Last weekend Lucas and I set out on an adventure to commemorate his birthday. We spent 4 days and 3 nights camping and fishing all around Cayo Casta State Park in Florida. The heat index was near 100 and the bugs and humidity added an extra challenge to our adventure. We usually tent camp, so the cabin accommodations with screened in porch, grill, and access to fresh water left us feeling pretty high on the hog! Our cabin was one mile from the boat dock – so each morning between 5 and 6 am, we carried all of our fishing gear, cooler, and rations to the boat. It was the weekend of the Super Moon, so the early moonlit walks were pretty amazing (in spite of the mosquitos who were eager to tag along on our adventure).
We just got a new trolling motor and were really looking forward to trying it out – especially since we were fishing waters known to be chock-full of tarpon this time of year. On the very first morning, as we headed out into Pine Island Sound, Lucas noticed the weld on the trolling motor bracket had just cracked… we stopped the boat and took the trolling motor off (the damage was to the bracket which is attached to the boat… not the new motor). We started back up and not one minute later, the entire bracket snapped off and slid down onto the deck. Well, so much for fishing with a trolling motor but we were so blessed to notice and stop when we did!!
The water was rough, even in the sound, but especially in the Boca Grande pass and Captiva Pass with four foot waves at times. We love our 16’ skiff but these conditions pretty much meant there were few opportunities for us to feel safe while trying to hook the big one!
In Boca Grande Pass we saw thousands of tarpon rolling –all around us and even right near our boat at times! It was a new and an incredible site for me but even Lucas, who has been fishing his whole life and has been on a number of guided tarpon trips, had never seen anything like it! We did have a few chances to drop our lines near them – but often the conditions forced us to retreat. Even the charters we saw had only a few hook-ups. As so many fishermen know, you can’t make them bite if they’re not biting!
Saltwater fishermen know that the tarpon roll in Boca Grande Pass; the captains who have sonar are pinpointing their every move before they drop their hooks. I aint above fishing with a captain who’s got all that but it was fun to try to find them in the less obvious places (places where our boat could actually keep us afloat!!) We had been scouting other locations and on the last evening and following morning – we got to fish some calm water. We were no longer in the choppy water in the large cluster of charter boats with thousands of tarpon below us; but it was even better – the water was so calm and it was just us, small pods of big tarpon rolling all around our boat! So close to the boat I could see their eye balls and the definition of their scales. As we didn’t have the trolling motor, Lucas would get us into position then we’d drift toward them and make attempts at presenting our buck tails.
I’m not a girl who’s just always been into fishing. I didn’t grow up fishing I didn’t fish before I met Lucas and even now I’m not married to the idea of snagging some record setting fish – but I am married to Lucas. I love fishing because I love, honor and respect my husband. We love going on fun excursions together – the more challenges and need for adapting to obstacles, the better!! (that last part is my preference….not his, by the way!!!)
The truth is, if Lucas were really into buffalo chip tossing, I’d have a page called ‘She’s a Chipper Meadow Muffin!” and I’d be right there in my overalls, flatting his chips and cheering him on! He’s told me that one of the few experiences that congers a feeling of childlike joy for him, is watching me hook a fish – now how’s a girl gonna say no to that!?!
One morning we caught a few trout and some small grouper and for dinner we treated ourself to some fresh catch (sea trout). Lucas did a great job preparing it and I set our table with fresh flowers and seashells (its always nice to have a woman’s touch even around the campsite).
Each day we came back to the dock, washed down the boat deck, went back to camp, re-rigged gear, cleaned ourselves up, ate, loaded up the gear again and headed back out for evening fishing.
By 10 pm and the last mile walk of our day, we had a little less pep in our step – the day’s heat and challenges having taken their toll; but we were still grateful for the day we had and remained hopeful for tomorrow new opportunities.
On a trip to celebrate the birthday of the man I love, I realized more than ever just how kind and patient he is. He never gets in a huff when I bird nest a line, spook a school of fish with my rookie casting, or offer well-meaning advise on how we should be doing things. People are always telling him how lucky he is that I let him go fishing… or that I enjoy going too. Truth be told, I ‘m the lucky one. He always lets me know that he genuinely wants me to come along and frankly I’m honored that he does.
We didn’t catch a tarpon in this trip and I’m not so sure it could have made the already amazing trip any better; though it might make all of these bug bites itch a little less!!