Snapper Fishing

For those of you who have been reading ALL my Sailing chapters, I couldn't let you down for your morning read - so please consider this post a "bonus".

Happy 4th of July everyone!

As I promised to provide in my last sailing post, this post is about offshore fishing. Specifically, red snapper. The season is only open for 30 days so I gotta get at least one trip in before it ends.
For the last four years, Cameron has been on the UNF ultimate frisbee team. Terri and I have hosted these UNF college kids (all 30 of them) at our house at least once a year for their annual Tallahassee tournament. All the college kids are a lot of fun, but there is one young man named Chris Daddario whom I really hit it off with. With the exception of Cameron, you won't find a bigger personality in anyone! I love this kid.

And, of course, getting an opportunity to fish with my own son for the 4th of July? Well, it doesn't get any better than that.

Recently, Daddario (not hot sister) told Cameron that he wanted to fish with Mr. Paul before he heads back to New York. Bring it on!

Scheduled. 4th of July offshore fishing, baby!

So on July 3, Cameron and Chris head over from Jacksonville to Panacea for the 4th of July. Devon, Cameron's roommate lets us know that he will be driving all the way from West Palm Beach to join us.  Glad you could join us Devon.

The boys arrive late at the Crak Shak in Panacea Thursday night. It looks like Chris has a Mohawk here, but it is actually a cabinet sticker above his head. Not that I wouldn't bet against him for having a Mohawk.

Early day tomorrow boys, so eat your pizza and go to bed.

Individuals on the boat today:  Me, Cameron, Chris, Devon, Josh, Harry Carey. I met Harry at the dock a few years ago. We've become friends. I have a hard time remembering names so I labeled him "Harry Carey" so I could remember. Josh I know through work.

Everyone arrives at the dock on time. We head out around 7:30 am.

Pretty day. Hot, of course. 
High chance for thundershowers in the afternoon.
For some reason, storms don't scare me as much.

We troll across Oar Reef - about 20 miles offshore. Catch nothing. That sucks. But I'm not really out here to troll. I/we are out here to bottom-fish for Red Snapper.  

We head farther offshore towards V Tower.  My first waypoint for bottom-fishing is about 35 miles offshore. Everyone drops lines. Immediately, the rock bass start hitting, along with a few Key West grunt. Devon, apparently, is the "Rock Bass King". The boy is good at catching them, which, surprisingly is quite difficult considering the size of the rigs and circle hooks I use.  

Although they are quite tasty, we are not here to catch little Rock Bass!  I want to see something big and RED!

Somebody, at this first spot, (Josh, I think), does finally manage to catch one Red Snapper, but right after that, the sharks show up:

I don't like sharks. Well, actually, I have nothing against them, they just don't taste very good and it is easy to lose fingers or a hand if you don't release them properly. I am definitely not out here to catch sharks. They are fun to fight, but they sure as heck aren't coming aboard my boat. Josh does a great job of cutting the line as close to the shark's mouth as possible. The shark will eventually rid itself of the hook and I get my large egg-weight back. Nice job, Josh.

We pull up lines on this 1st spot and head to my 2nd secret spot which, btw, is labeled "Fred - Snapper". If, for some reason, we don't catch snapper today, at least we have a bunch of rock bass and grunts in the boat.

I tell the boys to "drop":

Within 30 minutes
Everybody catches Red Snapper!
I love my secret spot.

Aren't they beautiful?

Within 30-45 minutes, we put 11 Red Snapper into the fish box! (We already had one snapper from our first spot). Well, that was fun. It is now 10:15 a.m. We have officially caught our limit of red snapper (12). Well....What the heck do we do now? Head back 40 miles to the dock?

Nah, we're already way out here, so we all agree to head over to V Tower and have some fun with AmberJack. We can't keep them (they are out of season), but we have an entire bait-well full of live bait. Little pinfish are like candy to AJs, they just can't resist them. And AJs put up a heck of a fight.  

So we head over to V Tower - it isn't far - about 4 miles away and we start fishing.

It doesn't take long: (2 minutes, perhaps):

All these AJs you see in the pictures are considered "small", but man they are a LOT of fun to battle.  At one point, we were tripled up with AJs. It is kinda madness on the boat when that happens because fishermen are moving behind and in front of each other all around the boat. It is like controlled chaos. I absolutely live for moments like this.

Motley crew.
Great picture though.
Awesome shirts!

It is a pleasure to spend the 4th of July fishing with Cameron.
Love you son and I am quite proud of you.
Congratulations on your upcoming graduation at the University of North Florida.

Cameron didn't actually like fishing much when he was younger, but he has become quite proficient offshore.

We spend about an hour-and-a-half catching AJs. I think we brought about 9 or 10 of them on board.  We release them all, of course. AJs will WEAR YOU OUT!  They are great fun though. We still have about 15 pinfish left, but in all honesty, I think the boys are done. Its only noon.

We start to move away from the tower towards home. Wait.... I'm hungry.  Time for my sandwich. So instead of going full speed towards home, I say,  "Hey guys, put the trolling rods out for a few minutes while I/we eat our lunches".

I only get about two bites into my turkey sandwich when the trolling rod goes off. Cameron catches this 5 ft King on a Stretch 30:

Great fish Cameron. We'll eat him for lunch or dinner at the restaurant back at Rock Landing. You shouldn't have punched him so many times with your fist to knock him out. Look at all that blood. At least it isn't Capt'n Hook's blood. Been there, done that - thanks Gene.

See the seas behind Cameron? Dead calm. Absolutely not a breath of wind - no waves. It's going to be impossible to sail today. Wait, no! I have big engines now! 500 horses to be exact. (Sorry, Nick - I couldn't resist.) Still love your little Johnson though. :-)  Wait....

It's time for us to haul-butt back in 40 miles and it wont take us 8 hours! :-)

Try to relax Josh. 
You look very stressed.
Thanks for all your help out there today. It's a pleasure to have you on my boat.

The boys take their time cleaning the fish. It takes them over 1.5 hours:

Thanks for cleaning guys.

Standing next to the fish cleaning station, they wonder why she didn't fish with us:

Devon and Chris clean the boat up on the rack:

What do I do while everyone is working so hard? 
I get served beers from "Becky, the beautiful bartender!"
I manage the other guys.

Good to be Captain!
Nice shirt, Becky. Sorry you got in trouble for wearing it.

After the boat and fish are all cleaned, we shower-up back at the Shak and return to the bar for a few well-earned adult beverages. We do a few one-handed push-ups (me, not Chris). Later that night, we watched a fantastic firework show out on the pier. We never did get any rain. But man is it hot out here.

That was a wonderful day fishing, boys. Thanks for joining the Capt'n for the day and for all your hard work.  Let's do it again someday.

Happy 4th of July everyone. God bless America.

This really will be the LAST post I write for a while.  Sorry about that.  :-(

1 comment:

  1. Nice haul and what a great day! Thank you for sharing it!