K Tower & Big Red

02/12/12. Friday.

Weather:  High:  65.  Low:  36.  Cloudy and a little rainy and foggy.  Not what I would call excellent fishing conditions.  Did I mention it is windy.  Seas are 2 to 4 feet.

On the boat today are Ryan Brooks and Gene Griffin.

All week long, I have been getting acquainted with my nautical maps.  There is a lot of information on those things!  The more I study it, the more I learn.  I have been using my compass, learning about North and West coordinates, degrees, sectors, grids, compass headings, underwater terrain, fish havens, etc.  My family grows weary of seeing the nautical maps scattered around the dining room table.

Don't ask me why, but our mission today is to head offshore to a place called "Oar Reef".   It's not like conditions are perfect for heading out there.  Oar reef is about 20 miles offshore.  That means, NO MORE LAND!.  I have never Captained a boat where I couldn't see the shore anymore.  I am nervous about it.  I still don't feel like I know my boat that well.  We leave the dock around 7:30 a.m.  It's COLD!  I think we are morons.  Stupidity loves company though.

We past the Shoal which just last week, I thought was a loooong way offshore.  But we still have another 15 miles to go to get to our destination. The Triton handles amazingly well in 3-4 ft seas.  A few times we really slammed down hard in a trough, but we never really got wet.  In fact, we are all amazed at how dry this bay boat runs in relatively rough seas.  The electronics are working fine and we stay on course right to the reef.  GPS and Fish Finder say we are on it, so we drop down our new poles (bait casters) and our squid (not shrimp this time).  Nothing.  I have several GPS coordinates that I downloaded from the Internet for this location, so we move around to numerous spots.  Nothing.  Did I mention that it is frustrating to fish in February?

We decide to head to one more location on the reef, but Ryan doesn't pull the anchor in all the way.  I would blame him, but I'm the guy that told him not to bring it all the way up. WHAM!  A loud clanging noise and the engine shuts off.  I look at Gene and he looks at me.  We both immediately know what it is.  The anchor chain has wrapped itself around the propeller.  Oh my god! 

Did I mention that we are 20 miles offshore in 3-4 ft seas?  The temperature is 45 degrees and supposed to drop to 25.  Crap.  So Gene literally holds onto my pants while I lean over and attempt to unwrap the anchor chain from the propeller.  Done.  I hold my breath; start the motor.  It starts.  First test passed.  Second test, is the prop stripped?  I put it into gear.  It doesn't seem to have any problems.  Thank you Honda, for making a great motor.

With that calamity behind us, they both convince me to go South even farther to the K Tower. "Heck", they say, it's only 5 more miles offshore".  We are morons so we go there.   Nothing else bad could happen right?

As soon as we arrive, Ryan gets a HUGE fish on the line.  It must be a grouper.  He fights it for awhile, but it breaks his leader.  He, apparently, didn't "rig up" enough.  About the same time, I catch a 29 inch redfish.  Typically, you do your best to "stretch out" a redfish so he will fit into the "slot" of 18-27 inches.  In my case, I try to squish him, but it just isn't working.  He is massive. 

We only catch a few small, grun looking fish at K tower - very few bites.  We even try trolling around it.  It is still early February.  On the way back, we run into LOTS of Mackerel schools.  This time, we have all the necessary trolling rigs, baits and lures.  We troll right through those boys and Gene throws all kind of spoons at them.  Nothing!  They simply aren't interested.  Curse you February!

The ride back is well over an hour.  We get back to the marina without any additional mishaps.  I am learning the area much better, but I still pretty much suck as a Captain at putting us on the fish.  I don't feel too bad though.  40 degrees always makes for tough fishing.

I will blog again soon.  Oh - missed the damn dock this time during the turn-around. 

Captain Paul

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