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Random thoughts of an old blue water fisherman

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Random thoughts of an old blue water fisherman

Old 03-23-2018, 12:08 PM
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It's coming, I promise. I'm being careful not to leave out a single detail of how that fateful day unfolded, and that takes a little more time to compose.
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Old 03-23-2018, 02:23 PM
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I thought that the terms of the Advance that InternetBrands sent you stipulated a 3pm Eastern daily deadline. Did the check bounce?

Your fans are have been primed and are waiting for the new episode of their favorite Soap...

Edit: while I was kidding about the Advance, you've definitely earned one for the hits you've generated for them!

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Old 03-23-2018, 03:21 PM
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Once the dolphin fiasco was over, we all looked around and noticed that we were sitting in cobalt blue water with no weeds, not even scattered weeds, in sight. So we decided to run back north. Common sense dictated we had to cross the line we were on before too far. Common sense was wrong.

Fifteen-or-so minutes later, after running back into scattered weed, we were still running north without encountering that good line. Then we noticed that the water was getting that green tint again. Somehow, we had totally missed the good weed line. We pulled up to discuss the situation.

Bob was first to give his assessment of where we stood. “I think that push either moved east, or we moved too far west while fighting the fish,” he said. This was something that made total sense, because these warm-core eddies normally spun in from the southwest, but, at some point turned eastward, then southeastward along the continental shelf. I’m not sure if it was him or me that decided our next move.

Whoever it was, it was the consensus of everybody that we were quickly burning daylight, as we were approaching the noon hour, and we had yet to deploy a single bait intended for big fish (the dolphin hooked on my rainbow trout tackle didn’t count). When we departed that day, we, (meaning Hal and I) had told our wives we’d be in by six, or six-thirty, so we could go out to dinner. That meant we would have to quit fishing and start north by around 3:00 p.m.

We decided to deploy a spread of high-speed artificials, move back into the cobalt water, and make our way east hoping to find the weed lines again. Down from the rocket launchers came the 50-wides, all with fresh Biminis and Sampo swivels tied onto the 60-pound pink Ande -- all with drags scale-set at around 15 pounds. (For some reason, unknown even to me, I always treated the 60-pound line on my 50-wides like it was 50-pound line. I guess I did this to give myself a little leeway should a big fish require my advancing the drag lever past “strike” to keep from being spooled. Over the years, more than one guest on my boat pointed out the folly of my reasoning, saying that I might as well just spool up with 50-pound as I was achieving no advantage with 60-pound, other than giving away 150 yards of capacity to the fish. I never did change my habit, and I never got spooled.)

Unrolling my lure bag, I picked out four Mold-Craft “Hooker” lures with 90-degree offset hooks tethered together on 700-pound Seven Strand braided wire, which was pretty much the standard hook-set rigging method in those days. The lure itself was threaded onto 15-feet of clear Ande 400-pound leader material, which was crimped onto the hook-set at one end, through a short piece of chafe protector, and crimped into a loop at the other to allow it to be attached to the big snap swivel, also through a chafe protector in the bend of the loop. This was my standard lure rigging method for the next 15 years, and would be today, except I would probably rig with the single hook that seems to be all the rage.

The 18’ black and gold Schaeffer, single-spreader outriggers were lowered and Hal, still at the helm, brought us up to 7 knots. Bob, Tom and I deployed the baits and staggered them on the face of different waves. All four lines were run up on the double-halyard rigger lines through Rupp knock-out roller clips. Once the baits were positioned, and smoking, I declared to the rest of the crew, and to the world in general, that we were now, officially, fishing! After all, half the day was gone and our box was empty. And did I mention that it was getting hot. I don’t mean normal summer hot; I mean oppressive, stranded-in-the-Sahara-with-no-shade hot. And even though we did have a hard top to knock off the rays, the lack of even a wisp of a breeze made the air under it almost sauna-like. At least now that we were trolling, some air was moving.

