When I think about April in the Florida Keys, I think of one thing…thunderstorms. These storms are usually quick-moving, strong, and can be soaking. Many times, they also bring lightening and/or thunder. Over the years I have lived in the Keys, I have seen windy Aprils, calm Aprils, ‘cold’ Aprils, and warmer Aprils, but one thing remains constant, and that’s the thunderstorms. While April is not one of the months with the most rainfall here in the Keys, it does seem to have a lot of stormy weather. That’s because it is the ending of our dryer season, which is basically the winter months, and the beginning of our rainy and hot summer season. (Being in South Florida, we are blessed with only two seasons!) April can be absolutely gorgeous, but you run the risk of storms. These storms bring on a new season that everyone is looking forward to, but you have to get through them first.
One of my favorite ‘fishing tails’ happened on a very stormy day in Key West. Four years ago, my husband Jerry and I had just started dating, and I had just begun to ‘ride along’ with him on some of his charters; this just meant I would go along on charters with him and help take care of the guests and take pictures of the action and fish. Back then, he worked on a boat on Charter Boat Row called the Wild Bill with one of our favorite captains. Captain Andy Fortin, who also performed our wedding ceremony for us, is one of the greatest and longest standing captains in the Florida Keys. The three of us caught a lot of fish together, and, more importantly, had A LOT of fun!
So, on this particularly stormy day four years ago in April, we had a half-day (four hour) trip, with a guest pick-up at the Casa Marina Hotel dock. We only had two people that day–a couple on an anniversary trip who had fished some before, and did not mind the weather. The rest of the seats couldn’t be filled on the charter because the weather was so awful. It was raining (pouring) with very dense fog patches and a light wind out of the south. As soon as we picked the guests up, they sat down inside the open cabin area (out of the rain!). Jerry had his foul weather gear on since we left the dock, and I was wearing a heavy raincoat. The guests had nothing more than their everyday clothes on; still, they wanted to go fishing.
We set out heading south and started to troll. Luckily, it was not rough–even though it was like driving through a cloud, it was raining that hard. After about two and a half hours, we had caught two bonita and a chicken sized mahi mahi. The guests were having fun, but Jerry was totally soaked, even with his foulies (foul weather gear) on; rain was coming from every direction. Even though he was soaked, everyone could tell he was having the time of his life (he LOVES fishing).
Suddenly, Jerry yelled to me inside the cabin that he had an extra pair of foul weather pants down below, and for me to put them on and, “Get out here with me!!” He had never asked me to help him fish before on a charter on the deck, so I jumped at the chance and went to get my gear on.
Once I was on the back deck standing next to Jerry at the rocket launcher watching the baits in the pouring rain, I realized after about 10 minutes that even though now we were both soaked, we were having the absolute best time together. Near the end of the trip we had the guests take a picture of us, and, to this day, it is one of my favorite pictures of us. Period. Now, that may be because it is one of the only pictures of us fishing together–even though we do it all the time—but, still, it is. More importantly, maybe it is because the picture represents how you have to go through life (and a marriage). When the seas get rough, put on your foulies and work (together) harder; a little laughter and love can get you through any of the worst storms in life. And maybe you’ll even catch a fish, too!