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Shane Waterfront Wilson's Blog and Boating Guide

Archive for August, 2014

Lobstering In The Florida Keys 2014 Part 4

Posted by Shane On August 28th

Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing great!!!!!!!! Before we jump into “Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 Part Four”, I want to give you an update on our local Real Estate Market in Southwest Florida.

 

Properties continue to sell as long as they are priced within market value. Tear down houses on Gulf access canals are selling from the mid $200,000 range and up.  Homes in the $500,000 plus range are selling as are the homes priced well over $1,000,000. There seems to be a steady balance at this time; as properties are selling, others are coming on the market. I am also seeing another trend, many of the homes that have been on the market for a while are now getting price reductions.  We’re seeing more activity with them going pending and then sold within a few weeks. This is a great thing!  This also tells me that Buyers today are not dummies! They keep track of what is on the market for sale, they see when a property goes pending and then what it sells for. Buyers today are better informed than ever. It doesn’t appear that the waterfront market is getting stupid crazy like it was during the “boom”.

 

If you’re interested in knowing what’s happening with prices on properties in a particular area or neighborhood, please let me know and I’ll set you up on my Listingbook program.  It’s free and allows you to search whatever houses or lots you’d like. It will notify you of new listings on the market and it will also let you know when properties go pending; it’s a great tool. Even if you’re not looking to buy or sell at this time, it’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of our local Southwest Florida Real Estate Market.

 

If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to help you anyway I can…:-)

 

Okay now on to the fun stuff…..Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 Part Four..

 

To recap:  Last week we left off with our crew going out in the boat scouting out our Lobster spots. After that we took the boat to Sombrero Key Lighthouse for an afternoon of snorkeling on the reef.

 


Well today is the big day!!!! The First Day of Lobster Mini Season…  Holy cow you have no idea how exciting this is… We got up early, early, like before the sun came up and headed over to pick up our friends, the Mazzola’s. We headed out to our spots approximately 10 miles out in the Gulf in the pitch black early, early morning night sky. It’s quite an eery feeling. The water is flat calm and the wind is whistling through the T top tubing on the boat as we cruise 35 mph. You cannot see a thing until you look up in the sky and see trillions and trillions of tiny little stars. If you look up long enough you will sometimes see shooting stars – meteors entering the atmosphere and burning up. It’s a really cool sight to see…

 

It’s also really neat to watch the dimly lit GPS while it’s taking us to our secret Lobster holes. The anticipation  builds as we get closer and closer – 8 miles, 6 miles, 3 miles, 1 mile to our destination… beep beep beep, you have reached your destination. All the while, you have that feeling of not knowing if you are going to get to your Lobster spot to find that all of the Lobster have moved during the night. Or not knowing if you are going to encounter a big Moray Eel living on the same ledge as all your lobster; or a Nurse Shark resting in front of the ledge which holds all of your Lobster… Ya just do not know!

 

By this time the sun was just getting ready to come up as we jumped into the water. Underwater is pure darkness. You can’t see a thing and you don’t know what sea creature may be watching you invade his home. All you see is the beam of light coming from your waterproof flashlight that you threw in to mark your spot. But now it was time, Wade and I jumped into the water right on top of our spot..and SCORE!!!!!!!! – packed full of Lobster. Wade yells up to the boat, “throw in the scuba tank, cause we’re gonna need it”! When you’re on some of these spots, the Lobster go way deep back into their ledges and it can take some time to get them out. Sometimes you have to reach way up under and feel your way around with your hands (on a serious note, unless you are experienced, do not ever do this, it can be very dangerous and you never know what’s living in the ledges, again DO NOT do this). I know you’re thinking “well Shane, why do you do it? Are you brave or just stupid?” I am neither. I have been doing this since I was a little kid growing up in the Florida Keys. Yes, there is a technique I use to minimize any damage to my fingers and hands. Yes, I have been bitten by Blue Crabs, Stone Crabs (those are almost the worst – ouch!) small Moray Eels, and other things that have tried to latch on to my hand. To this day, I still have no clue what animal it was that I made very angry way up in that ledge?? I’ve been stuck with Black Sea Urchin spines and even a few very close calls with the poisonous Lion Fish. On this ledge there were none of those creatures, just us and the Lobster. Wade and I started pulling Lobsters out one by one. We handed them to Annie or Paige and they would swim them over to the boat where Craig would measure them a second time to be sure they were legal size to keep. Once we harvested all the legal lobster from that hole, we moved on to the next hole, then the next one. With each stop we were getting closer and closer to our daily limit of Lobster. Take a look at some of these photos of our ride out to our spots. Remember it was pitch dark and the kids were half asleep…  🙂

