I know, I know, it’s been a long time since you’ve read one of my drawn out fishing adventure dialogues and you’re in need of some aquatic humor in your land lubber disdained life. (Most of my followers will not know what that word means, the others won’t admit to it so they’ll look it up on Google). Well, all of you out there in cyber space are in luck because I finally decided to write about the opening of the 2017 Grouper season…. (Enter trumpets blowing)
But first, I must tell you why I took a sabbatical away from writing. I did a trip with my buddies down to Brazil and it was simply the worst trip of my entire life. So bad that when I got back, I was “not happy”; in fact I was MAD. From the plane flight, to the trip itself, to the return, everything was bad. So bad that I wanted to destroy (in writing) the company that set the whole thing up but after them realizing that they’d made grave mistakes with ME, they came to their senses and are doing the right thing so instead of ruining their business. I’m giving them another shot at making this big mouthed world traveler a happy camper. When that trip occurs in October, it will be a L O N G story… but that’s then, this is now. I’m sure you would’ve loved me trashing someone but that trashing wouldn’t have been light hearted, that trashing would’ve come from the heart… there’s a big difference.
Well, grouper season here in S. Fla has turned into the lobster mini season. In the old days, we just went fishing. Catching grouper was no different than any other species but since our illustrious big brothers of the sea.. NOAA feels that the species is being over fished, they have now made it a season, a season that starts May 1 and of course like the opening of duck season, archery season, deer season, lobster season, etc., everyone with a fishing rod wants to go catch them. Enter at this point a guy that I’ve known for a long time…Amado, nicknamed “Fishing Platano” on Fla. Sportsman. A DOMINICAN REPUBLIC reject that flat out doesn’t have a lot of common sense. To prove my point, he’s a DEMOCRAT. To make things worse, a lot worse, he LOVES the NY JETS. Talk about being a double loser.
He and his buddy Noel have a 31 Contender, well, Noel has the Contender, Amado being a devout Obama/Bernie/Hillary supporter just mooches off his buddies boat.. what else would you expect?
Well, they wanted to go down to the Tortuga’s and fill their freezers with grouper fillets so they contracted the worlds most adorable, considerate, fun loving rent a captain they could find… ME.
As with most of my trips, there were lots of texts before the trip making sure they had all the provisions that we’d need. Then Amado, getting a little ahead of himself made a grave error……… he said “I’ll betcha $100 I catch more keepers than you.” Now it’s not right comparing this to “Taking candy from a baby”, especially since he weighs 300 lbs and that’s AFTER he lost 90 lbs. but this gentleman just straight up challenged me and then sweetened the deal with money. Best part about it, his buddy Noel wanted in on the action as well. Wow, two suckers for the price of one! Combined these two haven’t caught 100 groupers in their entire lives and their challenging a guy that has logged somewhere in the neighborhood of 8000. Oh well, maybe they thought that me being a Republican, I’d share my catch with them.
As the date got closer, the wind blew. At one point I thought we’d have to postpone this heavy weight bout because the wind the night before we were to leave was blowing 26 kts. but mother nature was to be kind to us and it laid down the day of our embarkment. They’d talked one of their neighbors into coming, I guess to split the bill. He was a nice guy named Ron; he said he’d fished a lot in New Jersey. I asked him how much experience he had and he told me that he’d been fishing since he was 5 years old and that he’d caught many big eye tuna and some marlin as well so that put me at ease at bit. The best part about Ron going was that our two dumb betters talked Ron into entering the little tournament as well! Ron had never heard of me or my writings so he had/has no idea of what he was getting into… ah the naive, don’t you just love them?
Running down to the Tortuga’s, we took the North side of the islands so as to keep us in the lee and in as shallow of water as possible. The closer we got to the Tortuga’s, the calmer it got. Noel was very proud of his Hummingbird electronics and told me that the last time he was down there, he found a spot that had lots of groupers so he named it “CORNHOLE”. Now I’m not saying Noel had any kind of gay tendencies but what on earth would cause someone to name a fishing spot corn hole? We stopped and everyone on the boat started grabbing their rods. The only person that was ready with a white buck tail jig was ME. I dropped the jig and 45’ below it stopped on the rocky bottom. I lifted the jig sharply and a plump red grouper inhaled it. Shortly thereafter he was flopping on the bottom of the boat. I loudly announced the number “ONE”. I guess the early bird got that worm!
