Archive for the ‘Fishing Tales’ Category

Saturday, July 16, 2016

This past weekend the surf and tide lined up nicely for an early morning fishing trip. I met my brother-in-law and a work friend out there. Our families joined us later.
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The Lord painted a beautiful sunrise on a thunderhead west of us. Thankfully, the thunder stayed there.

Once the shrimp poles were in the water, I undertook getting the shark poles ready. Thankfully, I had some bonito fish-sicle with me from a previous weekend trolling trip, because the non-sicle fish weren’t interested in my shrimp offering.

For my big bait caster, I cut the bonitos in two, putting the smaller butt piece on a hook and the bigger head portion on the other hook. The bonitos itself was large, well over twenty inches, so I went back and forth about using the whole thing. I decide go big or go home! I used a kayak to drop the bait into the gulf one hundred and fifty yards from shore.

I returned to slow fishing. The shark poles sat quietly. The dolphins put on a show for us. We did catch one small blue runner. Eh. At least we weren’t going to be skunked.
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At 9am, the big bait caster whispered, “click, click, click”. I picked it up. Everything went silent for a few painful moments. I felt a few tugs and then the drag screamed. It felt like I had hooked into a speeding train. The line was flying and I feared the fish would spool me. I tightened the drag as tight as I could and the fish just kept going. I tried to pinch the bail with my finger but couldn’t hold it and burned my finger in the process. I put all my strength into turning the fish around. I have never seen the shark pole bend like it did then.

Eventually, it took all of my line (over 300 yards worth). I looked in the bail and saw the end of the line tied around the internal metal rod. The fish continued to pull and miraculously the line didn’t snap. With my friends’ help, I ran forward to the shoreline to try to gain some line. I got a little back. I walked backward and then ran forward to gain more. Slowly I gained the upper hand.
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After an intense 30 minute battle, there wasn’t much fight left in the fish. I felt a few head shakes but no more train runs. That made me think I had hooked into a giant stingray. About 15 minutes later the fish was close enough to shore to glimpse. I didn’t see a shark dorsal fin but did see a lot of white underbelly, so I really thought it was a stingray. It came nearer to shore and showed its true colors – a fowl hooked hammerhead shark!

We landed the worn out beast. One hook was loosely hooked through a belly fin. I think it was initially hooked correctly but the hook came lose and ended up in that fin right before it gave me the fight of my life. I would have thought it was dead on shore except for a little blink from an eye at the end of its shovel head. Then I saw the gills moving. We quickly captured a few pictures and then I escorted my catch back into the gulf.

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Landed!

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Fowl hooked

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Measuring 7’2” head to base of tail

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Picking up the beast

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Snuggling a hammerhead

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The beast, my baby and me

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Catch and release

 

 

Last weekend my wife and I took advantage of great Pensacola fall weather by getting our surf fishing on. I thought I would share our experience in a photo blog. Are those called plogs?

Our fishing location, letter H at Johnson's Beach.

Our fishing location, letter H at Johnson’s Beach.

My lovely fishing buddy

My lovely fishing buddy

A sea turtle who has a taste for bait shrimp waving to you! We promptly put him back in the water after this picture.

A sea turtle who has a taste for bait shrimp waving to you! We promptly put him back in the water after this picture.

Two keeper size whiting

Two keeper size whiting

We were treated to one of the Lord's spectacular sunsets

We were treated to one of the Lord’s spectacular sunsets

Thursday off from work meant early morning fishing

Thursday off from work meant early morning fishing

Choppy gulf waters murky as sweet tea

Choppy gulf waters murky as sweet tea

We ended up catching 16 catfish including this big one.

We ended up catching 16 catfish including this big one.

We also caught this sea turtle

We also caught this sea turtle

We had a chat while I got the hook out

We had a chat while I got the hook out

Looks like Crush from Finding Nemo!

Looks like Crush from Finding Nemo!

We caught a second one right before we left

We caught a second one right before we left

My wife and I went out to the beach for some shark fishing

My wife and I went out to the beach for some shark fishing

Recently my wife and I went out to the beach (Perdido Key Public Beach Access #2) for an afternoon of shark fishing. Well, I went for shark fishing and my wife came in support of me. Our friends David and Sara Sewell joined us. By shark fishing, I mean catching small fish

Sewell's pointing out dolphins

Sewell’s pointing out dolphins

from shore with shrimp, rigging the fish up on big hooks, kayaking them out well past the first sand bar into the gulf, and returning to the shore to wait for a shark to hit.
At first we didn’t catch much of anything with shrimp, so I used a frozen Lady Fish I had from a previous fishing trip as shark bait. Something hit but quickly dropped it. When we brought in the bait we saw teeth marks gashed in the fish, but of course away from the hook.

Fishing with shrimp for shark bait

Returning from kayaking out sting ray bait

Eventually, we caught live bait – a sting ray small enough to fit in my hand. I hooked it up for shark bait (monofilament leader with a circle hook the size of my index finger bent) and paddled it out. Sting ray has traditionally been prime time shark bait.

Reeling in sting ray shark pole at dusk

Minutes turned into half hours and then hours with no sharks. David and Sara left. Sunset came calling. Becki and I decided to leave the shark pole out while simultaneously packing up. Nothing. So, I dejectedly began to real in the sting ray shark pole. Darkness was beginning to replace the sunset so I quickened my reeling. I imagine the sting ray was zipping through the water.

