The Agony of Defeat

Hey Captain Hook!

This is your neighbor - STAN!

You probably don't remember, but you gave me the credentials to this blog site during our last poker game cause you wanted my daughter, who is currently at FSU, to help you with social media.  You probably don't remember because you had had a few beers.

But whatever, here I am!  I figured it out.  I have no idea how to change the font.

Allow me to set the record straight on a few things.

1. You were not "kicking my butt" on the poker table.  In fact, my full house over your straight pretty much did you in. Remember?

2. Yes, I remember the fifty dollar bet.  And as we discussed, it was fifty bucks to split all that wood by hand cause you said you were in such great shape P80Y boy, or whatever the heck it is called.

I saw your selfies with your shirt off.  For an old man, you really should know better.  I'm guessing you lost a few readers over those "fake news" geriatric lumberjack shots.

More importantly, while it is true I was in Washington this weekend (still am).  My wife was NOT!

She also remembers the bet, which is why she was sooooo surprised to see the hydraulic log splitter in your front yard, you sneaky bastard.

So she took a couple of snaps from her iPhone as she was driving by on her way to the grocery store. 

She said on the last shot that it appeared that you were looking right at her, but apparently you were using the hydraulic splitter to take selfies of yourself.  You should be ashamed.

So I'm sorry for ruining your blog - okay I'm not really.

And I'm not sorry at all about taking your fifty bucks.  I'll be back on Wednesday.  Feel free to leave my money in my mailbox.

Your neighbor - and hopefully still your friend - Stan

BTW, When are we fishing again, friend?

The Thrill of Victory

Although I would like to, I can't always go fishing.

1. I don't have that many friends who are available every weekend
2. It is rather expensive
3. Chores exist
4. The weather isn't always accommodating.

In March, #4 (above) often applies because March is windy.  In fact, I looked:


When the forecast begins with a "Small Craft Advisory" highlighted in red, it is safe to say that the conditions offshore are considered "not ideal".  My boat may be able to handle 6 foot seas, but I'm not sure my body can.  I simply ain't getting any younger.

So I am a "land-lubber" this weekend  Ugh, like I stated in #3, there are always chores to do at home. Well, one of the things I enjoy about fishing weekends is hanging out by the fire on the back deck of the Crak Shak in Panacea. However, to enjoy that luxury, wood has to be cut.

As it turns out, my neighbor Stan, who is a lobbyist, bet me fifty dollars a few months ago at the poker table that I could not chop all this wood in my front yard, in one day, by hand:

That's funny.  I just realized there is a dog in this photo.

Since I was already kicking his butt monetarily at the poker table, I figured what the heck? What have I got to lose?  It's his lost money.  He is in Washington this weekend lobbying, so I had to take some "timed selfies" for proof. Although windy, it is still a very nice day today, so I started chopping, and chopping, and chopping, and chopping.  Wow, this is hard for an old dude, but at the end of the day, I got it all done:

Fishing Florida's Forgotten CoastFishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

Of course, chopping the wood (and winning 50 bucks) is only the 1st step, then it all has to be loaded onto the truck multiple times and taken up the hill to the back yard where it then has to be unloaded from the truck, stacked and finally covered. 

The final stack!

Still, all of it was worth it to prove to my neighbor that I am still the man (albeit old man)!

Now, how much Advil can fifty dollars purchase?

The sweetness of victory!  Stan, I know you read this blog, so feel free to drop off my money anytime.  Don't even think about paying me in pennies either.

I'm out of town for a while on business myself, so I can't blog for a while.

Weather permitting, back to offshore fishing on April 8.

Thanks for reading.

Capt'n Hook

Captain Marc Paul

Adventure for Teenagers

TeenagersThis is a short blog.

1. Spring Break is upon us.  
2. Teenagers are bored.  
3. The weather is nice.  
4. Capt'n Hook is wicked cool to hang out with.

Add those together and they equal another day "Fishing the Forgotten Coast" on the Century.

Admittedly, offshore fishing is difficult when you have a crew of experienced fishermen. (Well, it is for me at least). It is even more difficult when you have a group of teenagers, some of which, have never been on a boat. But today's adventure is just as much about having fun as it is fishing.

My goal is to get them (and Terri) to K Tower which is almost exactly 20 miles offshore. So off we go on a three-hour tour.

Low tide again.  Very, very low tide. And to make matters worse, all of my electronics keep re-booting every 15 seconds. So, I don't have GPS, I don't have radar, and I don't have a fish-finder. If I make it 20 miles offshore, I will need to navigate by manual charts. I tell Terri this. She asks, "How much do you remember about manual navigation from Sea School?"  