The wind kept dropping until it was almost non existent. Most people would love this but for me, I like the wind as it pushes me across the shallow reefs and it makes us cover lots of bottom. As the wind died, so did the fishing. We made a move to deeper water where we could take advantage of some current. Each of us deployed our baits and in short order my rod was bent over again. When I put the next grouper in the boat I yelled “TWO.” Amado was as silent as a Hillary voter the night of the election. Ron caught a little grouper that didn’t make the cut. Then once again I caught another keeper “THREE” and then a mutton snapper. I yelled “FOUR.” I then asked “How many do you have Amado?” He wasn’t amused with my vocal tallying of the game but God felt sorry for him and our other participants and even they started catching keeper grouper and muttons. At one point, Amado came to within one fish of me. Of course, I was eating a sandwich with my feet up because unlike the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, there would be no surprise finish, much less an upset. Noel caught a big red grouper which made him feel good. I told him that even a blind squirrel could find a nut soon or a later. Since his boat has no name, I am formally calling it “The Blind Squirrel”.
I must inject at this point in the story that Noel, like so many people nowadays has some tattoo’s but one in particular caught my eye. I recognized what it was immediately so I asked him about it. It was the insert to a 45 rpm record. Noel said that he use to collect records as a kid so he decided to get on tattooed on his shoulder. Now let this be a lesson to all you young people out there, just because you collect something as a kid doesn’t mean you should have it tattoo’d on your body. If that was the case, I’d have a bunch of playboy bunnies all over me.
Then it happened, I hooked a jewfish. I don’t usually deal with these stupid things but since I was spanking them like red headed step children, I figured I’d just show this overgrown toad who the boss was. I fought it for about 15 minutes, it was at this point that I said to myself, “You really should let the customers fight the fish, after all, they are paying me.” Amado volunteered to fight the fish and I went back and once again put my feet up to take advantage of the shade. Amado wasn’t on the rod 1 minute when “POW”, he broke my rod! Now here he was getting his butt handed to him in our tournament and he had to stoop to a level of lowness know only by the DNC and break my lucky rod. Did he really think that I could be defeated by this stunt? Did the US Air Force lose to the Germans because one of our airplanes was shot down? Silly Dominican.
We made the run into the Tortuga’s where I quickly set up my tent. The three compadres had decided to sleep on the boat. My old saying is “Boats rock, Islands don’t.” While we were there, the FWC showed up with a 42’ Open fishermen powered by triple 350 Mercury’s. I learned the next day that they busted someone fishing in the no take preserve… that’s going to be an expensive ticket
The island was full of weekend warriors all trying their luck. One of the cool things about going down there is that everyone down there seems to get along. There’s not much jealousy, at least that I see. After a great dinner of rib eye steaks and great story telling of fishing trips in history we all hit the sack. At 1 am I could hear the rain on the outside of my tent. The boys in the boat would not be hearing it, they’d be feeling it. Chalk one up for experience! Luckily for them, it didn’t last long.
The next morning I woke up and broke down the campsite. I could see that there was no life on the boat so I figured I’d let them sleep in a little bit. After the clean up we once again made our way out to the grouper grounds. There was no wind whatsoever. We fished about an hour. I caught a mutton that a barracuda decided that it wanted to have it for breakfast. When I got the mutton to the surface, the cuda was chewing on it. I yelled to Noel “Grab the leader and pull it away from him”. Noel said “Are you crazy, I make my living with my hands”. So here is this full grown man that is afraid of grabbing 50 lb leader because a 20 lb toothie critter is on the end of it. I guess like his Democrat buddy he needed a “safe place” on the boat! Then, to top it off, they wouldn’t let me count the mutton as part of my “keeper fish” because it was bit in half…Wow, desperate measures for desperate people huh? Noel had a gaff that he got from the Dania Flea Market for $3. Amado told me that he was cheap but that gaff looked like it should have been used by Little Bo Peep. Why people go cheap on some items amazes me.
Once again the calm weather hurt us but we picked at them. Ron was making a comeback and he and Amado were neck and neck FOR SECOND PLACE.
There’s an old saying that says “Second place is 1st place loser” and that’s exactly what happened. For whatever reason they wanted to get back home to clean the fish and boat early so we left at around noon. This was strange for me as I’m used to coming in right at dark but he with the money, makes the rules.
Yours truly ended the day with more fish in the box, thus taking home the trophy AND THE CASH.
Till Next Time,
aka The Reeg Bandit
, thank you!
THIS IS WHAT WE GOT.