A Day On The Sea Dancer

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5 a.m. comes very early. If you’re having to go to work, it’s a dreadful time for your alarm clock to go off, but if you’re going fishing, it’s like waking up on Christmas morning when you were a kid.

Fishing is an adventure in itself. Every time you feel something grab your lure and the rod starts to bend over, there’s the excitement of ” What will I reel in? “, ” Will it be big?”, “Can I take it home to meet my frying pan for dinner?”

Yesterday, our friends, Mike and Mike, ( yes, that’s their names) invited us to join them on a fishing charter out of Mayport on the Sea Dancer. At 7 a.m., we met Captain Dennis Young at the boat ramp and by 7:15 we were underway and heading out into the deeper waters of the Atlantic. Our little bay boat would never make it out on these waves and wind, so this was a new experience for us, fishing off our own coastline.

It was chilly with temperatures in the low 50’s and the waves were not what I would call small by any means. After about a 45 minute ride, we stopped motoring and starting fishing. The waves had the boat rocking and rolling, so I had to brace myself against the side of the boat so I didn’t fall in the drink. We dropped squid on bottom rigs, and within seconds I had something on the line. It was a nice size Black Sea Bass. This carried on for a while before we moved on.

By this time, the seas were calming down and the temperature was going up. Next stop was the Red Snappers.

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I had no idea that red snappers grew to such a size! I’ve seen plenty of mangrove snappers and always assumed that all snappers were roughly the same size with their colors and patterns being the difference between the varieties.

You know what they say about assuming.

These guys were no joke and they meant business. As soon as they latch on, they try desperately to pull the rod and you into the water. My left arm is angry with me today from holding the rod while reeling them in, but it was worth it. It’s amazing to see this huge fish up close. They’re absolutely beautiful.

Red snappers are a tasty fish, but there’s more regulations on them than you could count, so each one was given a quick cameo and safely released to swim another day.

We went to few different spots, catching sea bass and snappers the whole time and stopping only for a sandwich or two. I don’t think there was ever a time I dropped my line in and didn’t bring it back up with a fish on it.

So after all this excitement and hitting our limits on sea bass, it was 2p.m. and time to head back to the ramp. We had an hour long boat ride to get back and we had calm seas the whole way. I felt myself nod off several times but kept myself from sleeping so I wouldn’t fall off my chair. Those fish wore me out!

Captain Dennis was a great instructor on bottom fishing. He took the time to show me the proper way to use a bottom fishing rod, how to remove a circle hook, and took the time to share interesting information about the fish we were catching. He was also a machine at filleting all the sea bass we caught for the day.

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We had a great day.

After getting home, we decided on a fish fry for dinner. It didn’t take long to figure that out. Fish never tastes as good when you eat it as it does just a few hours after catching it.

On Capt Dennis’ advice, we used House Autry to bread the sea bass fillets which Earl fried up in the deep fryer and I made some cheese and tomato grits with velveeta and a can of Ro-Tel. I was craving some deviled eggs, so I made those too with Wickles Relish. Washed it all down with a few Voodoo Rangers, and we had a tasty meal fit for a fisherman.

 

I love days like this. I might be running on a sleep deficit, but there’s nothing like it.

Thanks Mike, Mike, and Captain Dennis! Hope to do it all again real soon!

 

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