I often hear guys complain about never having enough time to go fishing during the prime times. My advice is always to just go when you can, weather permitting. Unfortunately, the “weather permitting” clause tends to shut down a heck of a lot of weekends and vacations. Sometimes, it seems as though you’ve suddenly transformed into Schleprock from The Flintstones, complete with the ominous black cloud that follows you wherever you go.
This past Christmas break I finally took possession of a nice little Hell’s Bay Boatworks skiff that I had completed over the summer and dragged it up to Destin, Florida, in the hopes of doing some fishing with my brother. Of course after driving five hours in clear skies, the first raindrops started to fall an hour outside of Destin. By the time I pulled into my parents’ driveway, the rain was coming down in full force and the temp was a balmy 41 degrees — lovely.
Lucky for me, the temperature continued to drop and the rain didn’t relent for the remainder of that trip. I even cut it off early and headed home hoping to catch a reprieve, but no, the rain and cold followed. Before the two weeks were up, I finally got the boat out on a bass lake and caught one on my second cast. It’s still too cold for me right now. As I write this, we are in the middle of another cold snap, and it was 38 degrees in Central Florida this morning, enough to make our family of Floridians cry out in pain as we headed out the door.
Luckily, I got a bit of a personal reprieve last weekend. Every year, Peter B. Wright and I donate a day’s fishing to the International Game Fish Association auction, and sometimes, someone thinks it might be a good deal and picks us up. This year, Stephanie Choate, Tim Choate’s daughter and the woman seen posing with a grander black marlin in the February issue of Marlin, turned out to be the lucky bidder. She contacted both Wright and me in early January, and we agreed to meet her down in Islamorada in the Florida Keys to fish a day with Capt. Alex Adler and his crew on Kalex.
Adler is a legendary charter captain out of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina, and his name and accomplishments have graced our pages for years. He’s a great all-around fisherman, adept at fishing for every targetable species from yellowtail snapper to swordfish. I was looking forward to fishing with him and Wright on the same boat.
Choate met up with us at her home in Islamorada, and after a delicious dinner of fresh whitetail loin from Canada, we hit the hay before the rum started to flow too freely. The next day turned out to be a doozy. After a truly breathtaking sunrise, we headed out on what Adler called “Lake Atlantic.” It was almost glass calm. The temperature hovered around 78 degrees, and a thin haze of clouds provided just enough shade to keep it from getting hot. It was perfect.
As a side bonus, the fishing was good too. Choate and her friend Lindsea White went six-for-six live-baiting sails and caught a nice blackfin tuna and a bonito to boot. Adler and Wright even saw a 400-pound bluefin tuna cruising over the sand. The mates on the trip did a great job keeping the baits out and the live chum going over. At one point in the afternoon, the sails were up on top cutting the water and we were surrounded by hooked-up boats. It sure felt good to be back in the heat of things again.