Of course the up side of all this stagnant air was that in all my years of fishing, I’ve never before or since seen a flatter sea this far out in the ocean. The little ground swell that was present would have been measured in inches, not feet, and was nowhere near high enough to break the shimmer on the surface that seemed to stretch to infinity. Oh well, you take the good with the bad I guess.

We trolled eastward for an hour without encountering anything more that nuisance scattered sargassum weed that had to be cleared off the baits pretty regularly. The only conversation between us was a discussion asking how in hell we could lose contact with something as big as that weed line. This was one of the few times that I really longed for a tower, which have been very useful in giving us added line of sight.

I’m going to skip over a few details here, because I don’t like to infuse negativity into a story such as this. Just suffice it to say that between the heat, the frustration of losing that weed line, and lack of any kind of activity on the baits there were some, umm, let’s say disagreements on what we should be doing on board Old Parrotheads as we passed the two o’clock hour. Bob took over the cockpit and reeled in all my lures, and replaced them with four large Bob Schneider marlin lures he had brought along in his bag. No problem, other than he wanted to run them at a speed slower than I would normally run rigged ballyhoo! I felt we were pissing in the wind, and said so. But he ignored me.

So I copped and attitude, and just sat down and shut my mouth.

If I had been paying better attention instead of fighting, I might have noticed that Hal was steering us down the edge of weed line, thin though it was, that was in the process of making up. After a little while even I couldn’t help but notice that the line was getting better organized the farther along it we traveled. Then, suddenly a fish swam out to the line to check out one of our big Schneider’s wobbling in water on the starboard flat. The big dolphin swam right up to the lure, slowed down and followed along behind it for a minute before deciding that he was not in the mood for a meal of plastic, steel and rubber, and nonchalantly cruised back into the weed line.

It’s funny how two people can witness the exact same event and come to two totally different conclusions about it. Bob said, “See there, I told you working slower would work.” I on the other hand saw the lurking dolphin that didn’t strike as evidence that we should have been moving much faster, not giving him a chance to determine if his quarry was real or not.

In the end it didn’t matter on iota because the thin weed line made a turn to the north. When Hal turned with it, I noticed something different looming in the distance. At first I did a double take and said to Hal, “Is that something yellow dead ahead?

Hal strained his eyes forward and said, “Yeah, it does look like something yellow up there.”

I then alerted Bob and Tom to look. Both of them pretty much said the same thing in unison when they saw it: “What the Hell?”

As we got closer, you could tell that the “yellow” was sargassum weed, but not a weed line. It was more like a weed mountain –a mat of continuous, unbroken weed that occupied no less than ten acres! When we were a couple of hundred yards away, we could see across the mat to the other side, where the sea was stippling up and breaking on the weeds. Bob was the first to verbalize what we all knew instinctively.

“Boys, we’ve found that Push! We’ve found that BIG PUSH!!! This is the place we’ve all heard so much about. We’ve gotta live bait this place!”

Within minutes, all the trolling baits were cleared and the 50s placed out of the way in the rocket launcher. In their place in the corner rod holders, I placed my two 80-pound outfits, one an 80w, land the other a straight 80. I grabbed the one bait rod that still had a lure tied on as Hal backed us up to mat. The thing was alive with life

I handed the bait rod with the swinging Got-cha jig to Bob, who flipped the bait to the edge of the weeds. He hooked up to a massive blue runner almost instantaneously. While Bob fought the big baitfish, I ran below and dug into my leader bag. My heart was pounding so fast I thought I might pass out as I pulled out a spool of 300-pound test Trilene Big Game mono leader that had been included in our goody bags at our last tournament -- a gift from Half Hitch Tackle. Even though I had plenty of 400-pound Ande in the bag, I was in too big a hurry to dig for it. Three hundred pound would have to do!