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As we hit our other spots the sun was beginning to rise – how beautiful is this?! Photos do the sunrise no justice; words can’t explain the sheer beauty as this part of the world awakens. Now the darkness is turning into light. Now we can see the thunderstorms that had surrounded us in the night sky. All you could see were the flashes of lightning, way, way off in the distance…

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Before we knew it , we had our limit and were headed back in. The sky was so beautiful as sunrise approached creating a bright orange glow….

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It was interesting coming back into Vaca Cut. We already had our limit, however, the late sleepers were just heading out to start their search for Lobster…

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We got back to the dock and unloaded our catch into a livewell to keep the Lobster fresh…

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You are only allowed to harvest 6 Lobster per person per day so we had 18 more Lobster to catch. Three of our crew members had decided to sleep in but still wanted to catch Lobster, so we picked them up, loaded more supplies, and headed out. This was going to be much more challenging now due to the fact that EVERYONE was up and out on the water looking for Lobster!  No fear .. we’ve got our numbers and we will find more Lobsters!!!!! It was a beautiful ride out. The water was calm and the sun was coming out, making it so much easier to see our spots from above…

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We arrived at our spot and “splash!”, Wade was in the water. He went down for a look. He shot up to the top of the water and yelled “DAD!!!!!!! come on!!!!! We have got some monsters here!!!!!”  I said “Wade are you sure”. Wade replied ” Dad, seriously!!!! Come on!!!!!!”  We were on a mission. The others in the boat couldn’t resist so they also got into the water to check it out. Well, Wade was right, there were some really big ones and they moved way back into the ledges. Well, they can’t hide from us… so we went in after them!!!!!!!!!! Wade, Craig, Annie, Paige, Tyler and Peyton. They would be our look-outs in case any of these Lobsters tried to escape through a back hole.

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It did take a little more work to get our Lobsters this time, and a little longer, because many of the holes were cleaned out, but we did reach our limit and decided to head back in. We had plenty for our family and we wanted to make sure we stayed within the law.

 

The ride in was a great ride, the seas were calm, the sun was out. As we approached Vaca Cut we noticed a couple of wave runners with guys on them – they really looked out of place. These guys were fully clothed, hats on, and what appeared to be some type of utility belts. I said to Craig, “something doesn’t look right”.  All of a sudden one of the wave runners spins around, heads right at us, and comes up from behind. It turns out he was an undercover police officer checking all the incoming boats to make sure they were following the law by keeping within proper Lobster limits. The officer was very nice. He asked us if we caught anything and we said “yes”. He asked us to open our livewell and he pointed at what he thought was the smallest lobster and said “Please pull him out so I can measure him”.  Without any hesitation, we reached in, pulled the Lobster out, and gave it to the officer. He said “you’re all good and free to go”.  Soooooo, ya see right there, we were following the rules, complying with the law, and being respectful. And of course, we didn’t have any “shorts” (too small Lobsters) on board. By the way, if you get caught with a short Lobster or Lobsters onboard, it’s a $500 fine per Lobster, a court appearance, and even possible confiscation of your boat. I took a few photos of the officers on Wave Runners; that’s something you don’t see everyday!

