Monday, March 28, 2011

Fishing on the Sailor's Choice

Fishing on the Sailor's Choice
Key Largo

While flipping through some of the tourist guides last night Greg spotted an ad for ocean fishing “1/2 day for $40!” We thought it was too good to be true and had to have some catch, but after calling the company to ask some questions, we thought it sounded legitimate. So it was our plan to fish on the open ocean the next day.

Our day began with a disappointment. We returned to the Cuban Restarant and ordered breakfast. We both ordered heuvos rancheros and what we got was disappointing. It came as a plate with one scrambled egg, a basket of buttered and stale grocery store french bread, a big greasy chorizo sausage, and a premade greasy, square hashbrown. Yuck, we were expecting better after the previous dinner. But don't worry, the day gets much better!

We had a relaxing morning packing up and chatting with other campers and then moved to our new campground a couple of miles down the road. We were at the boat docks by 1PM and we prepared to board our fishing boat for the afternoon, the “Sailor's Choice.” The boat is 65' long and decked out with plenty of fishing rods and a generous deck. It worked out nicely because this boat could hold 49 people, but this trip only consisted of 15 adults and a couple of kids. We had the boat to ourselves, relatively. At first we didn;t know what to expect from the trip as our first mate seemed a little rough around the edges. However, as soon as we got out on the water we were having a great time. Everyone lightened up and talked to each other and the first mate (our guide) was very friendly. Right off the bat he opened a pool to bet on who would catch the largest legal fish and I put in three bucks to bet on Greg. After about a 45 minute ride over crystal clear azure water we slowed down to our first spot for fishing. We fished with simple bait casting rods with a weight on the end. About a foot above the weight was another line about a foot long with a hook on it. We laced the hook with pieces of baitfish or squid and let the line drop until it hit the bottom, then reel up the line about three feet.

The group caught fish pretty regularly. Most of what we caught were grunts and a small red reef fish of the grouper family. I caught one of these little groupers and Greg caught two fish. The first fish Greg caught was a beautiful yellowtail snapper. It was about 15 inches long and the guides told us this was a great size for a yellowtail snapper and that they are a great fish to eat. We were very excited about it and knew we would eat this fish for dinner. The next fish Greg caught was a surgeon fish. Surgeon fish are large and beautiful fish that live in the coral reef. They are dark blue and black and are called surgeon fish for their ability to cut you open with sharp retractable fin projections on their tail before their tail fin. We released this fish. It was absolutely amazing to see all of the different fish that people caught while out on the boat. It was also such a treat to be able to spend so much time out on the water on such a gorgeous day. Fishing was a little slow so our guides tried very hard to have us catch fish, driving the boat to five locations where we fished on or near the reef. We ended up being on the boat from 1:30 to 5:45. We had a day well spent and did something we have never done before. Once we docked our guide asked everyone to pull out their biggest fish and Greg almost won the biggest fish pool, but we were beat out by about 1/2 an inch.

Our guide fileted our snapper and we carried it straight to the nearest restaurant, hoping someone would cook it for us. We were lucky enough to happen upon the Conch House Restaurant, a family owned business that has been featured on the Food Network. It was set in a beautiful old southern style Victorian house. We sat down and handed our waitress the filets, which she took right to the chef and they cooked it in the same style as their special. The special that evening was “Yellowtail Snapper in coconut and macadamia nut with an orange reduction.” It was a perfect fit and our fish was fantastic! It was one of the freshest fish we've ever had and certainly the freshest saltwater fish we've ever had. We were in great spirits and rode back to our campsite ready for a good night's rest.

We changed into our swimsuits and took a little swim at a beach in our campground, which was at the edge of a beautiful mangrove forest with an osprey watching as the sun set. It was a very relaxing way to spend our evening. After working on our blog for awhile after our swim, we heard the wind start to pick up, then a couple of rain drops. Within about 15 minutes it began an out and out torrential downpour. It was raining so hard we didn't want to make the 400 yard run back to our tent from the breezeway where we were sitting. We ended up being stuck at the breezeway until 11PM when there was a lull in the storm. That lull lasted about three minutes, enough time to get back to our tent and hole up for the night. We didn't want to run through the rain because we knew we would get soaked and it seems like nothing dries here because the humidity has been between 80 and 90% day and night. We slept unusually well as the rain poured down around us and provided a but of relief from the heat.

Bird species so far: White ibis, anhinga, double crested cormorant, moorehen, little blue heron, little green heron, white heron, great blue heron, osprey, snowy egret, cattle egret, glossy ibis, purple gallinule, common yellowthroat, palm warbler, gray catbird, tricolored heron, ovenbird, great crested flycatcher, magnificent frigatebird. There are more but these are the interesting ones for me.


Greg and his surgeon fish

Greg and our guide after releasing the surgeon fish back into the ocean

Dani on the fishing boat "Sailor's Choice"

Us on the boat, beautiful water :)

our dinner at the Conch House, our catch on the plate in front of me

at the Conch House

No comments: