Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Florida Fishing

© By Albert A Rasch

"He's such a nice young man..."
Gullible tourists from Wisconsin


Ok. By now y’all must be getting bored with me telling you about the nice weather we’ve been having in Florida and the opportunity to wear shorts just about all year long. That’s right friends, while many of you are ensconced in your homes, the rumble of salt trucks intruding on thoughts of warm, idyllic beaches, we are out here…

Fishing and Enjoying It!

As it so happens, we all went out again to see if we could score on the Spanish mackerel again. After Holly at NorCalCazadora reminded me that I could make me some sashimi right there on the pier, I couldn’t wait to get back out there. Not only did I prepare my self for a slice and dice samurai demo, but I went prepared to make seviche a classic Cuban dish. But more on that later.

As is our usual routine, we showed up sometime after lunch. It seems no matter how early I get started we still can’t get to the fishing spots before noon. Bubby and Jordan unloaded the picnic and BBQ supplies while I started the grill. I only use lump charcoal and make it a habit to start it with available materials such as palm fuzz and oak twigs. Its good practice for the boys and I really impress upon them the one match rule. “You never know when you might only have one match.” I always say. At which point they roll their eyes and pull out a butane lighter or micro torch.

Anyway we get the grill going and the first thing that goes on the grill is the pot with butter, garlic and refried bean. I like to put that on right away to start warming. The grill itself receives the flank steak strips when it is good and hot. Nothing like the sizzle of well marinated beef on red hot cast iron! If you have a cut of beef that you would like to marinade try this: Use a mortar and pestle and mash several cloves of fresh garlic with a teaspoon of coarse salt. Make it a creamy paste. Splash in some white wine, beer, or champagne to thin it a bit. Put your steak in a pyrex or plastic dish and pour your garlic marinade over it. Add enough beer, wine, or champagne to cover slightly. Put it in the fridge till tomorrow.

While I was busy grilling, Cristal set the picnic table. It is always fun to set a table outdoors for some reason. A nice checkered tablecloth, plastic plates, silverware, and shiny plastic cups, make the meal more enjoyable; to say nothing of impressing the people that walk by. We enjoyed a delicious lunch complete with fresh salsa and cold drinks. Some of the folks that walked by quipped that our food looked better than at a restaurant. I nodded in a satisfied way and said, “It’s all in the preparation and presentation.”

After cleaning up, we finally got up on the pier and started fishing. The tide was pretty slack and my hopes of fresh Spanish mackerel sashimi were dashed by the quiet and lethargic water flow. I really thought that the water would be much cloudier on account of the rain we had but it was a pretty shade of blue-green. I guess the ceviche mix will have to wait till next time too.

Jordan-Bear went to catch some bait fish while I rigged up the fishing rods for the rest of us. The Bear met some older folks from Wisconsin that were here enjoying our pleasant climate, and regaled them with tales of his fishing exploits. If there ever was a born fishing story teller, Jordan is it. From where I was, I could see the folks intently listening and nodding their heads in unison with Jordan’s sage like pronouncements. He’s very witty so an occasional peal of laughter came from the group. After a couple of demonstrations of his “sweet” cast-net throwing skills, the folks bid him good-bye and wandered down the pier in my direction. As they went by they were still talking about the “nice young man.” We’ve tried real hard to raise good boys, and though sometimes I would like to strangle them and bury them in a swamp, all in all I can’t complain about ‘em.

Bubby grabbed himself a sabiki rig and decided to jig for some of the larger shad under the pier. Mom got a sliding fish finder rig and I rigged up a Cuban yo-yo for fun. Before we were finished Blake had caught some shad and was busy putting them in his aerated bait bucket. I scooped them right up again and put one on Mom’s rig and another on mine. Mom cast her shad out about twenty feet and I dropped mine right down by the pier legs.

It seemed we weren’t going to be very lucky even though we did catch a fair amount of bait. The ebb tide was going to be a long and uneventful one. There where dozens of people fishing and no one was catching anything. Bubby and Jordan entertained themselves catching shad, while Mom dozed off in the warm sun. I wandered around and saw absolutely nothing.

The afternoon was wearing on when a young couple with a little toddler set up adjacent to us. I didn’t notice them at first, but Cristal did. He set up his fishing gear, and on his second cast put a “C” bend in the rod that spoke of a good sized fish! That sure caught my attention. I walked over, and noticed that the poor fellow was on crutches. My first thought was that he must be a Veteran from the conflict in Iraq. None the less he, crutches or not, fought that fish to submission and soon brought him up for release.

He had caught a good sized grouper and naturally I asked him if I could take his picture. After introductions we got to talking, I asked Mark what had happened to his leg and as it turned out it was an accident with a defective piece of equipment that left his leg busted up in three places. But thankfully he said he would be pretty close to a hundred percent pretty soon. Which is a good thing as Mark not only fishes, but is an outdoorsman who hunts whitetail deer here in Florida and Georgia.

Mark rigged up with a six foot spinning rod, braided line, flouro-carbon leader (I think), and a circle hook. Dead shrimp was the bait of choice. A couple of quarter ounce split-shot was all the weight needed to cast the forty or so feet to the edge of the reef.

After pictures he cast out again and within moments was on to yet another denizen of the deep, and it was bigger than the first. It was a short, furious tug-of-war and then he got cut off. After a few more casts, his daughter started getting a little antsy, (the weather was getting cooler) so he and his wife started to pack up to leave but not before I asked them to visit me here at the Chronicles! Hope you were able to make it Mark!

No sooner had Mark, his wife, and the baby vacated the spot, when Jordan occupied the space they had been in. I mean the air currents hadn’t even stopped moving when he suddenly appeared there. Mark had graciously offered us his left over shrimp which The Bear commandeered for his own use.

I would like to say that our luck changed, but alas, we still couldn’t get a single bite.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Bubby caught a couple of fish.

This long narrow one is a lizard fish. Nasty little creatures.

Finally Bubby caught something to be proud of:

A little grouper!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues…