Miss Bonita

Last May my wife went to Boca Raton on business, and I was fortunate enough to go along. While there was not too much down time, we did have most of the last day with nothing to do. I suggested we go sport fishing.

After some research from the hotel room (at $1.50 per call) I realized we were in need of some friends to share the cost. Kunk and Shootz, of the Pigs Fly trip, were also at the conference and decided to join us. A few calls later and I was able to secure a 4-hour trip with Captain Ron on the Miss Bonita for a very competitive price.

The 4 of us met in the hotel lobby at 0615 to get on the boat at 0700. After a stop for coffee, we pulled up to the dock where the Miss Bonita was moored. The engines were quietly warming up and the crew was getting her ready to board. From the parking lot, in the dawn sunlight Miss Bonita looked beautiful. She was a 53-foot white Hatteras, one of the most desirable names in boats of its kind, all rigged for sport fishing. Only after I secured the deal with Capt. Ron, and we stepped aboard did I realize what I had gotten us into. She was rough…and so was her crew! The Capitan headed up to the flying bridge smoking a cigarette, holding a steaming cup of coffee and watching the gauges. As he did not look quite awake, I left him to his duties. The first mate (Bobby) was trying to look busy, without moving too fast so he did not incur the wrath of the hangover he was nursing. The young deckhand (we later found out he was 16) was following Bobby watching (and redoing) everything Bobby did. All the while he was asking Bobby questions in as loud a voice as he could without being punched by the hung-over mate!!

While the crew was readying the Miss Bonita for the day, I took a look around. She was like a bigger version of the SeaSprite, but not as seaworthy! The first thing that struck me was how much stuff there was crammed in her. There was fishing gear that hadn’t been used in 10 years. The stateroom was so full of spare parts, broken parts, unread books, old furniture and other junk, I am sure it had not been cleaned in 20 years. The head was even worse; it looked like a restroom in a roadside gas station from the 50’s. How my wife held it for over 4 hours is a mystery to me! The cabin had 2 couches that appeared to have been frat house rejects, along with the carpet. I am pretty sure I heard the theme from Gilligan’s Island playing on the small radio over the fridge.

We slowly made our way from the docks to the fishing grounds. Once we cleared the harbor, Capt. Ron ran her up a bit and the crew got everything rigged. Once we were in position the deck hand and Bobby debated (ok, so it was almost a fist fight) about how to set the lures and bait out. Bobby soon lost the will to fight, and the deck hand set it how he wanted. We started a slow troll and enjoyed the morning breeze. I was pretty excited to catch a fish, as I had never done this type of fishing before. My wife has a passing interesting fishing, but she was content to sit inside and relax. Shootz and Kunk had been were more interested in rest, and were fast asleep on the frat couches. Not too long later I heard the second mate yell “Fish On”! Since everybody else was in the cabin, I jumped in the seat and Bobby handed me the rod. I was thinking it would be like the TV shows, the boat would stop (or even have to back-up), the fish would jump and run, and it would be a great fight!! I was wrong. We never even slowed down. I sat in the fighting chair and reeled till my arm was sore. As we spotted the fish Bobby grabbed the leader and the deck hand gaffed the 35-inch jack fish. While this was by far the largest fish I had ever caught, I could not help but be disappointed. The fish did not fight at all. It was just about dead when we got it in the boat. A few minutes later we hooked into another jack and my wife brought it aboard. Shootz and Kunk woke up at this point and their interest was piqued. “Fish-on” and Kunk jumped in the chair and brought in a nice Wahoo. That was a beautiful fish, great colors! After catching the Wahoo, Kunk headed back to the couch and napped the rest of the trip.

Since it was getting close to the end of our time slot, we headed in. All the way back to the docks the crew kept asking me if my friends were having any fun…all they had done for most of the day was sleep. I tried to explain that they both were parents of young kids and this was the first chance they had gotten to relax!

As Captain Ron guided the Miss Bonita into her berth I reflected on our day. I had caught my biggest fish ever, avoided a side trip to any deserted islands and had not gotten seasick! I can’t wait for our next trip…

Joel Brunk

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