Dave and Neil fished both days that Jace and I were in Orlando, so they were ready for some “fun” fishing on Wednesday and Thursday; we all slept in both mornings until 9ish, and then went out in the boat for 3-4 hours. Wednesday we went out about 2-3 miles off shore, to do some shark fishing. It involved a lot of “chumming”… I’ll forgo the details, but basically it involved cutting up fish and putting them in the water behind the boat, to attract the sharks.
The chum did its job, and within an hour Neil had hooked a shark! Then a little while later, Jace reeled one in, too:
The sharks they caught, the 3-foot Atlantic Sharpnose Shark, are one of three species found off the coast of southwest Florida. They weren't huge, but definitely were sharks, with plenty of teeth.
Dave did have one pole set with a hook and bait for a larger shark, an 8-10 foot species; he did get a bite on that line, and it must have been a pretty big one, because it broke the line and took off. I think we were all fine with that, because Dave didn't have the gear to handle one that big. He did have the necessary equipment to unhook the sharks they caught, and then they threw them back, after I took several pictures.
On Thursday's fishing outing, Dave caught this King Mackeral; as he was reeling it in, the mackeral was putting up quite a fight, and leaping out of the water. It was a good four-plus feet long- I put my size 8 flip flop down by it to give an idea of the size. It had some teeth too, but Dave managed to unhook it and throw it back.
We saw several alligators, and learned a lot of interesting facts from our guide; alligators eat "real" meals usually only once a month. But many of these are also used to the tours, and are enticed by the guides' treat of... marshmallows, believe it or not! It was very interesting - they only eat what is on the surface of the water, so the guide would throw a rock, and get no response from the gator, since the rock sank as soon as it hit the water. But the marshmallows floated, and the gators headed for them every time.
Tonight we're packing, we'll leave for St. Pete/Clearwater about 8AM. Jace is taking back a bag of sand dollars and shells he's collected over the past few days, and a dried coconut that he found under a neighbor's tree a couple yards down.
Dave and I agreed that this has been our favorite vacation - we missed having Paige with us, that's the only thing that would've made it even better than it was. I think the boys had an awesome time, it was wonderful spending a week at the beach with them, some great experiences and memories.