) and ......

1:15 - Two suicide dolphin show up. Those are fish that come to you, out of curiousity, and you grab your light spinners and catch them. We boated one cow, John gets the other cow.

1:36 - Jack gets bowed over with the pole. Billie caught the first pic of him fighting the fish. Turned out to be a 30+ lb Warsaw grouper.

2:11 - Eldest hooks up with something big on bottom. Rocks up. Jack also hooks up with something big on bottom. Lose both fish.

The bite has shut down on that particular deep-water bottom so we head back in, leaving John & Billie behind. See some nice "water highways" several miles in and decide to troll a little. See another sail in the distance jumping about a dozen times just for fun. AMAZING!!

3:15 Line goes off & it doesn't jump. It's a bonito. Get a call from John saying that Billie has pulled in a big amberjack. Way to Go Billie!!

Pull in lines and head to next closer-to-home spot. I did some bottom fishing off a shallower reef only to get grunts and small beeliner. Twice I had something big & heavy but not a fighter over a particular hump on the ocean floor. My guess was nurse shark. I've caught them before and they like to hang on for the ride up but never give a fight. Mine self-released mid-way up.

4:50 - Long ride back in.

5:08 - Hit Port mouth. See Carnival's Sensation & Disney's ?? going out.

5:20 - Car drive home. Call my parents and share the good news. Jack's cell phone starts ringing like crazy with all the guys from work wanting to know about his day. Some went out today, some going out tomorrow.
8:30 Fed, Cleaned up & get ready to go in the hot tub.
8:31 Lightening strikes close to the house.
8:31:30 Out of the hot tub.