Saturday, January 31, 2009

by Robin

(double-posting day)

Last night, Jack and I discovered a new channel with a new show. Versus County (#151 for Dish Network folks) is playing a program called, "Hunt for Big Fish" with Larry Dahlberg. We watched one on sailfishing in Guatemala, Columbia Peacock bass and another on Marlin fishing.

Well, it was great because anything offshore fishing is nice to see (for us). However, I will say there are spots in the show, especially the offshore ones, where the guy is just reeling and reeling. No commentary. No music. Then, a deckhand rushes in and cuts the line. You barely get to see the fish. Now, this is great for the fish, don't get me wrong. But, it doesn't make great tv. We were also unimpressed that he said, "Dumb fish" while reeling in a big sailfish. I don't think I've heard Jose' Wejebe (Spanish Fly) say something like that.

The had some fantastic underwater footage of a sailfish about to take a bait and then they cut away from it to show a top of the water shot. Ugh.... we were both disappointed. We'd really like to see what it looks like from below-- but that's just our 2 cents.

When I googled to see if I could find out more about this channel and show, all the links come up, "This may harm your computer." What's that about? Here is a good link that will show you various video footage of his shows.

I'll probably watch more shows but I'd like to know what others think of this new show.
by Robin

The SAFMC is trying to close fisheries down again. It is a big deal to recreational fishermen because we already have such strict limitations on our catches. We have seen several species come back with good fishery management. If you're a recreational fishermen and see this link, please click on it. Our friend, JohnB, owns the Deep-Blue-Sea forum and has provided all the necessary information & wording (if necessary) for those who want to fish this type of unnecessary legislation. Mostly, they just need people to write in & give them some basic info about your port & fishing preferences. John has done the rest of the work and then it gets sent to several SAFMC board members and Gov Charlie Crist.

Thanks for your time. - Robin

Please forward this link to your fellow anglers

Any questions regarding this site or further information on SAFMC actions may be forwarded to

Tight Lines and smooth seas From

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

by Robin

Many times, I like to take you from fish to plate. Today is no different.

Back in early August, Jack, the kids and I went buddy boating with a coworker, John and his wife. Buddy boating is when we keep tabs on each other's whereabouts but don't fish on top of each other. We met up a couple times that day when each of us had found some fish.

We had a blast catching our first sailfish, some dolphin and then headed deep (225 ft) where Jack almost had a heart attack bringing in this Warsaw Grouper. I can't remember the exact weight, but I think it was roughly 25 lbs.


Well, we were hungry for fish and it was time to eat up some older frozen stuff before it went bad. I love cooking as a family. I worked on the veggies and other sides while Jack and our eldest seasoned the grouper & took it to the grill.


Here is a close-up of those steaks (fish). Oh yum!! Jack tried a new Cajun spice on there and while the guys loved it, it was a sinus-thrill for me. When grilling, it is important to get a little crunchy outside which holds in the moisture but also enhances the experience (our opinion!).

Now, be sure that your fish is flakey white and not raw on the inside. These were thick steaks so we had to take our time to cook thoroughly yet not char the outside. Jack is a great griller.

The guys had other starchy sides but I'm trying to stick better to my veggies, hence the asparagus and salad. I couldn't resist one biscuit with honey on top. It's my guilty pleasure. LOL

I hope you've enjoyed this post. I'm hoping that soon we'll be out fishing again. We have free Mondays the 2nd and 9th if the weather will cooperate with us. (pray)

Happy Fishing!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

On Hold.....

with Lowrance. I have got to complain that they have the WORST customer service I've ever seen. If you go on their website, they make it hard for you to get their phone number. Once you get the number and push the button for technical, you get a message that says they'll call you back in 48 hrs. Then, I called again and am waiting to speak with a representative. It's only been 15 minutes so far. If it is anything like Jack's wait a couple weeks ago, I've got 45 minutes to go.

By the way, you cannot send anything into the factory without calling them first and getting the precious RA #. Supposedly, you can get one on the website but it's down for "technical servicing". Call the number, it's the recording. This STINKS!!

While we like the Lowrance product, I'm not sure we'd buy another one just based on their terrible customer service.

E'nuf said........ Happy Fishing for those of you who aren't freezing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

by Robin

Only because I don't think I could stand to see the fish finder pic up another day.

May 08 - Me and Little Man, our 1st Sea Trial post makeover.


