You know it’s Dr Seuss’s birthday today. I find the title fitting. Last week, I came back from the lovely state of Florida to a brutally cold Western New York. I have to say that I do love New York and our seasons but when I get to go to Florida I go for a single purpose and that is to fish. I arrived in Florida on the 19th of February and was told that there was a cancellation and just myself, my dad and another guy set to go on our charter. It was also said to be choppy waters with a higher than liked wind. We chose to reschedule. I was asked if the schedule change would affect anything else I did. While I didn’t get to see my friends I told my dad that my main purpose to come down was to fish, and fish I would no matter what.
My dad has been using Steve at Paradise Fishing Charters for a few years now. This was my second trip out with him. We met Steve at the dock at 8am on the 20th. With flat waters and a cloudless sky we set out for the day. There were four other gentlemen on our trip that day and while I won’t remember all their names I do remember we all had a great time.
It took about an hour to get to where we were going, but in the end it didn’t matter with the weather being as wonderful as it was. First stop we were catching gags and groupers and red snappers. It was a great trip. Once the catch started to slow and the sun started to rise we moved on to a second spot. One of Steve’s fishing friends lost their nav and depth finder so they joined a bit off our port side and we went further onto a third location. This spot was by a crab pot, which proved extremely interesting.
I was on the crab pot side with my dad and was nervous to hook up on it. While I did not hook up on the pot I did hook up on something else. While catching the normal gag fish my line decided to go. I was clueless as to what I caught but it took the bait and swam with it. Steve grabbed the rod and went along the side of the boat as it was being pulled to the front. I ran up and thru the center console and down on the bow to reel it in. I propped myself up and reeled as best I could. We got it closer to the boat and realized it was a sting ray. A STING RAY! Out this far, with this weather, it was extremely out of the ordinary. I wanted to touch it but it was angry so I did not, one killed Steve Irwin remember. We snipped the stinger, released the hook, and sent it back on its way.
It was a rush. Such a rush. I’ve never had anything like that in my fishing experience. The pull, the hard reel, the chance of falling in. Just a riot and something I would love to do again, just not with a Sting Ray. After the excitement of that died we went back to the gag, grouper, and snapper fishing. We also went back to the avoiding of the crab pot.
Because we drifted while chasing the Sting Ray we ended up with the pot right under the boat. It caught the poles and the prop of the boat and caused Mitch, the mate, to take a dive in 60 degree water. After he came out, shivering, short of breath, and ice cold we decided it was time to go on to our fourth and fifth spots for the day. Both of these fishing locations gave us a tremendous amount of large fish.
Around 3:30 we called it a day and trolled most of the way back for tuna and barracuda. While we didn’t catch anything on the way back we ended up with full cooler and close to 200 fish. Mitch, Steve, and their friends cut up the fish, bagged them and we each got equal portions of our catch for the day.
All in all it was a great trip! I went thru 3 poles, one change, one broken reel and one was a keeper plus way too many hooks but it was worth it!! This is one trip that I will always remember and have a story to talk about and a souvenir to show. We’re hoping to go down maybe in the summer and again in November to fish with Steve when the style and seasons for the catch changes.
I have to say if you are in between the Sarasota to Fort Myers area you need to fish with Steve. As I told my friend Laura we don’t sit, if its quiet, small, bad catch or bad waters you move and he will always find you your fish for the day.