"Most fishermen swiftly learn that it's a pretty good rule never to show a favorite spot to any fisherman you wouldn't trust with your wife" John Voelker
The readers of this column know that I am either passing on fishing information from other anglers or writing about dumb things that I do while fishing in hopes that you won't make the same mistakes that I do. Here's another "Do as I say, not as I do story."
My wife, Denise, woke up Wednesday morning and decided that we would pack the cooler with snacks and drinks, bring the beach chairs, and head out in the dingy to our favorite little island on the Intracoastal waterway for a day of reading for Denise and fishing for me. Denise even packed two Corona Beers so we could be like the actors who sit on the beach all alone on the TV commercials. Not a bad way to spend a day off.
Upon arriving Denise set up her beach chair, put on her sunglasses, adjusted her straw hat and dug into the book she had brought. I rigged up a fishing rod with a drop rig and a big hunk of squid and waded out from the island a short way and started fishing. I started on the west side of the island and having no luck there, moved to the south side to try. After several casts with nothing to show for it, I walked over to the east side of the island. You could hear the distant rumble of thunder coming from the eastern sky. The water on this side of the island was very shallow with an area of white sand stretching out a good two city blocks out from the shore. I decided to wade out and try my luck at the point where the sand turned into a thin stretch of sea grass followed by the main channel. The water depth was about two and a half feet deep when I got out to the edge of the sea grass. My first cast out to the channel resulted in a three-pound Hardhead catfish. One cast and five minutes later I was reeling in a Snook that had to measure at least twenty-six inches long. I couldn't believe that a Snook bit on a piece of squid. The fishing was looking up.
Just then Denise shouted from the shoreline that the lightening was moving much closer to us and we should maybe think about heading home and out of the way of the storm. I reeled in my line, threw my piece of squid off to the side, and turned to wade back to the beach. I stopped dead in my tracks. Directly in front of me and only one and a half feet from my legs was a six foot Hammerhead Shark. Frozen in place, he slowly circled my legs. As he swam away from me I slowly started walking toward the island. From out here the island looked like it was a mile away. I tried not to splash or make any noise as I walked. I had made it about thirty feet when I looked over my shoulder to see where he had gone, and noticed that he had turned and was coming right at me again. I spun to face him, holding my fishing rod like it was a spear, and froze in place again when he neared me. He circled me a second time and moved off to the right. I had walked another fifty feet when he once again moved toward me and circled a third time. This time he swam off towards the area where I had been originally fishing. I spun around, now facing the island, and ran like I'd never run before till I reached the shoreline. After I let my heart settle back into my chest, we packed up and headed home. You can imagine the conversation in the boat on the trip home.
The National Geographic website has great tips on shark encounters. Most of them involve fishermen and bait. They also say that a shark will follow a fish that has been hooked in hopes of an easy meal. That could be how he found me out there. If you need to hit a shark to ward them away. the sensitive spots are the eyes, gills, and nose. So my words of wisdom this week are: Don't wade out that far from shore to go fishing and pay attention to what's happening in the water around you. Oh, I almost forgot to add. When your wife tells you that you're too far out from shore, she may be right.
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