Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Florida Keys Day 9 Fishing with Wives

Today's fishing trip was partially disguised as a relaxing sunset cruise with our wives, but that quickly changed into filling the fish box chaos when the fish started biting! Our quick 3 hour tour turned into a 6 hour fishing trip!

Amy and Jared with 2 of many cero and spanish mackeral:

Brook with nice mangroves and bluefish:

Julie with a monster mystery fish:

We missed some huge fish tonight as well. Justin fought a 50 lb cobia all the way up to the boat before it broke his line. Amy got spooled on our big rod while using a huge pinfish for bait. I tried wrestling a monster goliath grouper out of the wreck, but he was just a bit stronger than I was. Anyone of those fish we missed would have been once in a lifetime fish had we landed them.

Earlier in the day we took a quick trip out to the Atlantic to one of Bob Fortner's favorite fishing holes and we caught a bunch of groupers, mangrove, and yellowtail snappers. We only fished for 90 minutes before several guys on board started turning green. Once the natural chum started flowing we decided to head in to dry stable ground. Here is our mess of fish from our morning trip on the cleaning table:

We have a few days of vacation left, but only one more fishing trip. On Tuesday we are headed to the Dolphin Research Center with the kids, on Wednesday we are scuba diving and fishing in the Atlantic around Sombrero Key, on Thursday we are headed to the Sea Turtle Rescue Center, on Friday we get the boat put away, ship the fish home, etc and on Saturday morning we fly back home and back to realty and winter.

Florida Keys Day 8 Old Ladies Fishing

Sundays fishing trip was one for the ages......the old ladies that is!

We headed out 16 miles into the Gulf of Mexico following the directions on the gps to a sunken houseboat out in the middle of nowhere. Being out that far from land and its only 9 feet deep, but the fish are stacked up there big time!

Even when its windy outside, the shallow gulf is much more protected and less wavy than the Atlantic. Anyhow, my mom and my sister's mother in law Barb had the fishing trip of a lifetime catching huge cero and spanish mackeral, monster mangrove snapper, tons of grouper, jacks, blue runners, a huge stingray, and another mystery fish. Here is that mystery fish:

We really wanted to catch a shark so Larry gave us this big barracuda his buddy caught the day before to cut up and use for bait:

Then we stopped by our pinfish trap and unloaded all the pinfish into our livewell:

Next we pulled into Captain Hooks Marina to fuel up and pick up some more chum blocks, ice, and fuel. This is the place to go when boating and fishing in the middle keys!

Finally on to the Gulf for some afternoon fishing! First pic is of Jared helping his mom put another monster mangrove into the box!

Barb holding up one of many mackeral. We catch the mackeral using free lined pinfish and also cast gotcha fishing lures when a school of them comes by.
We catch lots of gag groupers, but they are always just an inch or two short to keep. Still fun to catch though!

Tony holding up a pair of big mangroves

Barb caught the biggest mangrove snapper I have ever seen. This thing was a beast! It bit on a huge free lined pinfish and gave barb all of the battle she could handle:

At the end of the day we had a bunch of fish to clean!

We got back from fishing, got all cleaned up, ate some dinner, and then got everyone together to have our own church service. Just sat around the livingroom and talked about more important things in life than fish and recreation and football, etc. We are thankful for fishing and recreation and even football, but they definitely aren't the focal point of living life to the fullest!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Florida Keys Day 7 Grouper

Today we followed local fishing legend Larry around all day. He was fishing with his wife, son and a couple friends in his boat. We had dad, chad, justin, amy, and jared in our boat. We literally followed them around and anchored up right next to them at 4 different spots out in the Atlantic Ocean. He put us on some serious fish! Many of the big boys would take our baits into the rocks and break us off, but Amy managed to wrestle this beast up off the bottom!

We caught a bunch of grouper using live pinfish on the bottom in 30-50 foot of water, but only kept the 3 biggest. Here is one that I caught, not as big as Amy's, but still a really big fish!

We moved to another spot that was loaded with lane snapper. Here is a really nice lane snapper caught on cut sardines:

Larry took us to some awesome spots and we loaded up on just an absolute ton of fish! Here is our pile laying on the dock en route to the cleaning table:

It really doesnt get any better than catching all of those fish on relatively light tackle. Out in the atlantic the water is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom even when fishing in 50 feet deep of water! It is just amazing out there. Turtles and dolphins and fish and tons of other crazy sea creatures are just everywhere!

