Winds: 5-10 SW
Seas: 1-2 feet
Surf Temp: +/- 80F
Viz: 25-60 feet
After pulling my 4th all-nighter in as many weeks, I decided to take a day off and take the family down to the keys a day early and hopefully take advantage of a long weekend (little did I know that TS Fay would have something different in store for us). We put the boat in around 9:30a with the expectation of an 11:30a slack high tide. By the time we fueled up and got everyone on the boat we headed out just about 11:00a so I headed for some of the closer spots that would hopefully be clean at high tide. I got to the first spot only to find there wasn't much other than some small hogs wandering around. So after giving it the old college try, I decided to move on to another spot as the tide was still just trickling in. The second spot yielded more hogfish with at least a couple of a nicer size and one (yes, one) lobster. I found it hard to believe that I had only found one lobster in that area as it is usually one of our more productive spots, but it's been that kind of lobster season so far for us. By the end of the second spot, I've only got a couple of hogs a mutton and one lobster in the cooler.
By this time, I'm getting a little tired of not finding some fish, and the tide has already switched as I have been in the water for about an hour so I decide to make one last drift dive in an area that usually holds fish, but is difficult to maintain position once the tide starts moving the way it has by this time. Drifting along, I am surprised that I don't see any muttons mangroves or hogs on my way through this spot but continue to be hopeful. Finally, I come across a hogfish worthy of chasing down. When I do start to get position on this hog, I completely overlook a nice size black grouper that was hiding off to my right. I couldn't turn around to get an angle on the black so I don't give up the bird in the hand so to speak and continue stalking the hog. A split second later, 2 legal blacks move from their concealed positions ahead of the hog and start to swim away from me. I quickly pick out the larger of the two and switch tracks to stalk my new prey and don't waste too much time getting the shot off, because it was already about a 10 foot shot and I didn't want to miss my chance. I give one last pump on my fins and pull the trigger. The shot looks solid but I don't pull just in case. The grouper immediately begins to peel line off my reel, but soon stops. I start to reel in my line to find the grouper has wrapped my line around the end of a rock that kept her from proceeding too much farther. Luckily however my shot must have damaged her spine as she was floundering upside down without too much power and I am able to easily unwrap the line and get a hold of my fish of the day. I decided to have my wife take a ship board picture of the fish as I haven't take too many of those and they look pretty cool on the other websites I frequent :). We spent the rest of the day at Sombrero lighthouse with the kids enjoying a wonderful afternoon of crystal clear water. The water was so clear that I was even able to take a couple of nice underwater pics and videos of the kids on the reef.
Saturday was not as much fun from a spearfishing perspective, although we did end up with a couple of nice mangroves for our effort (not me specifically, but we do share a cooler :). Unfortunately for us, tropical storm Fay has formed today and we find out about a visitor evacuation order for 8a on Sunday. Regretfully we have to pick up all of our equipment and supplies to take the boat home and allow the trailer to be moved to a high spot in case of storm surge as the predicted path of Fay takes her well within the reach of Marathon. Needless to say the rest of the day and night were no fun and we ended up leaving a day early in order to avoid the visitor evacuation traffic on Sunday (so much for my extra day this weekend). Right now, the latest forecasts have Fay traveling to the west of Key West which hopefully means that the keys will only suffer some relatively high winds and rain as opposed to the potential force of a direct strike from either a tropical storm or hurricane.