Summer 08 - Big boy learning to filet a Black Sea Bass


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

FISH FINDER - Explained
by Robin


It occurred to me last night that I may have left a few of you hanging. I posted up this display of fish on the fish finder. Gee, I expect you to be able to read that like I am able to read Chinese symbols. First let me start by explaining that the bottom is the red/yellow at the bottom of the screen. I'll explain the broken stuff below. The depth of the water it 78.6 ft deep. Water temperature is 75.2 at the water's surface. That's pretty warm for winter in Florida. Sometimes water temps at the bottom can greatly vary. When it becomes super-cold on the bottom, but warm on top, that's called a Thermocline. Many fishermen grab their sinkers to determine cold temps to check for this.

Anyhow, Jack sat down and explained more of it to me last night because afterall, nothing looks just like it does in the manual. Some things need to be passed down by mouth rather than ink & paper. First, let me post up the same picture but with text & arrows to help explain.

This particular bottom, we see all the regular fish are here, but we were only picking up black sea bass and 1 trigger. For whatever reason, we were unble to pull in those bigger snapper. I do think I picked up a couple smaller snapper, but nothing legal to keep. A bigger fish will sometimes display an arch which is a reading of their swim bladder. I don't have a picture of that, but will do my best once we get our new fish finder to take some more photos of bottom & fish. We'll hold another class in the future. Stay tuned.

I rummaged through old photos and found a great example of a Black Sea bass the my son caught. They are voracious eaters and taste great because of their white tender filets. (Did you notice the nice saltist bottom reel? Just seeing if you're paying attention.)


Here is our son holding up his recent legal snapper catch from last week.

Does that help?

Happy Fishing y'all!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

by Robin

Not many people actually ask us what type of gear we fish with but I was noticing that I receive a lot of google hits for different types of fishing gear that I mention. So, I'm going to make a collective, fairly boring, blog of what we are using, more as a reference.

Being offshore fishermen, we need heavy-duty equipment to withstand saltwater, sun and torture from large fish. Our unspoke goal is to bring in fish of 5 lbs or greater into the boat. Sure, we catch a lot that aren't that, but our target species generally range from 5 - 60 lbs. That's a pretty big range, I understand. I guess that is why we have a wide range of rod/reel combos that we put on the boat each time we head out.

First, let's start with the kids' poles. We have about 3 different kids poles. Two are Zebco's (Tiger & Cobalt Blue Firebird) which work really nice for inshore or smaller reef fish. This is primarily little man's territory. We did invest in a better light spinner for our eldest this winter. It's called a WAVE 4000. Nice light action pole about 6.5 ft. This is our back-up for tripletail. I can't recall but I'm guessing they're loaded with 12 or 20 lb monofilament.

Next, we have the big boys - Shimano Baitrunners 6500. These are very nice spinners even though they look beat up. We have caught many nice mahi, cobia & tripletail on these. These reels sit on 6 ft. Shakespeare Tidewater poles. We've recently respooled these with Trilene 30 lbs in dark green. Shimano makes a nice 4500 that we've seen a lot of in fishing pictures.


When we bottom fish for snapper or grouper, we like the Daiwa Saltists. We have the Torque and High Speed types and I love them both. Our life got much easier when we switched over to these. These can double for trolling reels, but they best perform when used for bottom fishing. We've got these sitting on 6 ft Shakespeare Sturdy sticks - Heavy duty.


Again, you can see the Trilene, 30 lbs. We replaced last year's PowerPro braid because we really weren't happy with the number of break-offs we were having during trolling season. Braid has pros & cons. Love the strength, hate the lack of stretch that you sometimes need to keep from losing a fish.

Here is our older rod/reel combo - Daiwa Sealine. Photobucket

It has been beat-up badly over the years but I still like it. When the guys were fishing the Powerpro on the Saltists, I was enjoying the monofilament on my Sealine. That also helped us make the decision to go back to monofilament.

Today, we invested in a new trolling rod/reel combo. It was an impulse buy but something that we were beginning to research and decided we would need to invest in at some time in the future. There it was. Calling our name. I knew we wouldn't walk out of that store without it. As money allows, we're going to pick up its twin sister. (ha ha)

Trolling rods! Trolling rods are important because they have rollers. Rollers allow that line to zip off easily as the wahoo or tuna makes a run. We officially have our first Blue Diamond roller rod, 6 ft. It looks wonderful and we hope to see it pay off on the ocean. Attached to it is the Okuma Titus Lever Drag - T30. This is a bad boy!!! (By that, I mean really awesome.) We loaded it with 500 yds, Trilene, 30 lbs, dark green (sound familiar?).

