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Old 03-26-2008, 03:36 AM   #1
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Default Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

I had it on good authority that the sheepshead were swarming Ft. Pickens....... (thanks Jeremy!).... the time was right to start fishing them. Dilemma- when to go? My spring break was last week, and the irony of Mother Nature shone forth (or rather,blew forth...) the first half of the week.

Thursday rolled around, I'm tired of looking at my manuscript, and the fishing"itch" was powerful. So I get a phone call around 1pm or so- Mike's had enough W-O-R-K for the day and he asks... "How soon can you have the rods in the truck and meet me in Pensacola?"

I do not believe I have ever changed clothes, packed up a truck, and crossed the bayfrom Milton that quickly.

Due to the nature of Mike's work, he had to swap a couple of vehicles around before we could be completely on the way, but by 3 we were picking up bait and headed to Perdido to splash the boat. We made it to Ft. Pickens in the golden warmth of the late afternoon sunshine with several dozen live shrimp in the livewell, and only a couple of other boats were there. My first bait was inhaled and went running.....



A fat black drum was first into the fishbox, and it wasn't long before Mike was bowed up on sheepie....



What a great afternoon! Sure, we had the typical thievery associated with the striped bandits and we fed more shrimp than we hooked fish, but in about an hour's time we had the drum and 8 sheepies on ice. The moon had risen in the east, the sun was sinking to the west..... we left the fish biting but we needed to hit the dock shortly as we had planned on an early start for Friday.

Thursday evening's sunset ride home:



The rising moon (from Grand Lagoon looking back towards Sherman Cove).....



Our Thursday afternoon fishbox!



This trip absolutely ranks as one of my favorites- totally impromptu, completely relaxing and an afternoon of just me and Mike being out on the water,laughing and catching a few fish together.

Here's where another Mike... Ultralite Mike..... joins in the fun! We pulled up to the Famous Dock with our fish, and Ultralite is ready to go with us the following morning. Why, it would make the most sense for us to crash at the Ultralite House instead of driving aaaaalllllll the way back to Milton and aaaaallllll the way back in the wee hours. Except- we need a few items. I'll wear the same shirt fishing but I gotta have a toothbrush. Mike and I make a run to Walmart in search of a toothbrush and the Elusive Five Dollar Pair of Shorts just so we're not tooooo nasty the next day..... LOL.......

Mission accomplished, and we comeback to find a note. From Uncle Ultralite- Mike and I are grounded because we stayed out past our curfew at Walmart. Darn kids. Our punishment was to fish out the rest of the weekend. No! No! You can't make me!!!! :reallycrying Wellllll.... if we must........:letsparty

Good Friday morning we're up before the sun and everyone's got a job..... the boys get bait and ice, Mike launches the boat, and I gather rods and meet them at The Dock to load gear. Off we go in the morning chill, bundled in layers of clothes, waiting for the great heater in the sky to come out. We have most of Team Bad Fish on board and we're after Team Striped Thieving Fish! We're armed with 10 dozen shrimp, flourocarbon leaders, plenty of extra hooks, caffeine, and ready to have a blast! Friday was a little sporty with wind and chop, so we fished the beach side of the old pier.

It didn't take long for Ultralite to warm up...



Get 'em!!!!!



The little bandits were hungry Friday morning!



The sun finally began to work its warmth through us, and we were just marveling at what a beautiful Good Friday it was, when we got an exceptional treat. The Blues were flying!



Seems every time they'd make a formation, we'd hook a fish. The Blues brought us a little extra kick of luck. :usaflag

A couple more pix of the Blue Angels from Friday.....



I still cannot believe I got this shot:



Here's Mike with yet another nice sheepie!



I found that I had better success when I changed hooks about every half dozen hookups. I use good 1/0 Owner circle hooks, but sheepshead have such a "hard" mouth, what with all those molar-like teeth, that even the best hooks lose their edge after a few crushing bites from the bandits, and I could tell when the hook was losing its point as I could set a hook but it wouldn't stay and I'd lose the fish. Keeping a good sharp hook helped to really stick them! We weren't in a huge hurry to load the boat and get back, so a few extra seconds to re-tie a hook was nothing.



