Good friends and big fish

It’s one of those weekends I look forward to each year.

Heading back home to Florida this afternoon, where I will be met at the airport by my best friend from high school and college roommate, we’ll then head northeast from Orlando and straight to a captain’s meeting for this weekend’s offshore fishing tournament out of Ponce Inlet near New Smyrna Beach.

Joining us there will be two more old friends from home and the Slumpbuster Fishing Team will be complete once again.

We’ll try and stay coherent this evening, since we all know the 3:30 a.m. wakeup call will come very early.

At 4 a.m, we’ll be at the dock ready to push off. At least that is the plan — last year one of the team didn’t make it after a rough night of trying to pretend we were in college again. We waited until 4:30 and made multiple phone calls before pushing off and heading for the jetties. He called about 10 a.m. mad as hell for oversleeping and embarrassed about the ribbing he was going to get that night.

By 5 a.m., we will have the hammer down on the twin 150-hp Yamaha motors pushing the 29-foot Sailfish up to 75 miles offshore before the 7:30 a.m. radio call for lines in the water.

Then it becomes a waiting game as we troll for the biggest wahoo, mahi mahi or yellowfin tuna we can entice to hit one of the six or eight lines we’ll have out behind the boat.

In the meantime, we’ll tell stories from our past that seem to get better each year, catch up on how our families are doing and hope for the sound of a screaming reel as a big fish crushes a bait.

Even if we don’t catch much — like last year when rough seas made fishing more of an exercise in survival — it’s still one of the best weekends each year. Reconnecting with the boys from my youth, who have somehow managed to turn into marginally productive citizens, good fathers and husbands in recent years is worth the trip alone.

A 50-pound, tournament winning mahi mahi would just be icing on the cake.