 

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We went back to the dock to admire our catch and start cleaning the Lobster.  But of course, we had to get photos first…

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Now comes the part that many people think is gross. By cleaning the Lobster you have to twist off their tails. Then you have to clean out the “pooper trail” with one of the lobster tentacles.

 

Everyone got involved with this (well, not everyone). It’s actually kind of fun!

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A few hours later after we cleaned all of the Lobster, as well as the boat, the kids hopped in the Lake and Bay and headed over to our friends’ place by water.

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The rest of us decided to join them and have a cold beverage and share stories about our great day on the water. Come to find out, the other five families in our group also did very well Lobstering that day. They cooked up some of their Lobsters and we grilled the fresh Mahi Mahi we caught the day before. We had a seafood feast!!!!!!!

 

What another amazing day on the water with family and friends. I just wish I could show you all first-hand how much fun this is. I can show you thousands of photos and write 20 pages of words, but nothing compares to the real thing. Being here and experiencing this. These are memories and experiences our children and friends will remember for ever.

 

Remember make time to do the things you want to do. Make a plan and work your plan. Just make it happen.

 

Until next time, make it a great weekend!!!

 

Shane “Waterfront” Wilson

Hello everyone, I hope you are doing great!!!!!

 

I am going to jump right into Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 Part Three. Last week we left off with a great day of fishing and hanging out with family and friends at the sandbar. Today is the day before the Big Day, “Opening of Lobster Mini Season”! We’re going to head out and scout out our spots in the Florida Bay. We’ve gathered these spots for several years and while we are out, we look for new spots to hit as well. The night before, Anne asked if we could take her water skiing first thing in the morning. I said “sure, we’ve boated, fished, gone diving, the least we can do is take Anne water skiing”. We got up early, pulled into a cove and pulled Anne. I have to admit, she’s really good.. take a look….

 

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On the way back in we really began to admire these homes here in Key Colony Beach. Some of them are massive huge and others are not so huge, but the architecture is amazing. There is even one home that looks like it was designed around this big catamaran yacht; almost like a house for their boat. Take a look..

 

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Now it was time to head out for the day and scope out our secret spots for Lobster, so we cruised over to pick up our friends, the Mazzola family. The part of the Florida Bay where we look for lobster is shallow, with depths in this area ranging from 2 feet to about 8 – 10 feet. We have saved all of our secret spots we’ve found over the past couple of years in our GPS so we know right where to go. Keep in mind, season has been closed for months, so most of these spots are going to be full of lobster. We ran out about 10 miles to the first spot and “whammy”, the GPS indicated we were right on our spot, and by golly, we were on it!  We jumped into the water to check it out and wouldn’t you know… we had lots of Bugs (Lobsters). You can’t touch them though at this point, they’re still out of season. We just wanted to check and make sure that these spots were going to produce. Take a look, this is what it looks like once you’re in the water looking down toward the ledges and seagrass. It’s pretty neat…

 

 

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There were a lot of Lobster at this spot!

 

Take a look at this beautiful Queen Angel Fish swimming into a hole..

 

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We went to another spot, and yet another spot, and they were all full of Lobster…

 

 

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We went to more spots and they were full too..:-)

 

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Now look at this next photo…  I put the camera underwater and pointed it into a hole on a rock ledge – see the long green thing, that’s a Moray Eel. Bad news if you reach into a hole for a lobster and he clamps onto your hand, you’ll be lucky to get your hand back in once piece. Their teeth are angled backwards so when they bite on to something it can’t escape. If you look to the top of the photo there’s a tiny red cleaner shrimp. These little shrimp are known to crawl into the mouths and gill slits of a fish and clean off all the parasites in the fish’s mouth and gill slit areas. No, typically the fish do not eat these shrimp. This is what you would call a symbiotic relationship. Now look to the bottom of the photos; see the brown rounded shape? That’s a baby Nurse Shark’s head. As I mentioned earlier, there’s the ecosystem in the Sargasm weed line in the Atlantic Ocean, and then there’s a whole other ecosystem on the Bay side. All of these creatures live in entirely different ecosystems with some dependent on each other, and others just getting along and sharing a home. Either way, it’s never a good idea to blindly stick your hand into a hole looking for a Lobster or you may get a not so nice surprise…

 

 

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We moved on to another spot to check for Bugs (Lobsters) keeping in mind that when we come back tomorrow for opening day, I should not stick my arm in the hole where the Moray Eel and Nurse Shark live.:-)

 

Look at our other spots, I think we’re all set…..

