"There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process." - Paul O'Neil
Last year I told the story of a local man that was shore fishing using a rod holder angled toward the water. When he turned to get a soda out of his cooler a fish grabbed his line taking his rod and reel into the depths of the Intracoastal waterway. Then I got on my soapbox and told all of you to pay attention to your line at all times. I should have taken my own advice.
A couple of weeks ago Dave and I headed down to the Skyway Bridge to get in on some of the Spanish Mackerel action that was going on. As usual I showed up without having rigged up my rods for bobber fishing. Large schools of Greenback minnows boiled at the surface next to the bridge so we had no worries about bait. My big yellow rod had a Grouper rig on it from my last fishing trip so I threw on a Greenback, cast it out, set it against the bridge railing, and started to rig up another line with a bobber for Mackerel fishing. After all, I was only ten feet away from the rod. Two minutes later I heard my rod move against the railing and dropped what I was doing to reel in the fish. I got within two feet of the rod and over the railing it went. I stared down from the bridge and saw my rod and reel slowly being dragged away by what I'm sure was the largest grouper in history. (At least that's the story I'm sticking to.) Talk about a bummer day. I swore at myself for my own stupidity. I had made some great memories with that old rod and now it was gone. Of course Dave had to remind me of the column I had written about paying attention to your line. So yes, I felt stupid. Well, the afternoon went on and we did get in on some great Spanish Mackerel fishing. I love the fight they put up. Five hours later the tide had started going out changing the direction of the water flow under the bridge. The guy fishing next to us asked me about the color of the rod and reel I had lost. I told him it was a big yellow one. He then said "Like that one out there?" I couldn't believe it. There was my rod and reel floating on the surface about thirty feet out from the bridge. I quickly grabbed the bait rod with the Sabiki on it and cast it out hooking the line of my big yellow rod. I pulled the line in and got my rod and reel back. When I reeled in the line I found out that the fish had become snagged on something under the bridge so when the tide had changed the current simply forced the rod to the surface. Oh happy day! Beers for everyone! Morals of the story: Pay attention to your line at all times and do as I say, not as I do.
Have any of you anglers caught a Leather Jack? It is also known as a Skipjack to locals. This fish often is found in the company of schools of Mackerels. While it is a beautiful fish, it has some nasty spines in front of the dorsal and anal fins. Just a nick from one of these spines had me convinced for five hours that my finger was going to fall off. What a nasty sting. I don't know if there is poison on the spines, but it sure feels that way.
A new shipment of braided line as well as fluorocarbon leader material has arrived at the Bait House. Stop by for all your bait and tackle supplies or to just have a soda or beer and tell us your fishing stories. If you have a picture of a great catch, we have plenty of room to post your picture on our wall of glory. I can be emailed at Jim2988@msn.com and as always, Good Luck Out There!
Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina, phone 446-8134
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