I took my friend Joe out fishing for the first time. He lives part time in his native New England and he spends his winters, along with his wife and her parents, in their home in Port Charlotte. (See our trip to their home last September) Joe told me that he has never caught a Florida fish. He changed that 30 seconds after we started fishing.
I have the boat on the trailer so we could get easy access to the intracoastal waterway and Gulf of Mexico. Remember from my house is quite a long ride to get out to the Gulf. We were joined by two other boats, piloted by Jerry and Al. Subaru Jim rode on Jerry's boat and Al had two other guests on his boat.
We launched out of Gasparilla Park at 8:30 AM. The ride out was a little bumpy with 2 to 3 foot seas and winds of 10 to 15 mph but each time we stopped to fish, it was very comfortable.
Immediately upon dropping his first live shrimp to the bottom of the 70' deep water, Joe hooked up and landed a nice Lane Snapper. Within an hour we caught and released a dozen or more and put six snapper in the cooler. I told Joe he just might go home and tell his wife "we need to get a different boat." (They have a very nice deck boat but it's not for off-shore action)
We made four more stops at different locations in the Gulf and pulled up fish at three of the four spots. We caught and kept grouper, snapper and porgie, and we released lesser amberjack, short grouper and many more small baitfish that attacked our shrimp. We fished in depths from 70 feet to 85 feet and were as far as 25 miles offshore. (See our check-in points on the map below)
Of course I carry my satellite positioning transmitter or SPOT, and am able to check in hourly or as needed. If the need ever arose, all I have to do is push a button and the Coast Guard would be on their way. Traveling in a fleet of three boats also improves our safety. The new Garmin GPS that my wife got me for Christmas is able to communicate with my marine radio, using NMEA technology, giving us another avenue of emergency communication. The fact that I am a certified Red Cross CPR instructor put Joe's wife a little more at ease at the thought of me taking him so far out to Sea.
At 4 PM I knew we would have at least an hour ride back to shore, so we pulled up our lines stowed our gear and put some Scott Kirby music on the radio for the ride home. The sea gods were more than cooperative as the wind laid down to less than 5 mph, making for nearly smooth seas the whole trip home.
Joe caught so many fish we stopped counting the individual number of fish but we knew he landed at least six different species on the day. It was another great trip and a fabulous way to start out the new fishing year. Below are a few photos from our day.