Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Home in Port Charlotte
Low 63, high going up to 80

Merry Christmas from Southwest Florida.  We had a cold front pass through here over the weekend, with 34° in the morning on Sunday.  That's the lowest it's been here since last January.  But it warmed up to the mid 60s and I went fishing with my next-door neighbor Rolando and his wife Kathy.  We were shut out for the most part but Rolando landed a small stingray in the Harbor and a nice snook by trolling the canal home.  I never had a single bite all day.  We did enjoy the company of a pod of 6 Dolphin.

I tried again the next day, by myself, but once again was skunked.  I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've failed to catch anything on back-to-back outings.  The best part of the day was the company of two Manatee who joined me near Matlacha Pass.  The weather was beautiful in the afternoons and I enjoyed a couple of days of boating and some nice music on the water.

We are dog sitting for a friend of ours over Christmas.  Our guest is a little Shitzu named Derek Jeter.  Our friend is a big New York Yankees fan.  We are just a fan of this little dog.  He has a very sweet disposition and he loves to sit on the couch arm and look out the window.  He is also quite the little cuddler.  He lost his daddy earlier this year, our friends husband, and it is apparent to me that he is a daddy's boy.  Before this visit I have only been around him a couple of times but he has taken to me in such a way that it warms my heart to know I'm giving him comfort.

I have been neglecting the blog again lately. Mostly due to technical difficulty while learning to use the iPad on the blogger site but now there is a Blogger App! I think I have it figured out now. I forgot to point out my fifth year anniversary of Messing About in South Florida, which was December 3. The time goes faster with each passing year.










Sunday, December 9, 2012

FLOAT PLAN

Home in Port Charlotte
Low 60, high 80
Morning fog

Up early (330) to get the boat off the lift before low tide and make ready. Bait shop opens at 6.  Dense fog this morning, will be a long slow ride out.  Planning to fish outside the sandbars between Pirate Harbor and Alligator Creek.  Going it alone today.  Hot bite should be 8:15 to 11:15 AM.  Should be home by 1 PM.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

HAPPY WIFE, HAPPY LIFE

Home in Port Charlotte
63* at wake up

I finally found the time to post a new blog. My travels across the country continue to wear me down but, as I say, it beats staying home and looking for work.  I've continued monthly trips to the New England area, as well as NY, NJ, the east coast of FL, all the way out to CA and countless other trips I can't even recall.

What I really want to write about is yesterday's fishing trip.  I had received an invitation to guide a guy off shore in his 21' Key West boat.  He'd never been off shore since moving here about a year ago and he wanted my help navigating to some good fishing reefs.  We'd planned on going about 20 miles out until I looked at the wind and wave forecasts the night before.  15-20 MPH winds and 3-4' seas.  Not good conditions for traveling out of sight of land.  I called the guy back and cancelled, postponing for better conditions.

I stayed home to change out a troubled kitchen faucet when Subaru Jim called about 10 AM to say that the winds had laid down a bit and he and neighbor Jerry were planning on taking Jerry's 19' bay boat out for the first time this season.  They were each finishing up their own home projects but would be ready to depart about 12:30 PM.  After completing the faucet I grabbed a couple of rods and headed out.

After buying live shrimp we launched the boat from the Gasparilla Park boat ramp. The winds were more like 5-10, much to our delight so we boated out to the Tremblay Reef, just a couple of miles off shore from the Gasparilla Pass.  Here we caught keeper flounder and sheepshead.  About an hour after we anchored, the wind and waves picked up and soon we were surrounded by white caps.   I was seated on the bow, with Jim and Jerry at the stern.  At one point, while my attention was focused on baiting my hook, I looked up just in time to see a huge wave about to strike.  I shouted, "Roller!" just as a four footer came over the gunwale and soaked me from the waist down.  We were lucky that Jim's tackle bags, placed forward on the bow, weren't washed overboard.   Deciding one of those was enough, we pulled up anchor headed for the protection of the intercostal waterway.

We took refuge behind the Boca Grande bridge and dropped anchor again. Although we were protected by the lee side of the peninsula, the wind out of the north was still ripping pretty hard through the bridge pass, creating a tunnel effect that amplified the incoming tide and made a rushing white water current we used to our advantage. We cast our baits in the current and jigged them every few seconds.  The fish went into a frenzy and were striking on almost every cast.

