On Vacation from work for a couple weeks
I took my son, Billy, out fishing in the Boca Grande Pass. The ride out was a little bumpy with some 10-15 knot winds but it wasn't miserable. He hadn't been on the water with me since the summer of '09 so I wanted to be sure this was a good experience. We had lots of good fresh live shrimp on board for bait. I rigged him up with a spinning reel he sent the bait to the 34 foot floor below. It didn't take 5 seconds for him to exclaim, "Jeez, I think I have one already!" I saw his pole bending at the end and coached him how to bring it up. Sure enough, he had a little gag grouper on the hook. After a quick release he was baited up again and BAM, he gets hit again. The began a series of catching and landing 6 groupers and snappers in what seemed like no time at all. He quickly learned the joy of calling out, "Fish On," just like his Dad. We were drifting the pass and fishing depths between 30 and 73 feet. Above is a photo I snapped of a decent gag grouper he caught and released. (Grouper season closed June 1 and all were successfully released alive).
I caught and released a total of 8 of my own, including grouper, snapper and a catfish that stabbed me in the ring finger as I tried to release him. It hurt pretty bad for a couple of hours but was fine by that night. My buddy Jim reminded me to not even let them in the boat.
Billy and I also spent some time among the Tarpon fleet, watching the professionals catch 100-200 pound Silver Kings. When we were at the mouth of the Pass, my fish finder showed hundreds of fish below in the 60 foot depths. It was more targets than I 've ever seen on my finder. For a few minutes I sent that catfish down as bait on a big rig but I released how congested the area was with dozens of Tarpon boats all seeking to hook up. I knew if I hooked up, Billy would be put in the position of trying to manuver my boat away from the fleet. That's something he just wasn't prepared to do so I quickly gave up on that idea.
We left the tarpon fleet and did a few more drifts through the pass, where Billy got his daily total of fish up to 11. By 2PM he had his fill of sun and fun and we headed for the home port. The winds and the waves were much more favorable in the afternoon and we ran about 30 knots most of the way back.
I still had plenty of live bait left so I dropped him off and headed back out alone. I fished the shallow waters near home but had no luck at all. I was hoping to land a Redfish or Snook but it seems I had left my good luck charm at home. The seas turned quite rough by 7PM when I headed in and I was glad Billy wasn't with me. I made it home at 745 and got everything cleaned up before sundown. Once again, the boat ran brilliantly. More importantly, I showed my son a great time and got him back safely from the sea.
Above is one more Billy caught; a Gulf Toadfish. Weird looking specimen.