 

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We scouted almost all of our holes and came to the conclusion that we would have plenty of spots and we would surely limit out on Bugs in a short time.:-)  Everyone was getting hungry so we decided to go have lunch at a place called Shuckers Raw Bar & Grill on the water in Marathon. The service was great here and so were the food and drinks…

 

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After lunch we decided to go home and rest up, but then someone suggested we run out to Sombrero Lighthouse, so we headed out to the Lighthouse. It’s such a beautiful place, the water is crystal clear, there are thousands upon thousands of fish everywhere. Tall coral formations, small caves and ledges, just beautiful.  In this first photo, if you look way out into the distance you can see the Lighthouse.  We had leftovers from lunch so we fed the fish; within 20 seconds there were hundreds of fish all around us, pretty amazing…

 

 

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What a stunning reef, one that I’ll never forget.  When we arrived at the Lighthouse, my buddy Craig jumped into the water and saw a Nurse Shark swimming very slowly and gracefully away from him.  Craig swam underwater to get closer; the closer he got, the shark would get that much further away. Craig came up for air and went back down. Once again, Craig was within a foot of the Nurse Shark, and as he tried to get a little closer, the Nurse Shark would stay just far enough away. After Craig told me of this encounter, I mentioned to him that the shark knew exactly where Craig was at all times and he stayed just far enough away for his own comfort. Craig thought this was the best!!!!!! and it was!!!!!!! 

 

By this time it was getting late, nearly 6:00 pm and time to head in after a long, wonderful day on the water. What a fantastic day. The weather was great, the water was great, the company was great!!!!!!

 

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Just wait until next week, the Big Day… Opening of Lobster Mini Season… Wait until you read and see the photos of this adventure!!!!  You are not going to want to miss it.

 

Until next time… Make time for your family and friends. Do the things you dream of. Make your plans and stick to your plans. You will make it happen….Time goes by soooo fast.

 

See ya,

 

Shane “Waterfront” Wilson

 

 

Hello Everyone, I hope you are doing great!!!! I am going to jump right into the Boating Guide with the fun stuff, Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 Part Two. We left off with a great day in the boat fishing, going to Sombrero Lighthouse Reef to snorkel, and finishing off the day with our family and friends at the Key Colony Beach Sandbar…

 

Today is a new day and a new adventure. Since we didn’t have much luck yesterday, we decided this time we would run 20 plus miles offshore in search of Dolphin Fish (Mahi Mahi). We loaded up the boat with all of our gear and bait and headed over to pick up my buddy Craig and his kids. It was a beautiful run out. The Ocean had small 2-3 foot swells and we quickly ran out to the first shipping lanes. You do not realize how huge these cargo ships are until you are right up on them. Take a look…

 

 

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We saw some birds and weed lines so we put our lines in and… nothing. I said to my crew, “let’s not waste time like yesterday, we are gonna run out 20 to 25 miles and look for birds and weed lines”. So we pulled our lines in and headed out farther. We saw quite a few weed lines, but no birds. I said “let’s go out farther”. We saw several pods of diving birds all around some weed lines. I said “guys, this is it, get those trolling rods out, quick, quick!!!!!”  In about 10 or 15 minutes…. Bam, Fish on!!!!!!! Rod number one, Bam, Fish on; rod number two, Bam, fish on; rod number three. We had three fish on at one time… Holy cow!!!!!!!! Controlled mayhem!!!! Craig got his fish up to the boat and someone gaffed it and put it in the fish box. As the other two Dolphin were pulled to the boat, the whole school of 60 plus Dolphin were swimming all around!!!!!! check it out…