Pulling off two fifteen foot sections of leader, I used the cutting jaws of my crimping tool to cut the leaders to length. I then dug into my hook box and pulled out two 9/0, double-strength Mustad 7731 hooks (actually, too small for the task at hand, as I would learn later). After sliding an appropriately sized sleeve on the leader, I ran the leader through the hook eye twice to create a surgeon’s loop for chafe protection before crimping it in place. I did another double loop and crimp at the other end as a connection place for the snap swivel. I repeated this process on the other leader, before grabbing a bastard file and going to work on the hook points. Within seconds, I had perfect diamond shaped cutting points filed on both hooks.

For both leaders I ran off a piece of 50 pound dacron line about 16 inches long, which I doubled back and tied the ends together with an overhand knot, creating a circle of dacron eight inches across. I then draped the dacron across the bend of my hook and pulled one end through the other to cinch the loop to the bend of the hook. This would serve as the bridle for live bait. Grabbing an open eyed rigging needle, I exited the cabin to find Bob fighting the second big hardtail, having deposited the first one in the transom live well.

Dipping out the three-pound blue runner with my bait net, I snapped the dacron bridle in one of the hooks onto the open eye of the rigging needle. Holding the fish firmly, I pushed the point of the needle through a point in the fish’s eye socket ahead of the eyeballs right behind the bridge of the nose. If you do this right, you will find a path of least resistance that allows you to easily penetrate to the other side, and pull the bridle loop through the eye socket. I did it right and slid the loop of the bridle over the point of the hook. I then spun the hook about four times to cinch the hook down on the bridge on the bait’s nose. When tight, I ran the point of the hook back under the bridle to secure it in place.

Once I attached the leader to the snap swivel, I tossed the bait overboard and let him swim out 20 or 30 yards of free-spooled line before advancing the drag just enough to stop the fish from taking any more. I put the clicker on, and stepped away.

By now, Bob had landed the other bait, and I repeated the bridling process on the other rig. Within minutes both live baits were swimming not so merrily behind Old Parrotheads transom. I don’t know about the rest of the crew, but I was about to explode with excitement, because I knew it was going to happen any minute now! I looked at my watch. It was after three. We should be on our way home about now!

In reality, however, it was going to be quite a while before we would be on our way home.
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Last edited by GAHUNTER; 03-23-2018 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 03-23-2018, 06:00 PM
  #344  
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Best. Thread. Ever.
Thanks GAHUNTER!
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Old 03-23-2018, 06:43 PM
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Can’t get enough

My biggest fear is he takes weekends off😉
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Old 03-24-2018, 04:12 AM
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funny how that happens when the fish are biting, or not biting for that matter. my wife and my friends wives all know if we aren't back before dark and they get hungry to go on and get something to eat without us.
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Old 03-24-2018, 01:13 PM
  #347  
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So we had two baits deployed on flat lines. The big 80w International on a big International 80-pound chair rod, loaded with 80 pound clear Ande (they were out of pink when I had her spooled) was in the port-side rear rod holder. On the starboard side, closest to the weed line, was a standard width 80 of undetermined age, on a rod of undetermined origin (it did have appropriately sized roller guides that spun freely, but the straight aluminum butt was not removable, and had no dedicated grove for the turnbuckle rod brace, which was screwed down into the foam forearm grip). The rod was black as the Ace of Spades among a half-dozen matching white Penn rods. But we’re equal opportunity fish catchers on my boat! It was now on its first mission under my command.

See I had just bought this rod and reel combo off the consignment rack at the Great Atlanta Boating Company (formerly The Bosun’s Locker) in Norcross, Georgia. Lynn, the store manager, told me the owner used it for pier shark fishing, but had given up that activity and no longer needed such a big dedicated outfit. It was priced right, so right that I could not resist buying it, justifying its purchase due to the fact that I “needed” another big outfit for live baiting. (Don’t ask me why a blue marlin hooked on a live bait needs any larger tackle to land him than a blue marlin hooked on a trolled bait. It just did – in my demented mind, at least.)