"Um, uh, lots.  Yeah, lots! No worries, I can get us all back safely without electronics and GPS.  I have an offshore chart in my backpack.  I still have my parallel navigation ruler:"

Capt'n Hook - Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

She doesn't look convinced - a little worried even.  Fortunately, halfway to K Tower my electronics stop re-booting themselves and stay on consistently (Ground wire, always a ground wire).  One less thing to worry about, I suppose.  I could have done it, though!

K Tower

We arrive.

Great picture of the teenagers. Well, especially of Danielle on the far right..  Everyone else's hair is wind-blown and tossed, her hair and makeup is well - perfect. And we are 20 miles offshore!  Did she just manifest on the boat or something? Delaney, my daughter, is in the middle.  Hair not perfect, but beautiful nonetheless.  :-). Yes, Lexi, you are beautiful also!  Okay, guys too.  

We fish the tower for most of the day, and we try everything from knife jigs to squid, to LYs, but there is simply nothing biting out here today. I give the kids credit, everyone fished with enthusiasm.

Teenage Girls

Although a little overwhelming because I have a bad habit of throwing too much information at them, too fast, the boys had a good time crewing. Here is Wesley trolling:


People ask me all the time why I'm not a charter Captain and it is for this reason:  I would feel extremely guilty about taking people's money and not catching anything. Well, I take that back, Delaney caught this HUGE rock bass:  :-)


Like I said though, today is more about the adventure, and not about the fishing.  Although a little chilly, it was a beautiful day. We all had a nice lunch on the bow, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

NOT catching fish is also, apparently, very tiring:

Teenagers Sleeping on the Boat

After eating some smores over a bonfire that night on the back deck of the Shak, we finished out the weekend by going to the Panacea Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. They have made a LOT of improvements recently.  It really is a "gem" of a place, albeit a little hidden down in Panacea. Your kids can touch all kinds of sea creatures.  If you haven't been, I strongly encourage you to do so with, or without, your children.

Panacea Gulf Specimen Marine Lab

Look how thrilled the teenagers are to have spent a day with Capt'n Hook!
Teenagers on Mashes Sands

Thanks for reading everyone (All three of you).  Spring and summer are coming, so I will be back soon with, hopefully, more fishing pictures.

Oh yeah, and now, in addition to this blog, Capt'n Hook now has a FaceBook Site, a YouTube Channel, and a new Instagram account.  I know, you are thinking, it's about time dude.  It is also our intent to get a videographer back on-board the boat this summer so we can start posting action videos again.  You can check out the other social media sites by clicking on the icons in the footer of the Capt'n Hook website:

In fact, if you have been fishing with me the last couple of years, Google "Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast", then click "Images".  Depending upon how cool your photo is, you may quickly find yourself on the 1st page! Capt'n Hook pictures are "bubbling up" quickly in the Google search rankings! Go ahead, try it!

See everyone soon.

Captain Marc Paul

Not 1, but 2!

I owe February an apology.  If you go back a year in my posts, you will read about me "dissing" February.  Why? Because February tends to be cold, windy, dreary, and nasty - yes, even in Florida.  But according to the weatherman, today's February forecast is supposed to be glorious!  83 degrees, sunny, and very little wind.  Okay, with a forecast like that, I need to take people fishing in February.

On the boat today is:  George, "Harey Carey" (I picked him up at the bar the night before), Corey, Liz, Chris and "yours truly".

We all meet at the boat at 8:00 a.m.  Low tide is at 8:42 a.m.  Remember that low tides in the winter are MUCH more severe than low tides in the summer.  This low tide is no different.  Several places in the channel are only 3 ft deep, so I have to go extremely slow (OMG) for the first two miles of our journey. We hit bottom a few times, but since I have gone through this scary exercise just recently, I'm not as nervous as I was a few weeks ago.  The other trick I learned: Turn off my electronics while I am navigating the extremely shallow channel.  Why?  Because my electronics beep loudly at me constantly when the depth gauge reads less than 3 feet.  That constant beeping makes me very nervous and honestly, it's rather irritating.  So my electronics are off - for now.  It is a little foggy, but no so bad that I can't see in front of me and also so bad that I would need my electronics to navigate.   So it is quiet as we putter along leaving the long channel from the marina.

And the weather, well, it is kind of cold, foggy, and rainy.  So much for glorious weather.