We caught huge Spanish Mackerel, Permit (which I haven't landed since 2008 with Buffalo Pete) Jack Cravelle, and over 50 lady fish.   A pod of 6 or more bottle nose dolphin moved in on our action and really made things fun.  We had to keep them from stealing our catch but the fish on the lines would freak out when Flipper moved in to terrorize them. It was more fun than we've had in a long time.   At 5:20 the tide quit and as if someone threw a switch...the bite shut off.

With the sun setting we knew the noseeums would start their biting on us soon so we made a quick path back to the boat ramp.  It was a win-win day for all. We each made our wives happy with the projects we'd completed in the morning and got to enjoy a great afternoon of guilt free fishing fun.  Remember...happy wife, happy life!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SNOOK #3

Home in Port Charlotte
High of 89, 30% chance of afternoon showers

Caught and released 3rd snook of my Florida life this morning at 8AM from my floating dock.
Hi tide was at 7:01.  It was slack for quite a while but at 8 I pitched a skitter walk top water lure perfectly under the mangroves across the canal from me. (Rare)

I let it sit still for about 20 secs and popped it...BAM!

He was only about 18" so, even in season he'd earn a release, but it was still a line sider.
What a great start to a Sunday morning.

I used the floating dock to remove a great deal of pepper trees from the canal shoreline.
I have replanted five small Manngrove trees and am trying to continue to repopulate the canal with mangroves instead of peppers.

I will be visiting Key Largo again Monday night and Tuesday morning for work and hope to bring some more mangrove trees home in pots with me.  My colleagues there have a contract at a high-end waterside resort.  They have to remove mangroves from the marina and they put them in pots and give them to me.

There is a new tropical system in the Atlantic, east, southeast of Florida.  They are calling it Invest 97. There are a few models that have it coming near Homestead/Miami. But it is still several days away from any kind of a definitive track.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

WEEKEND IN NEW ENGLAND

Home in Port Charlotte
Forecast high of 87°, 50% chance of showers

My wife and I just returned from an eight day working vacation in New England.
We have some wonderful friends who have a winter home in Port Charlotte, FL, a summer home in Seekonk, Mass and their parents have a gorgeous 7 acres with a 3 story beach house on Nantucket Sound, Cape Cod.  They invited us for a long weekend and I followed it with a 4 day business trip.  Here's a photo tour of our weekend in New England:  (Click pictures for full screen image)
There is a brief video I shot while whale watching at the bottom on this page.

Arrival on our friend's private beach

Our accommodations for the first 4 days

View from the huge front porch

7 acres of wetlands provides nice privacy and gorgeous scenery

The swan river divides their property from the neighboring homes, some distance away.

Nantucket Sound

The sun sets on our first night

Gorgeous

Sunrise over Cape Cod

Whale watching out of Provincetown

This shot of the blow hole shows how close they were to us

A whale of a tail

Breaching the surface

40 plus foot whale leaps into the air

The visiting Judges from Florida gave this dive a 10

Sunday morning at Gillette Stadium

Got to represent the Cardinals fans during our tailgate party

QB Kevin Kolb drives the Cardinals to an early lead

The AZ Defense harassed Tom Brady all day; here, Calais Campbell bats a  pass away.

Cardinals WR Andre Roberts dives across the goal line to give the Cardinals the lead for good!


My wife looks on from row 37

When it was over, Arizona had shocked the world and upset all of New England.  It was only the 2nd Patriots defeat in this building in the past 34 games.  My wife and I will never forget the experience of our Weekend in New England.

video

Sunday, September 2, 2012

FRUITS OF MY LABOR DAY

Home in Port Charlotte
76* at wake up, high around 90*

I went out alone yesterday with one goal.  Repeat my luck from last labor day weekend and bring home a slot Redfish.  If the are under 18" or over 27" you must release them.  I read the Fishin Franks weekly report and heard the Reds were hot right now.  I had some boat maintenance to do first so I did not launch the boat until 1 PM.

The wind and the waves were quite a bit higher than what had been forecast .  I went to the Myakka cutoff, on an incoming tide.  Unless you have a pure flats boat, do not ever go in there on a falling tide.  I have a bay boat that draws about 1 foot of water.  I use the "stick it" shallow water anchor pin ($100) instead of a $1500 power pole.  I pinned the boat down in 2' of water, right up against the mangrove trees.

I used a popping cork with a live shrimp rigged beneath it.  The cork also helped me determine the actual flow of the water current.  Inside the cutoff it can be very deceiving.  You can have a 10 to 15 mph wind whipping across the top of the water causing almost wake like conditions and in reality the bait fish are being pulled in the opposite direction beneath the surface.

