Great Day of Fishing
As we met the Captain on the dock, the anticipation was high, especially for my son. It was obvious that the Captain had started extremely early, because all gear and bait were on board and he was on the dock by 7:30 AM. The boat, the Captain, and the three of us were ready for the 'hunt'. The Morning sea air had a salty freshness to it with the backdrop of the rising sun, blue skies, and even bluer water. The waters were smooth with a wind from the south. A large sea turtle was on a collision course with our boat as we rounded the entrance to Red Fish Pass. The pelicans were putting on a show from the air as they dove for fish. Their accuracy is unbelievable - a fish with every dive. We saw three dolphin very close to the boat. The ride to the first fishing spot was smooth. As the shore line became more distant, the real feeling of "leaving it all behind" settled in. Reaching our first fishing location, the anchor was dropped and the lines were baited. For me, it was difficult to understand why this location was so different than all of the rest of the area until I looked at the depth sounder and noted that there was structure-the bottom was different, and that difference would hold fish - one of the captain’s spots. Within a matter of minutes, we had grouper hooked-running on the smaller size. After about a half hour, we changed locations. The next two locations proved to have a lot of fish, but on the smaller size. The fourth spot proved to be the best and the last for the day. As soon as the first bait hit the bottom, a big fish was on. The fight took several minutes and resulted in a 16 pound red grouper. The smile on my son’s face, after landing the fish, was the biggest I had ever seen. For the 2 hours, we had a catching experience that I have never seen before. Many different types of fish with the red grouper in the 10 plus pound class were caught. There were two times when all four of us had fish on at the same time - the catching was fast and furious with large red and black grouper being caught. The action was keeping the Captain very busy and the below deck boxes were being filled. It was hard to believe that having started with over 100 shrimp, three dozen pin fish and 5 pounds of frozen squid; we were running out of bait. But, we limited out with fish before the bait was gone. All fishermen had their limits. The ride home gave all a chance to rest our sore arms and backs. It also gave my son his chance to talk about his big fish for the day and the bigger one that "got away". As we approached the dock, my wife could see the smiles on our faces and she started to hear the stories from my son before we were docked. The Captain started to fillet the fish and we took time to reflect on the day. Preparation for the fish fry was started by my wife. The pile of fillets was an amount for several fish fries by our large group of three families. The high point and the most memorable adventure during our family holiday was the fishing/catching trip. Every father should see the excitement on his son’s face that I saw that day.
Great Day of Cruising
After a leisurely breakfast, it’s time to get on the rental boat that we have on the lift right behind our home. At first we drive slowly through Cape Coral’s canals, admiring the neighbors’ backyards from the water. A short while later we have reached the Caloosahatchee River, where we can speed up a bit on our way to the Gulf of Mexico. The speed on the river is restricted, in parts to "no wake", due to the manatees that are frequently spotted here. But we have soon reached the last stretch of the low speed zone, which incidentally is one of the best spots to look for dolphins. The animals look for fish where the river flows into the strait, and we often observe them just a few yards away from our boat. Once we are out of the slow speed zone, we can finally try out how fast the boat can go. Keep left and you are headed for the Gulf of Mexico, go straight and you’ll pass between Sanibel and Pine Island on your way to Captiva. It’s a good idea to stick to the chartered waterways, as there are shoals beyond the marked routes where the water is suddenly very shallow and only a few inches deep. On our way towards Captiva Island, we notice how the water changes color, from the muddy brown of the river to a glorious blue, the color that we all imagine when thinking of Florida. After about an hour on the water we reach the island. Passing between Captiva and North aptiva we continue on to the Gulf of Mexico. The water now has a shade of turquoise that makes you want to jump right in. But not yet, we drive on a bit further until we reach the middle of North Captiva, right where Hurricane Charley raged through a few years ago. With the beach in front of us, we lower the anchor, jump into the Gulf of Mexico and swim towards land. Unbelievable - the beach is completely deserted. Come to think of it, that makes actually perfect sense because it can only be reached by boaters like us. Thanks to the lack of mass tourism, we discover all sorts of unusual shells all along the beach. Time flies by and we collect more shells than we can take with us. Suddenly, we realize that we are quite hungry. Back on the boat, we hoist the anchor and steer north, leaving the Gulf at the next strait to continue behind a line of barrier islands. After about 20 minutes we reach Cabbage Key. What a truly heavenly place. The island is small and quickly explored. Now we are really hungry and, postponing the exploration until later, head into the
legendary restaurant. The place is famous for the countless dollar bills that patrons have signed and stuck on the walls. Needless to say, we join in the tradition, noticing that there are already many layers. We take a picture of "our" bill, enjoy a meal and return to the boat. The long way home leaves us with memorable images. The Captain suddenly stops the boat when a pod of dolphins shows up. Several animals come closer and check out the boat. After a few minutes they swim away, and we continue on our way back. Once we reach our vacation home we realize that we all got sunburned. Note to self: Use stronger sunscreen next time. Because there will be a next time - there are so many places to discover, and we’re already making plans for tomorrow.