Panacea Fishing

Somewhat ominous looking also:

Panacea Fishing

George pondering weather (very punny) or not this trip is a good idea.  We are still in the channel:

Panacea Fishing

Me convincing the other old guys that this really is a good idea.  We are still in the channel:

Panacea Fishing

More pictures heading out.  We are still in the channel:

Panacea Fishing

The young couple happy to be on a boat.  We are still in the channel:

Panacea Fishing

Me starting to get excited because we are close to leaving the channel - after 45 minutes!

Panacea Fishing

Us finally leaving the channel and finally being able to get up on plane.  Thank you god.  I HATE going slow.  The shore is finally behind me; deep water ahead:

Panacea Fishing

I have no idea what I am saying to Corey's girlfriend in the picture below, but it is probably something along the lines of how cool older guys are.   She is giving me a courtesy smile.   :-)

Panacea Fishing

Okay, enough "channel" pictures.  Time to turn the channel. Ahem.

We are heading to V Tower today to hunt Amberjack.  It is the only species that is open - don't get me started.  After narrowly missing hundreds of water mines, I mean crab traps, and going through a few minor showers, we arrive at a waypoint just a few miles short of V Tower.  We drop.

Wham, wham, wham, wham, wham.  We tear up the rock bass.  Well, I should say that Chris tears up the rock bass.  I think he catches 10 rock bass in 10 minutes.  All keepers.  You know, we aren't seeking rock bass, but they are pretty tasty AND you can actually keep them.  So in the cooler they go.  I kind of like having fish in the boat this early.  We stay on this spot for about 20 minutes, but we aren't seeking rock bass, we are seeking their larger cousins - Amberjack, so I decide to head on to V.:

Panacea Fishing

The cute couple wanted a picture of themselves next to V.  
Hey, is that beer you guys are drinking already?

Panacea Fishing
We arrive.  40 miles offshore now.  Hey look, sunshine!  It has been hiding up until now: 

V Tower

Today, we are using "blade" (aka knife) jigs. Basically, you just drop these heavy lures to the bottom and start yanking them up and down.  That "jerky" movement gets the attention of the fish.  I suppose it reminds them of something wounded. Who knows.  But whatever it does, it seems to work.  I am beginning to trust these strange lures more and more. We aren't at V Tower but a few minutes when Corey catches this small Amberjack.  Great fish Corey, but we are looking for his big brother:

V Tower

Harey Carey throws a live pinfish out on a free line and he sets the pole down and goes off to do other things. (Mostly helping others I might add).  Corey is on the bow and I am, of course, driving. After some time, Corey says he sees something circling the bait.  Since everyone is busy fishing with their own rigs, I decide to grab this unattended pole (just in case).  Just about the time I do grab the pole, something hits it.  Cool!  I get to fish!  I rarely get this opportunity anymore, so while I am struggling with whatever is on, I am secretly smiling:

V Tower

Still struggling:  (Has nothing to do with the fact that I am getting old) 
Probably a pinfish on my line.  I haven't done P90X in a while.

V Tower

Cool, Amberjack:
V Tower

I even get to have my picture with him: (all by my lonesome).  We put him in the fish box that is full of ice:
V Tower

Just to be sure, we measure him:  (Yep, 35 inches.)  They have to be 34 now, btw.
V Tower

Here is another keeper coming in.  Great photos Chris.  I like these action shots:

V Tower

Another very big one in the boat.  These guys fight hard!  (I love fishing, well in my case, driving)

V Tower

Liz also jigged for awhile, but since she wasn't catching anything with that particular technique, she switched to squid.
V Tower

Well, that works: 
V Tower

Liz quickly became our "Snapper" expert.  I lost count as to how many of these she actually caught. They are beautiful fish.  Too bad we can't keep them.  Still, they are good fighters, and a lot of fun to catch.

Here is another one: 
She enjoyed catching them on the bow.  I really enjoyed watching her catch them on the bow  :-)
V Tower

Then, as things often do out here, things go quiet for a little while.  Nobody is catching anything.  A few people eat their lunch.  Great day so far though.

Finally, George gets a big hit.  As I have learned with large Amberjack, you aren't going to win the fight for the first 45 seconds.  Their first run is very powerful.  All you can really do is to tighten up the drag, hold on for dear life, keep them away from the tower, and hope that the line doesn't break or the hook doesn't come out of their mouth.

The first 45 seconds of George's fight proceeds as I have described it above.  He has no chance of making progress.  But then something is different.  He doesn't make progress for the next 45 seconds either.  Or for that matter, he doesn't make much progress for the next 30 minutes!  I wish we had taken a picture of him struggling. He was sweating, we were giving him water and cooling him down, cause he was becoming exhausted.  When the fight was over, here is what came up:

A 150 pound (approx) Goliath Grouper.  A big girl - about 3 1/2 feet long.

