Of sorts, anyway... My friend Neil is getting married in October, so Andrew, Stephen and I decided to do something for him as a kind of bachelor party (really an excuse to get together, drink beer, eat and fish). So last Thursday evening, Andrew and I showed up at Neil's to pick him up (he thought he was going off for the weekend with his fiance). Surprise!!! We loaded up and about 7 hours later pulled in at Stephen's father-in-law's ranch near Bradenton, FL.
We spent Friday there, working on the fence line, fishing and running around the property. Saturday morning we got up and cleaned the place up and headed in to Bradenton. After securing fishing licenses, beer and food, we were off on the water. Stephen has a 23 foot center console that we took out to the bay and fished the flats and mangroves. We spent the rest of the day out on the boat, not catching much but having fun anyway! Sunday we got up pretty early and spent the morning out fishing again, not having much luck this time either. I think we brought home one trout, but again, it really wasn't about catching the fish...
We were able to relax a good bit of Sunday afternoon as the water was a bit choppy for us to get back out. So we hung out, played with Stephen's kids and napped. Instead of grilling out or cooking, we decided to head out to the coast for dinner. I had some really great Grouper at the Rod and Reel Pier out on Anna Maria Island. Everyone was happy with their meals and happy with the day.
Since we were leaving Monday, we got up and hit the water early. Actually, Andrew literally hit the water early. As I was throwing the anchor in so that we could net some bait, I threw the anchor with my right hand and held the rope w/ my left. Imagine my shock as I threw the anchor and the rope didn't go with it!!! Seems the captain (*cough* Stephen *cough*) had not checked the equipment and the clevis had come loose! So here we are, in the middle of Tampa Bay with a loose anchor on the bottom! Luckily, we were really in only about 3 feet of water or so and Neil was able to spot the anchor. In Andrew went, shirt pants and all! He did get the anchor, luckily, $150 saved for Stephen!
We had better luck on Monday morning, catching 6 trout a couple of snook and getting in to some jacks. The rain started moving in on us about 10 am so we decided to head in and get on the road.
I'm lucky with these friends of mine. I've known these guys for at least 27 years. Neil and Andrew live within a couple of miles of each other on the other side of town from me. We get together usually a couple of times a month. We try to see Stephen as often as possible, but with him in Bradenton it usually works out to once or twice a year.