I also got into a little method that seemed to work well. Their bites seemed to become even softer, so I toyed with them a bit. I cast the bait between 2 pilings and "into" the pier, but did not let the weight hit bottom. As the bait made its arc down through the water column, it would pass between the pilings and I'd slowly work the shrimp out from between the pilings. The fish would follow the bait and come out from between pilingsto eat. Not once did I get cut off.

Ultralite's got another one!



We stayed at the Fort until we ran completely out of bait- the sheepies were even taking dead shrimp and pieces of shrimp! We took a count and had two dozen fat sheep on ice- not a bad catch for the morning! We hit the dock at exactly 11:39.......

Good Friday was about as perfect as it gets- none of the fish were under 4-5 pounds.



Next task- remove the meat from the bones. Lots of it. Thank goodness there is more than 1 knife- and a SHARPENER-at the Ultralite dock!!!!

The beginning of the task ahead....



Thank goodness for Five Dollar Shorts- with the amount of fish blood and guts that was slung about the Ultralite Dock, these were just about disposable......

The Team took on various tasks- I filleted and kept the Dock washed down, Ultralite skinned the fillets and kept the Dock washed down, and Mike cleaned rods and boat. Ultralite and I took close to 5 hours to clean all those fish..... well, part of that was tossing snacks to the growing crowd of pelicans.......



Some of them seemed to "pose" which

allowed me to take some cool pictures:





They're pretty brave.....



"Dude" here thought he was hot stuff....



Now, then, if anyone fished the ThreeMile bridge Friday afternoonand noticed a lack of pelicans stealing their fish...... I guess we were responsible for that.....

Strap on the feed bag, fellas!



I couldn't even fit the whole flock in the photo. I don't know how the word got out, since the only sounds I know pelicans to make are beak clicks and hissing, but if you were a pelican on Good Friday, the place to be was the Ultralite Dock!

Finally, the work was done and what a pile of fresh fish!!



Couldn't have done this without the whole Team!



Mike and I decided that since it was still relatively early, we'd make the trek back to Milton and play in our garden for a little while.... but wait- Uncle Ultralite says we're still on restriction from our Walmart escapade the night before, and we're being FORCED to go fishing Saturday morning too. :hotsun Well, SOMEONE has to do it.......

Sooooo.... Mike and I are up at 4am Saturday.... pot of coffee and a Whataburger run and we're headed back to Perdido Key to meet up with Ultralite again, and this time we're taking one of our dear Pirate friends with us. Jim has been absolutely dying to go fishing for quite some time, and Saturday he became an honorary member of Team Bad Fish. We were already armed with shrimp- fearing that we wouldn't have a supply in the morning, the Mikes had sent me to Goin Fishin Friday afternoonwith an ice chest to fill with live shrimp- 18 dozen this time!We knew it would be a killer day driving over the I-10 bridge in clear early morning darkness with the full moon reflected in a perfect pitch black mirror below us- the bay was slick...... gorgeous!!!

We couldn't have asked for a better morning to take Jim fishing. We met the rising sun coming out of the No Wake zone into Grand Lagoon, and found a spot on the old Pickens pier on the bay side. I kicked back in the warming golden sunrise to bask while the boys fished for a little while, and Jim started off the fishbox just right:



I think the fish were even larger Saturday- to give some perspective, Jim is a very tall individual- well over 6 feet. The sheepies were warming up though they were again proving to be excellent bait thieves. Finally I hooked up, and this one was a total surprise when I got some good head-shaking runs and I finally saw spots coming to the surface:



The speck was the first I'd caught from Ft. Pickens, and also the first one I'd ever caught over 20". I will definitely be making a print of this beautiful girl.

