Editors Note: Jim is a good
friend and fishing buddy who is well known for his story
By Jim Darrah
After a good night's sleep, the Captain
and crew awoke once again at 5:30 sharp with the prospect of a zealous
day of fishing. Although the previous six days were nothing to
brag about, they were not about to give up.
Each man new exactly what to do without speaking a word other than the
customary mumblings of good morning. With the infertile taste in their
mouths of the previous nights cheer, each man clamed his duty without
hesitation. It's the same routine as the previous six days, and
as long as they could remember. Dano and Kent brewed the coffee,
and prepared the days lunch. Dino drove the truck to Able's for bait
and ice. Always too much ice, but the captain insisted "You
can't have too much Ice". Captain Rich, and remainder of
the crew loaded the boat with the rods, tackle, and the days libation,
all the while grumbling over the morning gnats that were as
predictable as the sunrise itself. Though the gnats were
annoying, they usually indicated balmy air that implied calm seas.
The Captain, a salty veteran, would not tolerate anything less than a
immaculate vessel. Even in the pre dawn hours you could see the
glimmer of an obviously well maintained vessel.
Once everything was properly stowed, they cast off without incident
for the final day of fishing. The morning sky hinted of daybreak
as Captain Rich idled through Snake Creek that linked them to the
Atlantic. As they made way through the creek they coated
themselves down with sun block to avoid
being fried like the mornings bacon.
To the port, the canals were littered with houses. To the
starboard, the marina was abundant with the chattering and swooping of
seagulls competing for an early morning pilchard.
As they idled beneath, then clear of the bridge, Captain Rich
carefully applied pressure to the throttles causing the bow to rise
and then gently fall once enough speed was attained. The twin
225 Yamaha's grew louder as they cruised at a comfortable speed while
zigzagging through the twenty or so markers in route to the open
seas. After clearing the last marker, Captain Rich aimed the intrepid
over the reef on a relatively southerly heading. As they had
predicted, there was less then a two foot swell to affirm a
comfortable day of fishing.
Each man was silently wondering what the days catch would bring.
That is, except for Bob and Frank. Bob had to leave early to run
the business while little brother stayed and fished. Frank was
unable to make the trip this year. Although Frank genuinely
enjoyed the companionship of the days fishing, he was a night owl that
would rather go out for a night of drinking and partying, than waking
every morning at 5:30 a.m. and spending most of the day slowly
trolling for little green fish. As far as Frank was concerned,
fishing all day every day was for dweebs.
Though there was still a hint of springs morning chill, the sun was
emerging from the grasp of the Atlantic and steadily warming the air.
As they made way toward open water, each man was scanning the skies
for birds, and the water for weed lines and rip tides. Telltale
signs of tasty dolphin. With the bad luck they had for the first
several days they were praying today would be different.
Once they reached a suitable depth of around 500-feet they were for
ready to begin to troll. Without delay Captain Rich, idled down
to trolling speed and aimed the boat at 180 degrees. Dino, and
Jimmy began to rig the various rainbow of baits with freshly iced down
ballyhoo. Dano and Kent, scuttled in and out of the baitsmen
preparing the rods and lowering the outriggers for their deed of
separating the baits to simulate a school of bait fish. Once the
baits were reeled off to the appropriate distance, the teaser was
dropped over the stern. After all was in place, the remaining
rigs and cooler of fresh ballyhoo were properly stowed.
Except for the Captain, who was looking for flotsam, frigate birds,
and rip lines, the balance of the crew remained aft all hoping for an
early morning strike. After minutes turned to hours with still
no luck other than a few grasshoppers ( 1 to 3 pound dolphin ) the day
was beginning to feel like the previous six days. Damn El Nino!
Then without warning, the port outrigger snapped with the unmistakable
sound they had been waiting for. Captain Rich grabbed the rod
and soon a 15 to 20 pound dolphin skyrocketed. By most counts a
dolphin of that size was nothing to write home about, but this year it
was the biggest fish they had hooked all week. Rich slowly
brought the fish within fifty feet or so to see if any other dolphin
followed it to the boat. No such luck. Kent, readied the
gaff. Once the fish was along the port side Kent tried to stick
the fish. After a few tries, and a lot of splashing, the fish
once again peeled off some drag. Rich fought it back to the
starboard side so Kent could give it another shot. After more
splashing, and no gaffing the fish came loose and swam away. In
disgust Rich tossed the rod to Jimmy, and simply said, put um back
The moral of the story:
Don't count your fish before their gaffed!!!!!!
got a big fish on... and the reel breaks off the rod... don't
give up yet!
By Jay, a Fish4Fun reader
Last year I was fishing with the family in Charlotte harbor out in
front of Boca Grande pass for black tip sharks. We had
caught a few small ones in the few previous days in this same
spot. There were 7 of us on the boat today, 2 small kids, 3 and 6
yrs. old. We caught 2 small ones and the kids were getting
hot and wanted to go home. I told them just 30 more
minutes and we would leave.
Well that 30 minutes turned into 3 hours with the fish that I
fought. Started out like all the rest, a quick run and back
toward the boat and then we saw the fish. The biggest
shark I had ever had . Well over 7 ft long. Could have
taken half my body in one bite. Well the fish saw the boat and he
took off almost spooling the reel, We had to start the boat
and chase him to gain back some line. By this time we had a bunch
of other boats around us watching the show. The fish went to
the bottom and sat there for what seemed like forever. All
the time I am applying all the pressure I could on the rod without
Finally the fish took off again and this time the reel tore off of
the pole. Bent the reel seats in half. So now I have
the reel in one hand and rod in the other and still have the fish
on. I scream for my mother to get me another rod so I can
remount the reel on it. We get the reel on another pole, So
now I am holding two rods in my hand because the line was still in
the eyes of the other pole and we are chasing the fish with the
Now the fish seemed to be getting tired I was gaining line on him
and got him up next to the boat, Everyone ran to the back of
the boat, They were all scared telling me to cut the
line. I wanted to somehow get a picture of this fish so I
told my father to get the gaff. I was gonna gaff the fish in
the mouth and get my once in a lifetime picture. We did gaff
the fish and the fish flapped his tail and guess what, the darn
handle on the gaff wasn't attached to the gaff. The darn
rope was only attached to the rubber cover that slid over the
handle. So off went the fish again.
I fought him for about another 30 minutes and got him by the boat
again. This time we tried to lasso his tail with the anchor
rope. It didn't like that and flapped his tail again and off he
went, This time one of the eyes popped off the pole and the
line tangled and broke off. Well off went my fish of a
lifetime as I stood there in tears. This is an honest to
life true story. I'm going back in June to try again this
year, I will be better prepared for the fight this time.
A bad day fishin' is far superior than a great day at work.