I hear them calling. Those sirens, on their rocky shores, calling, beckoning me closer and closer. They sing in such magnificent harmony that one canít resist their allure. I can not resist.
Since the earliest memory of self, I have been held captive to their song. Be it the screech of a Sea Gull, the waves gently lapping the shore, the cobalt blue of the Gulf Stream or the sun, as it chases the darkness from Her face, revealing Her magnificence from shore to horizon. I am not free of Her.
It is not Her Sirens who haunt my dreams. No, this addiction is much more complete. It is Her Herself. She, my beloved ocean, Her salt water and all Her undersea bounty, have since my earliest memory cast a complete spell over me. From Her brackish inshore tidal pools, to Her raging inlets, to Her islands, gleaming as pearls on necklace worn by a radiantly beautiful woman. I am in complete awe of Her beauty and helpless to stay away when She calls. She is my opium, my addiction for which I seek no rehabilitation. She calls and I obey, unable to choose any other course of action.
She is my mistress, and she beckoned me again to her Thursday last. I selfishly abandon my land bound family and run to Her as a moth to the flame, helpless to resist Her calling.
I kiss Mrs. Z. goodbye as she leaves for work. She wishes me well and prays for my safe return. She knows, a woman always does, when a man has another lover in his heart. With this lover she or any mortal woman can not compete. Even though she wishes me well, I canít avoid the feelings of guilt as I share a piece of my heart with the ocean.
Big Blue loaded, last minute errands run, full tank of diesel, gear loaded and the anticipation of heading South finally turns to reality. Turnpike South to Stock Island with a couple of stops in between. A sigh of decompression as Iím finally on my way to meet my mistress.
Quick stop at Largo Fisheries for ice. Second stop at Yellow Baithouse for Ballyhoo then run to No Name to catch some Pinnies for bait. From there to Conchy Joes for some fluorocarbon leader and then to the Yankee Capts to begin the last leg of my journey. All the while Iím talking to Art on the cell phone as he has heard the mistresses call as well.
Iím first at the boat. No one on board yet. Capt. Greg shows up a few minutes later and climbs aboard to set things up. Others who have also heard Her call, begin to arrive. We number in the twenties in just a matter of minutes. We will depart with twenty three anglers, four crew members and two Captains.
The best laid plans of mice and men is how the old adage goes. It appears Mother Nature will be the last thing to keep us from our lover. Capt. Greg informs us itís blowing 30 at the Fort and we wonít sail until three a.m. A collective sigh of disappointment is heard. No bi-otching, no moaning and complaining no second guessing. We handle the news with quiet resolve knowing our Captains will make the right call.
Most of us hit the rack at nine thirty. Final text messages made to the lovely Mrs. Z. She canít sleep for missing me already and again wishes me well. Zero four hundred rolls around and the big diesels roar to life. Back to sleep and the next thing I remember, is the engines winding down. Out of the rack like a shot, dressed and on deck in what seemed like one fell swoop. Wiping the sleep from my eyes I strain to focus. There She is, The Siren, my mistress. She is cloudy from days of high winds Ida wrought on her as the hurricane passed through the Gulf a few short days ago. She is still angry as white cap waves whipped up by the fifteen knot winds slam the port side hull. No matter what her condition, we love her anyway.
Her bounty, Mutton Snapper is the favor we request.. She gives up her treasure as a pit bull gives up a chew bone. We have to wrest from Her each prize as if She was a mother hen guarding her brood. Slowly, one at a time. The Pink Ladies come over the rail. One or two a stop then just Yellow Tail Snappers. Frustrated angles went quickly to chicken rigging for the Y.T.s, throwing in the towel at the finicky prized pink Snappers.
I would personally not catch a Mutton for the first twelve hours of fishing. Team Woody on the other hand were making a very nice showing. Mike and Eric were neck and neck the entire trip. Eric handicapped by a head cold, drove through the aches and pain to hold the leader board the first day. A true competitor, he impressed the hell out of me.