 

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I yelled “chum, chum, get some cut bait in the water quick to keep the Dolphin around the boat”!  Craig jumped into action, cutting up the Ballyhoo and chucking chunks into the water. Meanwhile, Boogie has a fish on, Wade has a fish on and Tyler has a fish on and Paige has a fish on!!!!!! and we have three rods out of commission with no hooks. (Sometimes it’s easier to cut the line, throw the fish in the fish box, and get the hooks later). Once again, controlled mayhem!!!!  We got Tyler’s fish in the boat, Boogie’s fish in the boat and tried to get Paige’s fish in the boat, but the line broke. We rigged the other three rods with missing hooks in a matter of minutes and had them back in the water pulling up more fish, one after another.  

 

 

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If you think these Dolphin are beautiful fish in these photos, wait until you see them in real life. The colors on these fish are spectacular greens, blues and yellows…..Wade said “Dad, I have always wanted to spear a Dolphin”.  I said “Wade hop in and get some”!!!!!  Wade put on his gear, jumped in the water, and about this time the Dolphin went deep, too deep to chase.

 

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I said “guys let’s regroup and get our rods ready and baited and ready to go for the next school of fish we find”.

 

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We ran to another group of birds and weed lines, dropped our lines in and began to troll. After about 10 minutes, something didn’t feel right. I cannot explain the feeling I had. Something told me to have Craig turn the boat to another fat weed line near some birds. Once we got to it, I said “stop the boat and drop your lines”. Wade said “there’s nothing here Dad”, I said “yes, there is”. Call it luck, call it a hunch or a feeling….all of a sudden a dozen plus Dolphin came shooting out from under the boat. Bam, Bam, Bam fish on, fish on, fish everywhere. Craig was already on the chum, throwing chunks into the water. The kids each had a Dolphin on their rods!!!!  Wow, once again, controlled mayhem. One fish was gaffed and brought into the boat but missed the fish box. These fish are strong, I mean strong, ask anyone who Dolphin fishes. A 30, 40, or 50 pound Dolphin flapping around your cockpit can cause some serious damage. As they are frantically flapping around the boat, you had better get out of the way or you could end up seriously hurt. Broken bones, massive bruises, broken fishing rods, flying gaff if left on the floor of the boat. This Dolphin was under 15 pounds and still, blood was flying everywhere. We jumped on it and Craig opened the fish box and we shoved the fish in and Craig slammed the fish box lid!  Thank goodness, ’cause when that lid shut it sounded like an angry 220 pound man banging on the fish box hatch lid from the inside!!!!  Oh boy, we were covered in blood, the cockpit was covered in blood, what a mess, but what fun. One of the kids used the salt water wash to clean up the blood and the other kids were still fighting fish. After all this, we were able to bring a few more to the boat.

 

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My son Wade says, “Dad can I get in and spear some fish”. I said “sure”. Keep in mind we are 22 miles out in 1,000 feet of water.  Within 2 or 3 minutes I see Wade swimming to the boat; he jumps out of the water and pulls up his spear cord from his spear gun. He was soooo excited!! His first speared Dolphin, he was in Heaven. He said “Dad can I go back out”?  “Sure son, go spear another one”.  Meanwhile, everyone in the boat is still pulling in Dolphin.

 

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Here comes Wade with another Dolphin – I was amazed. Craig kept the chum chunks of Ballyhoo in the water which kept the Dolphin coming back so Wade did not have to venture far from the boat..

