I love this time of year…grapefruit season. Most mornings from November through March we start the day with a grapefruit freshly picked from one of the trees in our yard. As much as we enjoy our fruit trees, we haven’t made a commitment to planting a garden and growing our food from farm to table.
So when this morning’s fishing trip a couple hundred yards from the house resulted in catching enough bass for lunch, I couldn’t help but think about how strange it seems to eat two meals in a single day consisting of food that didn’t make a stop at the grocery before being served on our table.
However, I don’t expect the trend to continue for dinner unless we’re able to shoot a squirrel. But do we need a license for that? And how do you clean and cook squirrel?
I think those are questions I don’t really want answered. A trip to Publix sounds like a better idea.
Monday, on John’s first day of retirement, the alarm sounded bright and early. The 4:45 wake up call signaled time to get out on the water for a day of fishing. An hour later he and my dad were throwing in their lines and at 7:45 I received a text message: Fish tacos tonight!
We feasted on a quick and easy dinner of fish tacos with black beans and rice.
Fish Tacos with Creamy Sauce
Old Bay seasoning
2 cups Cole slaw
1/2 cup sour cream (may want to add more)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (light)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
juice from one lime
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
taco sized tortillas
Thoroughly mix mayonnaise, sour cream, cumin, chili powder, pepper, lime juice and a tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro. Refrigerate until ready to use. (This is best made 30 minutes or more before serving.)
Tomato Cilantro Topping
Combine tomatoes and cilantro.
Brush fish filets with olive oil and then sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning. Grill ’til flaky, flipping once, over medium low heat (about 5-7 minutes).
Place a couple teaspoons of Cole slaw in the center of the taco shell. Add fish pieces. Top with creamy sauce and tomato and cilantro mixture. Serve with black beans and yellow rice and sangria.
A day fishing, even if few are caught, is a good way to spend a morning. Last Saturday only three fish made it in the boat, but it was a good day nevertheless.
I can’t say I was enthusiastic when the alarm sounded at 5:30 on a weekend morning, but by the time we were in the car driving to Dunnellon, I was ready for a morning on the water. We made our first casts before sunrise and by 7:30, I reeled in the first bass of the day.
After some time out for sunrise pictures, I brought in bass number two.
A few more pictures. This time of clouds, and then the third bass of the day made its way on the boat.
Only three fish. No big ones. No problem. A day fishing is a good day.
It looks like Sarah wants to be included in Grandpa’s next book. She and Daniel even woke before sunrise to join John on the Withlacoochee River for a morning of fishing. They met with success early and often catching seven keepers…although they only kept five since that was plenty for their eating pleasure.
It’s a great day fishing when all catch fish. Daniel started things off with a nice bass, but within a couple of hours, all three fishermen landed fish in excess of three pounds…not monsters…but perfect for eating and fun to catch.
They finished the day keeping a stringer of five bass that weighed in at a little more than 18 pounds. After cleaning, Sarah and Daniel have fish for two dinners and John and I will be eating fish later this afternoon. Not a bad day’s work…maybe that should be not a bad day’s fun!
Oh, and what is this Grandpa’s book? A Shutterfly book created to share his and his family and friends’ fish pictures. Can’t get in the book without a fish. Looks like Sarah and Daniel will both be in the next edition. (Make sure you click the link, Grandpa’s book, to see the one published earlier.)
When we developed our list of 13 in 13, I included “catch a big bass” to the list. John asked my definition of a big bass and when I said an eight pounder, he suggested that I might want to reconsider since a bass of that size would be considered a lifetime catch by most fishermen. Since I don’t claim to be a fisherman, I took his advice and modified my definition to “at least six pounds”. (However, if you refer to the original 13 in 13 post I said – catch a big bass of at least six pounds, but hopefully closer to eight.)
Three weeks ago in my first attempt at this challenge, I caught what I thought at the time was a pretty big bass only to be told that it was “only” 2 1/2 pounds. I needed to catch something almost three times the size of my current record. This may be more difficult than I anticipated.
Yesterday we took the day off to make a second attempt at catching a big bass. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. The 45 degree temperature and cloudless sky guaranteed a great day on the water with or without fulfilling the big bass requirement. We returned to the Withlacoochee River and Lake Rousseau since Dad reported that he and his guests caught several big ones throughout the week.
After about three hours, we started planning the next attempt since not only had I not caught a big one neither had John. And, in fact, we hadn’t landed a single bass. In an effort to help me meet my goal, John sacrificed catches. He handed me his rod on three occasions so I could set the hook and reel in the catch…no success…I lost all three. I finally announced that I thought I should change my goal from catching a big bass to being in the boat when a big bass was caught.
Then it happened. I actually saw the bass hit my line only a few feet from the boat. John talked me through the process…let it take some line…now reel in slowly to take out the slack…jerk hard to set the hook and start reeling. I guess I followed directions pretty well. I maneuvered the bass around a stump and reeled it up to the boat so John could scoop it in the net and lift it into the boat.
Time to collect the data…24 inches and 8 pounds! I’m pleased to announce I caught a BIG bass! Yes, I even caught the once in a lifetime version.
Not only was John there to support my efforts by guiding me to the best spots on the lake and talking me through the process of bringing in the fish once I felt the hit, but he was also there to document the event with a quality picture. Thanks, John! In addition, thanks Dad for your scouting reports and the trip with Max to the far ends of the county to locate the shiners needed for this adventure.
As a bonus, we noticed a bald eagle in the top of a snag as we headed back to the boat ramp so I not only caught a big bass, I photographed a bald eagle in flight. Another once in a lifetime event for many birders!
One of my 13 for 13 goals is to catch a big bass – at least 6 pounds…hopefully closer to 8 pounds. Since this is “the perfect time”, we decided to go to the Withlacoochee for my first attempt to catch this bass. Viola! In less than an hour…
Sarah’s friend, Danielle, caught a six pound bass. In fact, she caught two six pounders. I did not catch a big bass.
I caught a two pound bass. Not bad, but I’ll be doing some more fishing this year.
It was still a pretty good day…beautiful, warm, Florida weather.
We watched a heron feeding its young in a nest just a few hundred yards from the dock.
And before heading back in, we saw the moonrise. No big bass…but a wonderful day. Looking forward to the 2nd attempt!