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A few nice fish in the Keys

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Mark Laboccetta

Aug 16, 2003
While I was down in Florida there was sheer picture perfect weather and I managed to go diving on Saturday with Ulisses Swarez from Miami. Its been since 98' that I dove in the Middle Keys and it was just as gorgeous and full of fish as I remembered.

After doing some diving on the patches in 30ft for hogs and cero mackerels and the occasional legal snapper or grouper we moved out to one of the light houses where the guys wanted to shoot a few cudas. They make a really good fish dip I'm told. After one cuda for the team I took advanatge of the commotion the cudas were drawing to stalk and shoot a half dozen or so legal yellowtail snapper. Although the fish were small I was having a blast coming from 45 degree weather we were having in Virginia.

We then moved out to 50-60ft and here my ears which hadn't been cleared in over three months allowed me to make a half a dozen or so more dives where I stoned these nice fish. The deeper water produced two nice grouper and a healthy 11lb mutton in three consecutive dives.

What a treat :D You guys who live in South Florida and can drive to the Keys in a few hours have it good :) I thanked Ulisses for a great morning on the water on his boat in the element and a day away from the hustle and bustle.



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Nice to see you getting out and whacking some fish!!! :D:D:D:D

very nice Mark, i have been diving every weekend for last 3 months but did not encounter with a nice fish yet :waterwork

By the way, take care of that micra light. They have habbit to make nice burned holes on wetsuit rofl
Nice to see you getting out and whacking some fish!!!

It fellllt soooo gooooooood :)

very nice Mark, i have been diving every weekend for last 3 months but did not encounter with a nice fish yet

Murat, what can I say sorry to hear that man. Open your eyes more, persistence pays off :hmm A good hunter sees fish that the others don't see :)
my dive buddy also did not see any too :hmm

You know, i am pretty good at seeing fish. I am very good at seeing groupers and others as well. I can even see camouflaged samll dentexes from 15 meters in grass but no luck with fish lately. In last dive i saw the big one which my buddy did not spoted, it was like a ghost swimming away with calm tail movements. When i shout my dive buddy to stop and watch my back while diving it dissapear.

The only fish which i can't spot easily is Lagos which hide in black grass, i don't know what you call it. Its the same species as black and dusky grouper. Underwater its either very light brown or grey to white, slimmer and long compared black and dusky but generally very rare to fin bigger than 2-2.5kg. I will take the photo next time to show it to you.

The sea is not in best condition too, it's bottom get cloudy after 20 meters deep so we can spot the fish from surface. Making semi drop dives are also pretty tring after some period. So we just ignore the deeper places for now, where actually the fish are...Anyway hope to get something good this saturday...
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Keep at it Murat and just remember the story of Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea...." You probably haven't read that being on the other side there but in a nutshell he wasn't catching much either before the big one got on his line.

The day you shoot a big one we'll throw a party for you :)
Mark Laboccetta said:
The day you shoot a big one we'll throw a party for you :)

Thanks, that will be good. :)

How big do i need to catch and which species to guarantee the party????

Awesome catch and what a beautiful mutton! I'm jealous!!! For those divers not familiar with Florida fish, it's not every diver who can shoot big muttons and black groupers. They are 2 of the most wariest fish we have here in south Florida.

I haven't dove in a month and after a shot to the face last night by an underwater hockey puck it looks like I'll be waiting at least another week, if not 2, before I can get back in the ocean. Hopefully, eventually, someday I'll get to try out that beautiful gun you sent me (Master America - teak). It's killing me to not have shot it yet especially since I've at least pointed it at fish and know how good it feels in my hands.

Take care and sorry we didn't get to hook up while you were here.

sturgeon said:
Mark, Awesome catch and what a beautiful mutton! Scott

Thanks Scott, it's always a compliment coming from a National Sparfishing Champion :D It was only one long morning of diving but enough to take the edge off the the mid-winter doldrums.

I talked to Pat and he told me you hadn't been diving much either with Easter and the boat and all, the weather was gorgeous when I was in Florida a few weeks ago. I didn't have time to dive but Saturday was too good not to go out. Anyhow, take care of that face and just thank god it wasn't a snowball :) Pat and I should play uw hockey...We'll talk to you soon,

ps- Murat, a 30lb fish in my book is considered big, plus or minus 15Kg's, if you get an AJ or a nice Duskie grouper in that range this year you're a med killer! Crown Prince Spearo of Cyprus rofl
Possible weight for AJ but quite optimistic for duskie grouper. I am the man of hard task rofl rofl rofl

The biggest taken officially in the spearfishing history of the Cyprus is 18kg which had been shoot by my dive buddy. He is a spero with 45 years experiance he shoot quite beautifull fishes, including 70kg AJ with 90cm old pneumatic, 20kg white grouper (very very rare and best tastingf fish of Cyprus). Couple of years ago he shoot two mahi, both in 19-20kg.
Mark Laboccetta said:
Okay then, Murat I think I must have over estimated your determination and the fishyness of your waters in Cyprus....Reconsidering, the bar should be lowered for Duskie grouper. I was 17 when I got my first one over 20lbs but I had really put my time in and been ashamed of shooting lot's of small ones. If you pull one out of the water of 10Kg's this year your top notch man and it shows you have put your time in! It's not like Hatteras where anyone can come shoot a 40lb fish on their first day. Your best chances will come in September or October where you live so you have lot's of time to practice :D

ps- hint- go visit Shaca since there are a lot more fish in Gibraltar than where you are. You can probably see some dentex there too!
haha, but i have a crystal clear water here which shane does not have rofl
You know there are dentex here also, this winter i saw lots of baby, smaller than a kg but i also saw 2 big ones, unfortunatelly the conditions were not right for nice aspetto but it was amazing sight. They are almost transparent in water like swimming ghost with that wild and agressive face... Last summer friend of mine, actually old "student" of my current dive buddy shoot 11kg one at 33 meters :hmm :hmm with aspetoo of course.

The only bad thing about here is we don't have fish in winter. There are almost no sea bass "labrax" or gilthead bream "orata" here. Actually i did not see even only one this winter. But what we have is nice octos, there are already two of them waiting in the freezere for me to cook them :p
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