Quick Crytal River trip!

We got a call from a friend mid-week and quickly made plans for a weekend of scalloping & fishing. The only unfortunate thing is we don’t get to stay at King’s Bay Lodge – they’re full. We stayed at another local favorite Plantation on Crystal River.

They don’t have kitchenettes so every meal has to be eaten out and it doesn’t give us the opportunity to cook our day’s catch. Regardless, we like the rooms and the ability to secure our boat right outside of the room along the seawall is a bonus.

This visit their ‘new’ fountain is working.

It’s not a ‘fan favorite’ with us. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’m not sure it really fits in. Driving in, this was a nice shot with the trees providing a pretty canopy.

Once you get closer, you can see how they tried to incorporate local flavor…………..by adding manatees. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not a fan. They’re just kind of a big blob. Ok, enough about the fountain.

Rich and Connor stopped by our house Friday night and headed over (taking our boat) Saturday morning. Adrienne drove over mid-afternoon Saturday to join us. Eric and I arrived in time to find our room, freshen up and gather up the gang before heading over to Peck’s Old Port Cove Seafood Restaurant for our 7pm reservation.

Notice the very bottom section of the sign? ‘Blue Crab Farm’ At the back of their place, you can see some of their holding tanks. This guy was not shy. Guy? Girl? I’m not going to pick the crab up to find out!

Ultimately we ended up sitting outside (which did not require a reservation) but allowed us plenty of physical distancing and the added benefit of open-air seating. Service was a bit hap-hazard and we ended up bussing the table before the waitress stopped by. She did bring our drinks fairly quickly and then it was time for a photo.

Although everyone – but me – started with clam chowder, I (somewhat patiently) waited for the fish net onions appetizer – super yummy and crunchy!

Four of us got the catch of the day – surprisingly all different (1-fried, 1-broiled, 1-blackened) with my choice being the ‘cajun’ seasoning. It had a red pepper kick in the seasoning

Eric came for the crabs. When he placed his order…………….they were out and he had to reluctantly find something else to eat from the menu. We went in, understanding service would be slow and that really worked in Eric’s favor. Low and behold, as our appetizer arrived a boat came up to their back dock and dropped off more crabs. Eric found our waitress and was quickly able to modify his order. His crabs arrived, steamed & sauted with garlic.

He was happy.

This made me happy…………………key lime pie. There was enough to share for those that wanted a spoonful, or two.

This weather screenshot greeted us Sunday morning. It’s all north of us, coming straight onto land, shouldn’t really impact us. Right?

By the time we got everything packed in the boat, clouds had moved in. Notice that ‘spot’ in my photo below? Rain. it was barely sprinkling when we left our hotel, but that changed.

After picking up some shrimp from Pete’s Pier, rain was coming down harder, but there was a break in the clouds. It should be enough for us to motor out to the Gulf to fish. Let’s just say it was a ‘bear’ getting to the break in the clouds. Adrienne and I were sitting in the front of the boat, covered by a beach towel (soaking wet by now) to break the stinging rain. Yes, rain hurts.

The original intent of the quick weekend trip was to ‘scallop’. The (1) rainy weather, combined with (2) murky, churned up water, (3) local reports the scallops were deeper than normal, (4) along with not being plentiful, ultimately decided scalloping was out and that we were only going to fish.

We all caught some fish that day. At one point, Rich showed us one small little seatrout that he commented was his smallest seatrout ever caught (it got thrown back)…………until Eric hooked this guy. Yep, that is one tiny trout. I think the shrimp on the hook was almost the same size.

Adrienne had a great day. Here’s an action shot while she was bringing in her fish.

The fish was netted and added to the growing catch in the cooler. It’s her biggest fish yet – 23″. Hang tight, another shot is coming. We don’t want to lose the fish for a better photo.

Here’s a shot with everyone’s catch.

L to R. Eric – mangrove snapper and seatrout, Rich – seatrout, Connor – spanish mackerel, Adrienne – spanish mackerel.

Notice who’s missing? Me. 😦 I caught no keepers. After fishing almost 20 years, I can honestly say seeing Connor and Adrienne catch fish made the day a good day even for me. Some might say have a history of competiveness…………even with fishing.

The guys enjoyed the fish-cleaning table at this place. It is a step (or two) up from a lot of places. Dual cutting surfaces, water hoses nearby and another really nice feature…………….it was covered giving ample shade.

They had some friends eagerly waiting for the fish trimmings.

Since we (and I really mean Eric) can’t cook our catch, after cleaning up we headed our for dinner. Truly, it was not a typical choice for us.

Our first option was probably going to be a 1+hour wait and it was only 5:30pm. And we were hungry. Someone mentioned Chili’s and we headed that way. All it took was the words ‘chips & salsa’.

I love their hamburgers while Eric settled for a bowl of chili.

Naturally, you have to ‘fill in the cracks’ and ice cream does that nicely.

With Rich and Connor departing early the next morning, it was the three of us.

We probably fished 25 minutes in good weather – warm, sunny with a breeze. The fish were biting! In a matter of a few minutes, the wind picked up, waves started rolling, white caps could be seen and the air temp dropped noticeably. It was time to head in. Thank goodness we found a shortcut yesterday and using the GPS could safely traverse it.

I couldn’t watch and kept my gaze towards land. Eric had to do some ‘tacking’ to get us into the channel. He later told me some of his maneuvers had water pouring over the back gunnel. This trip back became an E-Ticket ride. If you’re not familiar with the term – Google it.

Since we were pushed off the water and leaving earlier than expected, we needed lunch. We found a seafood spot on the way home – Cedar River Seafood.

They had very tasty fried pickles. And I was told the clam chowder was very good.

My broiled flounder filets and Eric’s fried fisherman’s platter was filling enough that no supper was needed.

During the short time on the water, it was productive – for me. I finally ‘got on the board’ catching this 16″ seatrout.

Which turned into dinner the next night Greek-style: lemon-rice pilaf, Greek cucumber & tomato salad and seatrout sauted with herbs, topped with a squeeze of lemon.

Oh yeah, we saw one ‘interesting’ thing at our hotel. Our first night at the hotel we experienced a fairly fierce storm. This greeted the owner in the morning. You could consider this unlucky, or incredible good luck.

Stay tuned for the next post. I’ll share some photos from work.

Ginny

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