I used the cork on one rod and left it in the holder, unattended, while I used a tipped jig on a second rod to cover greater ground in my search.  The j.i.g. was catching only catfish and every time I checked the cork I found I'd been robbed of my bait.  I decided to focus my attention solely on the cork. (did you know that city data edits out the word jig.

I re-rigged and cast out as far as I could without the wind carrying me into.....crap.  In the mangroves.
I pulled the anchor pin and drove over to get my hook and float out of the trees. Any fish that were here would be scared off now.    After getting my gear free I returned to my anchor point and pinned down.  I took a break to enjoy a couple of bottles of chilled beverage and wait for the fish to return to their spot.

After  about fifteen minutes I re-rigged and cast out again, this time finding my mark.  The current slowly carried my cork into the shade of the mangroves.  Because of the curve of the shoreline, I was forced to lean out and peer around the trees blocking my view.  I remember thinking I must look pretty silly to anyone who may pass by. . .like I was trying to be sneaky, but this is a good time to mention I never saw another boat in there.

At 3:45, 45 minutes before high tide, I saw my bobber go under for a quick second.  Was that a hit or the waves?  Again, boop...under and back up.  What the ....under...this time it stayed under and I counted to three and BAM!  Set the hook!  Fish on!

He was a nice little fighter too.  Dark in color from the tannin stained water of the cutoff.  Unmistakable white underbelly, false eye on the tail, Red Drum.  I got him close enough to the boat and used one hand to grab my net, thanking myself or staging it close by.   As soon as I brought him aboard, my circle hook came out of his mouth.  I was that close to loosing him.

He measured 23" but was a fatty.  I put him in the live well and thought how nice it was to come out here with one goal in mind and be so fortunate as to have it fulfilled.  You're only allowed one of these per person, per day and I got what I came for.  I pulled the pin and headed for home.

As I crossed Charlotte Harbor, running about 20 knots in a moderate chop, I realized I was at that moment doing exactly what and where I wanted to do in life.  With as hard as I work, all of the crazy travel I do for my job, all of the sacrifices I make sleeping two thirds of the year in hotel rooms while my wife stars in her own version of Home Alone, this day makes it worthwhile.

I'm thankful for a wife who lets me fish and I'm thankful for a job that allows me to live the dream of owning a house with a boat parked on a canal in my backyard.  I'm thankful for the Redfish filets resting comfortably in my freezer.

Happy Labor Day, everyone.  Go do some fishing.
It's hard to photograph fish when you're alone on the boat.

Camera shy?

All dressed up for the filet table

Fish color changes to adapt to their environment.  The Myakka River, near where I caught this fella , has heavily stained water, almost like tea color.  This same fish living closer to the Gulf would be a much lighter shade of red.

Notice the spot on his tail?  This is a trademark of the Red Drum, or Redfish.  It is known as the false eye and is used to fool predators, giving the Redfish an advantage during an attack.  Fortunately, it didn't work against this predator.

Monday, August 27, 2012

ALL CLEAR!

Hilton Garden Inn
Calabasas, CA

Not long after I finished installing the hurricane shutters, the 11 AM update showed tropical storm Isaac on a direct path from Key West to New Orleans. While I was certainly relieved to get that news I wondered if I had wasted my time putting the boards up on the windows.  But when I stopped to remember that the post hurricane threat includes the possibility of tornadoes I realized I had made the right call.

On Sunday afternoon into Sunday evening we received light rains and increasing winds but nothing that I would describe as remotely dangerous.  One interesting side note was that the afternoon Low tide on my canal was extremely low.  It looked more like a January winter tide than an August summer tide.  A few hours earlier I had placed two anchors on my floating dock in order to secure it from the rising tide but when I went out to look later the floating dock was high and dry on the floor of the canal.  No harm, no foul it would be just fine when the water returns.

Sunday night we slept very well knowing that we were secure.  Another named storm had come and gone from Southwest Florida.

On Monday I awoke at 4 AM and prepared for my business trip in California. I drove to the Tampa airport at 6 AM and there was very little traffic and very light rain on interstate 75.  The Tampa airport was like a ghost town. The TSA agents outnumbered the passengers.  My first flight, from Tampa to Denver was half empty. I got the entire front row to myself and enjoyed the space.

