Weather : Low 80's, winds 10-12 NE, water temps 76
It's been a while since the Amanda Buff had been out - seems a frozen steering rod will do that. Work was lined up for the early morning, but I manged to get on the water. Here's a shot of of sunrise. I had been invited to join in a tournament, but with the wacky schedule I had to pass.
Finding bait was no issue and the baitwell was filled with threads by 8:30,and I was on the preferred location by 9:00. Normally I would try and net Threadfins up, but I don't do that if solo fishing. The Sabiki rig was the ticket.
With the bay practically devoid of other boats I'm guessing that the weatherman had convinced most folks to stay at home. I had the bug to get out and if it was rough I would find some sheltered water to hole up in.
That said, I dropped anchor a bit to early for the targeted specie - grouper. Water was moving at a pretty good clip and the NE/E wind kept pushing the water out until easily an hour more than expected. I was pretty patient and just watched the mack attacks going on. They stayed about 100 yards away - I simply watched 100's of macks skyrocketing and busting minnows. Frankly it was pretty good entertainment. Rigged with a silver plastic bait I figured if they came near I would give it a whirl.
The day progressed and on occasion the macks would get close enough to the boat and I did manage to entertain myself while soaking two lines (one live bait, one cut bait). The retrieve for the macks was pretty simple - cast as far as you can, crank as fast as you can. Eventually they caught up to my knot where the braid joins the fluorocarbon and that bait was done. The action died down, but I rigged up with yea ol "Poor man's lure." (aka pml) Basically it's a straw with a long shank hook and a bit of wire. I thought I had the McDonald straw of white, red, yellow, but it seems I grabbed the wrong one. No worries I thought - they are in a frenzy. I add a bullet head weight to get some distance. Here's a shot of the poor man's lure.
Rigged and ready the fish departed. I rechecked my bigger rods by pulling them in and cast the cut bait out. I grabbed the live bait and rather than toss it I just dropped it over the starboard side. About 3 seconds later there was a solid thwack - rod bent over I managed to grab the spool and pull like hell; unfortunately things didn't work out and I was convinced the man in grey was lurking under the boat. Checking the sonar I saw this.
On the side imaging you can see the man in grey - right side - two blips. At least that what I assumed they were sharks.
Rerigged I dropped another threadfin - thwack, snap. Once more - same result. Getting po'ed now I reached for the 4' of wire leader and using a spider knot I doubled up on 6' of 50# braid. I started musing..."I'm gonna have me some fun...I'm gonna have me some fun." Ala Mack in Predator...yes solo fishing will do this to you.
As I dropped the thread over the side I started to get pumped up knowing that it was about to get real. "It's party time [females dogs] and here comes the chowder." That was the PG version. "Time to bring home the biscuits, cause papa's in the house." I was at high alert with the thread swimming straight down. I knew I was going to get a strike and you know what happened next? Nothing - absolutely nothing. You talk about anticlimactic. I sighed and put the rod in the rod holder - let Rodney rodholder do the work.
Couple minutes later the Macks showed up again. Casting out yea old poor man's tube lure I manged to land a personal best Tern. I untangled the bird and quickly learned why the deck is sometimes called the poop deck. By then the Macks had disappeared but looking at the sonar I saw that they looked to be under the boat. I jigged my pml and a couple missed strikes later I was on. Mack secured and released I dropped the pml again when the big rig sounded.
I swapped rods out and holding the spool pulled straight up as hard as I could - no way was I going to let the man beat me. "I'm having me some fun! I'm having me some fun!" I gained line and eventually the man showed up - except it wasn't the man, it was this fellow.
I texted the wife "Dinner secured. Poopon the deck, Groupon in the cooler."
I tried for some more fun and after being cut off some more by Macks I called it a day at yea ol' honey hole.
I went to the flats for some inshore action. I spotted a nice school of reds, but they spotted me first (busted); I landed a trout, and eventually blind cast into a turtle. Seeing that this was my first ever inadvertently hooked turtle by default it was a personal best too. Hooked by the front flipper things were a bit dicey (that mouth looked like it could bite and hurt - no need to be down to 8 fingers), but I managed to get the hook out and he went on his merry way.
I guess we'll call it the Paul Revere slam - one if by land, two if by sea. Tern, turtle, grouper slam.
On the way back to the ramp the NE winds calmed a bit, but it was a decent pounding. With the autodeploy lifevest on and kill switch attached I was running a decent 20 knots when the engine just died; it made a odd grinding noise. I thought I had spun a prop or worse. I raised the engine to take a quick peak - prop still there. I tried to crank her back up, but she wouldn't fire. Seeing that I was losing ground and about to take the waves over the beam I ran up front and dropped anchor. Bow into the waves now I had time to think about the situation...The Hoff is in the bay somewhere (a fore mentioned tournament), Seatow, wave for help, call home...let's go through the check list. No warning lights, oil in reservoir , battery works, engine fires, fuel bulb is firm, kill switch in place...dang. Seems in one of the bigger waves I was jostled enough to pull the kill switch. Anchoring down pulled it but good as I saw it dangling by my knee. I place it back in, moved the kill switch lanyard to my shorts versus the life vest and motored home.
That evening grouper sandwiches in hand we watched GA play a baseball game and win 9-6, and FL hang with LSU. I texted my son at UF and lined up the GA/FL game fishing tournament for 10/31.
The next day (Sunday) the Bald Eagle
showed up...pretty wacky wildlife filled weekend.