Let me start this post by giving you a quick introduction to who the Two Conchs crew is. First there's Captain Jack, boss and owner of Two Conchs that runs his 36' Yellowfin on the water every day. His son JC is a 13 year old first mate that can fish better than anyone I know. Captain Austin, also Jack's son, runs a 39' Yellowfin out of a resort in Marathon. Then there's Captain Mike Macko who runs the 34' and owns the nickname Crazy Mike. We aren't exactly sure how he got this name but I am sure time will tell. Captain Cam is right around our age and runs the 30'. The 26' boat is run by Captain Jay who does a lot of reef trips and docks his single engine like a boss, while Captain Manny lives in Boca and works on his Cobia in Marathon as often as he can. The list goes on and there's a lot more crew but for the sake of this post these are the names you'll need to know.
My sister and I had been fishing with Two Conchs for less than two weeks when Captain Jack said it was time for our crew day. Crew day meant it was our day take all the Two Conchs crew out on a charter. My sister and I were to be the captain and mate, captain and captain or whatever combination we desired to be...as long as we got the job done.
We ran the 36 ft Yellowfin in choppy cloudy water to our favorite spot, Snapper City, for a four hour reef trip. As we pull up to the spot, both Captain Cam and first mate JC take some rods and throw their yellow jig heads in the water without bait. I said, "Come on guys, you know we aren't even anchored up yet!" They pleaded ignorance and complained they weren't getting bites on their bait-less hooks. At this moment I knew they were going to challenge us today.
Once we were anchored and had the chum going, Captain Macko claimed he was allergic to fish, and refused to touch the bait, but most importantly he would not listen to country music. I changed the radio station to 92.7 to accommodate our guest.
Captain Jack held the rod backwards while trying to reel in his fish and Captain Manny acted like he'd never fished a day in his life. The questions and demands came all day. "What kind of fish is that?" "Can we keep him?" "I need bait!" "I'm bored." "Let's go somewhere else." It was hard to keep a straight face as I knew these guys were fooling around but I came up with answers to every outrageous request.
Regardless of our unruly crew, the bite was insane. Captain Emily was on bait duty, she was cutting up live pin fish, ballyhoo, and squid as quickly as she could. I was on rigging duty. Every time someone lost a hook, leader, or got tangled up I was the one for the job. We had fish flying into the boat within seconds. The two of us had our hands full, baiting hooks, de-hooking fish, re-rigging leaders, and baiting hooks again. In less than three hours we had 73 keeper snapper on ice. It all happened so fast I didn't even think to consider who would be filleting all these fish. I thought, surely the guys would help us filet these things! Well I was wrong, it was our day to do it all, including refueling and cleaning the boat.
We ran back in for fuel and then headed home. More than two hours later, all 73 snapper were filleted and bagged. I'm not sure if I'd call this day initiation or hazing but I certainly learned how to move quick and accommodate just about any kind of client we might encounter.
After this day I think we felt like we really got to know all of the Two Conchs crew and I knew I was in the right place. Emily and I want to thank all of the captains and mates for welcoming us with open arms and making us feel like one of the guys.
Captain Amanda Gale