Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What it looks like today - Island Bay Resort

The property today is gorgeous, thanks to a lot of tender loving care by the current owners, Mike and Carol Shipley. http://www.islandbayresort.com/

The San Jose's canon is still perched over the bay, ready to launch a tennis ball (or a tennis shoe) with a little baggie of Capt. Geh's black powder. (I'm encouraging Mike to put a more historically appropriate marker by the canon.) Of course, wirless internet for the kids. Keep it in the family and call up Fish Camper Brian Premaza who is a fishing guide in Tavernier now. He'll pick you up at the dock and put you on the fish in the backcountry (see below). An older picture of Hayden fishing with Brian, and a more recent one. My son Hayden with Mike and Carol this past summer (2009). http://www.captbrianpremaza.com/index.htm

Dry Tortugas Coal Pier settling into the ocean.

My son Hayden and I have taken the Key West to Dry Tortugas ferry and camped out a couple of times. It's a fun trip when the weather is nice; snorkling off the moat around the fort, walking the seawall, strolling through the fort itself. Fish Camper Fred Wheeler started this ferry service in '96 I think. He's doing something else now: http://outpostexpeditions.com/index.htm

Anyway, check out the progress that the ocean is making to reclaim the old coaling pier. The photo on the left is from June, 1972. Randy Mahan caught that Barracuda, not me, but I didn't mind posing with it. (It wouldn't hit anything until we caught and fed it a needlefish from the dock). The picture on the right is June, 2009. Compare the crack in the coaling pier in 1972 and the angle that the top edge of the pier now makes, visibly heading back into the water. Hayden's not standing on anything, he's just that much taller.

Photos V - Some Fish

I remember this day. At the end of a half day's fishing, everyone would rendezvouz at the big red nun bouy anchored at Conch Reef : "6CR". Usually you would pull up alongside somebody else and say "How'd you do?" and compare your catch. An exceptional fish you might pull out of the cooler to hold up for the admiring eyes in the boat that you had outfished. On this day I pulled up alongside Randy Mahan and we started this "How'd you do?" cat and mouse. Neither one would go first (both planning on sand-bagging the other with a better catch after the first one showed off his.) After a little back and forth we both started smiling and we both knew that we had landed sailfish that morning.
A younger Chris Johnsone on the left. I'm wearing my Jere Pittman "Pittman Produce" fishing hat.

Dr. Bean and Tommy Horn with a nice day's catch of dolphin.
Tommy Horn and David Eckhardt with a huge sailfish. This is the fish in one of Michael's earlier pictures, seen from a distance.

A decent wahoo and a sailfish. At the end of the summer those orange shorts would stand up all by themselves.

Photos IV - How to catch a shark (Cape Sable)

Shark Fishing - Cape Sable

First you get some bait. Idle along over the flats off of Tavernier Key (in the background.) Spot a feeding ray. Idle up behind the ray. It will spook and run out ahead of you. Keep idling behind the ray. Eventually it will get less up tight and you will get close enough to toss a weighted treble hook in front of its path. When it swims over it, Set the Hook!

Then - uh - well - run it through a meat grinder, saving chunks of its wings for bait and the rest for chum.

Cross Florida Bay and beach your boat on Cape Sable in Everglades National Park. Contemplate the life of the first settlers on the cape at the turn of the century. As you run your boat into the beach, drop off your shark fishing rig and its bait a couple of hundred feet off the beach. Leave the rod in the boat's rod holder and set it to free spool with the clicker on. Start a game of frisbee. Shoot the bull. Throw out some chum into the current along the beach.

Shark fishing on the cape is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get. Michael straddles what may be a small lemon shark before removing its jaws.
I know - we wasted a lot of bio-mass doing this. We didn't know any better.

Photos III - Johnstone learns to tie a knot

Chris Johnstone and a very nice bull dolphin. Note his big arms after a year of rock climbing. "A couple of years later" Albert came down from Norfolk and I came up from Jacksonville to watch Chris finally tie the knot of all knots in Havana, North Carolina. My privilege was to tie Chris' bow-tie for the event. He looked great, and his mom and dad were proud.

Pictures II - Before and After

We could strike a pose. And not just any pose. This is Albert, doing his conscious impersonation of his favorite Jimmy Buffet album cover.

This is me, doing my conscious impersonation of a Zane Grey photograph in his book "Tales of Fishes." This was actually the first Marlin (a small White Marlin) landed at Camp.