June 5, 2011

Just Another Day In Paradise

What a trip! My wife and I along with my parents took a trip down to south Florida to board a cruise ship set to hit the Bahamas and Key West. We had a few hours before ship left so I had to get some fishing in. While everyone else wanted to sleep, I got up, called my friend Brock and took off. Brock's family was in town and so they came along as well. Brock's Dad had the fist catch of the day within no time. It was a good sized Mayan Cichlid full of color! We also had a few large mouth bass take the bait, but nothing big. We then moved to one of the regular spots we hit when I'm down with the hopes of landing some peacock bass. I found out real quick that the severe cold spell Florida had last year really did some damage to the peacock populations as well as other exotic species. They say that up to 70% of the population was wiped out! it showed as we didn't see any signed of them this day. We did however have our chances with all the gar that were swimming around! we hooked several and would get them all the way to the bank before the would get off and swim away. Brock was finally able to finish the deal by landing one. Talk about a mouth full of teeth! We also caught some Jaguar Garpote but they were did not have the size of what we typically catch in that particular honey hole. We ended up fishing 3 hours and while we caught fish, it was a slow day compared to past trips.

The cruise was a lot of fun. We went to Nassau, Bahamas where we went to the Atlantis Resort and hung out at the water park and the largest salt water aquarium in the world. They had so many cool fish that I had never seen before including a huge saw fish! We also stopped at Coco Cay which is an island owned by the cruse line. There we snorkeled and I walked around and saw some spectacular flats. I would have loved to have a fly rod for the bone fish cruising around! Our last stop was Key West and this was my favorite place of the three. We rented a golf cart and drove around checking out all the sites. One place in particular is the restaurant Blue Heaven http://www.blueheavenkw.com/. They have the best key lime pie on the planet. I also had a lobster omelet that was amazing. If you ever go to Key West, make sure you stop in at Blue Heaven, you'll be glad you did. We also saw the southern post point of the continental USA. We were actually closer to Cuba than we were to Miami. The ship had all sorts of things going on to keep us entertained but one of my favorite events was the belly flop contest. The guy that won did one of the best belly flops I've seen. The splash he made was epic. You can check out the video of it on my video link.

When we arrived back in Miami we took a trip out to the everglades for an air boat ride. It was a lot of fun but south Florida is in a drought right now and the canals were really low. They were not able to really get the air boats up and moving fast because of it. On the plus side, the lack of water has push all the critters into the canals so we saw tons of wildlife including lots of alligators. We even got to see some alligator wrangling! All I can say is those guys are nuts! While we were out there we were able to try out some local table fair. No, not gator but frog legs! With a little hot sauce they were not that bad.

On the last day of the trip it was nothing but fishing! We started off the morning going after a variety of fresh water fish. Unfortunately, it was the slowest fishing day I've ever had down there. I did have an interesting experience though. I was fishing with live bait and we were fishing some canals in the everglades. We didn't have any action and all at once bam! FISH ON or at least that's what I thought. I had a monster of a fight on my hands. I had some furious runs but nothing ever surfaced till I got it to the bank. It was everything I could do to get this thing off the bottom and when I finally did it turned out to be about a 5 foot alligator! I could not believe I had fought a gator on rod and reel! Lucky for me about a second after he surfaced, he gave one giant head shake and broke off. I guess I can chalk that up to another species caught right? We drove back into town and hit a canal we fish when ever I'm down and nothing. It was just as dead here as it was in the glades. What was frustrating is finally seeing some nice sized peacock bass and not getting them to take anything! It was still cool to see them and on one of my last casts with a swim bait I had a huge hit! I knew it was big a big fish and that was affirmed when the monster large mouth came flying out of the water several times. I wished I would have had a video camera because the violent head shakes were awesome to see. I got the fish landed and it measured 22 inches which is the second biggest large mouth I have ever landed. I need to invest in a scale because I'm curious as to how much it would have weighed.

That night we met up with Captain Jeff Maggio www.lunkerdog.com for some inshore fishing. This was my second time fishing with Jeff and he is great! He had us on fish quick but we couldn't keep them on the line. We saw several tarpon rolling and several snook but we couldn't get them to take the bait. The barracuda however were more than happy to play. we had several of them on and landed 2. This was the first time I've ever caught a barracuda and they are an impressive fish. I still can't get over the huge teeth they have. My Dad caught the largest of the night that was around 30 pounds. Fishing the inner coastal is a blast and seeing the mansions and yachts than line the edges is worth the trip by itself. It was a great way to end an incredible trip.


Mayan Cichlid

Jaguar Guapote

Brock's Gar

Smile for the camera...

Bonefish



Up close and personal with a saw fish.

Breath taking flats.





I piece of Blue Heaven's key lime pie. It's the best ever!

Gotta love the everglades!



It's just a quick snack.

Definintion of crazy: See above picture.

Frog legs! When in Rome... I mean Florida.

Gator On!

22" large mouth. Any guesses on the weight?

Now those are some teeth!

My first Baracuda!

My Dad's 30lb Baracuda!


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