 

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I think Wade speared about 4 Dolphin. Of course, throughout this entire process while Wade was in the water with everything going on, I kept a watchful eye on him. Suddenly his swimming demeanor changed, he was not swimming normally. He was swimming briskly back to the boat, back first, facing the opposite direction of the boat with his spear gun pointed straight in front of him. In my mind I am thinking one of two things, he speared a big Dolphin and was having a tough time pulling him back to the boat, or he had a shark in his sights. I have always taught my children if you ever see a shark in the water, DO NOT panic, keep your cool. You keep your eyes on that shark and you do not take your eyes off that shark until you reach the boat. If you have a spear gun, pole spear, a spear shaft, you keep that between you and the shark. If that shark starts to get too close, you jab that shark as hard as you can and he’ll turn away. Thank goodness Wade did not have to do that. He got to the boat and out of the water and said,  “Dad…”  I finished his sentence and said “you saw a Shark.” He said “yes, a big one, about 8 or 10 feet long”. So many people have misconceptions about sharks; 9.9 times out of 10 they are not there to eat you. In this case, the Shark smelled the blood in the water from the fish, he sensed the thrashing fish in the water and was coming in for a closer look and maybe an easy meal. No, not Wade, the injured fish.

 

At this point we had 25 Dolphin in the boat and that was plenty to feed our families and bring some home to freeze. What a beautiful day, sunny, breezy, the seas laid down, what a great ride home from 22 miles out in the ocean.  Again, coming in and watching the changing colors of the water is amazing. It goes from the dark purple to dark blue to light blue, just beautiful….

 

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Now comes the fun part, Haaaa, cleaning all the fish. This is a huge job in itself, but can be fun sometimes to look in their stomachs and see what they have eaten. Most of the time you will find file fish, small jacks, small crabs and other types of fish. When we are chumming the water we will later find those chunks of Ballyhoo or squid in the Dolphin’s stomach. I know all this sounds nasty, but it really is not. It teaches all the kids that watch us clean the fish, and the adults too, about the natural food chain and how important our ecosystem is. It teaches them how important it is to keep our oceans clean; it’s like Marine Biology 101. We are showing people that if the weed lines are not healthy, they may become non-existent. If there are no weed lines, there are no nurseries for the baby, shrimp, crabs, and fish to live. No baby shrimp, crabs, fish, then there is no food to sustain the Dolphin, Tuna, Wahoo, Sailfish, etc. that live in the open oceans.  I read somewhere that Dolphin are voracious eaters and can grow an inch per week. I think the article said that Dolphin are the fastest growing fish in the ocean.

 

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Finally, we got all those fish cleaned and packed on ice. A friend texted to tell us that everyone was hopping in their boats and running to a sandbar for some cold beverages and to hang out and relax in the warm ocean water. Well, you didn’t have to ask us twice. We loaded up all the  boats and headed to the sandbar….

 

 

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What a long, great, fantastic day!!!!!!!!  Fishing, relaxing with family and friends. It doesn’t get any better than this!  Well, yes I guess it does. The girls informed us that the men were taking them out to dinner with the kids because they were NOT cooking.. why not ??;-) ….so we all went out to supper and had a great time. When we got home everyone hit the beds and they were out in a minute, dreaming about our big day tomorrow – scouting out our secret Lobster holes…

 

This is all for now. Please look for the Boating Guide next week to read Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 Part Three. We’re going to take you to my top secret Lobster holes out in the bay, I cannot wait!!!!!! 🙂

 

Until next time, make time for your family and friends. There is nothing more important than your family so plan to make time. I hear so many people say, “there’s not enough time to do everything”. You know what? You’re correct. In that case, you must prioritize those things that are most important to you in life.  Make a plan, stick to your plan, and you will have no regrets.

 

Make it a great week!!!

