Saturday, July 30, 2005

I've just returned from a jaunt to visit my brother-in-law (together with my lovely wife) in Green Cove Springs, FL. Because he had just built and was still finishing a new home we intended to help WORK but all we did is play.

Ok, so I helped get his drag racer ready for this weekend. Well, that was PLAY. And I did help get his boat ready for floundering, MORE PLAY. And I did help him on a shakedown floundering trip. EVEN MORE PLAY!!!

The truth is that all I did was play. We ate at a crab shack, local pizzeria, and home (fresh fried flounder!). We played on the race car and boat, fished (gigging flounder is nothing BUT fun!). My wife talked and shopped and ate and slept. We had a great time!

Gigging flounder is great fun. My brother-in-law works for the Navy managing maintenance/rebuilding of fleet aircraft. He travels a lot and enjoys hands on projects. His boat and floundering are two things, aside from drag racing, that he really enjoys. You should see his eyes light up and I guess mine do, too! Anyway, he has a 14' flat-bottomed aluminum boat (like the 1440D in the link) with a 25hp Honda 4 stroke (now that is a quiet motor) and no center seat. He has mounted a bank of 6, 500 watt halogen work lights on the bow and powers them with a 3KW Honda generator. Depending on which bank he's working and which side of the boat needs to be lit he uses the center 2 lights and 2 lights on the shore side of the boat (not all 6 at once). It is pretty cool as you pole down the coast in 4-8" of water, following the tide and spearing the fish as you spot them on the bottom waiting for their dinner. Of course, this can only be done at night so no couch potatoes and no direct sunlight! He knows his stuff and we got our limits both nights (10 each or 20 total each night) or 40 fish all together. At more than 1½ lbs each (we got several whoppers as well as several 14" fish), we had many lbs of good eating in the freezer (3 gallons of meat ready for the frier). He figures that those fish would have cost us $400 in the store.

It is great fun and sort of combines hunting with boating and staying out all night. One doesn't need to invest a lot to participate but of course some folks do. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to be out on the water after dark and to navigate by the navigational markers. Technique and timing count for a lot and I can see how some folks wouldn't be as successful as others. At first I couldn't see the fish until they were pointed out to me, by the end of the second night I was seeing fish my brother-in-law didn't see or before he saw them. Of course you get to see lots of other fish as well, such as needle-nose gar, rays, small sharks, sheepshead, mullet (the principle prey here), redfish, and crabs. That alone is interesting and exciting. You certainly don't, and can't, see all that during the day.

Now, if I can just get him to take me shrimping...

Hobie (left) and Brother-in-law (right) in front of boat with one night's catch. The small boat is easy to handle with a single pole even in a tide that brings in 4 ft of water in 3 hours.

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