This past Saturday we decided to take the boat out one last time in Miami before the summer started (and along with it my main diving season in the Keys). My nephew decided to come along with us for his first ride on the boat so I figured we might be able to get in a dive along with another family day at Boca Chita. My nephew had never been to this nice island in the middle of Biscayne Bay (I confess, I hadn't been there before this past winter either) so it was nice to have him experience it for the first time as it's a relaxing place to spend the afternoon where you can hang out, camp out (which we did a few weeks ago), cook out and generally enjoy the great Florida outdoors at a place that feels like your miles from anywhere (which I guess technically, you are).
We did the standard boat barbecue along with some fun frisbee flinging but the highlight of the afternoon at the island was definitely a find we made while doing my daughter's favorite activity, "Catching Critters". We already had a soft shell crab and a small remora that had been circling my son in the shallows of the beach on the ocean side of the island to our credit but we were still swimming around in about a foot of water to see if there was anything else to find. As I was floating along with the current I reached down and picked up a small stone from the bottom to check out anything that might be residing underneath (usually finding crabs and brittle starfish and other small creatures), when I see a multi-armed critter crawling away from me along the bottom of the rock. At first, I figured I had found a small brittle starfish, but all of a sudden I see a small black puff emanate from the tiny critter and I realize I've found a small octopus. The smallest one I've ever seen.
Although I'd been fighting off a nasty cold all week, my nephew and I decided to jump in the water at Fowey Light and see if there was anything to see or shoot. As we headed out to Fowey, there were a lot of boats heading back in (from a full day of fishing I assume), but I didn't see any fish flags flying so I found myself being very curious as to how their day had gone and how our afternoon might go as well. We headed into about 30 feet of water on the ocean side of the light and saw some attractive artifacts on my deph finder so we geared up and jumped in. The seas had risen a little bit from the morning when we departed the dock but it was still not too bad, only about 2-3 feet from what I could see. We jumped in and started scouting the area. I had a terrible time equalizing with this head cold I was combatting but even though I was equalizing all the way to the bottom I was still able to scout some of the larger crevices to see if anyone was home.
The viz wasn't great but it wasn't horrible either, probably in the 30 foot range so the bottom was easily viewed from the surface (especially the tops of those rocks I had identified on my depth finder). Unfortunately, that was all we were able to see that afternoon. I've been told many times how this area is pretty much fished out and after this dive, I believe it. The bottom we found was perfectly suited for snapper and grouper with plenty of large holes and a lot of relief from the bottom for all kinds of fish to take up residence, but we found none of that. My nephew said he had spotted some large jacks at the edge of visbility, but they didn't appear to be cooperative or curious about us to get closer for a better inspection (or shot).
At the end of the day, it was still better than a sharp stick in the eye (as I say sometimes). Hopefully I will be able to land my first fish of the season in the coming weeks at some of my more regular haunts in the keys. I can't wait!