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…
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…
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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..
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….
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.
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….
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