 

Shane “Waterfront” Wilson 

Lobster Mini Season

Posted by Shane On August 7th

Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 Part One…

Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing great!!!!!!! You know what time of year it is, don’t you???? Lobster Mini Season!!!! This is where there’s only a two day time frame to catch Lobster, (Lobster Mini Season) and the commercial Lobster folks are not allowed to put out their traps until right after the two day mini season. Let’s talk some business first, and then we can get on to the fun part of The Boating Guide. Our Southwest Florida Real Estate Market continues to be very good with more lots  and homes being put on the market for sale. As always, the properties that are priced at current market value are selling. The homes that are overpriced are sitting on the market with very little activity. Today’s consumer is very savvy. With all the information available on the internet plus assistance from his Real Estate Professional, today’s Buyer knows a good, or fair market value when he sees it based on what else has sold in the immediate area. Many of the overpriced homes I have been tracking for months and months are still on the market for sale; I have also tracked numerous Sellers who have adjusted (reduced) the price of their homes to be more competitive in the marketplace. Keep in mind, these are not “give away” prices,  but fair market value. Interest rates are still at historic lows, in fact, I saw a 30 year 4.1% interest rate last week, with no points. That’s cheap money! In some cases, it’s better for a Buyer to get a mortgage at such a low rate and keep his cash in investments where it could be earning a higher interest rate. You will have to talk to your financial advisor about this :-).. There is another trend that I see that has been evolving for some time. I’m talking about “scrapers”. These are homes on the water that make no financial sense to remodel or add onto. The value in these properties is in the dirt (the land). We are seeing more and more properties being bought, scraped and replaced with brand new beautiful homes. All in all, our Real Estate and New Construction are moving right along. Many, many sales. The inventory seems to be stable at this time, however, when a great value hits the market, it’s typically gone within a week. If you have any questions about our Southwest Florida Real Estate Market, please feel free to reach out to me on my cell phone, by text or e-mail. I will respond to you. If you want to keep up to date with the properties in your neighborhood or a certain area you select, I can set you up on my Listingbook program (FREE) and it will send you daily status reports. Please let me know however I may assist you….

Now on to the fun part of The Boating Guide….

Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 Part One….

 

Every year we head down to the Keys for Mini Season. This year we stayed in the town of Marathon which is about halfway down the Florida Keys. There’s a city within Marathon called Key Colony Beach; it’s a really neat place to stay, close to shopping, food stores, fuel, dive shops, Marinas, boat ramps, you name it. Key Colony Beach even has its own Marina, hotels, rental houses, restaurants (on and off the ocean), swimming pools and beach. Everything you could want is right there. There are multi-million dollar homes and there are more modest homes, down to 600 sq. ft. duplexes – there’s a property for any budget. Oh, and best of all, you can keep your boat right in your backyard and within a few minutes you are out in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf via Vaca Cut (a navigable channel). Other than where I was raised in Islamorada (the Upper Keys), this has got to be one of my favorite places. It offers something for every member of your family. You can boat, fish, dive, snorkel. There are world famous reefs, a beautiful beach, restaurants, coffee shops, gift stores; or take a drive to Key West, approximately 50 miles away. There is some type of activity for everyone :-).. And best of all, it’s only a few hours drive from Fort Myers.

 

We headed to the Keys on Saturday with 5 families and boats in tow. Once you enter the Keys and get down towards Islamorada, it gets very narrow and there are many bridges to go over which give you spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. The views are to die for with beautiful crystal clear turquoise blue water in every direction. As you look farther out into the ocean, the water turns to a darker blue then almost a stunning purple color.  You’ll need to see it with your own eyes to understand what I am trying to explain. Talk about anxiety (good anxiety)!  We cannot wait to put the boats in the water and go explore. The rest of our drive is almost unbearable with the excitement of knowing that in a short time we’ll be out on the water!!!!! Before we even get unpacked and settled into our accommodations, we unload the boats and motor them around the canals to the docks behind our rental houses that will be home for the next week. And, we made the trip with no issues, thank goodness.

 

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Fwd_ Mini Lobster Season in the Florida Keys 2014 part one..