Whatever you do, if you go offshore fishing, do not forget your gaff for big fish. Be careful!! They're meant to pierce through flesh with ease!


And if you're going cobia fishing, don't forget a small bat for ..........well........ I hate to say it in a public setting, but....... for quickly killing your fish. I never really thought it was necessary until we brought in our 60 lb cobia in May 08. Sixty pounds of fury on your boat is no fun and it is downright dangerous. These fish save their fight for once they are IN the boat with you. Jack did his best to sever the spinal cord with a knife but the knife broke (and the blade went flinging). Not good. The best we could try to do is grab the tail with a rope and Jack keep the gaff in the shoulders before trying to put him into the cooler. Ummm, the only problem was that the tail was much faster than my eyes and I got tail-slapped twice. In the mouth. (Stop that. Stop laughing! It's not funny. It hurt.) I can only tell you that it would have been much more humane to put him and ME out of our misery.


So, that is our arsenal of gear to pull in our fish that you see on this blog. When I was a teenager, my parents warned me about being "horse poor". My horse would end up taking all my money and I'd be penniless. Well, they were so wrong. It's not horses that I spend my money on. It's fishing and fishing gear and boats and bait and ............

Happy Fishing!

Monday, January 12, 2009

by Robin

(Jack with a fish that decided to "rock up" and would not budge.)

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, our fish finder had died just as we were pulling in a keeper snapper and we made a few unsuccessful passes over similar ground but probably not great bottom. Here is a little sand perch that was caught & released. I love his colors.

So, our stomachs made the decision to eat a little lunch while cruising a short distance over to deeper water and set out the trolling rods.

Trolling....... now there's something I love to do on a hot day, lots of sun on the back and having my favorite view of a flat ocean. I love standing on my cuddy cabin and looking down into the ocean. Sometimes I look back and see my guys having Father/Son bonding. This time, I also had little man who was passed out (avoidance of nausea) at my feet.

I do think he would feel better if he fished more and quit laying down while on the sea. Unfortunately, as hard as we tried, we only saw 1 small peanut dolphin who didn't bite at our ballyhoo being dragged behind the boat.

We had found a nice rip current that was carrying some scattered weeds (above white line in pic above) & debris. We went up & down both sides of it and didn't see much life. Even little tiny bait fish seem to be missing in the whole equation. About the only thing we saw consistently were the Man-O-War jellyfish. (see arrow)

So, we eventually pulled off of that and headed back west toward our former fishing area: Snap 85 and Gilson 89 (our nicknames for them). About the time we turned west for bottom fishing again, Jack spots a nice sunfish on top of the water. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as I get my camera out, it takes a dive down. No picture... sorry. It had a nice little remora stuck to its side. I did manage to put Jack on a couple floating pieces of wood but they weren't holding any fish under them.


A few seconds later, our fish finder pops back on. It's still acting up (flashing), but at least it is reading bottom and the loud alarm stopped working. So, a few miles later, Jack puts us back over our two spots. This is not the best picture of the drifts we made but it gives you an idea of the bottom.

You can see the bottom is filled up with fish.

One of the spots has twice produced grouper but for us........ nothing but black sea bass this trip out. I love these fish but what we brought up was too small to want to filet. Our eldest son brought up a small trigger too. It just wasn't our day to fill the cooler but it had been an interesting none-the-less. Lots of released fish. We only had 1 shark the entire day. It managed to tangle Jack and my lines up.

We opted to come home an hour or so earlier than planned and get all our chores done and enjoy the night together.

Today, Jack put in a new hatch in the cockpit floor to make easy access to the back of the fuel tank. I have pictures but will upload them later. We had a small leak one day when the fuel tank was nearly on full. We could smell fumes and so Jack wanted to take care of that. Secondly, we spoke with Lowrance (fish finders) and they no longer fix our model 107C, so they made the offer to send us a new one, same model, for a highly discounted price. I'm guessing this is surplus they didn't sell before they started marketing something else. Anyhow, we took the discount and will wait patiently for our new fish finder. We were looking at a couple weeks of down time anyhow because Jack has some upcoming dental work on his days off. Oh joy!! I say rejoice, always, rejoice....... ("yeah, right" says Jack).

It won't be long and we'll be into some great spring fishing.
Happy Fishing,

Sunday, January 11, 2009

by Robin

I haven't forgotten that I left off in the middle of the fishing day (Monday). I was about to tell you about our trolling day. I'll have to continue that later.

