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Georgia on My Mind

Zach's Snapper

For the past few years our Uncle Douglas has invited us to join him and his wife on a deep sea fishing trip. We were slated to go out last year during the 4th of July holiday but the oil spill in the Gulf resulted in us aborting our plans. The start of 2011 brought another invitation, one in which we accepted. Just like the year before we were slated to head out during the 4th of July weekend and just like the previous year we were excited about it.

Saturday morning we started the 8 hour trip to Savannah, GA. After making several stops for fuel, food and stretching we finally arrived at our hotel. Once we checked into the hotel we headed to our room and were sorely disappointed in the condition of the room. Thankfully we were quickly able to find an alternate hotel. After checking in and settling in for a few minutes we headed out for an evening on the town in historic Savannah.

While in the historic district we tried our best to get into Paula Dean’s restaurant, The Lady & Sons, but the wait was crazy. As such, we ended up grabbing a quick bite of pizza. After leaving the pizzeria we took a stroll to the river front. As we strode through the sidewalks a humid Atlantic breeze blew across our bodies. The sound of a live jazz band playing in the background was the perfect pairing to watching boats sail in from and out to sea. As the sun started to set we figured a carriage ride would be a nice way to cap off the evening. It turned out to be one of our favorite activities of the evening. We learned so much about the history of the area while enjoying a wonderful sunset. What a perfect way to celebrate our 13th year anniversary and spend quality time with our sons.

After the carriage ride we walked to the park area and watched as children ran through vertical fountains in an attempt to elude the heat. The sound of live bands drew us toward the crowds and before we knew it we were part of the audience. The band played a wide selection of music and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves.

Sunday morning we were on the road heading to Tybee Island. The plan was to check out Ft. Pulaski, seafood restaurants and nearby beaches. While the beach activity never quite materialized the Ft. Pulaski tour was outstanding.

Union Canon at Ft. Pulaski

The construction of Ft. Pulaski began in 1829 to protect the US from foreign invasion. Completed in 1847 the Ft. boasted brick walls measuring 11 ft thick and a hefty price tag of 1,000,000. Once Georgia seceded from the Union the Ft. was signed over to the state and became an asset of the Confederate States of America. It wasn’t until the Civil War started that the Confederate Army took over the Ft. The Union Army would not stand idly by and after 30 hours of continuous bombardment the Confederate Army surrendered and the Ft. was in Union hands. Yep, an impenetrable Ft. that took 18 years to build fell in 30 hours.

Given it was the 4th of July weekend we were treated to live canon firing. The first canon to fire was the Confederate’s. A smooth bore canon capable of shooting 800 ft. The second canon to fire was the Union’s rifled barreled canon. With a range of up to 4 miles the cannon was technologically superior to the Confederates. With the thunderous boom of each canon I could only imagine what both sides were feeling during the battle.

Later that evening we met up with Uncle Douglass, his family and friends for dinner. Fresh sea food filled our bellies and good conversation rounded out the night, while a panoramic view of the wetlands provided the perfect backdrop. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel in anticipation of the early morning fishing trip.

4:00 am rolled around about as fast as Ft. Pulaski fell to the Union and two hours later we were on our way back to Tybee Island. Upon arrival we unloaded our gear and waited as the Captain and his Mate cleaned and fueled the vessel for our trip. Shortly afterwards we loaded up and set sail for the 50+ mile journey into the vast Atlantic Ocean.

During the trip it didn’t take long before the first casualty was claimed. I noticed Avitra start to shift from side to side and eventually laid her head on the door frame. This was followed up with her laying down in fetal position, which was followed by her taking a nap. I think we all know what’s coming next.

I glanced over at Adrian and Zachary to see how they were fairing. Both said they were fine but Zachary had a sleepy expression on his face. I asked if he was tired and he replied “yes”. I knew that was code for I’m getting sick. Eventually he laid down and took a nap.

Adrian's Shark

A break in the hum of the engine implied we had reached our first stop of the day. The downward motion of the boat’s bow added confirmation. After a quick tutorial on how to use the rod and reels we were given the ok to drop our lines. As soon as the line hit the bottom of the Ocean floor I felt a thunderous bump. A bit shocked I missed the hook set and reeled in an empty hook. The Mate re-baited my line and I set it out again. Before I could hit bottom I noticed him run to the other side of the boat. Dang, uncle Douglas’ wife, had landed a nice Black Sea Bass. While watching the action I got another hit and this time I didn’t miss. I had landed my first salt water fish, a Trigger Fish. Every single drop resulted in a bite. However, not every bite resulted in a catch. While we were catching and missing fish Avitra was getting sicker. Adrian, Douglas, Dang, Stewart, Susan, P and Dang’s daughter were in the zone. I watched Adrian wrestle a shark, Black Sea Bass, and Vermillion Snapper onto the boat. He also hooked up with a nice Red Snapper that threw the hook right by the boat. Then the smack talk began.

Not wanting to be left out of the action Zachary awoke from his sleep and joined us on the deck. I explained to him how to use the tackle and before long he was looking like a pro. On his second drop he caught a Trigger Fish followed by several Black Sea Bass. On his 8th or 9th drop I saw his rod almost fly out of his hands. He yelled for me to come over and help out so I obliged. I figured he was hung on a reef but boy was I wrong. He passed me the rod and reel and my beat up ribs and arm pit took more of a beating. After a minute or so of aggressive reeling the fish was finally landed. Zachary’s catch was a 17 – 20 lb Cubera Snapper! Talk about grinning from ear-to-ear. We took a few snap shots and put the fish in the cooler with the rest of the catch. That pretty much shut down the smack talk.

My first saltwater fish

We literally caught fish until our armpits and upper ribs started to hurt from the rod handle beating them while fighting fish. At the end of the day our group caught several species of fish to include; Cubera Snapper, shark (no keepers), Red Snappers (couldn’t keep – out of season), Black Sea Bass, Vermillion Snapper, Bar Jacks, Trigger Fish, and Bank Sea Bass. This was a moment that we will not soon forget.

Thank you so much Uncle Douglas and Aunt Dang for treating us with the trip. Be sure to tell Stewart that I really enjoyed meeting him and look forward to fishing with him in the future.

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