Goliath Grouper

Corey did an EXCELLENT job of getting the hook out of the fish's mouth.  You can actually see him holding the hook on the gunwale in this picture below as I turn her over to get her to go back down to the depths. What a cool fish.  Great job George!  George grabs a beer and sits down.

Goliath Grouper

I really like this next camera angle because it gives you a great perspective on just how big this fish is up close.  A Goliath grouper!  The first one caught on Capt'n Hook's boat.  Amazing job George for staying with it all that time.
Goliath Grouper

Then, it was Chris's turn.  This is the shot I WISH we had taken of George. For 35 minutes, George had this same grimace on his face:

Goliath Grouper

This next picture below is important, because when Chris's fight started with this monster fish, we were sitting very close to the tower in the background.  If you look very closely, just under Chris's pole in the picture below, you can barely see another boat sitting next to the tower.  That boat is the same size as mine. So while it may look like we are still close to the tower, it is a BIG tower and we are not that close anymore.  This picture below of Chris is 43 minutes (yes, I timed both of them) after the fish first hit his line. You can see that he is still grimacing.  :-(

I have moved the boat at least two miles back and forth following this fish.  Chris, at this point in time, is wishing that he had Advil on the other end of the line.  Because the fish has moved so much, I am guessing that it is a 150-200 pound bull shark.  Goliath groupers, I figure, don't move around this much:

Goliath Grouper

I figured wrong.  Here is the 2nd Goliath grouper (OMG!) that we bring up next to the boat.  Once again, here is Corey doing an excellent job of removing the circle hook from the monster's mouth:

Goliath Grouper

Although it is hard to tell from the pictures, this Goliath is at least 50 pounds heavier than the first.   Its just a guess, but probably 200 pounds and 4 feet long.  Both fisherman and fish are exhausted. Both fisherman and fish though, will be fine.  This isn't the first time these fish have been caught, and it won't be the last - and the hook won't be a problem for them:

Goliath Grouper

Goliath Grouper

Once again, I am attempting to roll the fish over to get it to return to the depths:

Goliath Grouper

After we released this 2nd Goliath, we returned to the tower for a litte more fishing.  Afterwards, at dinner that night, when I asked Corey what his "moment" was on the boat, he said it was when all four poles got hit at the same time.  And they did.  Chris and George were on the stern and Corey and Carey were on the gunwales.  All at once, I hear "fish on" - FROM EVERYONE.  It was mayhem. Unfortunately, we lost all four fish on that particular event, but we still slayed them on this day.

So, a few final pictures of the tired, but proud crew with the fish we caught: 

V Tower

V Tower

V Tower

V Tower

Time to head home guys and girl. Oh, notice that the day is now beautiful, sunny and warm.  The weatherman was finally correct. 

Panacea Fishing

Everyone have a beer? (well, except the Captain). Check!
Everyone exhausted? (well, except the Captain).  Check!
Everyone has a smile on their face? (including the Captain).  Check!
Time to head home!  Goodbye V Tower and thanks for some awesome February fishing:

V Tower

We are blessed to make it back to the dock with no issues.  My favorite part is showing off the Amberjack that we caught to everyone back at the dock - and the pictures of the Goliaths.  Well, okay, my FAVORITE part is watching everyone else clean the boat and fish while I drink a beer:

Panacea Fishing

Thank you's:
  • To Chris and George for all the great pictures.
  • Excellent job "crewing" today Carey.  It was a pleasure to have you on the boat.
  • To Corey for masterfully removing the hooks from those goliaths' mouths.
  • To Liz and Chris for cleaning the boat so thoroughly when I knew how tired and sunburnt you were.
  • To Harey Carey and Corey for cleaning all the fish.
The family enjoyed eating the Amberjack the next night:

Chris, our "official" cameraman for the day, wanted his ugly mug shown one last time:

Panacea Fishing

I have no idea who this next kid is, but judging by the cool hat, he apparently wants to fish with Capt'n Hook and show his Dad how it is done!

Panacea Fishing

I don't know what the odds are of catching, not 1 but 2 huge Goliath groupers in one day (in addition to slaying Amberjacks), but I would imagine they are pretty slim.

I love offshore fishing - even in February!

See you soon, and thanks for reading everyone.  Look for LOTS more cool changes and new features coming this spring and summer from Capt'n Hook and crew.

Captain Marc Paul