For the past few years, I've wanted a boat. It only took one outing on a 16 foot center console (owned by a friend of a friend) to convince me the Atlantic Ocean is the next frontier I must conquer. Besides, I live in Fort Lauderdale. If you live around here and you don't at least know a good friend that has a boat, you haven't been experiencing the city properly.
When shopping around, I had two requirements for my future boat: 1) it must float, and 2) it must move, on its own, without any kind of physical exertion on my part. It didn't take long to find a nice little 15 footer that met my requirements and the limitations of my bank account. It's an older boat, built in 1967, with an old Chrysler 55 horsepower motor. It's blue and white, made out of fiberglass and that's pretty much it. It's not going to be impressing anyone any time soon, but as my first boat, it's perfect. I can get to 400 feet of water in a matter of minutes, I can fish there literally all day, and I can do whatever the hell else I want to on it. It's mine. I love it.
The inaugural journey of my lovely little boat didn't go exactly as planned. The boat ran decently, though perhaps not as fast as it could have, and I didn't hit anything or drown. We even caught two little shit fish before it got too dark. Unfortunately though, I overestimated the fuel efficiency and we ran out of juice about a half mile from the boat ramp. Unwilling to paddle, slowly drifting into the no entry zone around Port Everglades, I had no choice but to pay for a tow. Not bringing enough fuel was a $175 mistake. On top of this, once we did get fuel into it, the battery died. Boats, unlike cars, don't have alternators, so you have to charge the batteries yourself before you go out. I did not know this. The inaugural journey started out great, but ended up with me, the wife and two friends being towed back to the launch ramps with an empty tank of gas and a motor that wouldn't even crank because of the dead battery.
The second outing on our boat, which we named "The Butt" in homage to Finding Nemo, went smoothly. The motor ran much faster, and we caught about a million trigger fish and a few porgy. 5 keepers at the end of the day. A few small problems arose, but nothing we couldn't handle.
Yesterday was the first truly spectacular trip on The Butt. My wife and I met up with my friend Joey at around 7 AM and we were in the water by 10:30 - 11. I had just bought a new battery and a few trolling lures to see if we couldn't get some bigger fish. The battery had some connection issues, but we sorted them out eventually and were on our way. We were trolling for maybe 10 minutes before we got our first bite, a 10 inch bonito that did some truly spectacular acrobatics for us on the way in. A good fish, but not big enough to keep. A few minutes later, two more hits on the lures, two more bonito, and these were keepers. A good start.
We anchored up a few different places before we finally found the reef we were looking for. I caught a little red grouper, and we decided to stay. My wife caught a whole bunch of big sheephead porgy, a huge redfish and one truly massive fish that simply swam away and snapped her twenty pound line clean. The real action came on our way in. We were trolling two lures in about 70 feet of water, one feather jig and a larger top-water squid look alike. A few minutes into the return journey Joey is shouting at me to kill the motor. He pulls in another bonito. While he's doing that, I keep the boat moving with enough momentum to keep the second lure jigging. My strategy works and it gets slammed by a massive silvery something. Everyone is happy with the trip at this point.
We keep the lures in the water and continue on our way. Not more than 5 minutes later Joey is shouting again. He's fighting a 15 inch spanish mackerel which he lands without any real incident. 10 minutes later we've got yet another hit on the feather lure, and it's running hard. I have to stop the boat just so Joey can gain some line on it. He manages to force it close enough for me to grab the leader and land a truly massive (nearly 30 inch) spanish mackerel, our biggest fish yet. By this time we're entering the channel and I ask them to wind em up to avoid getting caught on other boats.
We had 9 keepers all together, 5 on trolling lures and 4 on bottom rigs while anchored, all within maybe 5 hours at most. On the return trip, which was no more than 3 or 4 miles, we caught 4 fish and kept three of them. Definitely a successful trip. We pulled 10-15 pounds of meat off our catch when we got home, well worth the 6 gallons of gas and 20 bucks worth of bait we spent. All in all, an amazing day on The Butt; I hope to have many more just like it.