Fishing with Snakes
It's not often that I start writing one of my stories 10 days before the trip starts but I figured that I might forget about some of the happenings as they occurred. I am to take some buddies that worked on the boat doing minor repairs fishing as a thank you (they didn't charge for their time), so I figured I'd do the same for them. Low and behold one guy drops out, the other is all in. Along with Billy (from Boat Ctr Miami) I was going to bring a friend Davie. Davie invites me over to his house to have chili… in June. Hey, I'm up for a free meal so I accept. I show up to Davie's house and he introduces me to Chris. He seems like a nice enough guy. Chris informed me that he was a scum sucking plaintiff attorney and a lover of Obamacare. Davie had been drinking and I'm talking d r i n k i n g. Davie is a member of PETA and I promised to break him of it. As the Crown flowed down his throat I realized that Davie has "little man syndrome". Growing up vertically challenged has left a chip on his shoulder that tends to come out when he's drinking. Davie looks like the comedian Don Wrickles twin brother.
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DON WRICKLES DAVIE
Davie, while not being a young lad, decided that the life of an electrician and getting shocked frequently was not for him so he hung up his volt meter and exchanged it for an apron at IHOP . Hopefully he would be the one doing the shocking from here on out. He was one of the first people that got to actually see the pictures of the guy that chewed the other guys face off in downtown Miami last month. The paparazzi like to eat on the midnight shift, yeech. Anyways, his buddy Chris is an attorney and was hardly drinking as he is engaged to get married and wanted to slim down for the wedding so he would fit into his tuxedo. I'm sure that right after the wedding he'll balloon out like all pompous, scumbag, slimy, low life slithering snakes that attorneys are… oops, sorry, he's probably one of the reputable ones…I really shouldn't pre judge him until he proves himself otherwise…. my bad.
Anyways, Davie is in one of his moods where he wants to show everyone how tough he is but in a fun way. His exact words were "I nevver give upp". Now before things got out of hand, his attorney buddy shows me a pic of the last time that Davie got this way. He messed with some giant of a guy that too was inebriated, and Davie not only got pinned by a naked drunk, if having another man's nut sack pressed against him wasn't bad enough, he got his finger broken at the same time.
Now Chris was not looking to get into it with Davie, especially in Davie's kitchen but Davie's one of those type guys that pushes people. Next thing you know this 235 lb guy is flat out manhandling the little munchkin and has him by his pants dangling him like a big bag of Alpo. It reminded me something I once saw on the internet….Dwarf tossing.
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Chris basically manhandles the bald oompa loompa and even smears his face into the kitchen floor. Out come the I phones and pics confirmed that referee Big John McCarthy would have stopped the bout at this point. Even Davie's dog wanted to trade owners after his embarrassing display.
Upon Chris letting him up Davie tries to pick on someone a little more his own size but couldn't find a 1st grader anywhere so he continued to harass Chris. Next thing you know they're going at it again in the kitchen. Chili, plates, and liquor bottles are going everywhere. It was hysterical. Chris once again tosses him around like a rag doll but this time he decides to humiliate Davie and decides to T bag him right in front of his embarrassed wife. Then, he wipes chili on Davie's face and lets the dog lick it off.
After this, Chris realized that Davie was 3 sheets to the wind and thought it best that he leave before the Jr. sized Hulk Hogan started up again.
I thought to myself… These are the guys that I'm taking to the Tortugas? Oh boy, the Coast Guard is surely going to get a call at some point.
The next morning Davie calls me and apologizes for his actions. I just laughed it off.
FAST FORWARD 1 week Tropical Storm Debby is still giving us brisk winds but the forecast is for it to lay down so we're busy getting all the rods and tackle ready for the trip. Along with our boat is another ambulance chaser Mike (I won't tell you his last name as after this trip, the Florida Bar would revoke his license for lack of performance), he's out of Ft Lauderdale and has a 43' Intrepid with triple Yamaha 350's. It drinks more fuel than the Queen Mary but when you bill $400/hr for you, your paralegal, your secretary, your receptionist, your legal assistant and your coffee girl, I guess it doesn't really matter now does it? He has to run his boat down by water because it's too big to trailer.
Now it's about this time that the fancy dancy seasoned attorney starts to make his mistakes. He text's me and says "We're gonna kick your ***". This coming from a guy that trolls around with pre rigged bally hoo. He then brags that he's even got his name on his fishing rods.( Woo Hoo, now that's a game changer). I think to myself, after the beating I'm gonna give him, he's gonna grind off the stickers and replace them with the name "HAMMER". Like a slick gambler that I am, I decide to bait him in the form of a little wager and sure enough, his ego took the bait. $100 for the the biggest mutton, $100 for the biggest grouper, and $100 for the biggest red snapper. He responds with "You're on". There's nothing better than sucker punching a baby in a stroller and stealing his candy.
