Monday, January 10, 2011


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Awoke at 5AM and pulled the boat off the lift at first high tide of 1.1 feet (above mean tide). Launched at 630AM with my visiting step son Sean (23), from AZ. Air temp 60, water temp 65. Cleared the short bridge with no problem. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning. Marine forecast was not great, 3-4' seas and choppy in the Harbor, but I don't get out very often so nothing short of a small craft advisory was going to keep me in. My 26' walk around handles tough seas and I carry a SPOT personal locator beacon to check in with home and share my position every hour.

Trolled an Xrap 8 lure in the Auburn Waterway, where I have previously hooked keeper Spanish Macs, but none today. After clearing the Edgewater and Midway bridges we entered the mangroves near Alligator Bay (north of Charlotte Beach complex). We slowed in the mangroves and I planned to stop and throw a castnet for live bait.

Like a true goof, I forgot I had was trolling a line and stopped with it behind me. The winds were picking up and pushing us around and I made the genius decision to reverse throttle. Insert fouled propeller here.

The sound of my reel drag woke me to my mistake. Line in the prop or not, I had to get in the center of the channel and drop anchor before being pushed into the mangroves and aground. I dropped anchor in 4' and it held nicely. Thankfully I was smart enough to have brought all of my tools aboard and was able to remove my outer prop without incident. All of the monofiliament was easily removed and properly disposed of aboard my boat. Prop back in place and we were golden again. I tossed the castnet a few times to no avail but with the winds we were to encounter, there'd be no free lining or jigging today anyway. It was strictly trolling weather. Trolling is my favorite anyway, because anytime you get the fish to chase opposed to you chasing're onto something.

We ran the usual course of 180* S to the #5 marker, before turning west toward Boca Grande Pass. My boat will run 35 knots on a flat day but today's winds and waves kept us to about 6 knots. We still got a few soakers over the bow. We trolled an xRap 10 but still no hits. At that speed we took a couple of hours to get to the Pass. There were some very nice sailboats out today, taking advantage of the 15-20 winds.

We had visions of going off shore to troll the Bomber CD30 on the reefs and wrecks but not today. It was my step son's first time on a boat and I was enjoying teaching him to handle the rough seas but I didn't want to push it. We trolled the CD30 from the ICW to BGP channel markers and back several times. I made a big deal to him that he was officially piloting the boat in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a nasty day in the pass and we were the only takers. The good news was it was still warm and just partly cloudy. Sean did great at learning to skipper the ship and I actually allowed him to drive more than me (he didn't even know that was a treat for me, who has to so often solo).

By 3:15 PM it was time to begin a slow troll back toward home. The western skies were getting darker with the predicted late day shower activity. By the time we rounded the number 5 again we had a following sea. We continued trolling the x10 for another hour but still nothing; although the sea gulls had to investigate our lures most of the way. The following sea provided enough respite for Sean to fall asleep sitting at the transom, after I took the helm. I let him nap for half an hour before waking him to reel in the lines. Once everything was secure I was able to throttle up to 24 knots and give him some fun splashing that didn't hit us for once. We crossed Peace River doing 32 knots while dodging the mine field of crab pots, and re-entered the Auburn Waterway at 4:30 PM; back on my lift just after 5. My young protege helped off-load the boat and in true green-horn fashion, as he entered the house with my 4 drawer popped open and hundreds of sockets and small tools danced across his mother's kitchen floor. Personally, I'd rather clean the boat than pick that mess up. Mother and son found every one of them, thankfully.  We travelled 48 miles on the day.  Ending engine hours - 501.

After showering off the surf, it was time to enjoy the fruits of the turf; grilled ribeyes for the Captain and Crew. Even though we were skunked by the fish, it was a fabulous day of Messing About in Boats.

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