Saturday, May 28, 2022

Dog Day Afternoon

        Summer has started, for all intents and purposes, but while school has ended, there has still been much to do. So much, in fact, that Davis and I had to settle on a weekend to finally head back to Key Biscayne to get back to fishing. It's been a while for both of us, and we were very glad to find the time to go out on the water.

        It was a Saturday and we arrived at the docks at Bill Baggs a bit before 11:30. That, combined with the weather, meant we weren't expecting much space or even great fishing. While it was generally nice to be out (except for the heat, which has already begun to get bad when combined with the humidity) with sunny skies, the water was calm and there were many people and boats all over. That generally in turn leads to a tough day of fishing, which it certainly was. We started by parking by the south lot for the fishing piers, but had walked so far along the seawall to finally find an open dock (and we were lucky to find a dock completely unoccupied), that we were actually closer to the Boater's Grill and No Name Harbor, where we usually park. While I started to get set up, Davis went back to finish some *business* and move the car to the other parking lot. In the meantime, I caught a small Mangrove Snapper on live shrimp. While it was small, I've found that that size of fish, about 6 or 7 inches, is actually about the medium size at a somewhat overfished place like Bill Baggs. You can often see some real big Snappers in the water, but they're as elusive as Moby Dick; they've got to be smart to get that big at Bill Baggs, and they're still around for a reason.

        By the time Davis came back from the No Name Harbor direction, another group had come to fish at our dock, on the other side. There was more than enough space for both of us, but the bite at this dock had stopped and Davis suggested we move to another unoccupied dock just down the trail. We packed up and walked over to the unoccupied dock, seemingly too good to be true. Sometimes reality bites. Davis had apparently not paid attention when walking by - the dock was closed off. Of course, it's pretty rare to have two unoccupied docks on a sunny Saturday at Bill Baggs. As punishment and proof of why we might only come away with one fish this trip, I took a picture of Davis in front of the closed dock and we kept going forward. We finally stopped at the dock next to the harbor entrance. While many consider it to be one of the worst docks due to the boat traffic due to the proximity of the harbor, it's a special place to me because it's the dock where Davis and I first fished at Bill Baggs together and caught the sharks. Not surprisingly, the dock was occupied by a few people. But at least we were closer to the parking lot!

        There was a hole where we could see a school of Mangroves. We were also able to see some really cool Spiny Lobsters and Parrotfish by the rocks. We noticed that the fish tended to nibble the heads of our shrimp off before taking the rest of the bait, a common and effective strategy used by the fish to kill it first. Davis capitalized on this tactic by hooking his bait through the head, and caught a keeper Snapper! We threw it back, but the fact that we pulled in a 10+ inch Snapper at Bill Baggs was an achievement. We got hungry and settled with the fact that we only had two fish, despite feeling good nibbles. Some days, the fish just seem to be even more tricky than usual, despite what you do. Regardless, we both knew beforehand that the day would probably go like this, and we were both satisfied with it. We caught some fish, and more importantly, we had a good time fishing together on a beautiful (but hot) day in Key Biscayne. It was an especially useful time for Davis, who will likely be missing out on the hot weather in college out at Berkeley. We went for lunch at Perricone's on the way back as per our tradition to top off a great day. The thing about fishing is that it's almost always more than just the fish you may or may not catch. Having fun on the water is really all that matters, the fish are normally just a great bonus.

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