Monday, April 23, 2007

Key Largo Sport Fishing

Last week on my vacation in the Keys, I was fortunate enough to be able to enjoy 8 hours on the water - one of my favorite places to be. I think if I had unlimited money I would have to buy a big ass boat and go sport fishing pretty much every day.

For the time being, I will be happy renting and borrowing other people's boats. While there I took an eco-tour on a Zodiac type raft, watched my wife and kids go para-sailing and rented a wave runner for a while. All were fun. The wave runner may be a toy in my future. I had the one I rented up to 50 mph - I couldn't hear anything but the wind in my ears. Quite fun.

But back to sport fishing. I invited Jonathan from ChicagoBoyz to go along. He didn't listen to me when I begged him to take Dramamine before he came and paid the price a bit on the boat, even though it was a rather calm day out there (pretty much perfect). I have never had a problem on the big water with motion sickness.

The boat was functional. Filthy, but functional. Things like that do piss me off a bit though. If I owned a boat like this I would be incredibly anal about it. Everything would be spotless, and in perfect working condition. Here is a photo of the boat just as the sun is coming up.

Inside was roomy, complete with a couch and easy chair. Here is a view from the stern looking in. The harbor was a bit bizarre to me. Our charter left and went out this harbor, and all along the way you could see people's houses right on the canals. It reminded me of Venice. I guess I am just used to Kenosha's harbor, where I go sport fishing every year. There, nobody lives on the water, it is just a dedicated harbor with slips only.

We caught a beautiful sunrise.

And the chase was, as they say, ON.

We began by chumming for bait fish. We were out by a large buoy and they chummed to attract these fish called speedos. We used small poles with small chunks of fish attached as bait and started reeling those babies in. I think I got around a dozen. They were fun to catch and I could see hundreds of them swarming in and around the chum. Here is a photo of a bunch in the live well.
I got such a kick out of catching these bait fish that I am going to restring my old fishing poles and try to get out on our local lakes a few times this summer.

The first thing we did was troll for a while. I was shocked at how fast we had to troll with lures. When fishing for salmon on the great lakes, you simply go two or three miles per hour. Out on the ocean, we were trolling at almost full speed! We had two hookups out the back as seen here and one out each side. We usually have nine or ten lines in the water when salmon fishing.

While trolling, I made the first catch, this beautiful dolphin (also called mahi-mahi) that we ate for lunch. It fought about as well as a coho.

And here it is all prepared for lunch later. Three preparations...blackened, beer battered and fried, and in a sorrel cream sauce. TASTY.

Later, we went fishing for amber jack. This was done by hooking up one of our live baits to a hook and sinking him to the ocean depths. The amber jacks were hitting instantly. I had a huge one on and lost it to a damned shark. You can see video of it (and me swearing) at a post Jonathan did here.

We lost a few more with much less fanfare, then Jonathan saved the day by hooking into a 45 pound (estimate) amber jack and landing that son of a bitch.

Here he is with his fashionable and functional shoes (inside joke here) working the chair.

And look at the monster he landed. Absolutely awesome. I love it.

Jonathan actually iced that thing down and tossed it in his trunk and drove it back to his place for butchering. Quite a mess I am sure that was.

Sorry to say that is all the game fish we landed. But the day was beautiful, and the conversation interesting. I had a blast - and it was great to meet Jonathan.


Jonathan said...

It was a great day! Thanks for sharing your impressions and photos.

But do I detect a hint of jealousy over my shoes? :)

Dan from Madison said...

I am but a disciple in the Jonathan school of fashionable and functional footwear.

CZ said...

Lookin' good!

My brother just got back from Cabo where he did his best to thin the herd of delictable sportfish.

He presented me with some dorado filets last Sunday.

I made awesome ceviche yesterday . Post a response if you want the recipe. You won't be sorry!

Dan from Madison said...

Hell yeah I want the recipe!

Jonathan said...

I'm going to cook the amberjack tonight. Anybody have a good recipe for that? I'm limited to an electric range.

CZ said...

Here you go Dan...


2lbs fish
2c fresh squeezed lime juice (about 20 limes)
1/3 c ExVirgin olive oil
3 cloves garlick BAM!
2lbs. plum tomatoes (4-6)
1c chopped red onion
1/3-1/2 c chopped cilantro, leaves only (about 1/2 bunch from grocery)
1/2 c ketchup (I like Hunts)
2T Tobasco
1T oregano (fresh is best)
1/2t coarse salt
1/2t fresh ground pepper
3T minced serano peppers (remove seeds)
2/3c chopped green olives

We have made this from dorado, wahoo, red snapper, mahi and pompano. All are good as long as it is a firm, white fleshed ocean fish, swordfish may not be as good.

Remove all skin and bone from fish filets and cut into 1/2" cubes. Place cubed fish into a large glass bowl, do not use metal.

Squeeze the limes with a squeezer, it saves time. Add lime to bowl with fish, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 2.5 hrs, stirring three times.

While the fish is cooking in the lime juice prep other ingredients.

After 2.5 hours drain lime juice from fish. Rinse three or four times well THIS IS IMPORTANT! Any lime juice residue will continue to cook the fish and it will get mushy.

Add all ingredients to the big bowl with the fish and fold in gently with a soft spatula.

It will be ready to eat but is best if you let it sit for a few hours. Store refrigerated in a tupperware style container.

You can spoon onto soda crackers (as they do in Mexico) or corn tortilla chips. Use any cracker you like but make sure they are not seasoned. It can interfere with the flavor of the civeche.

If prepared properly it will keep for 3-4 days. It never lasts that long for me.

One more thing, the prep time can last a few hours. Plan accordingly.


Jonathan said...

Broiled part of it and served it with sauteed peppers and garlic. Not bad at all, though that dolphin was much better.

Dan from Madison said...

Good to hear - that dolphin was one of the best lunches I have ever had.

Dan from Madison said...

Tx for the recipe CZ, will try it in the next few weeks hopefully.

Jonathan said...

The dolphin was fantastic. Too bad my camera can't record tastes.