Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fishing in the Gulf!

It's 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday, and the alarm clock goes off. We jump out of bed, get dressed, and rush to get ready. No makeup is needed today! We grab our hats, snacks, sunscreen, and a cooler filled with lots of bottled water. Why? Well, to go fishing, of course!

Fishing has been something rather new to me, although I have been around it most of my life. On camping trips when my brothers would go fishing with my dad, I was always content to stay at the camper to sew and craft or sunbathe in the boat, thinking fishing was more of a "guy thing". I did get my fishing license early in my marriage, but it was just too hard to sit quietly on the bank for hours. I caught one small fish and thought it was a trout, but everyone laughed and said I had caught a "creek chub" (or large minnow)! That was the end of Phase 1 of my fishing career!

Several years ago after moving to the South, my husband Charlie sold the fish and ski boat, and bought the 20 ft. Sea Hunt to fish in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Our "Just Us" Vessel

Our fearless captain!
He wanted me to go fishing with him, so he bought me a fishing shirt with 50 SPF, pants, and a hat.  He even bought me a Porta Potty to go inside the walk-in center console, so all of my excuses were gone!  He said I would need a fishing license in case I handed him a reel, used a net, etc. In preparation, I bought my license and packed a tote of magazines and a craft.

It was exhilarating riding in the new boat with the wind and mist in my hair, and the scenery was simply breathtaking! 

Birds sun-bathing!

Red-fish like shallow water near the grasses.
Shortly after Sunrise

The sun's reflection sparkles like diamonds!
An Oil Platform in the Gulf
There were reefs completely covered with pelicans and sea gulls. Sometimes as a boat went by, the birds flew up and circled before landing on the reefs again. It's was like something out of an eerie movie!

Seagulls and pelicans
I helped Charlie net the fish that he caught, and I will admit, it looked like fun to catch those big fish!

On another trip, Charlie suggested that I try fishing, and he bought me a Zebco 707 Rod and Reel Combo. I was rather skeptical and hesitant at first, remembering the "creek chub" incident, but I decided I would give it a try! 

When I caught my first fish, it was awesome! After the first tug on my line, the battle began, and I won! It was tough, but I felt victorious with my 19 1/2" Red-fish! On that trip, I caught another Red-fish that was 19".

I was definitely "hooked"!

My first Red-fish!
My Sting Ray really put up a fight!
Be careful with this guy!

Whose fish is this? I will tell you the story and let you decide. It was early one Saturday morning when we set off on another excursion. Charlie had caught several fish, but I had caught nothing. I was exhausted from a rough week at school, so I decided to lie down in the boat and take a nap. Charlie woke me to net a 28" Red-fish that he caught, and he put it on ice. 

He told me that the tides had changed and that I might want to fish again. I decided to nap instead, so he set his pole and baited mine. 

Charlie woke me, yelling, "Nancy, I caught a big fish on your line! Do you want to bring this one in?" Just as I sleepily sat up, I saw the fish roll on the surface, and it looked like it was at least 5 ft. long! I quickly said, "No, go ahead!" as I grabbed the net.

After an extended fight to bring the fish in, I netted the fish. When Charlie tried to lift the net, the metal hoop of the net broke! He grabbed the netting and lifted the 38" fish into the boat. It weighed 22 pounds!

I decided to fish then, but it was too late - they had stopped biting. I jokingly told Charlie that if I did not catch a fish I would never fish again. We were ready to go in, so I reeled my line in for the last time and was surprised to find a fish on my line! It was only 4 inches long, but at least it was a fish! I had "flash backs" of the creek chub!

When I told the story  of the 22 pound fish to my 4th grade class at school on Monday, they sided with me. "Mrs. Justice, it was your line, so that's your fish!" Now that's a smart class!

Whose fish is this? You decide!
On one very memorable trip, I caught 2 Red-fish before Charlie had his line in the water. One fish was a 5 pound Red-fish, 22 inches long, and the other was a 3 pound. We had our limit of Red-fish by 8:10 a.m. We continued to fish, exchanging smaller Red-fish for the larger. When we stopped fishing at 10:00 a.m., the last 4 caught were a 19" and the rest were 20" and longer.

When my brother Larry and sister-in-law Carolyn come to visit, fishing is always at the top of their "Must Do" list!

Carolyn proudly holds her "trophy" fish!

A good day's "work"!
It was a very good day!
Larry's shark!!!
Speckled Trout, Red-fish, Flounder, and White Trout
were caught on a "solo" fishing trip in the Bay.
Charlie and his first 22 lb. Red-fish -
caught in Vermilion Bay

A great family day to fish!
An Unwelcome Visitor!
Sting-Ray - Up close and Personal!

Noah's first Red-fish!
Noah weighs his fish!

Charlie often takes friends fishing in the Gulf. No matter what they catch, it's always a great day!

Richard had a great day; lots of fun!!
Jimmy's 21 pound catch!

Rev. Scott's 17 pounder!

On our most recent fishing excursion on a chilly morning, the sun was just beginning to make its dramatic appearance as we quietly left the dock. It was an absolutely spectacular experience that I will always remember.

Leaving the Dock
Spectacular Sunrise
This recent trip was grandson Noah's special day! He caught the biggest fish, the most fish, and he even caught 2 Sting-Rays!

A cold morning on the water!
Papaw nets a fish for Noah  

Noah's largest Red-fish
Noah's Speckled Trout

"Catch of the Day" from our most recent trip -
Let's have a fish-fry!
Nancy's Notes: 

  • Recipes for the fish fry will follow!
  • Try my recipe for these sweet, mouth watering, "Hush Puppies". They are the perfect compliment for the "Catch of the Day!"
It looks like a great day for fishing!

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