Keys2The first night of our 7-night stay, we tried our hand at “bully-netting” for lobster. Apparently, lobsters come out at night and roam around on the shoals (shallow patches of land in the Gulf), and with good lights, you can see them from your boat when idling over the shoals. Using a long pole with a net attached on one end and a string attached to the net, you can catch them. The bully-net was easy to use, as I caught plenty of seaweed, the difficult part lied in spotting the darn lobster. We were told over and over that they were out there, but we couldn’t find them. After visiting the local fishery and seeing them there, we realized how perfectly they camouflaged with the grass on the ocean’s floor where they are said to be found. Who knows if they were under our noses the whole time, and I can’t tell you if they’re as easy to catch as seaweed.

Keys3We also tried our hand at diving for lobster during the day using a tickle stick and net, and again, had no luck spotting the shellfish. I attribute this to low visibility in the cloudy water as well as our inability to dive very deep. Nevertheless, we had fun exploring the sea.

There are two things – no, make that three, but the tarpon story is with fishing – so two things besides a big butt tarpon I’m glad we didn’t encounter under the sea are stingrays and jellyfish. We saw plenty of them from the boat, jellyfish that is, and 3 or 4 stingrays. One of the stingrays was beautiful, with black and white specks all over, and it was one of those moments when we saw it that we couldn’t believe what we were seeing – right there! However, we donned our diving gear and jumped in numerous times before it dawned on us (me) that I could encounter something I didn’t care to come close to. Thankfully, this particular fearful thinking didn’t happen until the last day, and by this point I was fried anyway, clothed in long sleeves and staying in the shade.