December 14, 2011—The weather is not cooperating.
When you think “Florida Keys,” you automatically think sunshine, warm temperatures, and calm turquoise waters. Not necessarily so.
We’ve had sunshine (mostly), but the temperature has only been in the upper 70s. I know that sounds warm to anyone living in the now-cold northern climes, but to us who live in Florida (albeit northeastern Florida), the 70s, with a strong north wind, are anything less than warm. And the calm turquoise waters? The sea is beautiful, as you can see from the picture taken from our campsite, but the beach is strewn with seaweed, because the wind is coming out of the north. And it is very rough—much too rough to try to swim, even if you could get to the water through the seaweed trash.
So, my No. 1 objective—to snorkel—has not been achieved, and will not be today, either. Yesterday, the winds gusted up to 30 mph; I don’t think they will be any calmer today.
Since we could not snorkel, we decided to fish.
Our RV park is located just over 7 Mile Bridge. The Keys were first connected by a highway built by the railroad mogul Henry Flagler. Later a road was built. It has since been rebuilt, but parts of the old highway (and even part of the railroad bridge) remain. They are used as fishing bridges. Adjacent to either side of our RV park are two of these fishing bridges.
The day before yesterday, we decided to try our hand at fishing. We geared up, drove to the fishing bridge, and put our line in the water, baited with squid. A few hundred feet down from us were a group of Cubans. They were pulling fish out of the water right and left! These were not little fish; they were about two feet long and weighed several pounds.
We weren’t getting any bites, so I moved down closer to the Cubans. One of the men, who apparently spoke no English, motioned to give him my line. He pulled the squid off my hooks, rebaited them with live shrimp, and then I tossed the line back into the water.
Within five minutes I had a fish! It weighed about three pounds. We fed a lot of fish that day, and Jim caught a couple of little ones he had to throw back, but at least we had one.
We didn’t know what kind of fish it was. (Unfortunately, we didn’t have a camera with us to take a picture of that catch.) Later, through a Web search, we decided it belong to the jack family.
According to research, jacks are a love/hate catch. They put up a good fight, but many people don’t like to eat them, claiming they are trash fish. Others, however, say that they are good to eat, provided you prepare them correctly. That includes soaking them in buttermilk for four to eight hours.
We decided to try it. I found a recipe that sounded OK. We didn’t have any buttermilk, nor (at that time) did we have any lemon juice to make a substitute buttermilk. We did have mojo marinade, which has lemon and lime juices in it, so we improved.
Last night I prepared the fish. And it was good!
Yesterday, too, we went fishing again. Although I hauled in a small fish (in the picture), we did nothing more than make sure a lot of fish went to bed last night with a full tummy. We’ll see if we can do better today.
Until next time,
Your Reluctant RoVer,