I’M PUTTING THIS POST UP FROM LAST YEAR’S ARCHIVES BECAUSE WE’RE PREPPING FOR THIS YEAR’S TRIP! We’ll leave for Florida on Monday…but take a look at what we’re up to. Nuts! Fun! Sun! Chaos! Hooray!
Last year’s post:
Ok, so the family has some traditions…ones that the kids threaten to run away (where would they go? Florida?) if we don’t keep them going. One of the favorite summer traditions is to go to the Florida Keys during the mini lobster season, a two day season wherein every salt water buff in the lower 48 drives, flies, boats or trains down for these days in July. For us, it means packing the entire family (this year, it was two of my brothers and me with our entire families — which means a plethora of kids, sorta too many to count, plus some intrepid friends and their families) and off we go, hauling boats, trailers, coolers, food, gear, and way way way too much stuff down to Marathon Key for the week. The best part is that the kids are so excited each year that the drive down nearly cracks each set of parents even before the lobstering begins.
The requisite first stop: to buy a lobster kit for anyone without one: a net, a “tickle stick”, a glove, and a small measuring piece. That’s all you need to catch a Florida Spiny Lobster. And the coolest place to buy it: of course, the local Ace Hardware.
We made it. Kids intact. Families intact (barely). THIS is what we came for on day one…scouting the reefs and taking in the crystal clear water.
Ahhh, now lots of people say that the idea of Florida in July is crazy — quite frankly, it’s a whole lot cooler than South Carolina right now. Ocean breezes…no bugs….hmmm. Maybe we’ll stay longer…
OK. Day 2. Now we’re serious. Up early and on the water. It’s time to catch some lobsters.
Yea…all the kids are on my boat. Huh, go figure.
There were many years where my brothers headed for Florida’s mini lobster season with just the guys. Then came kids. Then came their realization that there’s a ton of fun to be had sharing this adventure each year with the kids — and even the sister (that’s me). And so began my own family’s tradition — and of course, a little competition is a good thing. So the kids and I are loaded for bear…we’re going to kick some brother behind…or something like that. All I know is that we all want to catch our limits. (The kids think mom’s gotten a little intense. What? Me?)
Git ’em, kids…
First of all, you do need to be a pretty good swimmer — because this is a lot of work — but here’s what you do:
Float along with the current, watching the ocean floor move beneath you. As you go, you’re looking for any type of cover for the lobster — limestone shelves, coral formations, any type of cover. Then look for the antenna. You’ll eventually see one — then dive down, “tickle” him out of the cover, and into your net. It’s remarkably easier than you’d think — and definitely not scary.
Here’s what we’re looking for: Panulirus argus, aka, the Florida Spiny Lobster.
OK, lobster in hand.
Now it goes to the measuring department on the boat.
This one’s a keeper — the carapace is longer than three inches. Yes! Kid boat, getting there. Teenager boat, well, never mind. We’re just minding our own business. Sort of.
On to a new spot and back into the water.
And so on and so forth. For two days. And the result…we held our own. We weren’t embarrassed by the teenagers who’ve been at this for a few years.
Team Small Fry had a ball and showed every one of the adults (and teenagers) how to delight in every single moment on the boat — no texting, no phones, just good company and a spectacular setting.
Suffice to say, this tradition remains intact. We’re already making our plans for next year.
But for this year, it’s a wrap. Now I’m onto find some great lobster recipes.
Like this one: