Fishing with BIG Fish

Dinner's on the line in the Dry Tortugas

Abby Holcombe  |  03.31.2015

At first, I honestly wasn’t that excited to fish at the Dry Tortuga’s National Park. I mean there were hermit crabs all over! Why not just fill the night with dozens of hermit crab races?

Hermit Crabs

I decided to go anyway and be a good sport for just a little bit on the dock. I cast. I wait. I reel it back in. Nothing!

It took me probably 15 minutes to find the clusters of fish. I cast again, letting my frozen bait dangle awaiting a bite; moving it every once and a while to attract the fishes attention. Five minutes later, I got a few nibbles. Finally, I yell, “FISH ON!”. I reel it in at a moderate speed trying to not lose him. The fish must have gotten caught before because he darted underneath the dock to try to avoid becoming a delectable dinner. Instead of going under the dock he accidentally got the hook stuck on the wood posts of the dock. I yelled for my parents.

Abby holding snapperIt’s still good fishing in the rain as Abby shows off dinner.

Of course it is was the first catch and my parents hesitantly stuck their hands in the water to avoid teeth or sharp gills to help loosen the hook from the dock post. Right as I decide to cut the line my dad says, “It’s free!”. I reel in the Red Snapper. When I attempted to stick in fish grips to unhook the fish was an epic fail. I ended up just stepping gently on the fish to get the fish grips in his small lips and to prevent him from flipping and flopping wildly on the dock . My mom puts the Red Snapper on a stringer to put over our grill for a delicious dinner. I catch another Red Snapper, as my mom catches a foot long Horse Eyed Jack. It was a feast that night for dinner.

After, we enjoyed our fresh caught fish dinner, had a few more hermit crab races, watched the sunset, and settled in our tight little cramped tent. We woke up excited to go fishing early the next morning. I ate a lovely breakfast and headed to the dock. I casted a few times and went snorkeling and kayaking. Every once and a while, we saw a 2-3 foot barracuda.That afternoon we headed out to get some more delicious fish for dinner.

Abby big fishNow we’re talking!  That’s a good sized one.

Of course I was in a fishing trance and raced over to find and catch a fish before my parents got there. It was a way to show my mad fishing skills! “Got another one!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “Go grab the fish grips please.”  “Okay.” I heard faintly. They handed me the fish grips and I stuck them in the Mangrove Snappers tooth filled mouth. I thought to myself, this would be so much better if I could just stick my thumb in the fishes mouth like the bass that I am used to catching. It was really small so I threw it back in. No scrumptious morsels from that fish. I caught a few more equally sized fish. As the sun gently set we were too caught up fishing to look for the “green flash” on the horizon.

Just at that moment I get a few typical fish nibbles and then the fight is on! “This can’t be a snapper! It is too big!” I say. “Mom look!” She turns around to see my fish. I reel it in up toward the dock. Just then I see a gargantuan black shadow coming from underneath the dock to check out MY fish. Suddenly, a 800 pound Goliath Grouper jumps out of the water and tries to shoplift an easy dinner from my line. Luckily, I have really quick reflexes and launched my fish backwards as the giant jumped out of the turquoise water. The grouper disappointedly went back underneath the dock out of sight as we all turned around to look to see if the grouper left us anything for our dinner on the hook. All of us looked at each other with shocked looks on our faces. Somehow, I managed to get the fish right out of the groupers mouth. I put the fish grips in the much bigger mouth to feel how much my fish weighed. 5 pounds! Woo hoo! Success! We measured to see the length next and it was at least 18 inches. My whopper! What an awesome fish! We need to come back next year so I can have some even bigger and better fish stories. This trip was amazing and so much fun! The Dry Tortuga’s National Park rocks!

Abby describes fishIt was “this big” as Abby recalls the giant grouper.


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2 Comments

  1. Ruth Posted on 03.31.2015

    how much fun! Great seeing kids having a really good time with their parents.

  2. scott Posted on 03.31.2015

    Great fish story with awesome voice and dialogue. It was like listening to you tell it. “The gargantuan shadow” had me quivering. Looking forward to the next one.