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Fish Fry Success! Then, Daniel Does The Reef.

The fourth(?) annual Jolly Roger, X-Mas eve fish fry, is o-fish-ally a success! The pictures show some of the regular helpers at our event and showcase the beautiful surroundings that the Jolly Roger staff restored, after Irma tried to ruin the party. The couple holding fish are Don and Pattie, also fry helpers and big contributors, fresh off the reef, spending time on the water with me. We did well, adding fresh bounty for the fry.
This year, our attendees were requested to give a cash donation to the local food bank, which will help those less fortunate. Although there are fewer people at the Christmas event, than our regular fries, the spirit of the season along with Christmas music wafting through the palm fronds, makes for a very warm and fuzzy, home away from home feast. I think we had between 60 and 70 eaters in total, slightly down from last year, but very glad to be at our winter home.
We did a 50-50 ticket sale and draw and John, the winner, donated his winnings, about $115, right back into the fund raising pot! Very well done John.
Earlier in the day, John and family, having rented a boat for the day, rescued several people on the water. I don't have all of the details, but they came upon several children and adults who jumped in the water, to go swimming from an anchored boat and quickly got pulled away by the current. By the time John and family arrived, the swimmers were tiring quickly, too far from the boat to get back without help and it was a grim situation. Son, Daniel was a big part of the rescue and soon everyone was reunited and hopefully more aware of the dangers on the water.
Sometimes, good things happen to good people and it just so happened that I was taking John and Daniel fishing Christmas day. And that is the next part of the story.

So, the unsung reef rescuers and I went fishing Christmas Day. Daniel's last day before returning north, to his studies.
I've been trying to relocate a spot, number 130 on my screen, all season, that produced good fish and sea monsters last year. Somehow, it was escaping me and certainly wasn't where I thought it was. Well today, the number fairly jumped from my GPS screen at me and on nearly calm seas, we were soon circling to drop the anchor. (nearly two miles away from where my faulty memory was telling me to look all season) John and Daniel were all pumped up, what with my talk of huge groupers and giant sea monsters munching whole muttons in one bite.
With sharp, rocky bottom, this area is a line cutting, gear wrecker and after a bit of coaching, we dropped a couple grouper rigs and a chicken rig. John hooked a double of yellow tails, one a keeper and the anticipation mounted. I think I got an undersized red, then dislodged a 22' red grouper from his lair, complete with someone else's hook in his maw. Daniel with a little more coaching, now saw proof of my brags and was off to the races.
He had a huge hit, but got rocked up! I took the rod and somehow freed the lead, finding a big tugger, tugging , on Christmas day, in the morning and turned the handle twenty times. Now, fish safely off the bottom, Daniel merrily raised a firetruck red grouper to the net, (after a bit of fish inflicted grunting and groaning).
John is boating undersized yellow tails, I'm tying gear and a red hind comes aboard. (I think due to Daniel) He's on again! Now it's a big margate, a strong fighter in the net. Another high five! We moved a couple hundred feet and i think a couple porgies showed up. Maybe I caught a smallish margate here? Then we moved deeper, anchored perfectly, but only a few porgies answered before a wind change ruined the party.
Given the choice, John and Daniel chose to go back to the productive area, Daniel stating that he wanted to catch a couple more big ones. Well good luck, I thought, Dad now has the grouper rig and you have the chicken rig, son. We dropped not to far from our other spots and I quickly referred to my regulations and with great disappointment, (and mild cursing I think I said F..K, F..K, F..K) released an 18" scamp, as Daniel struggled with another big margate. Into the net he went and after a high five, somewhat subdued this time, I vowed aloud I was going to catch a big mutton. Daniel was hooked up on a big fighter before I even got my line down, but the hook popped, after it was safely on the was to boiling oil.
So by this time, I'm almost ready to mutton and John hooks up and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a 22" inch scamp, into the net my dear! So, now the waiting for my mutton began, but you know who, with the hot chicken rig, was grinding away on a head shaker and rather than jump and run, I waited till they called for the net. MY MUTTON, DANIEL CAUGHT MY MUTTON. A 24" specimen was netted and mockingly, I threw the net and fish on the deck, officially ending any more services to an obviously "planted" fish magnet, son of a what ever. And we all had a good laugh.
We were only on the water about four hours including all the travel time and after the busy day they had yesterday, rescuing people and helping at the fish fry, we cruised home. At the photo shoot, Daniel permitted us to hold some of his catch and as he doesn't do cleaning yet, this was only his second time salt water fishing, I roped Doug and Bob into the carving. With John practicing on dismembering the smaller fish, we four kings of the Jolly Roger soon had gallon bags full, for the fishers and a good start on the next fish fry.
One of the best couple days ever!


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