A big ray and a long boat ride

ISLAMORADA, Fla. – There’s an unwritten rule in fishing that the fish always bite better on the other side.

That appeared to be the case today, when the four of us on this Florida adventure hired two guides to get us on fish we otherwise would be unable to find.

We might not have covered all of Florida Bay’s 1,000 square miles (give or take), but I’m pretty sure we were close. It was a long boat ride, easily 30 miles one way, across a vast expanse of water that rarely was more than 3 or 4 feet deep. In places, the water was an absolutely unworldly shade of blue.

Landing a whip ray is a little bit like reeling in a large suction cup, as Steve Martin of Baudette, Minn., found out earlier today while fishing in the Florida Keys.

As for the fishing, we caught a mix of species, but there wasn’t a blowfish in the bag. I caught a couple of small sharks, which I must say ranks pretty high on the cool scale, and my fishing partner, Steve Martin of Baudette, Minn., landed a “whip ray” our guide estimated at 60 or 70 pounds. Best I can tell, it was all of that.

Other species on the list included sea trout, Spanish mackerel and jack cravelle;  I even caught a small barracuda.

But alas, the elusive tarpon remained elusive.

The weather again was in the high 80s, only today, there at least was a breeze to make it bearable. My Winnipeg Jets are playing the Florida Panthers tonight in Miami, but there are no other hockey fans in the bunch to make the northward trek. And so, I’ll follow the game online.

We’ll be back on the water tomorrow.

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