Some days you just really have to be there.
After putting Jenni on an airplane back to Springfield yesterday, we made plans to go fishing with Mike, Linda, and Paul. Today dawned shrouded in a thick ocean fog that had rolled in overnight, but was forecast to burn off by 10:00 am. So, we loaded up Hanna’s 25 ProLine “No$ense” and struck out for a fishing ground that he’d found on Google Earth.
Now, the electronics on Mikes boat probably are worth about what my boat is worth, so I didn’t have any trepidation about striking out into the Atlantic in a dense fog. He set the GPS, which has a display that’s as large as my laptop monitor, for a spot in the Atlantic about 10 miles offshore.
Well, we got there, didn’t find a lot of fish, so moved on to another spot a little less than a mile away. There, the sonar was showing tons of fish. And after about 30 minutes finding just the right spot to drop the hook, we started cutting up cigar minnows and dropping the lines.
From the very outset, we started feeling tugs on the lines. Lots of very active little fish were stripping the the old, mushy bait from our hooks. We pulled up some little grunts and juvenile grouper, sometimes losing the baits before they reached the bottom. In some ways, it was a little frustrating. But the skunk was quickly out of the boat, and we continued to pull in just enough little fish that we knew bigger ones would eventually be interested and come check out all the action. And check us out they did.
Paul caught the first good size fish. A decent red snapper that was still 4 or 5 inches under legal. But after that, it was Katie bar the door. We all started dragging nice sized fish up from the bottom. Grouper, snapper, flounder. But it was pretty much “2 inch too short” day. 95% of the fish we caught that LOOKED great were just that much too short, and back into the ocean they went.
Still, we managed to box a couple of nice red snapper, and had a great day out on the ocean in the fog. All in all, we caught probably 6 grunts, 3 flounder, 6 snapper, 5 or 6 grouper, and then there was the toadfish. Damn, those are ugly. Mike and I each had 3 or 4 that spat out the hook as we started pulling them to the surface. We were fishing in about 70 feet of water and sometimes it seemed like it took forever to get the fish from the bottom to the boat. We fished until we ran out of bait … about 3:30 in the afternoon.
Throughout the day, the fog persisted. Warm air out of the south moving over the cool water of the Atlantic and virtually no wind made conditions solid IFR all day. There were times when I know the visibility wasn’t more than a few hundred yards, if that. We’d hear boats approaching our fishing site long before we’d see them, and one came in way faster than they should have for the conditions. Mike got their attention with the boat horn and spotlight. At times the fog turned to mist, hanging heavy and visible in the air. The swell ran about a foot, but without a breath of air to ripple the surface most of the day. A far cry from the small craft advisories that had been posted most of the past couple of days for 5 foot + seas.
So, it was a heck of a day fishing. There are a lot of days when the fishing is great, but the catching … not so much. Always a nice day on the boat, but not always a lot to show for it at the end of the day besides a sunburn and a fuel bill. Today, we brought in some nice fish and really had a great day out on the ocean … fog not withstanding.
So tomorrow, the Christmas decorations need to come down. The football playoffs are underway, and the first couple of days of 2009 are in the history books. Lets hope this day fishing is a harbinger of good things to come this year.