Once we unpacked and got settled in, we sorted through all of our fishing and diving gear to get ready for the days ahead. I went down to the boat to double check that we had all of our safety gear, life jackets, flares and first aid kit. I double and triple checked all the bilge pumps, through hull fittings, and electronics on the boats to be sure we’d be set and prepared for any unplanned issues.  By this time it was getting late, so we jumped in the boat to go out and watch the sunset and prepare for the next day.

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We got up the next morning and prepared to run offshore to look for Dolphin Fish (Mahi Mahi). We loaded all the rods, tackle and snorkeling gear to hit Sombrero Light Reef on the way back in.  Here are some of the amazing and beautiful homes in Key Colony Beach that we passed each day as we headed out to the Atlantic or Gulf. Check out these photos…

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Heading out into the Atlantic Ocean or into the Gulf is a beautiful ride in itself. To watch the color changes as the water gets deeper and deeper and deeper is just an unbelievable sight. The light blues, then turquoise, then darker blue as the water gets deeper. Once you are past the 600 foot mark, the water is a brilliant purple color…

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Once we got about 12 miles out, we began to see weed lines. Weed lines hold crabs, shrimp, fish. With this micro ecosystem in place, it attracts the bigger bait fish, which in turn attracts the larger fish we are targeting – Dolphin Fish (Mahi Mahi), Tuna, Wahoo, etc. It was a beautiful, calm day out on the ocean. The sun was out, there was a light breeze, and lots of weed lines. We saw birds diving on bait near the weed lines so we trolled over to see what we could catch..

Bam !!!  Fish on.. the drag screamed for half a second and then it stopped. We all thought this was strange???

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It looked like a Bar Jack hit the lure we were trolling and then something big hit the Bar Jack. Look at the photos, it’s bit right in half.

 

After trolling for awhile the kids were kind of bored and Wade wanted to stop at the next weed line to spear some fish for dinner. Keep in mind the water here is about 600 feet deep and we are 12 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean…Check out these photos….

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The water was sooooo clear and there were tons of bait fish, but nothing worth shooting to take home for dinner. These weed lines are their own tiny ecosystem in a massive ocean. We found this small female crab holding her eggs..

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As I said above, there are tiny shrimp, fish, crabs, so many small little creatures moving around that even I don’t know what they all are. Very, very cool creatures of the sea..

By this time the kids wanted to head in to Sombrero Lighthouse which stands above an amazing reef – a “no take” zone – so it’s teeming with life and marine sea creatures. The ride in to the lighthouse was beautiful.. The seas were calm, a light breeze, and the water was beautiful...

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Heading into the reef the color changes of the water were just amazing!!!! Words cannot even describe it. Everyone was so excited to get there, the water was so crystal clear that we could see all the fish, coral heads and marine life from above the water. Once we got into the water, hundreds of fish would swim up to check us out ……

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Swimming around you will see hundreds and hundreds of different species of fish. However, on every single reef I have ever been to, there are always your “resident” Barracudas, along with some of the most amazing reef fish you will ever see..

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One of the best parts of swimming on the reef is hand-feeding the fish. It’s so cool to have them come right up to you and eat out of your hand…

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At Sombrero Light, there are some amazing ledges and small caves you can swim through. (Do not attempt to swim through these small caves, it can be dangerous). Take a look at these photos..

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Before leaving, the kids wanted to feed the fish again….

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We were all ready to head back in after an amazing day on the water. The weather was great, the ocean was beautiful, and everyone had a great time..

 

On our way in, we saw the other families we were vacationing with at Key Colony Beach, hanging out at the sandbar swimming and having a cold beverage and snacks before dinner. We decided to stop so everyone could visit and share stories about their amazing day!!!!!!!….

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What an amazing end to our day on the water!!!!!! Well it’s time to go.. Wait until next week for Part Two of Lobster Mini Season in the Florida Keys 2014 .. 

Until then, make time for your family and friends.. Life goes by so quickly. Just make your plan, work your plan, and stick to it. 

 

Until next time make it a great week..:-)))

 

Shane “Waterfront” Wilson

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