My Denver to Los Angeles flight was very crowded.  I will be here in Southern California for three days.  Thursday morning I fly back home.  I'm hoping to get some fishing done this Saturday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

ALL EYES ON ISAAC

Home in Port Charlotte
Tropical Storm warning issued
76* at wake up



This is not the Isaac I had in mind.

Between work and storm preparations I have neglected my blog.  Here's the latest:

TS Isaac has winds of 65 MPH and it departs Cuba and sets its sights on the Florida Keys. It is expected to achieve hurricane strength in the next 24 hours.  The current path has it tracking northwest through the Gulf.  The closer north it come towards our area, the further west it is expect to move from our shore. This is good news.

I am scheduled to depart from Tampa to LAX tomorrow at noon for a mandatory meeting at my corporate office. I invited my wife to join me but she declined. She is scheduled to work the next three days and doesn't feel the need to evacuate.  Neither of us expect the conditions at our home to be much worse than what we experienced with TS Debby a few weeks ago.  We had gusty winds, 5" of local rain and a 2'-3' storm surge; enough of submerge our boat dock.

This morning Port Charlotte is under a Tropical Storm Warning. This means we could experience Tropical Storm force winds (39-73mph) in the next 24 hours.  The areas approximately 75 miles south of us are under Hurricane Warning.  We have activated our hurricane plan.

Yesterday I got some help from my electrician neighbor, Steve, and we installed a 30 amp power receptacle next to my breaker panel.  This will enable us to use our generator to power our entire home from the breaker panel.  We won't be able to use the air conditioner or the stove/oven, however we did run a successful run of the following:

After turning off the main breaker, (never run a generator with a live main; you will energize the service lines to the street and if the service line is sending power to the home, you will blow your generator), we turned power back on, one breaker at a time, until we had all essential power running together.  We were able to have radios, TV's, ceiling and floor fans, lights, 2 refrigerator/freezers, our alarm system and even a vacuum running all at the same time.  Our Honda 7000 watt generator was a great investment.  Wiring directly to the breakers will keep us from having to run extension cords into the house and, other than a lack of AC, it will be life as usual.  This is critical, as my wife is going to be enduring this on her own.  I must say, I'd rather be here to take care of her and frankly, I'm disappointed I'm going to miss the excitement of the storm action.

Our generator test included experimenting with where we can safely place the unit.  Obviously the cost of such an item carries with it the threat of theft.  I had hoped to be able to place the generator at the driveway end of the garage and lower the garage door enough to prevent the unit from fitting beneath it.  We ran the generator and used a 4 gas detection meter to measure the levels of carbon monoxide in the garage.  They were at 90 parts per million; dangerous levels.  I placed a floor fan to force the exhaust further out of the garage but it was not enough to render the garage safe from the deadly fumes.  Even though the air inside the home tested safe for the 20 minutes test, the risk is not worth the reward.  We decided the unit will be placed on the small patio off of the service door of the garage, leading to the side yard.  I bought two braided steel cables and monstrous padlocks to secure the generator when it's placed outside.  I also changed out the standard porch light on that side of the house for motion detector flood light as additional security.

We went through our breaker panel, switch by switch, to positively identify the assignment and house location of each area serviced by each breaker.  I then applied labels on each breaker.

We stocked up on 20 gallons of drinking water, 2 cases of vitamin water, a case of gatorade and of course beer and wine.  We have plenty of frozen and non-perishable food.  We filled our propane bottles if we need to cook on the grill. All vehicles are full of fuel and we have 20 gallons of gas on hand for the generator and cash on hand, in case ATMs go down for days.

The boat is on the trailer in the driveway.  This is preferred over having it on the lift during a storm.  The hurricane high tides could cause it to float off the lift or damage the lift cover.  I still need to secure all of the dock lines on my floating dock/maintenance barge.  (remember that blog story? It's one of the most popular chapters searched for on Google)

I think we are ready.  I will decide by mid afternoon today if I need to install the plywood shutters on our windows.  A category 1 hurricane 150 miles off our shore would not really require shutters here.  Very few homes and even fewer businesses in town are putting up shutters.

The Fort Myers airport has cancelled flights for tonight and tomorrow but so far there are no cancellations for Tampa.  My flight is scheduled to depart Monday at noon and return Thursday afternoon.

By the time I finished writing this, we have been placed under Tornado Watch for the next 48 hours.  This is standard procedure, as rotating winds cause friction with the land and the result can be tornados forming at any time.  Fort Myers Beach and the Gulf Barrier Islands are under mandatory evacuation.  This is also standard, as those home right on the Gulf water can take 6' of water into their property.