After I bought it, I told Lynn to spool it up with 80-pound mono, and I’d pick it up later. When later came, I found out that she had spooled it up with 80-pound Green Ande Tournament line, which was guaranteed to break at or below the rated strength. It was also considerably more expensive than regular Ande line. It was not my first choice, to be sure, but since I didn’t specify what line I wanted, I had no argument. When I got the new/old reel to Fort Walton, first thing I did was remove the reel and take it to Half Hitch Tackle for Tim Broom to replace the drag washers. Every now and then, I’ll do something smart!

You may have noticed that both the rods now deployed were designed for use with a fighting chair. While thee would be a fighting chair installed in Old Parrotheads’ cockpit within the next year (a Release Marine high gloss teak chair with footrest. I didn’t have one yet. What I did have was a four-legged, rubber footed, short pedestal padded boat chair, WITH A GIMBEL!!! So we were covered, so I thought.

As I stood there, watching the two live baits, I suddenly realized that I had neglected something pretty important – the drag on the “new” reel was the only big game reel I owned that had never been scale-set. Horrified, I ran to the starboard corner, took a wrap of line just ahead of the reel, put the lever up to Strike, and pulled. Now, anybody who can accurately tell how much drag they are feeling when pulling line off the reel has a more educated sense of feel than I do. So I ran over to the 80w in the other corner, which was scale-set at 24 pounds, put it up on strike, and pulled. Trying to memorize what it felt like, I ran back to the other corner and pulled against the drag again. I still couldn’t tell crap!

I decided to leave well enough alone, and returned both levers to the point just before free spool, hoping that if we got hit, it would be on the other rod.

All this took place within the first two or three minutes of the baits being deployed. Once I got through fiddling with the drags, we were all standing watch in a nearly stationary boat, when suddenly, there was a massive explosion of water on the other side of the weed mat. Everybody pretty much shouted in unison the same thing: “THERE HE IS! THERE HE IS!’

Everybody but me, that is, who always tries to make rock candy taste like rock salt: “Crap, he’s on the other side of the weed line!” I yelled. “There’s no way we can cross it to get to him! We’re just screwed!” Clearly the gravity of the moment was getting to me.

Bob, was first to try and calm me down. “Don’t worry he’ll find us,” he said.

Now, his words might have been calming to me, but the prophetic statement had not had time to sink into my brain when an underwater bolt of neon-blue lighting shot from underneath the weed mat and exploded on the surface in the exact location as where the port bait should be! Instantaneously 80-pound line was flying off the almost free-spooled 80w reel at a down-right alarming rate of speed. Surely it was going to backlash!

Earlier, when we were deploying baits, we all discussed how it was going to go down when it happened: whoever was at the rod would yell “Ready!” Then he would yell-count “One, Two, THREE!”

On “THREE” whoever was at the helm would push the throttles to the wall, while, simultaneously, the person standing next to the rod would advance the drag lever to Strike. If all went as planned, we would be securely hooked up. Since I was the one standing next to chosen rod, it fell unto me to start the countdown.

“READY!” I yelled. “ONE, TWO, THREE!”

On “three,” Hal hit the throttles and I threw the drag lever to strike. The tree trunk-like rod immediately arced over as the massive weight on the other exercised force against its formidable spline – for all of about a half-second. Just as quickly as it had arced backward, it sprang back upright.

The fish was gone!

I immediately dropped to my knees and proceeded to embarrass myself in a child-like tirade. “Seven years!” I screamed, “Seven f------ years I’ve waited for this moment, and we miss him! We f----- MISSED HIM!!!” I might have even been in tears. Though the crew was taken aback by my display of frustration, they were now very clear on one important point:

This guy really wanted to catch a blue marlin!
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Old 03-24-2018, 01:47 PM
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This is a more exciting read than my first blue marlin was to catch. Thank you GAHUNTER. You're use of details creates palpable visions of the events you describe. You're out Hemingwaying Hemingway. It could be the well executed use of dramatic pause that gives you the upper-hand, but I appreciate greatly. As far as I can recall, this has been the best short story that I have had the pleasure of reading. Once again, Thank You!
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Old 03-24-2018, 02:44 PM
  #349  
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"Out Hemingwaying Hemingway... ?" Keep sweet talking me like that, along with a nice dinner and few drinks, and you might just be able to have your way with me!

