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Whipper Snapper Trip 7/29

1699 Views 1 Reply 1 Participant Last post by  Pope
It all began with a stop at Bucky's to get coffee, bait and ice. However, a stop at the restroom was in order due to this being the "Whipper Snapper Trip". Boys gotta pee before loading the boat and the chocolate milk had already passed through from an earlier breakfast. So, this is where I met CJ, the "original Jammer," as he calls himself. Jammer proper and I made sure the boys were fully drained before heading to the dry stack to board the Jammer II for some sizzling lines and burning drags. Sporting chocolate mustaches, the boys were ready to pounce on the opportunity as well.

My sister who recently survived a battle with cancer also joined the venture offshore. Living life more fully is her theme these days and seeing these tikes get their arms bent was a way to extend this mission.

Gear loaded, we were off! We beat past the jetties to a salty version of the previous breakfasts...the Gulf was churned into a chocolate milk impersonation and tightly stacked waves caused some anxiety for Blake for the first few minutes. Once we passed the chop and things evened out a bit, Jammer pushed the sleek Jammer to 30knts! Hard bottom was waiting and so were the groceries!

We made a stop to collect baits and I quickly managed 5 blue runners due to Jammer's perfect boat handling. "50 feet," explained Jammer as he inched us forward to a gas pipe. "There are some nice marks down there besides the bait." Therefore, the sabikis were put away and baits were deployed. A few undersized snappers and a short ling later we looked at one another to say, "Wanta head out?" Quick nods, gear stashed and the bow was pointed to a new heading.

Soon the GPS read "2nm" indicating the throttles would shortly be drawn back. Kids got off bean bags and Jammer inspected the marks. Hordes of fish painted the sounder red. "Gorgeous," pronounced Jammer. "Look at this." Blake jumped to the helm to see for himself. "Yep, there are fish down there," he said with extreme confidence. Arches, big red spots and hazy bait marks dotted the sounder. No doubt the fish were home.

We baited up and made drops. If our thumbs could have spun the spools faster we would have made it so. Thumps turned to pulls, circle hooks found their mark and fish started toward the surface. The first was a fat lane snapper. "Look at the yellow stripes," muffled Blake in amazement. "These are pretty fish." CJ, having more experience at 11yrs old, chimed in to reveal the snapper's name and Blake eagerly listen to his senior partner. "Can we eat that one Papa?" asked Blake. "I want too." I told him we would eat it tomorrow after his first day in the 1st grade, which was today. It is in our bellies now.

We continued to drop baits with mediocre results. Even undersized fish were hard to come by. We surmised the snapper may have stayed up late and slept in after eating under a full moon. Jammer broke out the jigging rod and went to work. This inspired reaction bites from kings, spanish mackeral, snapper and even a trigger which managed to get perfectly hooked in the maw with an assist hook. CJ took turns pulling these fish in and ended up earning his stripes.

We jumped spot to spot, admired promising sounder marks before deciding to hit some shrimpers with the strong suggestion from CJ. "Why?" asked Blake. The action seemed superb to him. Again, CJ, the senior advisor, described how the shrimper held fish to Blake. He listened and we made a short jaunt to the nearest shrimper.

Jammer threw a swim bait to the stern and a few dorado followed suit. Jammer expertly grabbed a different rod already baited with a chuck of bait and a dorado nailed it. CJ took over and he got his first dorado in the 6-7lb class. "It's a dorado Papa! Its a dorado," exclaimed Blake. He knows his fish and studies them daily. "Its a girl Papa and the male was there too," said Blake. "I think they were mating." Blake's aunt Rebecca grinned at me in a puzzled way and I laughed. "Maybe they were Blake," I replied. CJ was still examining his prize and Jammer looked as proud as anyone I had known. "Lets get some more," Jammer told his proud boy and we eased back to the sleeping shrimp boat.

This time the boat was fully awake. Copious amounts of ramoras surrounded the boat begging for scrapes. Jammer made a cast beyond the beggars and CJ got his first ling. A nice ling, but 4" short. CJ relieved the ramoras of their begging and started to plead for the death sentence. Jammer began to explain the laws/regs and steered the discussion to conservation. The fish was released.

From this pointed forward it was fast action most of us would have foregone, but this was the "Whipper Snapper" trip. We boated ramoras, a few snaky kings, several atlantic sharpnose and a half dozen or so ling. The ling were thick, but all just short of entering the box. Who cared, all of the fish were fun and most were first for the boys and Rebecca.

With blood turning the gunnels red and decks getting slippery, the day passed. Jammer and I wanted some fish to eat, so we decided to fish our way to port. Our third stop produced some fish and flipper joined the show. This was the first time I wasn't purely displeased to see our bottle-nosed mammal cousins. CJ eeked and Blake held bait to throw them. I gave them the job and throwing bait when we released a small snapper in a diversion attempt. It worked sometimes, but not others.

Finally we headed home with happy sailors and sore arms. Blake found a red bell pepper to eat, his favorite, while his aunt protested. "Your hands are nasty," she said firmly. "My Papa said I can have it," he replied. I smiled and asked him what he was. "I am Papa's boy and I am tough." I agreed and told his aunt he could eat it with bloody hands and a happy heart. Soon just a stem was left in his hand and he was sound asleep on a salt spray covered bean bag. Little else was said during the ride in. I think most were cataloging the adventure in a memory bank. One we will draw upon during our late years and hope is recreated by the boys with their boys.


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CJ with Jaws


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