Michael and I had an area to try in mind last night as a backup...but the wind changed direction overnight to the southeast and even our backup plan failed. Ok...not what to do?
In my mental map, I know of one bridge that might be fishable since a large island blocks the wind and current on its eastern side. So we headed deeper into the Lower Keys.
We arrived to find a nice grass flats that goes out about 100 yards on either side of the channel. There was an 8' Bull Shark that died and flipped over in about 3 feet of water. A little while later, we saw a 5' Nurse Shark feeding on the grass flats, a Spotted Eagle Ray and some Southern Stingray. The flats drops off into a deeper channel and guys were catching grunts and snappers using shrimp. That was more life than we had seen on all the bridges thus far this morning. We decided to get fishing!
I dropped all the gear off on the bridge before finding a spot to park the car. When I returned, Michael was already hooked up to a 3-foot shark! Unfortunately, an annoying passerby, who couldn't mind his own F'ing business. "helped" us to unhook the shark and tossed it back in the water before we even got a decent picture to ID the shark. He said he was experienced in handling sharks and he said it was a Spinner Shark. It was a load of crap since the shark nicked him as he tried to unhook the shark barehanded and there was no way it was a Spinner Shark since there was no black tips on ANY of the fins. I specifically remembered looking at the anal fin and didn't see a black tip either. It has slit-like pupils...that's all I remember from the eye. The snout was very points and the teeth were small but not symmetrical. I'll have to look up some more info to see if we can ID it based on what I could remember. The bullshit that guy was feeding us was so palpable. I would bet my bottom dollar he was just some wannabe PETA type who didn't like to see us land a shark. I'm still pretty pissed about it.
That was all the "big game" excitement we had all day. We kept tossing shrimp (our once live shrimp died when our bubbler failed!), live Pinfish, palm-sized chunks of Jack Crevalle, cut pinfish, dead finger mullet chunks...and not another bite from the predators.
After a while, I just left the shark rods soaking with live Pinfish and fished the sabiki. I found a little area with really slack water and saw a pair of Spanish Mackerel. They chased the Gotchas a bit but would stop the chase once the lure was about 30 feet from the bridge. Strangely, I did get a hit on the Gotcha close to the surface but it was not what I had expected...
I knew the area was promising for porgy species. Grass Porgy and Jolthead Porgy would have been lifer but all I could catch were Littlehead Porgy. The three species feed in the same areas...you just have to be luck...or in my case, unlucky.
But by chance in late afternoon, I finally found the little guy, the Sand Perch!
Sand Perch (Diplectrum formosum) - Species #383
Just as the sun set, someone hooked a Lookdown on a jig while searching for Jack Crevalle. I immediately fished the piling with a dropper loop and shrimp. I caught a bunch of grunts, including this Caesar Grunt.
Caesar Grunt (Haemulon carbonarium) - Species #384
Although I was happy to have caught the Caesar Grunt, it wasn't the Lookdown I was targeting. The grunts, snappers and even a Jack Crevalle would not leave me alone. Something then wrapped me around a piling and I had to retie. While I was putting on a new rig, Michael caught a Lookdown using the small sabiki at my spot! Man, I was FURIOUS!!! I went back and fished the same piling until dark and not another Lookdown was caught. WTF!!! I hate fishing with Michael sometimes...he and his stupid luck...
We kept a few of grunts, a large porgy and a Jack Crevalle that was intended for sashimi. But in the end, without trustworthy portable water to clean knifes and cutting boards, everything was simply filleted and pan fried. The Jack Crevalle fillet looked way too good as sashimi. It was a crime to fried it up.
We fished the entire day and everyone was too dehydrated, sunburned and heat exhausted to fish the night. That's just how we roll.