Seriously, I am not a big Hemingway fan, other than "The Old Man and the Sea", of course. In fact, I just recently tried to read his self-indulgent "The Green Hills of Africa," and had to quit out of utter boredom. I

The writer that had the biggest influence on my style was former Outdoor Life and Sports Afield field editor Gene Hill. Gene penned several books that so effectively captures the essence of the outdoor experience, that I find myself reading and re-reading them several times a year. In my humble opinion, Gene Hill was the writer Ole Earnest wished he could be.
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Old 03-24-2018, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by GAHUNTER View Post
"Out Hemingwaying Hemingway... ?" Keep sweet talking me like that, along with a nice dinner and few drinks, and you might just be able to have your way with me!

Seriously, I am not a big Hemingway fan, other than "The Old Man and the Sea", of course. In fact, I just recently tried to read his self-indulgent "The Green Hills of Africa," and had to quit out of utter boredom. I

The writer that had the biggest influence on my style was former Outdoor Life and Sports Afield field editor Gene Hill. Gene penned several books that so effectively captures the essence of the outdoor experience, that I find myself reading and re-reading them several times a year. In my humble opinion, Gene Hill was the writer Ole Earnest wished he could be.
Ever read the old man and the boy, or the old mans boy grows older?
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Old 03-24-2018, 07:20 PM
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Actually the only two Robert Ruark books I've ever read are "Horn of the Hunter," and "Something Of Value," both excellent books on Africa.

I've heard good things about his "Old Man and the Boy" stories, but I never got around to reading them.
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Old 03-24-2018, 08:25 PM
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Are either of you Capstick fans?
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Old 03-24-2018, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by CNBarron View Post
Are either of you Capstick fans?
Somewhat. " Death In The Long Grass" was the first African hunting book I ever read and it helped fuel my desire to hunt in Africa, which I have done twice. However, I found Ruark to be more relatable.
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Old 03-25-2018, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by GAHUNTER View Post
Actually the only two Robert Ruark books I've ever read are "Horn of the Hunter," and "Something Of Value," both excellent books on Africa.

I've heard good things about his "Old Man and the Boy" stories, but I never got around to reading them.
Quick reads, excellent books if you’re into that sort of nostalgia.
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Old 03-25-2018, 06:45 AM
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"You're use of details creates palpable visions of the events you describe..."

To me, the details are the story. Otherwise, you just have a declarative statement on the events of the day: "we went out; we hooked a marlin; we fought the marlin; we came home; we partied."

It's everything that happened between "we went out," and "we partied," that sets the day apart from all other days, and it's those details that are indelibly stamped in my memory that I am so much enjoying relating to all of you guys.
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Old 03-25-2018, 08:40 PM
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Subbed.
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Old 03-26-2018, 02:04 PM
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Now, externally at least, most folks believe me to be a very laid-back, full of self-control type of guy. The only people who know differently are my wife, kids, and just about anybody who has crewed on my boat offshore. For some reason, the storms that rage within me find fissures in my persona to vent to the outside world when the pressure rises and things aren’t going well on the boat.

When that Penn 80-pound class rod sprang back upright, the ensuing escape of pent-up frustration didn’t come forward through a “fissure,” it erupted like Krakatoa!

When I finally composed myself and apologized to the rest of the crew, my body, as well as my spirit, was drained. I could hardly lift my arms to reel in the offending line, but somehow summoned the strength to turn the handle under the cloud or depression that hung over me. I was expecting to find a broken main line, double line or leader on the other end. Instead, when the snap swivel hit the rod tip and I reached over and grabbed the leader and slung it in the cockpit, the big Mustad hook hit the deck with a “clink.” In fact, it looked like it had never had a bait attached at all -- save for the missing dacron bridle.