The same tactics that I'd used on Friday worked well Saturday too.



Any orthodontists out there????



Jim was on a roll- he put some very nice fish in the box!



Saturday we got the variety factor. A couple of schools of bluefish moved through,a fewof the fish ratherlarge for this area! I kept a few to cut up and feed to the sharks that one of my labmates is keeping (they love oily fish). Ultralite hooked into a beautiful black drum that tortured us as only a fish could do- get closeto the boat so we could see it before it threw the hook. The groan could be heard at NAS.......

Mike hooked Team Bad Fish's first Spanish of the year, a 14-incher but a sign of spring for sure. We put the Spanish on ice- I will make a print of this fish too. The pinfish perked up after the high tide and showed that they too can be bait thieves....:banghead

Today's haul was a little heavier- the sheepies just seemed beefier than Thurs or Fri and we lost a few that would have pushed the 10-pound mark. We again ran out of bait (18 dozen shrimp!!!!) Here is the catch as we put it up on the dock:



The surprise speck:



Here's Mike, me, and Jim showing off Saturday's catch!



We decided that since Jim was the highest-ranking Pirate on the boat, he was excused from fish cleaning duty. We iced the fish, had lunch at Vallarta with a few more dear Pirate friends, and then came back to the Dock to clean the boat and the catch. It was Mike and I on fillet/skin duty, and the usual crowd of pelicans was waiting for their handouts- but I guess pelicans speak other languages because Saturday we also had a flock of gulls, and 4 blue herons waiting for scraps!

What a weekend- we caught a fine haul of sheepies, had a few fishy surprises, saw the Angels, hung out with friends, got a little sun, and had plenty of meat to share with friends and family for Easter. What a pleasure it was to give my folks as much fish as they wanted on Easter! Mike made his famous gumbo with some of the catch.

Tally for the weekend:

Total number of shrimp used- 32 dozen

Total number of sheepies caught (Thurs, Fri, AND Sat)- 57

Total number of cuts on our hands from cleaning 57 sheepies- wayyyy too numerous to count

Total number of pelicans looking for handouts- 21 on Friday, 18 on Saturday

Thanks, everyone, for a great weekend of fishing and camaraderie!!!! Mike and I are plotting our next curfew-breaking escapade in the hopes that UncleUltralite will put us on restriction again and punish us with another weekend of fishing.........:shedevil....
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:43 AM   #2
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

Great report and pics. Thanks!
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Old 03-26-2008, 06:53 AM   #3
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

:clapAs always, another awesome report. I try and read every report you post and am never dissappointed. Fantastic reading, always detailed and always looks like you having a blast. You are the coolest chick ever. Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into your posts. I look forward to the next. Congratulations on a GREAT catch.:clap
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:13 AM   #4
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

Great report with pic's!!!!as always...Thanks for sharing...:bowdownletsdrink
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:13 AM   #5
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

Great post Babe!!



Gotta get some sheepies but 32 doz shrimp Hmmm 384 / 57 = 6.7 shrimp per jailfish and that's with good fisherfolk. They must not be easy to "hook"!!



:mmmbeer

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Old 03-26-2008, 07:34 AM   #6
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

Another fine fishing report :bowdown :clap :toast
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:31 AM   #7
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

niiiice:clap
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Old 03-26-2008, 09:34 AM   #8
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

WOW!! I always love to read your posts karon...i was there and i can't tell it like you do...i had so much funand no one better to share time on the waterwith than you and mike. you did a great job cleaning those fish and we blackened some fri, baked some sat, and some more are going intoa big pot ofgumbo...thank you for the report and pictures and until next time, better make that curfew if you're staying at my house or you'll be forced to fish all weekend....
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:18 AM   #9
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

Ureal, wow it is through reports like this I get to live. :bowdown
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:47 AM   #10
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Default RE: Good Friends, Good Friday, Great Weekend!

As usual ,GREAT report Karon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks !!!!!! clap:clapFeels like i was with you guys.

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