Then, it happened. Something large hammered my sting ray. The drag began to release and scream. I set the hook with a yank. Shark on! Becki came down from taking a load to the van and aided with her iPhone light. The shark fought hard and ran up and down the beach. After half an hour’s fight we landed the shark, a four and a half foot blacktip!

We snapped pictures. I picked up the shark by the tail for one picture and looked down in time to see it bending its body and nearly taking a chunk out of my calf. “Wow!” I exclaimed while quickly pulling it away from my leg. After the pictures I released the shark back into the water. What an unexpectedly great way to end a fishing trip!

Fighting the shark

Fighting the shark

Shark fin in the water

Shark fin in the water

"Wow"

“Wow”

Hugging the shark

Hugging the shark

4.5 Foot Blacktip Shark

4.5 Foot Blacktip Shark

Saturday seemed like the perfect day to go fishing.  I had heard that quite a few different kinds of fish are being caught on the beaches now (Sheepshead, Pompano, Red Fish and Black Drum – a fish I have never caught).  I excitedly looked at the weather and tide forecast for the rest of the week.  Saturday the tide would be coming up in the afternoon, the temperature would be comfortable and the wind would be out of the south / southeast.  So, I sectioned off Saturday to seek some fish!

Me at the windy beach

Me at the windy beach

Saturday a very blustery side-shore wind kicking up waves and causing a strong current greeted me.  I threw out a test line to see if fishing was a possibility.  I could feel the weight skipping on the sea flooras the current pulled my bait down the beach.  I relocated and tried again in two other spots to no avail.  I decided right then and there to not only check the tide and weather but also the wind speed, current and wave prediction before deciding to section of a Saturday for fish seeking.

Then, I decided to at least take advantage of being out at the beach before leaving.  I made sure my pants were rolled up and took a leisurely walk in the surf. My mind relaxed and wandered in thought and prayer.  I felt some needed reassurances that the Lord will lead me through the many new things going on in my life.  I also noticed some beautiful sights like seagulls chilling, herons dive bombing fish out in the gulf and sea foam resembling the foaminess at the top of root beer floats!

Fishing failure but fun nonetheless.

Looks like root beer float foam!

Looks like root beer float foam!

On Thursday I read in the Hook Line and Sinker Section of the Pensacola News Journal that Pompanos and whiting are being caught early morning in the surf.  My wife had to be up early for work on Saturday morning, like well-before-the-sun-dethrones the-moon-from-reigning-over-the-landscape early.  So, I decided to get up when she did and head to Perdido Key for some beach surf fishing action.

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Three of my four fishing poles set up

I got to the beach and was greeted by a warm morning (overnight low was only in the 50’s) and a gulf with choppy waves (probably two to three feet) and a strong current (from the light east breeze and waves I’m guessing).  I got three of my four poles set up and the lines in the water but the current was just too strong to effectively fish.  One of my lines started straight out in front of me, was picked up by the current, and placed back on the beach!  I did catch one little whiting purely by accident!

I decided to move down the beach and then moved down even farther, hoping to get out of the current and not wanting to waste my trip to the beach .  I finally found my spot a little after daybreak.

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Sunrise at the beach

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My four poles set up

Once I got set up the fish started rolling in . . .

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16 inch Pompano

My peeled shrimp on a double drop leader also produced a nice sized Whiting, the biggest I’ve personally caught before, measuring in around 20 inches.

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My second Pompano, around 15 inches

I also brought in a monster-for-me catfish, big (well over 16 inches), fat and ugly!  I’ve heard old wives tales that it’s not a good idea to eat catfish out of the gulf so I released it.  I need to do some research and find out if that’s true so I don’t waste potential meat in the future.

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My fishing companion (waiting for my scraps)

My final catch of the day was the oddest.  A group of seagulls flew over and one of them got tangled in my fishing line.  I dropped the pole to the ground to give it slack and allow the gull to free itself.  It couldn’t.  I watched as a wave pummeled the helpless seagull into the surf.  So, I quickly pulled it up on shore by me.  It lay docilely there waiting to be helped.  I stroked its wing and went to work.  The fishing line had wrapped itself in a knot around its wing and for good measure back around the gull’s whole body.  I freed it and it happily flew away.

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Poor seagull all tied up

For what started out as a seemingly awful fishing trip, I had a wonderful time and came home to my wife with six filets from three nice-sized fish!

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My catches

Sunday, July 15th Fishing Trip begins at the Letter J Walkover at Johnson’s Beach (I choose letter J because it’s the last walkover and the closest one to the Pensacola Pass at the end of the beach – which is miles down but the closer I can get to it the better fishing in my mind)

I get my fish pole baited up with shrimp and in the water.  I move on to setting up my second pole and before I can finish my fishing pole is dancing with one of these Ladyfish/Skip Jack hooked.  I can’t keep my poles in the water and end up with these three fish quickly.

I also catch this lil’ ground mullet, aka southern kingfish.

And then the seaweed picks up 😦

My final catch, a Seaweed Shark.  It is just too much seaweed to continue fishing.  So . . .

  

I resort to some body surfing, aka body boarding! 🙂