With a 7am wake-up call at the Marriott, Dad and I looked out our balcony and could see Captain Tony rigging up his boat in preparation for this morning's fishing excursion.
Next to the boat dock we could also see the restaurant setting up for this morning's (included) breakfast buffet. The captain needed about 20 minutes to get ready which was the perfect amount of time to grab some grub before hitting the water. It was so nice to just wake up and have our boat and our breakfast buffet just a stone's throw from our hotel room.
The free buffet at the Marriott was quite impressive. There was a lot to choose from and although I wanted to just gorge myself with food, I remained quite restrained. A little of this and a little of that was enough for me. I am practising moderation and because my appetite has been restricted I get filled up more quickly and don't feel like I need to eat tremendous quantities of food. See, I'm learning.
We had some leftovers from last night's dinner so I had the idea to make some lunch sandwiches with the fish. I grabbed a few pieces of buttered toast from the buffet and made two grouper and mutton snapper sandwiches. Fish sandwiches are the perfect lunch out on the water.
Captain Tony DelosSantos (aka, The Lyin' Hawaiian) grew up in Hawaii but has been fishing and guiding in the Florida Key forever. He was courteous, knowledgeable and professional all day long - and most importantly, he put us on the fish! It was a short boat ride out to the Key Largo patch reefs but almost as soon as we made our first stop, we were catching fish.
The patch reefs are loaded with many varieties of fish so you never know what you're going to catch but I was hoping for mutton snapper, grouper (although out of season for another 3 days), yellowtail, and other delicious table fare. Captain Tony had also prepared us for the possibility of the occasional school of yellow bar jacks that he has seen in this area lately. The yellow jack is apparently a delicious sushi/sashimi fish - prized for its mild flavor and firm texture. Fingers were crossed!
Let's get to some photos. I think they tell a better story. . .
|Hogfish and Schoolmaster Snapper|
|Yellow Bar Jack|
|Schoolmaster Snapper - great to eat!|
Back at the dock in the early afternoon we laid out our fine catch and Captain Tony did a great job cleaning it all up for us. The plan was to take a bag full of fillets to the restaurant (just a couple feet away - how great is that?) so that they could prepare our fish a variety of ways for our dinner tonight.
Another bag we planned to take to a sushi restaurant called Sushi Sake (literally two blocks down the road) where Captain Tony told us that the chefs are accustomed to his clients bringing them fresh fish to prepare. What a treat - check out our sushi lunch from fish we caught just moments ago. . .
|The first dish was a thin sliced sashimi - yellow jack|
|And then the dishes just kept coming. . .|
|and coming. . .|
|and coming. . .|
|and coming. . .|
We were going non stop all day and although dad needed to take a break and relax back at the hotel, I just felt like going, going, going. My energy level was very high. I did a walking tour of the hotel grounds. The Key Largo Marriott is a very nice hotel/resort with lots to do for the whole family. I won't write a full 'Trip Advisor' type review here but if you want to learn more about it, then actually go to Trip Advisor and do some research. For our purposes, having Captain Tony and the restaurant and the room - all within the same general area - was perfect.
At the end of the day I drove back to that dive shop from earlier because they happened to be having a lecture/presentation on spearfishing in the Keys. This was right up my alley and with dad resting in the hotel I took advantage of this opportunity. I learned a lot and it also made me very jealous of the people who dive in the Keys rather than New Jersey. It was also a bit scary because when you do have virtually unlimited visibility you begin to see things that you may not want to see while spearfishing - like sharks. Anyway - someday I'm sure I will make time for the chance to try some spearfishing down here. Just not this trip.
Dinner was a topper to another fantastic day. Honestly, it wasn't as well prepared as last night's meal but we were in no position to eat huge quantities of food after having such a big lunch. They prepared our fish a few different ways and I ended up taking a lot of it in a doggy bag. I planned on making several more fish sandwiches using the bread from tomorrow morning's breakfast buffet. That worked out perfectly today and I had enough fish now to make about four more sandwiches in the morning.
I didn't think I could beat yesterday. But I think I just did. (Mainly because yesterday also started in New Jersey and included a very uncomfortable plane ride and lots of travel) Today was start to finish quite awesome and it was especially memorable to share it with my dad.
Stay tuned folks - we have more of the same planned for tomorrow. Again, waking up around 7 am, getting breakfast, making fish sandwiches and then the plan is to meet up with Captain Xavier down in Islamorada for another half day of reef fishing.