I wanted to update that our broken fish finder will be going back to the factory to be repaired. We wish it Godspeed & safe travels while we await for it to come back home. This will in no way affect our cobia hunting & whale watching come early March. I hope it will be able to come back home in 6 wks or less.

Last, but not least, we went to Bass Pro Shop- Orlando today after church. Ahhh.... all the goodies there. I came home with a nice grouper jig and Jack got a couple things to troll for himself. We also priced future trolling rod/reel combos and looked at snorkeling gear. Yep folks, we're going this summer to Crystal River & Homosassa Springs to scallop dive and fish. None of us can hardly wait for our vacation.

Be back later to finish the story.

Monday, January 05, 2009

1/5/09 - RED SNAPPER for our SON!!!!
by Robin

The alarm clock went off at 5:30 and it wasn't too hard to get up. Everything & everybody was loaded, fed, hitched and on the road by 7am. Thank goodness, we had already gassed up the boat and only needed to buy 5 lbs of squid and 5 lbs of cigar minnows before dunking it in the water at 7:25 because we managed to just beat the line-up of boats that arrived at 7:30 am.

It looked like the Kentucky Derby of offshore boats on the way out of the inlet as the sun started to rise and burn off the night's lingering fog. As soon as the fleet hit the jetty rocks, we begin full power and push beyond the inlet's mouth. Some turned left, heading north to 9A looking for kingfish or bait. Some right, I'm sure to head to Patrick AFB beaches in search of sailfish. But the majority of us were heading due east or SE in search of 21F & 27F ledges or wrecks. Red Snapper dreams have filled the minds of fishermen the entire month, as we all waited for seas & gas prices to go down. Yep, it certainly was a derby and we came no where close to winning the roses.

As it turned out, even though the seas were not all that high, the period between the waves was such that we had to cut our speed in half to avoid losing fillings in our teeth. LOL. It took a little while and as we passed by Pelican Flats, 20 mi from shore, there must have been nearly a dozen boats already making their passes or anchored up. Pelican Flats is a long area of good natural bottom that attracts many fish all year long. It tends to be broken up into North, Central and South regions. We went past the entire Flats onto our new GPS# where we picked up the 3 snapper last month.

We made a couple drifting passes and picked up the usual culprits like short snapper, black sea bass and grunts. I kept a couple grunts because my objective this trip was to try various new methods in order to pick up larger fish. I wanted to work with livies and jigs. I sent one of those grunts down while Jack and our son continued to use cigar minnows. Next thing I know, I'm getting no bites and our son is sitting on the end of the rod and using the gunnel for leverage while his pole tip is nearly hitting the water. He had a keeper something and the rest of us were very excited for him.

I brought up my livie (live grunt) about the same time he got his catch up to the side of the boat. Jack, at this time, helps him lift the fish over the side. I look over for my grunt and see 2 cobia following it up. They are very curious animals, so I left my grunt, half-dead, in the water. At this point, I feel somewhat regretful at this point. Our son's fish was definitely legal but with the opportunity of cobia coming to us, we had no time to rejoice in that for long or help him throw it in the cooler. All three of us stood looking over my side of the boat at the two cobia who were literally staring at the grunt. Not swimming, staring totally still as if to decide was it worth it or not. They were definitely hesitant. One was definitely legal size!

Ok, so they weren't excited about a half-dead grunt, so I put that bottom pole in a pole holder, but left the fish & the new circle hook in the water. Jack grabs the spinner with a chartreusse jig on it. I grabbed another spinner with a glass minnow-looking jig on it. The cobia both followed the minnow a few times but poor Jack had some terrible issues with the bail-release on his spinner. (That will have to be remedied before cobia migration season starts!) I tried everything from slowing it down to speeding it up to build excitement. I couldn't buy a bite. When I brought the jig in, I realized it still had the protective plastic sleeve over the hook and even if the fish had taken a bite. D'oh. What a rookie mistake! I threw the rod & reel combo back, helped take the hook out of the snapper while Jack contemplated free-gaffing the cobia. What's free-gaffing? That's when the fish is so curious that he swims right to you and you are able to sink the gaff into his side without him even having a hook in his mouth. Sure enough, the larger one of the two cobia decided to swim alongside the boat, in eeeeasy gaffing range. I'm not sure what noise I made on the far side of the boat or if he was keen to Jack's swift movement but the fish turned quickly as the gaff was being pulled up and it glanced off the side of the fish. It was a gutsy move and oh well, it didn't pan out. Next, I grabbed the kids' light spinner with a 3/0 J- hook on it. I was desperate. I grabbed another pinfish from the livewell and sent it down about 6 ft. The water was dirty green so we kept losing sight when it went further. Then, the most amazing thing happened, 3 of the 4 of us were able to witness him attack the live fish. Wow! The first time this happened, I pulled it out of his mouth too fast. The 2nd time, I let him take it downward for a few feet then tried to set the hook. Again, the cobia opened his mouth and released the fish. The third time, I simply left the fish in the water, put the pole in a pole holder and put almost not drag on the reel.

At this point, we all refocused on our son's legal snapper and did the ceremonial high-5's and picture taking. It was truly something to rejoice over since he had prayed for at least one legal fish and he got it. He didn't even need help pulling the 7 lber, 23.5" fish up 90 feet of water.


About the time I took this photo, I became totally distracted as I heard the spinner begin to sing to me. Round and round it went as the cobia was probably taking off with the pinfish again. I no sooner put the camera down and the reel was silenced. No extra cobia in the box. We never even saw them again. We set up for the next drift or two and our fish finder machine died on us. Jack was a true professional about that. He knew approximately where our starting and finishing drifts were so he kept on another 45 min with trying to put us over that good bottom to catch another keeper snapper. As God would have it, we could only raise small black sea bass.

At 11:50, we cut our losses and opted for trolling the beautiful, flat ocean while eating our lunches. Stay tuned for more stories about our afternoon.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

John 21:5-7

He (Jesus) called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"

"No," they answered.

He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

by Robin

What a beautiful illustration of going from being OUT of God's will to being IN God's will. The disciples were suppose to wait but they grew tired of that and went out fishing instead. Because they did not obey what Jesus had told them, they caught no fish all night long.

As soon as they obeyed Jesus' words even without really recognizing His face, they had more fish than they could haul into the boat. It is a sign that He alone is the true giver of all things. Even fish obey Him. And as if it wasn't already a great story, for a fisherman, I think it gets better.

There is nothing more that a fisherman wishes for than that day when they catch a huge load of fish. They limit out on numbers, ability to contain, ability to manipulate and ability to bring aboard, much like these men. But, the story takes on new meaning when we see Simon Peter jump into the water to see Jesus. Oh, how their love for Jesus was far greater than their love for that "catch of a lifetime". I do not know many, if any, fishermen that would leave a boat like that for a person. Perhaps many wouldn't even leave their boats for Jesus.

Can I tell you a secret? Our boat would be empty on the best of fishing days if we saw Jesus on the shore. There is something so wonderful about walking, talking & living with Jesus in your life. Fishing is wonderful and we have a lot of great memories. But those memories are fleeting compared to the everlasting joy that we have found and will always have in heaven with Jesus. We take pictures, we post them up, we filet the fish, we eat the fish, but then..... it is all gone. There is nothing sustaining about the joy of fishing. It's more like a drug and the high is not satisfying enough. You've always got to get a bigger fish or a different fish or larger catch. With Jesus, we're just happy FOR fish. LOL. Like Paul said in Philippians 4:12, we've learned to be happy with a little or happy with a lot. The important thing is to put Christ first.

Happy Fishing! We'll be offshore Monday.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

We are a GO!!!!!!! for Monday!!!!!!

Wind 5-10 kts out of the West.
Seas 1 ft

Finally, God is merciful in our favor for good seas. Now, if he will only bring the fishies to us that would be spectacular.

Actually, the seas are going to be great from Sun - Tues with 2 ft seas. Oh and I hate to mention this but we'll be 79-82 deg all weekend.

We started back to school yesterday & today, so I'm looking forward to some R&R offshore with the sun beating down on me. I have many northern friends who do not like the heat and insist they live in the better climate zone. I think the misunderstanding is that they lived in places of stagnant heat when they were in the south, which is different than living in the sub-tropics where you have humid heat & constant coastal breeze. I don't think I've ever heard people complain about Hawaii or the Bahamas like I hear them complain about Florida. My guess is because they spend too much time on the asphalt over at Disney, Universal or Sea World. They really need to visit coastal Florida and I'm convinced they'd change their minds. Originally, I was the biggest skeptic when it came to moving to Florida. Now, you couldn't budge me. How could anybody live without fishing, sun & a salty breeze? It's simply the best.

Happy Fishing!