Executive Summary :
Evan, Amanda and I hit the water to see if we could win the $1000 first prize; unfortunately we came up short. Temps 65-80, winds 8-15 knots, water temp 75.
With the winds gusting to 28 knots at 2am, I opted to sleep in and we didn't hit the water until 10:00am. Even then it was probably blowing a good 12-15 knots. Here's Evan at the helm on the way out - smiles all around. That would be short lived. 12-15 knot winds make for a good beat down.
With Evan at the helm we pulled out the new net and pulled up to a marker. At 10' and 20#'s she's not a small/light net and on the second toss we came up with probably the most amount of bait the Amanda Buff has ever had. It wasn't an easy task as the net somehow managed to get hung up and Evan kept the boat 2-3' away from the marker in 10-12 knot winds. Eventually the net came free and after a quick inspection there was literally no damage done - hard to believe.
Amanda picked up all bait and Evan kept the boat moving Westward as I cleaned out about 20-30 Christmas treed baits (aka stuck in the net).
Net cleared, and decks washed, I discussed our options with the crew. We could stay put, or go for the win with a down wind boat ride about 8 miles away. Recon had shown that smaller macks were in the bay; "our spot" was closer to the Skyway Bridge and we expected bigger Macks.
Of course this would mean we would have a 8 mile upwind beat down on the way back, but the forecast was for the winds to calm down. After a brief discussion we decided we were here to win it and would take our chances.
By now there were lots of white caps, and the winds and seas seemed to be building. I had to work the throttle all the way to "our spot". We didn't see many people out on the way down, and those that we did see were inside the 6' marker line. They were probably smarter than us.
Eventually we pulled up to our location dropped anchor and made some form of assessment of the situation. Where we were the winds were blowing a pretty steady 8-10 knots, but the tide was incoming. In this case the bow faced into the winds and our baits would go the opposite direction with the tide. This would mean any caught fish might use the anchor line to break off - not exactly ideal.
Baits secured I looked at Amanda and you could tell she was turning green from the motion in the ocean. We pulled out the Ginger Ale and Cuban Sandwiches and had her look at land. It was pretty doubtful she would get through the situation without creating a chum slick herself, but just as thing were looking grim Evan started catching fish. Enough fish that I grabbed a rod and gave it to Amanda and said, "Get ready." The fish cooperated enough to get the sea sickness out of her mind, but she was being cut off, or catching catfish. Regardless the sea sickness had faded.
Needing a good chum slick I pulled out my latest redneck engineering masterpiece. I called it the Chummaster 2000 - completely inspired by Dan Akroyd's Bassomatic
Here's a picture of my latest get poor scheme - I have a million of them.
I grabbed about 4 small Threadfins and tossed them in the Chummaster 2000 and was quickly disappointed in the results. Seems I needed more RPMs to tear things up, but eventually I managed to get some form of chum juice out of it. I swapped over to the EMT shears I use and made quick work of the bait and tossed them into some nylon net bags
I bought off of ebay.
Chum slick secured the bite continued, but our target species eluded us for quite some time. We pulled in sharks, catfish, ladyfish, even a mess of trout... Amanda has the art of the cutoff down pat - I would say at least 5 cutoffs.
Eventually Evan started to get a hot hand and had 2 Macks on board. With plenty of time to go I was really confident that he would get his third. Twice he watched the Macks inhale the bait, but not get hooked up. It was somewhat frustrating to watch, but we kept at it - replacing long shank hooks and bait as fast as I could. With all the action I was Capt. John for the day and photography never happened. Somewhere along the line I managed a single mack.
Time caught up to us and we started to motor to the Little Harbor Marina High and Dry. Interestingly neither Amanda nor Evan were wearing prescription glasses; so at the helm we had the proverbial "blind leading the blind".
"Where's the next marker?"
"I don't know."
"Maybe that's it."
"Is that red or green?"
All kidding aside Amanda did a fine job of getting us to the weigh in in calmer/safer water. With prescription sun glasses I was the third set of eyes and at no time did we endanger a restaurant, their constituents, other boaters, or ourselves.
With only 2 out of 3 Macks landed Evan knew he was not a contender. My lone Mack was big, but there was no way one fish would win anything except more accolades in the fish spread. Regardless the winners were announced and as luck would have it I didn't win the Permit trip with Glenn Taylor either. We fillet up the Macks and then headed home.
The next day I smoked the Macks on the Green Egg and made some Mack Fish Spread using this recipe
- I would kick up the Old Bay more and Tabasco a bunch more.
Overall it was a good family outing and the spread tasted great.