Bob was the first to say it: “We never stuck him! We never stuck him at all! He was probably just turning the bait in his mouth when we struck him… If we get another shot, we’ve got to let him eat it!”

“Get another shot?” I thought to myself. “Get serious. This is only my second shot a blue in seven years. It could be years before I get another one.”

Still, the realization that we had not sunk a hook in the fish gave me enough solace to at least pretend that there was still a chance. I took a few deep breaths, gathered my emotions and said, “Okay, let’s re-rig and go get him.” So I, with a much less sense of urgency this time, ducked below, cut the hook off the cursed leader, and repeated the rigging process as described earlier, right down to re-sharpening the hook. When I emerged from the cabin, I expected to find Bob fighting another baitfish on the little Penn ultra-light. He wasn’t.

“They’ve disappeared,” he said. “I haven’t had a hit, or even a follow!”

Now that was weird. When we first pulled up there, dozens of big hardtails raced out from the mat to grab the jig, now the water under the mat, or at least the part we were adjacent to, looked completely devoid of life. The only thing I could figure was the rampaging blue marlin that had hit our bait had so traumatized the other hardtails living there, that they had retreated to the thickest part of the mat’s cover in the middle, and were not about to come out and expose themselves to the big predator, no matter how hard we enticed them with promises of an easy meal.

Oh well, we still had one bait in the water.

This would be a good place talk about the crew on board that day. I am sure you have noticed that most of the conversations on what we were doing, how we were doing it, and where we were doing it, were taking place between myself and Bob. That’s because Bob and me were like lightning and thunder. It’s hard for anyone else to give an opinion on anything when they are constantly ducking for cover to keep from being struck by lightning or drowned out by the thunder! But both Hal and Tom are capable hands in the cockpit when not hiding from the storm that was Bob and myself.

At the time, Hal owned a 22’ Grady White walk-around with a single 225 Yamaha. The boat was kept immaculate, as were all of Hal’s ensuing boats – a 29 Blackfin and a 33 Blackfin. He was always the first to admit that he was primarily a boat guy who fished, rather than a fish-head who owned a boat (like me and Bob). In subsequent years of fishing together (most of the time on one of his Blackfins), he was always pretty much content to allow me to run the fishing while he ran the boat. Though outwardly more laid back than me, if you were responsible for any action that scratched, dented, smudged or in any way marred his boat, including dropping a bloody, thrashing fish in the cockpit, you best take cover, quickly.

Though small in stature, he was solid as a rock, stemming from rising every day of his life at 4:00 a.m., and spending an hour-and-a-half in the gym before going to work. For his 50th birthday, he ran a marathon, and completed it. A very successful business owner, he and I remained close friends until he gave up boating and fishing entirely, following the death of wife about ten years ago. It turns out, she was the one who loved the beach life and the condo on the on the ICW in Fort Walton that they had bought a few year after the events in this thread. When she passed, Hal moved on from the beach, remarried an absolute gem of woman, and put all his energy into racing sports cars.

I greatly miss both Kathy and him.

Tom, on the other hand, was just Tom – the happiest man I ever knew, with a smile that would light up any room. An architect of some note (he had designed what was at the time Atlanta’s biggest tourist attraction; Underground Atlanta). He, too, was a Grady White guy, having just sold the 24-footer on which we experienced the harrowing storm described earlier in this thread, and was in the process of buying a Grady White 25’ Sailfish with twin 225 Yamahas. He was an original ASWSC member and was always up for about anything you suggested.

