The East Coast of Florida still has fish and you don't have to run all the way to the Bahamas to get good Muttons which is a relief. New Zealand has good lobsters, though!
From Stuart to the Florida Keys is a great stretch of reef that holds some awesome fish and this time of year the bait is all time.
It's winter time so these same spots are covered up with boats flying kites and live baiting so beware of hooks, props, and angry line fisherman who are frustrated at having to rock and roll in heavy NorthEasterly swells waiting for a fish that resembles a giant needle fish with its bottom jaw knocked off and has a cool purple and blue spotted mohawk on its back. While Sailfish are protected in the US from Spearos with them come a host of other species that are much better on the table. Dolphin, Wahoo, Cobia and an assortment of other pelagics and bottom fish alike that all share in the feast. The same reefs we were diving also hold some of the gnarliest sharks of Florida.
While the "greens" fight to protect a resource (sharks) that is supposedly disappearing at an alarming rate the numbers of big munchers continues to grow. Last year one of the local divers in Palm Beach was attacked and lost a portion of his calf when a big bull shark hit him on his way to the surface.
Luckily, we didn't have any heavy run ins and our sharks we encountered were well behaved.
Congrats to my cousin Aaron Kirkconnell Scott who came down and dove with me a few days before the end of the year (and grouper season). We spent some time refining his technique and improved upon his safety too. Its amazing to see him diving 100+ ft and shooting fish with the best of them. He has natural fish sense and in the coming years will be one to watch.
Hopefully he and the younger guys out there will take the safety to heart and realize there are so many incredible years ahead of them with thousands of chances to dive again if they stay within their limits, watch their buddies, and don't push it.
Here are a few pics from the day. Live the Salt Life!