Spring break comes next week — and it can’t get here fast enough. We’ve got a great plan…it’s to do exactly what we did last year: head south to fish! The trip was so much fun for the kids last year that I’ll face mutiny if I suggest we do something different.
So, we’re headed to the Florida Keys, to the “Sportfishing Capital of the World” — a.k.a. Islamorada.
Here’s how it played out last year. We arrived to wind and scattered thundershowers — not really the best conditions for kids who’d never been offshore fishing. But they were eager, and so my request to the very cool captain, Justin Hopper: Let’s not go for the trophy fish. Rather, please just give my kids a good experience. THAT is what’ll keep them coming back.
Things looked promising. Captain Hopper even had it on his t shirt. Oh yea.
Yup. Things looked promising.
It’s easy to get into the buzz of wanting to play and catch a big dolphin or sailfish — but that means heading a ways off shore with seas of 4-6 feet coupled with rain. Now that’s got “no fun for kids” written all over it….(not to mention this mom), so we headed for the reef about a mile offshore where there’s a wide variety of hungry fish.
Let me say, we were outfitted for the big ones. And for some impatient folks, watching this stuff just sit may have been too much…
Not this mom. Let these boys have some successes and get bitten by the bug and I’m happy.
There’s a TON to be said for how this worked out. The boys caught the gamut —
OK, so we started small. Really small. Yellowtail. Little Yellowtail. REALLY little Yellowtail.
The boys were jubilant.
We graduated to…
Grunt! (Scientific name: Haemulidae)
Yup, we were on fire. Then first mate, Paul spotted…
Ballyhoo! The perfect bait fish for the big guys offshore.
Feeling frustrated yet?
These guys weren’t. You have no idea how happy the kids were. Often there were two or more rods bowing to fish at one time —
Then came Pogie, Blue Runners, Mutton Snapper, more Grunts, more Yellowtail…
And then…ever heard of a “Sneakerhead”? (NOT to be confused with the real-life people who obsess about buying the latest greatest Nike shoes. Just google Sneakerhead. It’ll scare you…the Imelda Marcoses of hightops. Who knew?) Oh, back to the fishing.
THIS is a real sneakerhead.
So how crazy-looking is that fish. It’s real name is Remora and it attaches itself to sharks and other large fish with suction cups on its head. We put our hands on its head and felt the suction. When we were removing the hook, it even suctioned itself onto the deck of the boat. The only way to remove him was to cover his eyes.( I mean, can it get better for the kids?)
Yes. How about catching dinner!
Ever seen a Hogfish?
Ever tasted hogfish?? Click here for a great recipe for grilled hogfish (and you can grill plenty of other flaky white fish this way too!).
OK, so call this a totally benign post about offshore fishing — fogetaboutit. I call this a massive success. Take a rainy blustery day, two little kids who’ve never been offshore fishing, and give them a big experience, and it’s a two-thumbs up day. These two boys just want to get back out on the water. It worked! Next week it’s going to be perfect weather — maybe.