Tom, like Hal, was more of a “boat” guy than a “fish” guy, the difference being that Hal actually liked to run his boats, while Tom was content to simply work on his. It was a standard joke around his dock that if you died and were reincarnated, you would want to come back as Tom’s boat! If the sun was shining on a weekend, he was washing, waxing, rewiring, rigging, re-rigging, polishing stainless, treating curtains, degreasing the bilge – you name it! If it could be done to a boat, he was doing it!
Two or three years after the events in this thread, Tom and his wife suffered the loss of a son. Even though that tragedy did not outwardly change Tom’s cheery demeanor, we did notice that he retreated more into his family and less into club activities. Then in 2005, Tom himself fell ill with congestive heart failure. He passed away at Emory University Hospital just one day before he was scheduled to receive a heart transplant

He was 58.

Back to the story at hand, we continued to bump-troll our one remaining bait on the black sheep (literally black) rod and reel combo, while Bob continued to try and catch a replacement bait with no takers. Twenty or thirty minutes had passed since the bite, and my blood pressure was returning to normal. That’s when I happened to look into the water and noticed that there was a school of three to five pound dolphin lined up in formation just off our props. This was something I have never seen before or since. There were seven or eight of them and they were just lying there, marking time with the boat.

When I pointed them out to Bob, he tossed the jig in front of them, but they paid it no nevermind at all. We then pulled out some ballyhoo and sliced them into chunks and tossed them to the fish. The chunks just sank out of sight right in front of their noses without any of them making an attempt to grab an easy meal. This was very undolphin-like behavior, who are always hungry.

We finally came to the conclusion that the dolphin were using the boat and motors for protection from the boogeyman what was terrorizing them at this place. We decided to not molest them anymore and returned to our respective places.

By now, we were at the west end of the weed mat and Hal swung the boat around the end of it to bring us up the opposite side from where we had the strike. In just couple of minutes we were directly across from the spot where the marlin had attacked our bait. I looked at my watch; it was now 3:50. In ten minutes, I planned to button everything up and head for the hill.

That’s when a meteorite fell out of the sky and landed with a massive splash on top of the black rod bait. Instantaneously, line was flying off the 80 as Tom stood by it awaiting instructions from, well, whoever was going to give them to him. The strike had come so fast, and so without warning, that I had to shake off whatever daydream I had been in and try and get in the game. “READY! ONE!” I shouted, but before I could say “TWO,” Bob interrupted.

“NO! LET HIM EAT!!! LET HIM EAT!!!” So we let him eat, and eat, and eat. Finally Bob said “Okay, and started the countdown himself: “ONE, TWO, THREE!!!.

Since Tom was by the rod, he immediately advanced the lever to strike as Hal showered down on the throttles. The rod, just as before on the other corner, immediately arced backward when the weight of the fish pulled against it – and the rod, just as before on the other corner, suddenly sprang upright as the marlin on the other end got off!

I think everybody was stunned. None, however, more so than myself.

This time, instead of throwing a fit, I just stood there in silence trying to understand how we could miss an aggressive blue marlin on a live bait rig – a rig that is supposed to be nearly fool proof – not once, but twice!

Tom reeled in the line, only to discover that our hardtail was still intact -- dead as a hammer, half skinned and stiff as a board -- but intact. He immediately tossed him back over the stern and let out about 20 or 30 feet of line. I remember thinking , ”Now that’s what you call an optimist!” as I watched the dead fish lie there like, well, a dead fish!

Bob suddenly said excitedly, “Y’all, we gotta get a bait!” and flipped the Got-cha next to the weeds. As soon as it hit the water, a big hardtail grabbed it and the fight was on.

As I said earlier, the rods we were using as bait rods were not really suited to catching three- to five-pound jackfish, at least not quickly. You could land them ok, but it took a while. Bob was wrestling with a particularly big bait when suddenly he yelled “OH SHIT!!!!” We all looked to see the hardtail skittering across the surface like a ballyhoo. “He’s after this bait! THE MARLIN IS AFTER THIS BAIT!!!” Sure enough, we could see the flash of neon closing on the panicky hardtail.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself hadn’t we played this game once already today?

