I grew up with deep sea fishing trips with my dad as an annual summer tradition. That continued after I got married and for a good 10 or 15 years my wife and I would plan a summer vacation usually to Orange Beach, Al with my parents. More often than not, we did a blue water, overnight tuna trip during those years.
Of course, with the passage of time the only constant is change. Our last tuna trip was 10 years ago. My dad was 75 and 48 hours off-shore was very hard on him. My son who was 5 years old at the time went along but was too small to fight a tuna and ended up feeling like he was in jail! The next few years dad had some health problems, heart, knee replacements, etc. Cindy and I took our kids to the Keys in search of smaller and more numerous fish so they could enjoy our trips too.
This year though we realized we had a couple high school athletes- stronger than both of their parents. They love to fish off-shore and have grown up hearing about tuna and marlin adventures. We began making plans for tuna out of Venice, LA. Then my dad had another heart scare: dead pace-maker battery. He also mentioned when he was in the hospital that he would really enjoy "one more" salt water trip. I quickly scrapped plans for tuna, called a buddy in Homosassa, FL, sent an e-mail to Captain Cephus Christian of Seven C's Charters and booked a red snapper trip for July 2nd for me, Cindy, my dad, and two teenagers, Lily and Joseph.
We limited out on red snapper. The two ladies both caught keeper grouper. Joseph landed the biggest red snapper. My dad caught several nice snapper and some grouper that were just undersized. My last two fish of the day were both bonus fish. The first was a 24" mangrove snapper- great eating, very big for anywhere, and an additional keeper snapper! On the very next drop...I was in for the most brutal 10 minute fish fight I've ever had. Something very big ate the live pin fish I was using for bait and tried to run characteristic of a pelagic game fish! As it broke the surface we could see it was a huge cobia.
Since we were fishing heavy bottom rigs the fight was short and hard on me and the fish. I wasn't sure which of us would end up on the ice but in the end she came aboard with two gaffs and in the box she went. Cold Landsharks all around for the grown ups on the ride back! Two days later I'm still a little sore and bruises are fading.
We did eat cobia steaks for supper yesterday. I am so thankful to have had this time and made these memories. Dad will be 85 next month and has been fishing off-shore for more than 60 years. He took me the first time about 40 years ago. Once you eat the fish you are left with the memories and some pictures. I hope all your's are as good as mine on this trip.
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