Iā€™m still not sure how I pulled it off, but we were able to go on our first family vacation to the keys in a few years now. Actually I do know, with the help and support of my better half and our great friends, the Riddles. Our 2 families had a villa at the Cocoplum Resort on Marathon reserved for several days, the week before Christmas. Scott and his family arrived on Wednesday and we came in Thursday with the boat. As soon as we splashed the boat and found our wet slip, a curious manatee welcomed us.

A nasty cold front came through the day we arrived bringing 20-30 mph winds. So the first full day was spent strolling around our favorite spots in Key West. We did get back in time that afternoon for a little fishing. My son was able to catch his first ever barracuda,

among several we caught on our first adventure onto the water,

as well as the first keeper snapper of the trip.

The next couple of days were a mix of trying to run ocean side to fish the patch reefs, and trying to find more fishable water in the 20ā€™ bayboat we were working out of. Luckily we were able to net nice bait, pretty much at will during our stay.
When we were able to get out to the reefs, we caught some nice lane snapper, several different species of grouper,

grunts, porgies, one amberjack that gave Pedro all he could handle,

and one moray eel with a nasty disposition.

The big fishing surprise for the trip came on Sunday morning, as we got chased back inshore by the wind and waves, without even being able to drop a line. With a livewell brimming with fresh caught bait we found an inlet with a deep hole at the mouth of the pass that we anchored on and began fishing. The bites started quickly with some small snapper. Then my better half got a nice drag screaming fish, and to our surprise battled a nice snook to the boat.

She quickly got another good bite that she missed and my son quickly put his bait back in her spot. He hooked up almost immediately and fought a beautiful redfish right at the top of the slot limit to the boat.

Dawn got another chance on a good bite, and landed a nice keeper redfish of her own.

Not to be out done, Uncle Scott got a big drag burning red of his own, that was just a hair smaller than Koltons.

Of course the trip was over way to soon, but we got a nice sunset cruise in the evening before we had to leave.