John, Robert and Woody Dad kept the pace just one or two behind Eric and Woody. Things got around to trash talking and young John happed to pop off with a couple of zingers. If your gonna run your mouth, you better be able to take a couple of shots. Well, Johnnie boy had some very distinctive features. First was his bushy, curly, thick dark hair. Couple that with a full beard and I just couldnít resist the shot. I labeled him ďAchmed the TalibanĒ. If your gonna hang out with this bunch, you better have tough skin. John, I mean Achmed took it all in stride and we had a load of fun fishing on the ďpatioĒ of the boat.
Mutts were tough to hook but the ones that came over the rail were some real quality fish. Lots of 12 to 15 pound fish with a couple of 17 and 18 pounders thrown in. The bait of choice was Gogs. I was fishing Pinnies and they were getting plenty of bites but I just couldnít seal the deal. Equipment failure and blown run offs kept me off the leader board for the majority of day one. I finally got on the board with three at one stop. Two muffins and one medium Mutt on one spot. I would finish with a total of six.
Other than one King being caught by accident, they were nowhere to be found. Myself, Art and Achmed fished for them on and off to no avail. That is a Yankee Capts. first. I usually end up with at least a few Kings per trip.
Achmed accomplished at least a few firsts on this trip if memory serves me correctly. First he caught his first Jewfish. Second he drank his first Red Bull and I canít remember his third first. Maybe Woody can let us know what that was.
Capt. Greg is noticeably leaner these days. Looks like cutting out the sugar intake has served him well. We wish him continued success. I on the other hand have found all the weight Capt. Greg has managed to loose.
A couple of Cobia came over the rail. That is the first time Iíve ever seen a Cobia caught out there. We hit one spot in 230 feet of water. A Scamp grouper came over the rail along with several Yellow Eye Snapper of which I got a nice size one.
Capts. Greg and Matt kept us moving and worked themselves and the crew hard. We had two new mates this trip. Along with veteran Nicole, mates Tory and Craig made their debut. They were attentive and busted their collective butts for us. Renattas galley was the bomb. Her signature baked stuffed chicken with mashed potatos and gravy was a meal fit for a king. On Saturday evening she piled up a plate of pasta that would have made Adam Richman proud.
All in all it was a very good trip for catching as the 23 anglers aboard managed to fill 21 totes with quality fish. Thatís a good showing because the larger fish that usually fill up totes quick such as Kings and A.J.s were noticeably absent. So, given the abbreviated time on the water due to wind, the post Ida stirred up water and this being the first Yankee Capts. trip of the year, we managed a very respectable catch.
High hook and big fish honors go to Eric with a very nice Mutton. I think his total was 16 or 17.
Thank you Capts. Greg and Matt, mates Nicole, Tory and Craig and the stellar galley by Renatta, for a trip worthy of royalty. Your reputation as the industry leader grows every season. I canít wait to get back down there for another trip. You guys are the BEST!
Johnnie aka Achmed the Taliban.
Team Florida Sport Fishing Mag.
Eric's pool winner.
Art and I
well put.never been to the turtles.
Can't wait to get out there on the bus. My bro is coming back into town around Christmas time. If we don't take our boat over to the Bahamas, we'll probably head down to give Capt Greg a hard time for a couple of days.
Hey Nick: I hope the y-Capts fishing team members all make it over here. This is a much better place. I really hope to meet and fish with you this season. Wilson.
I'm dying to get out on one of those trips... Did Venice La, been to the Bahamas, now it's time to get to Tortugas...
Jimmy, we'll go on dad's boat once we both have some dang $$ to put towards it. I'd love to do a Yankee Capt trip as well at some point, havent EVER seen a trip where they didnt get a boat load of fish.
Custom Rods & Rod/Reel Repair
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Come on down....you won't regret making the trip
I am here. We will make this a great place too.