With the 2011 gag grouper season coming to a close I kept checking the weather just hoping for a window of opportunity. Prevailing 15 knot winds and 3′ seas seemed to be the norm for every weekend the last couple of months. My hopes of getting out one last time were fading as fast as the weekend was passing. On Sunday morning I slept in late, rolled out of bed and poured a cup of coffee. Half awake I sipped on my coffee and browsed through the usual weather sites. Could this be right, was I still dreaming? There it was, a window of opportunity in the afternoon. It was a small window, but a window none the less, and I was taking it!
I made a couple of calls and assembled a crew. The plan was simple; meet at the marina around noon, go catch bait, run out and get a limit of gags, and be back home before dark. Sounds simple, but truthfully I was flying blind. I had not taken the boat out since mid September so I didn’t have a clue where the gags would be. I had a good idea where to find them but with the the short afternoon it didn’t lend much in the way for error.
After heading down the Anclote river we stopped near the island to catch bait. An hour later we had just enough bait to fish for a couple of hours. I pointed the boat west and ran to about 60′ and stopped on some hard bottom. Instantly the screen lit up like a Christmas tree, the oh so familiar site of gags suspended off the bottom got my heart racing. In about 30 minutes we had our ten gags on ice and proceeded to play catch and release until the rest of the bait was gone.
I pointed the boat towards home and realized that sometimes it isn’t about what you catch for dinner, sometimes its the things you catch that can’t be ingested. The cool breeze blowing through your shirt. The warm sun tanning your face. The unsolicited smile for a picture. The laughter with friends. The stories of the big one that got away. Those things will stay in your memory longer than any fish dinner will stay in your stomach. That is my type of soul food!