Two laps of Florida

January 5, 2014

Part 2:  Now we’re in the Keys

That evening Ken and I put in our hours for the sharks.  The wind was brutally strong and the tide was ripping.  We could hardly recognize this being the beautiful fishy spot we had left a year ago.  The expected crazy non-stop reef fish weren’t biting and there were no sharks to be found for us, even though another angler did report catching a sizable one earlier.  In hindsight, it was probably caught before the tide started ripping.

The next morning Ken, Ben, and I had kayaks booked to fish a sheltered bay.  Ken had mentioned the possibility of hogfish.  Unfortunately, the bad weather continued and without anchors it was nearly impossible to fish effectively.  Ben had abandoned the kayak earlier in favour of shore fishing, and was putting on a clinic!  We joined him.

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And the fish started pouring in!

Bandtail puffer (which I had caught on a previous trip)IMG 4003 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Blue runnerIMG 4013 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Silver jennyIMG 4018 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

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Ben had been chumming the area and had spotted a massive southern stringray that was doing rounds and eating the chum.  Everyone was gracious enough to give me a crack at it first.  We all watched in anticipation as it slid over my bait and undulated its disk to inhale it.  Unfortunately, I had made a bad judgement call in which rod I used to hook it.

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I could have gone a step… or a hundred… heavier on the rod choice.   The ray was the boss of me and ended up swimming through some rocks and getting stuck.  I got the kayak out to try and free the line, but it eventually snapped.  Lesson learned!  I’d get my revenge soon…

That evening Ken and I checked out another spot we had been itching to revisit, but found the conditions to be much too rough.

The next morning, Ken and I carried and rolled our entire collection of shark gear to the end of a pier.  We measured it afterwards on Google Maps and the distance was over half a kilometer.  Exhausted, but ready for battle with some fish, the life-listing bonanza continued:

PuddingwifeIMG 4024 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

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Yellow jackIMG 4038 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Ken whipped out both his fillet knife and his incredible sashimi skills and prepared us the freshest sashimi I’ve ever had! Thanks Ken!

IMG 4039 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

After breakfast the life-listing continued, but we were also plagued by the infamous, slippery, prickly, and annoyingly aggressive wrasse… the slippery dicks.

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You just have to love these beautiful blue parrotfish though.

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DoctorfishIMG 4063 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Redband parrotfishIMG 4065 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

There wasn’t much else new to target for myself, so I spent most of my time crying to catch bait and re-baiting my big rods.  Actually, I’ll be a bit more honest about that… I really, really wanted to catch something BIG!

Miciah and Ben joined us at the end of the pier and we buckled up for a long night of fishing.  It was quite the operation to behold!

IMG 4072 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

One of my bigger rods received a steady run and I got my revenge on the southern stingray (albeit a much, much smaller one).

Southern stingrayIMG 4077 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Not long after, I got another take!  This time the fish was a lot heavier.  It turned up as a nurse shark, which Ken graciously photographed for me from above.  We tried roping it, but failed and eventually the leader broke.  In hindsight this was probably for the best.

Nurse shark181 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

At this point I was pretty stoked, this was the biggest fish I had ever caught!

IMG 4071 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

The night drew on uneventfully.  Ben and I walked back to land to try and catch something new in the rocks.  We had a friendly debate about whether or not the nurse shark would count in a fishing life list as it was technically not “landed” even though we had done as much as we could in that situation.  I faintly regretted not taking the time to walk the fish back to the base of the pier.

Little did we know how ironic our debate would be and the surprises we had in store…

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