Christina here, doing a little post about our latest Sea Donkey adventures down in Florida!
Flying in Covid Times
We haven’t been down to Florida as much this year because of covid (obviously!). Flights were super cheap come January so we masked up and braved a trip down!
The airports were pretty empty and our flight was only half full, definitely got nowhere within 6 ft of anyone else the whole time except the person sitting behind me on the flight. You had to wear your mask from entering the doors in BWI to exiting the doors at Tampa’s airport. We skipped our normal airport dinner and snacks because we didn’t want to take our masks off.
Night Fishing Anyone?
We landed around 4 and got to the house around 530. The weather was looking good wave wise (it was only in the 60’s though!!) so the boys went to get the boat ready and I ordered Chipotle to be delivered.
We ate quick, bundled up and went out to sea. It was really pretty, there was a full moon and you could see all the stars as soon as we got away from the light polution.
It was a little rough for my taste, closer to 2-3 ft waves, and windy. I rode standing backwards next to the captain and was pretty warm. I was wearing 3 pairs of pants, 3 shirts and a winter jacket with gloves though!
It was a little scary, you couldn’t see the crab trap floats so we were kind of just hoping we didn’t hit any.
Once the moon came up and our eyes adjusted we could see pretty well. I started to not feel so great on the way out so I didn’t start fishing when we got to our fishing spot. I just watched the moon come up. I always take Dramamine before we go out and sometimes still get seasick, but just looking up and out for a few minutes usually makes it go away.
The boys caught a few fish, it was around 9 by now. I still hadn’t even rigged up my new rod. Every time I went to move I felt a fresh wave of nausea. The fishing wasn’t great and the boys knew I felt horrible so we turned for home.
We made it back to the dock at 10 pm and they laughed at the joy I felt stepping onto dry land. I don’t know if you’ve ever been seasick but there are no words to describe how wonderful it felt to step on dry land.
We had changed our flights to Florida at the last minute once we saw the weather. We basically changed it just for a chance to fish all day on Saturday. The forecast for the rest of our trip was not promising at all unfortunately.
We got up bright and early after our night fishing adventure to run some errands. We grabbed some food, both lunch and dinner, and some more Dramamine. It was going to be a long day out on the water. They were calling for sunny skies, high of 75 and 1-2 foot waves. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Not going to lie, I was so afraid of getting sick again and ruining it. I took two Dramamine, two tums, and two Motrin just to cover all my bases (seasick, upset tummy, and migraine)!
Nothing is Ever Easy
We were all ready to go but had missed the tide. The winter tides in Florida are really extreme. The high tides and really high and low tides are really low. But with a little man power, we had just enough water to get the boat off the lift.
We were quickly on our way out with plenty of day left.
Smooth enough to let the autopilot get us out to our spot!
On our run out to the far fishing spot (one they can hardly ever get to because you need really calm seas) Sabin pointed to a stowaway on the boat!
We were going pretty fast and it was a chilly 50 degrees, so I quickly scooped up our stowaway. Sabin handed me my rod (that he’d rigged up, thanks Sabin!) and laughed when I looked at him horrified. He said put him on the hook! I protectively cupped my hands around the lizard, named him Moe, and let him use the heat of my hands to warm up…and more importantly, not become bait.
Moe quickly learned that the boat was cold and I was warm, and slept through the rest of the ride out. Once we got to the fishing spot, he made poor life choices and jumped out of my hand. He ended up chilling in the sunshine, keeping one eye on the sky, the entire time we fished.
I would occasionally pick him up and he’d use the heat from my hands to warm up. I took a break just after lunch to take a nap, and he fell asleep on the top of my hand in the sunshine with me. The boys got a kick out of my new friend.
Moe stayed with me for the entire 10 hour fishing trip and even the cold ride back in the dark. I let him go in the garden when we got back to shore. We’ll miss you Moe!
Back to the Fishing
The fishing was fantastic, we never went more than a minute without a bit. Well, correction, apparently I was having more luck than the rest. I was pretty much catching nothing but Hog Fish and the first fish I caught with my new rod was a 14″ Hog!
Everyone else quickly caught up and we caught a lot of Hog and Grunt fish. Hogs are some of our favorites to eat and it’s usually pretty hard to find one big enough to eat (14″ or larger you can keep). We also tried out our new grill that hooks onto a cutting board that sits in a rod holder! Nothing like warm food out on the boat!
It started to warm up to where we could take off most of our layers and enjoy the sunshine. The wind died down and so did the waves. There wasn’t a boat (or land!) in sight, nothing but fresh air and sunshine.
Fins in the Water
We noticed a fin in the calm water. Then another, then a whole bunch. They weren’t big fins like dolphins or sharks (PHEW!) but smaller like some sort of fish. I climbed up the tower on the boat but still couldn’t tell what it was.
The boys started casting near them and we saw one chase it for a minute then give up and the fish left. Soon we saw another school and the boys got another cast or two before they were gone. They were using lures that were light and shiny like silver fish. They would cast out wait a minute, then reel in as fast as they could, pause, and reel in as fast as they could again.
Once they got it down they caught one and we discovered they were Bonita fish. They have red meat like tuna and apparently taste similar. They’re fast fish but the water was cold so they weren’t as fast as they usually are. They put up a big fight and the boys had a fantastic time catching them. I was all fished out, we’d been fishing for about 9 hours at that point! Moe and I enjoyed watching though and helping point out schools coming by.
We stayed out until the sun went down, the boys were still catching fish pretty regularly. Moe and I bundled back up and watched the beautiful sunset. Don’t get a better view than that!
Once the sun went down, it got cold pretty quick so we decided to head in. The water was like glass so we made really good time. We were tired, stinky and happy after a full day fishing. I’m so grateful we were able to get a good day in because the rest of our trip looks like 20+ mph winds so we won’t be fishing. There’s plenty of house projects to do though! The boys are building a bait station so we can just get bait once (instead of every morning) and just keep everything at our dock.