I shot a video of our home/lot to document it's condition prior to the storm.  To view this video, click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRBcrex8ndw&feature=plcp

Here are some photos of our prep work:

new tags on the breakers
Inlet for generator to power breaker panel

128 pints of drinking water
Additional water totals 20 gallons


Sunday, August 19, 2012

GHOST OVER THE GULF

Home in Port Charlotte
High of 90

On Saturday, my friend Al and I went fishing offshore. This time we took Al's 23 foot Bayliner walk around. The marine weather forecast was excellent, calling for 1 foot seas and winds around 5 to 10 mph. This could not have been more in accurate.

Overnight thunderstorms had churned up the seas and waves were more like 2 to 3 foot with the occasional five footer thrown in for good measure. The ride out was very uncomfortable. By 10:00 AM I was wishing I had stayed home for the day to rest. After a work week that found me in six states in four days, getting beat up at sea was not my idea of a fun Saturday. However we figured that these unexpected seas were from some unexpected thunderstorms and after they passed, so would the rough water.

We fished a few holes between five and 7 miles offshore and didn't have much luck except Al one nice flounder. By 2 PM the seas started to smooth out and the storms had moved onshore, away from us.

23 miles offshore, we anchored down in 90 feet of water. At 3 PM, as if someone had flipped a switch, the bite turned on. Over the next 90 minutes we caught red grouper, Vermillion snapper, Lane snapper, yellowtail snapper, grunts, sharks, romora, grey triggerfish, Porgie and lots of baitfish, which we proceeded to fillet and release.

For a short while every single cast was resulting in fish. When we dropped the bait overboard it would take a few seconds for it to get 90 feet down but as soon as we closed the bail on the reel, the rod was getting tugged immediately. It's moments like these that make fishing addictive. In fact it's not even fishing... it's catching!

By 6:30 PM we knew it was time to pull up anchor and make the long run back to shore. The ride back in was not nearly as rough as the ride out, although the chop did pick up the closer we got to shore. We got the boat back on the trailer right at 8 PM as the sun was going down.

All of the keepers had been placed on ice while we were fishing so everything remained fresh to be filleted the next morning.  As I write this on Sunday afternoon, my wife and I are preparing to enjoy grouper fish tacos for dinner tonight. We will compliment the tacos with a special wasabi lime sauce, from a recipe shared by my brother Mike.

Enjoy the photos below. The one that looks like a ghost cloud rising over the gulf was quite interesting to see.
He must have been a friendly ghost, as the lightning stayed well clear of us.


Ghost of fishermen past?

Night shot of all of our keepers

4 Vermillion Snapper, 2 Lane Snapper; one pound is a common size

Porgie

Red Grouper

He just found out the menu
Sunday dinner: blackened Grouper, lemon pepper Lane Snapper tacos with  homemade wasabi lime sauce

Grouper taco with wasabi lime sauce

Saturday, August 4, 2012

FLORENCE JOINS ERNESTO

On vacation in Phoenix, AZ
high of 111*

Ernesto has been joined in the Atlantic by Tropical Storm Florence.  Ernesto has gained in strength with sustained winds over 60 MPH, while Flo is just getting going at 40MPH.

The forecast tracks of each are posted below showing the cone of uncertainty.
Neither of these storms is predicted to directly impact Florida.

The weather in Phoenix has been just as oppressive as I remember.  Highs above 110* just plain hurt to be outside.  South Florida has no bragging rights over Phoenix in the summertime.

We're going to get out of the heat tomorrow, as we head into the mountains to Strawberry, AZ to visit my Dad.  It is less than 2 hours away but about 20 degrees cooler up there.


Florence cone of uncertainty

Ernesto cone of uncertainty

Thursday, August 2, 2012

TROPICAL STORM ERNESTO

On vacation in Arizona
High of 108*

Tropical Storm Ernesto has formed in the Atlantic Ocean.  It is presently east of the BVI's at about 13*north.  It's current track should take it into the eastern Caribbean by the weekend and possibly into the Gulf of Mexico in a week or so.  It's winds are sustained around 50 MPH and I have the latest spagehetti plots posted here.  We are in Arizona on vacation but will return before the storm has a chance to arrive ahead of us.