That’s when Bob did something that I don’t think I’d have thought to do in a million years: he opened the bail on the spinning rod and let the hardtail swim into the safety of the weeds. We all watched incredulously as the marlin swirled around in the water and searched for his lost meal. Then he spotted something and started swimming away from the weeds, quickly gaining speed. Suddenly his dorsal and tail were out or the water, cutting the surface like a shark stalking his prey as his bill rose out of the water. It only took and instant to realize he was about to hit our dead bait.

And hit it he did – like a freight train on steroids. For the third time this day, line was flying off an 80-pound reel, only this time there really was a danger of backlash. Tom was still on station by the rod and decided to thumb the spool to keep it from overspinning. Hal was sitting at the helm ready to go, and I was standing there just taking it all in.

“Let him eat!” yelled Bob. “Let him eat!” So we let him eat. We might have let him eat until he digested the hardtail and passed the hook through his vent except for the fact that Tom had a problem.

“Y’all, I’m running out of FINGERS!”

Sure enough, Tom was still trying to slow down the spool, first with his thumb, then his pointing finger, then his bird finger -- holding each digit on the spool until the friction burned a blister. Even with that, I’m still not sure Bob would have let us set the hook had it not been for the fact the marlin took to the air about a hundred yards off our stern. It was all academic now. I started the countdown.

“ONE, TWO, THREE!

For the third time today, Hal shoved the throttles to the wall and for the second time in two minutes, Tom slammed the drag lever to Strike. Again, the heavy rod bent over – but this time it stayed bent over and green line poured from the spool.

“Your fish!” I yelled at Tom, who had set the hook.

“Oh hell no it’s not!” he said and turned his back to the rod and walked away. I looked to Bob and he just shot back at me.

“Get the damn rod!”

That’s when I realized that if this fish were going to get got, it was going to be me who had to get it. With two hands, one high and one low, I grabbed the rod and removed it from the rod holder. Tom had already slid the “fighting chair” into position and I deposited my rather substantial butt into the seat and locked the rod into the gimbal.

A match seven years in the making was now joined.

Last edited by GAHUNTER; 03-26-2018 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 03-26-2018, 02:22 PM
  #358  
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GAHUNTER,

Your impressive writing has me on the end of my seat, fighting an imaginary fish here in this hotel room. When I seen you were online as well, I couldn't wait to read your update.

Thank you for reliving these stories. My saltwater journey, began long ago. As a 9 yr old, on a 20 ft Grady white. Then cut short a few years later, as my dads lifelong friend passed suddenly. The damage was done, and the fateful bug was planted. I was to have no other hobby, or passion that filled the void of blue water fishing.
I haven't landed a Blue marlin yet, but have had two encounters that left me wanting more. One ripped the teasers off of the boat, and another, dumped an 80 wide, and landed on its back breaking the line. I've never understood the draw to bill fishing till that day. Since then,it's what drives us further.

Last edited by 1 McKee; 03-26-2018 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 03-26-2018, 03:22 PM
  #359  
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Palmetto Bugs!!

SO I was in college and there was never enough food or money for us starving students. Went into the kitchen with my friend at like 10PM and cruised thu the fridge. Next to nothing except some milk and the frozen scorpion (who guarded the freezer). BUT ah ha their was a box of corn puffs. Picked it up and shook it, there was just enough left for a bowl of cereal. JUST ENOUGH FOR ME! I poured it out into a bowl, and it wasn't quite enough for a spoon full. But, I shook it again, and could hear a little more resting between the foil wrapper and the box.

So I took the foil out and poured out the rest of the cereal. The last thing to fall out was a full grown Palmetto Bug, which landed on top of the cereal. It scurried up my arm and flew across the kitchen. My friend was cringing with disgust, as I steadied myself, put the bowl down, took out the milk and as I poured it onto the cereal I told my friend "NO god darn Palmetto bug is going to eat my diner!!!"
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Last edited by Re-Bait; 03-26-2018 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 03-27-2018, 05:55 AM
  #360  
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Fish on!
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