The word "hurricane" strikes fear instantly into most normal peoples hearts, but for other groups of thrill seekers (such as ourselves) bad weather or hurricanes provide endless opportunity's for miscellaneous and rather careless endeavors. And with the monstrosity of a storm which had been dubbed "Irene" passing just offshore of the South Florida coastline, there was no question that we were going to promptly mobilize the Team Rebel unit, and see what trouble we could get into, while most normal people were perched comfortably inside thier homes.
The trip began as a solo mission after i had woke up to find that all our favorite Bass and Snook holes for bad weather were lacking the current that would normally be sending the freshwater bite into overdrive. So the corporate command decision was made to head toward the Deerfield Fishing pier to see if there was any signs of the impending mutton snapper bite that usually follows these large weather systems. But shortly after I had arrived at the end of the pier, a leviathan of a wave in excess of 20ft came crashing over the Eastern railing, which was enough of a scare for the city to immediately evacuate, and close the pier down. As I was loading the truck up and draw up a new battle plan, Tyler pulled into the lot, fresh off his long road trip back down from Connecticut. We shot the breeze and came up with a new plan, while we marveled at the humongous surf that the outer bands of Irene were creating along the coastline.
We decided we were going to head over the the Inlet in Boca to see if anything was moving around in the mouth of the turbulant inlet, but were met with many similar sites from our previous location. But that didn't deter crazy Captain Al from doing what he does best.
Random surfers and old salts watched as others brave the surf, and to wait for their own opportunity to move into the rather thin line-ups just off the beach.
After we have had our fill of watching mother natures fury batter our coastline, we began to head West in search of a potential late afternoon Freshwater snook bite, but were met with heavy resistance from sporadic but violent rain bands from Irene's outer edge.
We arrived at the spot late in the afternoon, and the driving rain had stopped just as quickly as it began. But we lacked a crucial piece of the puzzle required for snook fishing, the bait. So we quickly started moving up and down the canal, blanketing the canal with cast nets in search of what proved to be a very scarce bait source. Time was running out on our adventure, with no fish to show for our effort still, but with one throw of the net, two baits emerged from the depths. The first bait was a perfectly sized Mayan ciclid, and the other, well we weren't too sure what it was.
One thing that has been constant over the years here in South Florida, is that when you fish in freshwater, you never know what you will catch, due to our tropical climate. Also, it always seems that some of the strangest creatures we encounter are during large storms, and one is always more interesting than the rest, thus making this little guy was the mystery creature of Hurricane Irene.
Upon close inspection, we determined it was a mullet for sure, as it had the rounded head and mouth to compliment the distinct mullet dorsal fin, but the difference was that this mullet was gold and brown in color, with various faded broad, black stripes. After doing a little bit of research, it turns out that this is a species called a "Mountain Mullet". Its primary range is in the Caribbean, mainly Puerto Rico, but has been documented here in the United States before, but in 24 years of fishing here along with many of our friends, nobody has ever saw one. So we decided after a few quick pictures, to release it back into the freshwater canal we found it in.
After our quick photo session with the "unknown mullet", I took our lone ciclid, and dropped it just a few feet from where I stood and into the flowing water. Within seconds of the bait making its descent, I felt the unmistakable "thump" of a snook at the other end of the line. I came tight with the fish laying just a couple of arms legnths under my feet, and the battle was on. And after a drawn out battle that took me in and out of trees and through a couple of rocks, I was able to put this beautiful freshwater snook on the bank for a couple of quick shots and a safe release.
This was one of the more disappointing storms for us (fishing wise) but in the end it turned out to be a hell of an adventure anyways. That's the one of the perks about living in Florida, you never know what will you are going to see.
Until next time.....Team Rebel out!
- Also, to anybody who is expecting a landfall from this monstrosity of a storm, be safe, be prepared, and we here at Team Rebel wish you the best! Goodluck, and see you all on the otherside.