The snake…. I mean Mike, arrives in Key West and his only job is to go out and get a couple hundred pinfish so that we don't have to waste our time the next morning. Well, after 3 hours of fishing he returns with 4 pinfish. I guess he's so good that he won't need any more than that to beat us. We arrive, load the boat with provisions and go out and catch 100 pinny's and are back at the dock in an hour. Tip #1- Mike, pinfish live on grass flats, you actually have put a bait in the water to catch them. Go back and read Fishing 101, page 1, paragraph 1.
Mikes' crew consisted of my friend Steve and his 16 yr old son Nick, Billy from Boat Center and Mike's son Reece. Steve has fished with me in the past so at least someone on the boat would know how to tie knots. His son Nick is famous for getting beat up by a girl not once, but twice. The kid couldn't beat his way out of a wet paper bag but he likes fishing so I guess he's OK. I offered Billy to fish on our boat but he opted for the boat with A/C; dumb move.
We run down to the west and after 60 miles I pull the throttles back and let the boat rest on top of some hard bottom, we were marking mounds of fish. Each of us sent down a bait and immediately we start catching fish. My son Zach hooks up and gets a big red grouper followed up by a nice mutton.
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It was at this point that I realized that Chris was…uh…. a lazy fisherman. He likes to put the rod in the rod holder and when he gets a hit he just starts reeling and hopes for the best. Now if that wasn't bad enough, he one upped it when after he actually hooks a fish he starts to look around for the rod huki. I see more fish lost this way….grrrr. This rookie move drives his captain (me) crazy but he seemed to get a kick out of it. He once again upped the ante when he would constantly tangle with Davie. It was like he was doing it on purpose. He'd be fishing on one side of the boat and his line would be on the other. To make matters even worse, he has a permanent plumbers crack. I will save you the visual pain by not posting a pic of it but it ain't pretty I can promise you that. The fishing was steady and everyone on the boat was catching fish. Chris caught a nice black.
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The other kid we brought (Lucas) hooked up and started battling his fish. It turned out to be a nice mutton
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This kid had experience beyond his years. He never complained, he just fished. We moved along the reef just picking at the fish. Mikes boat was literally 20 yards from us and we could hear them hooting and hollering. God must've felt sorry for them and let them actually land a fish. I could see Nick on the bow fighting a fish as well which ended up being a bull shark. Mike got on the VHF and once again started smack talking. Tip #2- never piss off the guy that's letting you follow him around like a lost puppy. Every time that we'd hook up a fish, Mike would idle over to us. I tried explaining to the floating living room that we were not on any secret spot, it was merely some hard bottom and the best way to catch fish is to simply cover ground. They didn't believe me so they stayed within a cast away. Finally, I said "I'm gonna run out to a ledge, lets go". I figured that once they could actually stay on top of the ledge that they would start to catch some fish. I tell them "Drop here". I then decided to move away to give them plenty of room, they took this as a gesture that I was trying to lose them. I later learned that while Mike is a very good attorney, he's lacking on the knowledge of fine tuning his depth finder… he never turned his gain up thus never marked any fish and could barely mark the bottom. I looked at the brand of his depth finder and it said "Ronco".
It was about this time that I spot a 37' SeaHunter heading toward us, I knew who it was so there was no reason to get off the spot. You know those guys that pull up to a red light and their stereo is going BOOM BOOM BOOM?, well this was its' nautical equivalent. The surface of the water was rippling around his boat from the vibrations. This thing was right out of Hialeah. When I go fishing, I want to enjoy the peace and quiet. The only noise I want to hear is a drag screaming. Jose Marti Jr. just waved and kept heading west. I think I'd commit suicide if I had to fish on a boat with music playing that loud all day. Do the fish really want to hear Ricky Martin?
After about an hour, I came back since they weren't answering their VHF. We'd released some red snappers which normally would have have been kept but we were fishing on the atlantic side and the ARS's are closed indefinitely there. I pull up to Mikes boat and it looked like the family dog had just died, everyone was sulking. Steve yells out "We haven't caught a fish in 4 hours". I immediately thought "Don't believe him, their sandbagging some big fish". Come to find out, they were telling the truth. These guys couldn't catch anything except a buzz. Knowing that their day was not going well, I decided it was time to take them to the red grouper grounds. Stevie Wonder could catch fish at that spot. We make the run and of course we are happy to be running because it's breathlessly calm and the breeze feels nice. I slow the boat down and grab a jig and drop it over the side. About this time the floating house pulls up and I explain what has to be done to catch fish. "You have to put a jig somewhere near the bottom". I no more said it and WHAM, a grouper pounced on my jig. Their entire boat scrambled for their rods. To make a long story short, even their boat started catching fish. I yelled out "Hey guys, we've got our limit on groupers, do you want us to fill your limit too?" It was my way of kind of rubbing it in their face. Steve said "Hell yea". Then Mike's ego kicked in and he said "We'll catch our own groupers". He knew darn well that if he accepted a grouper out of pity from me that I'd write about. Now, would I do that?
