Seas: 2-4 feet
Winds: 5-15 ESE
Temp: 80 F
Viz: 25-30 feet
After missing out last weekend, this weekend had me pulling an all nighter at work on Friday, so I didn't pull into the keys until almost 10a Saturday morning on no sleep for 27 hours (but I wasn't going to miss out on another weekend). Luckily, I am pretty accustomed to the drive, so I probably only dozed off 2 or 3 times... tops :). About 5 minutes out of the campground, I got a call asking if I wanted my gear put on the boat in case I got a chance to jump in the blue water because everyone was going dolphin fishing. I figured what the hell, and told them to stow my gear on the boat and I would go along (I didn't want to fall asleep during the day anyway). About 30 minutes later, I was on the boat heading offshore in search of the elusive beautiful blue-green mahi-mahi. The seas weren't too rough, but we were still in 3-5 foot rollers for almost the entire journey. The weather was very good, which was a little surprising since I had heard that the morning around the campground was blowing a solid 15-20mph (hence the late start since we usually head out around dawn for dolphin). Luckily for me it worked out this way, because I was probably too tired (even though I probably wouldn't have admitted it) to safely dive the way we usually do.
We ran into a lot of birds about 18 miles offshore and started to follow every feeding flock we found. The first one we came upon was our most productive with us getting about 10 schoolies. We never got to sit on the school and fish as everything we found seemed to be on a constant move (long story short, I didn't get to shoot at anything). We kept spotting feeding birds and trolling through them for the rest of the morning until we ended up with 18. The one mentionable fish was a solo 10-12 lb cow we spotted as we were trolling through one flock of birds. She was not much more than a flash in the water as we were making way. Luckily we were ready with rods in hand and were able to cast out to her and she took one of the baits. A decent job of gaffing by yours truly (if I do say so myself :) and we had the headliner fish of the day in the cooler. Obviously the rest of the day was spent cleaning fish, socializing (this is what you call drinking when you want it to be socially acceptable) and cooking later that night. Everybody always loves a fresh mahi feast (what's not to love?).
Saturday night had some very nasty storms blowing through Marathon (not that I knew how bad they were since I was out cold getting my first sleep in almost 40 hours). But we awoke Sunday to a nice calm morning. Once we got everyone fed at breakfast, we decided to try and hit some of the patch reefs since the water had been so clear the day before in up to about 30 feet. We headed out and noticed a storm system about 7-8 miles offshore but we thought we could navigate around it while hitting some of our spots (how many times have boaters thought they could do this?). We couldn't. We ended up heading back under rough weather and seas deciding to wait the storm out and head out afterwards. After waiting the storm out, we decided to stay closer to home and try to hit high slack for some hogfish and (hopefully) grouper.
We were able to hit a couple of spots before the tide switched and already had some hog and mangroves in the cooler when we decided to hit "just one more spot" (famous last words). By the time we got to this spot and actually jumped in, the tide was boiling out. At one point I headed down to try and wait for some fish to happen by and grabbed hold of a rock to keep position. All I can say is, it felt (and looked) like I was holding on to a rock jutting out of a precipice as things were flying (or falling as my analogy would have you think) by me. Even the fish were just going with the flow (so to speak) and drifting back with the tide instead of staying on whatever spot they were frequenting. So of course we decided to call it a day and head back. Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures but take my word for it, you aren't missing much. Maybe dinner for a few people for a few nights (tops). Either way, it was still better to be in the water. I guess there is always next weekend (at least I hope so).