They say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I don’t know about Jack, but I do know that all work and no play makes a Nick grumpy man. And since I’ve been spending a lot of time writing the last few days, I really needed a play day.
So a little after noon yesterday I called Jim Lewis and asked if he wanted to take the boat out and to go fishing. Jim thought that was a good idea, so I picked him up and we went to the local bait shop and bought a couple dozen live shrimp. Back at home, we loaded my boat with all of our fishing tackle, rods and reels, some bottled water, grabbed Miss Terry, and headed for the boat dock.
I got the trailer backed down into the water and the boat off without any problems, then after I parked the truck and came back we got in the boat and were ready to go. It wasn’t the cleanest getaway that’s ever been made, and though I didn’t bump into one of our neighbor’s boats, I got close enough that he had to push us away. But he was very understanding about me being a greenhorn, which I appreciated.
Some of you may remember that the boat died on us on our first two outings, and after some trial and error we figured out the problem was an empty fuel tank, even though the gauge said we were full and we couldn’t pour any more into the tank from our portable gas can. The result was that we had to get towed back to our dock the second time, which you can read about in my Mystery Solved blog post.
They say the third time’s the charm, and I guess that’s so because we had no such problems this time around. We went a mile or so down the Intercoastal Waterway and anchored off the channel near some mangroves. On Jim’s first cast he caught this nice sheepshead. They are pretty fish that put up a heck of a fight, and they are darned good eating, too!
The next thing I knew, Terry caught this grouper. It was too small, so after we took it’s picture it went back into the water.
I was so busy handing them shrimp and taking pictures that I hadn’t made my first cast yet, and Terry had already hooked her second fish, another small grouper.
I guess the guy who drives the boat never gets to play, because they got bite after bite, and I just sat there watching them fish, while everything in the water ignored my line.
Eventually I did get a bite, which cost me my bait but at least let me know I had a chance. Or not. These fish out here are bait stealers and we learned quickly that two dozen shrimp don’t last very long. Finally, on my second, and last shrimp, I caught a small sheepshead, but it was well below the slot limit and had to go back into the water. Even the small ones put up a fight.
With our live bait gone, Jim tied on an artificial lure and cast it out, and the minute it hit the water a big sea trout nailed it. That fellow put up a fight, too!
Jim’s fish were the only ones big enough to keep, but we had a lot of fun, including watching a pair of dolphins that spent some time playing around in the water just off our stern. I love seeing them.
Back at our dock we got the boat back onto the trailer without much difficulty and headed for home, where the boat and trailer got a good rinsing off with fresh water, then I flushed the motor.
I think we’re getting the hang of this boating thing, and yesterday was a learning experience for us in terms of fishing from the boat. The Key Largo is 16 feet long, and three adults fishing in it is the limit. We learned that we need to be a bit more organized, we need bait containers in the front and rear of the boat so we don’t spend so much time passing the shrimp around, and we learned that we need to do a better job of storing things in the boat before we get underway so we have more room to maneuver once we are out on the water. Like anything, it takes a bit of trial and error. I’m already looking forward to our next fishing trip!
Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Caddo Cold, the seventh book in my friend George Wier’s popular Bill Travis mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.
Thought For The Day – It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming. – John Steinbeck