We kept catching groupers even though we were trying to catch muttons, so I decided to make a 1 mile run. Steve said that they were going to stay there and keep catching until they limited out (I thought, man with Nick on the boat, it'll take them a week). Little Reece was top angler on their boat and by far the best looking. This kid is going to be hardcore when he gets older. Hopefully he won't be an attorney though! I could hear him several times say "Daddy, can I go fish on that boat?"
Late in the afternoon I decided it was time to go to the fort and set up camp. It felt like 120 degrees. After getting all the tents up I decided to give all the fort virgins a tour and teach them about the history of the fort. While at the top of the fort, I could see a big brownish/grey cloud of pilchards. I would be looking for them the next morning, cast net in hand.
We ate like kings, drank like sailors and slept like giants. We awoke, broke down camp and then grabbed the cast net. The pilchards were still there and 500 of them quickly found their new home in the livewell.
My plan was to run west looking for red snapper and more muttons. Mike was worried about his fuel so he opted to tie up to a shrimper and catch yellowtails and some bottom fish. When that slowed, his plan was to return to the grouper grounds and finish out his limit. Billy caught a nice hog snapper and Reece caught a nice mutton as well. When the sharks showed up, the action ceased.
As we neared the ledge we were going to fish, I instructed everyone as what to expect. Red snappers like to school up and usually the first bait down gets nailed within seconds. 30 seconds after I said "drop", we had 3 fish hooked up. Chris's butt crack seemed to blind me. It reminded me of Chris Farleys *** from Saturday Night Live. We caught a bunch and Seth got a real nice one on a jig. Every time we pulled up to the ledge we'd have rods bent.
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I decided that we better move because the next spot in 198' of water also held some nice fish and I didn't want to limit out on smaller ones. We kept on running west and as I slowed the boat down, the screen lit up with fish. We all drop and right on que, the rods bent over, this time with gags. The only problem is that they are out of season in the gulf so we had to let them go. Chris hooks a nice one and actually managed to land it without tangling up with Seth that was fighting yet another red snapper. It was about this time that the little midget with a badge chomped down on a dorito and broke his tooth. He whined for an hour until I finally said I'd call out the Coast Guard and have him helivacked out. He finally shut up.
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We bounce around and the muttons start to really bite. The nice thing about fishing deeper water is that on average the fish are bigger than in the shallow water. Chris vents the gag and drops again and instantly hooks up. How, I have no idea but he had a golden horse shoe up his hairy butt. He lands a big mutton while Lucas lands a nice red grouper. Both Seth and I were fighting muttons.
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The fishing was about as good as you're going to get. I almost felt guilty. uh, sorry, that's a lie, I had no remorse at all. I thought to myself "How's that A/C working out for you right now Billy?" It was about this time that I dropped a jig and something inhaled it. I struck the fish and it took off. I've caught enough big blacks in my life to know what they feel like and this one had some shoulders on it. It ran, it stopped, it ran again, it dived for the bottom and each time I'd wait for him to stop and got right back on him. The fight went on for about 7 minutes when all of a sudden the hook pulled. I yelled something that I won't type. When I reeled the jig in, I realized what had happened, the hook straightened. NOTE TO SELF- ALWAYS use 3x trailer hooks!
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Chris and Davey kept getting tangled but every time that Chris wouldn't get tangled, he'd catch a nice fish. The sun was cooking us pretty good so we decided to jump in and cool off. It had to be pretty hot to have me stop fishing but it was worth it.
We did some more drops and basically continued to catch more gags, more red snappers and more muttons. Chris once again hooks into a nice fish and lands yet another big mutton. This bookworm was on fire. For a lazy fisherman, he was having the day of his life.
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Davie finally catches a big red snapper, up to this point he'd been pretty quiet (which is unheard of) catching average fish while Chris gave him a fishing 101 lesson.
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We decide to make the long run back, it was calmer than calm so as the highest ranking member on the vessel, I begged Seth to drive for a while while I uh supervised the bow of the boat.
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I was excited to get back to Key West, I just knew that Mike would have his boat all tied up with a nice rum drink waiting for me with 3 crisp $100 bills. The whoopin he was given wasn't fit for a junkyard dog but he had it coming. Only one problem, like the shady, shifty, ruthless, spineless jellyfish that his occupation demands of him, he had absconded from the marina. I think I'll have Chris sue him. I guess he couldn't bear to have his little boy ask him if he could change his last name to HAMMER. Tip #3- NEVER challenge the Hammer. :-)
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Till Next Time,