Many thanks to Larry and his crew for helping us out tremendously!
Oh yeah, the girls went on a little adventure of their own today. They walked across a portion of the old seven mile bridge. It was funny because they thought there was a little restaraunt at the end to eat lunch at, but when they got there it was just a soda machine.....hehe

Friday, November 26, 2010

Florida Keys Day 6

Today we fished long and hard. We drove around for miles and miles and miles looking for good fishing spots out in the Gulf of Mexico. Several times we would drive 3-5 miles to a spot and there would be people sitting there already so we would keep driving to new ones. We caught a bunch of fish, but really had to work for them. I didn't take pictures of all the jacks, sharks, ladyfish, and bluefish we caught while out in the boat, but did snap this pic of some of our fish on the cleaning table:

Florida Keys Day 5 Thanksgiving

This was for sure our best Thanksgiving ever and perhaps as good of a day as it gets! We went out and caught a whole bunch of fish early in the morning. We love to eat the blacktip sharks!

Then we came in and swam with the kids, played games, watched football, and then cooked a seafood Thanksgiving feast! Here are some pics. We had lots of stone crab claws

Fresh caught Lobsters

Main dish was seafood stuffed Cobia. Here are the fillets

Here is the dish all prepared and ready to bake. Jared and Chad and Justin helped cook the feast

Here is my first plate

21 of us are down here for Thanksgiving this year

Its awesome having Thanksgiving in 80 degree weather! Was a big day and we stayed up late....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Florida Keys Day Four

Today we went snorkeling for Lobsters. I actually stayed back on the shore to play with the kids on the beach while Amy, Jared, Justin, Chad and Mom went out onto the rocky zones to pluck lobsters out of their holes. They had some good stories about barracudas and a big nurse shark along with a bit of lobster plucking! These kind of lobsters dont have any pinchers, but they have many razor sharp edges.

They caught tons of lobsters, but only 12 were big enough to keep. We were hoping for more to add to our Thanksgiving feast, but were super excited for the ones we did get! Here are a couple pics:

Spent the whole day just playing with Mae and Noah at Bahia Honda State Park and also at our swimming pool and went on a couple boat rides. One thing cool about the keys is there are iguanas everywhere. Noah absolutely loves them!

For dinner Brook and I put the kids to bed and headed out to the Keys Fisheries Seafood Market and Restaurant. This place was my exact kind of place! Some of the best and freshest seafood in the world straight from the boats docked at their harbor served down to earth from a cafeteria style order window. Unbelievably good! We feasted on chilled stone crab claws, stone crab chowder, grilled wahoo, and their world famous lobster reuben sandwich.

Tomorrow we will be fishing in the Atlantic at sunrise, lobster hunting in the Gulf mid-day and cooking up a seafood feast for Thanksgiving dinner!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Florida Keys Day Three

Holy Mackeral we hit the motherload today! We left the dock just as the sun was peaking over the horizon and we headed out 15 miles into the gulf. Still a bit too rough to head out into the atlantic, but they will hopefully change one of these days soon.

Anyhow we filled the whole cooler up with fish at just two fishing spots. Flash forward to the end of our trip and here is open half of our full fish box:

Our first spot we caught sharks and jacks with every cast. Here is what they looked like:

Although they are alot of fun to catch, we didnt want to waste all of our bait there. We kept one of the blacktips to try out for dinner and then we headed 5 more miles to another wreck. Speaking of bait, we bought ourselves a pinfish trap at Captain Hooks Marina and Dive Shop and we caught 75 perfect sized pinfish overnight! We also catch pinfish for bait right from the dock and we keep them in this holding pen:

So at the second spot we started catching fish right away and we caught quite the mixed bag using various stuff for bait. We used live pinfish, cut sardines, live shrimp, cut blue runners, and casted gotcha mackeral lures. Here is a sample of each species we got from this same spot. This is a nice Mangrove Snapper caught on a sardine:
My sister Amy and her husband Jared showcasing some nice mackeral. We absolutely love to eat this beautiful fish, you just got to cut all the red meat out of them!

Justin with a black grouper that was just short of the legal size limit:

Tony with a HUGE cobia caught on a live pinfish! This fish was a beast and will be the focal point of Thanksgiving dinner. I am going to bake seafood stuffing into the big cobia fillets. Now that is an entre to celebrate with......adios turkey, not this year!
Dad with a nice keeper Gag Grouper

Here is a Florida Pompano that was another pleasant surprise to find at the wreck.

Amy and Jared showcasing the biggest of our monster mangrove snapper! We brought home 40 of these snappers, but these 4 were the biggest.

Here is our crew and boat returning from our voyage. The name of our boat is very fitting eh?

The kids absolutely love feeding the birds our leftover pinfish:

Here is dinner tonight. Hickory smoked barbecue blacktip shark wrap with banana peppers and shredded cheese! Out of this world good, we will be keeping sharks to eat more often now that we learned they are really great to eat! The key is to take out all of the guts and blood right after catching them and before putting them into the cooler.

Wednesday we are heading out lobster diving at Bahia Honda state park. We are hoping to compliment our Thanksgiving cobia and seafood stuffing with fresh lobsters!