Ernesto doesn't seem to be a huge storm but there is a new tropical wave of low pressure that is a few hundred miles behind him.  If development of this system occurs it will be named Florence.  This one seems to have the computer models more concerned.

I will post significant updates as they occur.



Sunday, July 29, 2012

FISHING THE BAYRONTO WRECK

Home in Port Charlotte
75* at wake up, going to a high of 92

After a week of work that had me gone from 4AM Monday until 7PM Friday I was ready for some fishing.

My friend Al and I launched my boat from the Gasparilla boat ramp at 7:30 AM.  We returned at 7:40 to get my handheld GPS (again) from my truck.  At least this time I didn't have to go all the way back to the house for it.  We went back out from the ramp area again and I used my cast net to try and catch live bait.  Although my throws were better than ever before, we didn't catch any bait.  I had bought rigged ballyhoo for trolling so we figured we'd catch Bonito tuna and cut that up for bait.

The Gulf seas were as calm as you could ask for, with nearly flat conditions I was able to run the boat at 25 knots the whole way out.  And we went way out.  We ventured further than ever before; 30 miles off-shore to a shipwreck known as the Bayronto.  She's a 400 foot long, 52 foot wide, French flagged freighter that went down in a hurricane on September 13, 1919.  She was carrying a load of wheat from Galveston to Marseilles.  All 48 crewmen were accounted for, although some had spent days drifting at sea in lifeboats.

The site is very popular with divers and spear fishermen.  Our day was no exception, as there were divers from 2 boats there with us.  Al and I drifted the site, using my bottom machine to chart out the structure below.  The wreck sits upside down in about 100 feet of water.  There are spots where the vessel rises up 30 feet and changes our depth to 70 something feet.

We'd not had any luck trolling on the way out but we did stop and catch some grunts to use as cut bait.
We caught and released several short red grouper (20" minimum limit) and we numerous large barracuda stalking our boat for their release.  I saw them get at least 2 and one was bit in half on my line on the way up.

There were schools of Bonito tuna feeding all around us for most of the day.  I've never seen the water "boil" the way I saw it today.  The rushing sound of water during the surface feeding frenzy was spectacular.  We cast into the school many times but never hooked up.

I deployed my trolling motor in an effort to control our drift but it literally fried.  I powered it up and it made a big popping sound and smoke poured out of it.  I quickly yanked the plug and pronounced it dead at 11:30 AM.  I bought this thing (gently used) online and it's been nothing but a money pit.  After paying 700 for it and putting another 400 into it, I'm done with that.  I could have bought a small outboard to install as a kicker motor on the back of my boat for that kind of money.  Meanwhile, back to the fishing...

At about 12 noon I had a major strike from the wreck below.  The fish was big, strong and made several runs.  I knew it wasn't a grouper because I've never had one run on me.  They just hunker down and hold on.  This fish made us move the boat in order to get line back from him.  I stood on the bow for the fight while Al took the helm.  After about 10 minutes I started winning the battle and was able to pull up and reel down.  Al could see it was something big and even the Barracuda were spooked by it when they would try to get close.  I got it to the surface and Al recognized it as a Greater Amberjack.  This was my first of this species and the 31st different species I've landed since moving to Florida.

Even though the fish was over 35 inches long and likely over 30 pounds, we had to let him go.  Harvest season for Amberjack was still 5 days away, beginning August 1.  We each took a couple of photos with the fish and sent him back to the wreck below.  You can see from the photos below, I didn't have the experience of handling one of these big boys.  I was better behind the camera for Al's poses.  Al also caught a Lane Snapper, which I'd never seen before.

We moved on to a couple of other locations and had marginal success with catching smaller fish.  We moved to a couple of Al's favorite spots and found the Grouper.  Finally, after 4 years and countless tries, I got my first Grouper big enough to keep.  Al caught 2 keepers of his own, one being a real fatty at about at 27" long.

Just after 5PM we decided to head for the ramp.  Seas were nearly as smooth on the way in and I ran about 30 knots the entire way in.  I got home at about 7PM and by the time I cleaned the fish, flushed out the motor, showered and sat down for dinner it was 9:00.  I think I lost consciousness at 10:30.

Click on pictures for full screen image.  Notice how flat the seas are, 30 miles off shore.


As you can see above and below, Al is the better handler and I'm the better photographer.



Where we fished:  these pins indicate where I was when checked in on my SPOT satellite locator.  The cluster at the far left is the location of the Bayronto wreck. If you look to the far right, you can see how far we are from home, in Port Charlotte.