Fishing Page 2
During the 15 years I lived in Florida I had several memorable fishing experiences. One took place inside the StLucie inlet off the South point where the surfers cast for Snook that at times lurk below the rip on an outgoing tide at daybreak. The water at some of the deeper spots was about 4 foot deep. It was a warm breezy morning and I was trolling with a spinning rod I made pulling a Tony Acetta #15 Pet Spoon through the water that I had used many times to catch Snook at this spot. My boat was a 13 foot Dell Quay Dory with a 20HP Merc. The boat had a small side console. It was purring along as usual but though the fishing was fine the catching was not. I had trolled past the So.Point once or twice being careful not to interfere with the surfers Snook fishing. The tide was running around the point on the way out and I could see the sea was calm outside. A typical Florida morning when we turn out to catch a fish or six.
I was considering going up the Indian River to try for Sea Trout when the rod jerked and line ran off at a good clip. The rod was made with a Harnell 23# blank, the reel was a Penn 710 filled with new Trilene 20# Mono line. Several things had to be done at once like take the motor out of gear, pick up the rod to keep a tight line, check my position from the submerged rocks off shore of me and wait for the expected Snook jump that never happened. The fish kept going and as I watched the line disappear from the spool I realized this was no Snook and I had to do something because the fish and the tide were taking me toward the rocks. In desperation I thumbed the spool to put more pressure on the fish and at the same time I bumped the rod butt above the reel with the side of my right hand. This trick has worked for me many times to turn a fish. With a tight line the viabration travels to the fish turning it from something strange. I put the motor in gear and heading away from the rocks making no headway but holding my own against the pull of the fish and the tide.
I stood with my right leg against the steering wheel facing astern and put as much tension on the line as I dared and hoped for the best. There was nothing to do but wait until the line let go or the fish turned. Luck was with me and it turned North. With the line being pulled East by the outgoing tide the fish was pulling a big curve in the line through the water so I was able then to get back some line by pumping gingerly and reeling quickly as I lowered the rod being careful not to lower it too far because the rod has to do some of the work all the time. I got enough line back to stop it another time when it made another run. By this time my left forearm was getting knotted and my thumb was burned twice by the reel rim. These minor problems did not deter me from the job at hand. I had no idea at this point what kind of fish was battling me so stubbornly. There was no bumping of the line to indicate a King Mackeral, just a steady pull then a run off.
After a half hour of this tug of war the runs got shorter and slower but the pull never lessened. I would pump and gain some and it would run and I would lose some. Finally I managed to get it in sight to see a good sized fish but not close enough to identify. It probably heard or felt the motor viabration and took off again in a desperate attempt to rid itself of the pull on it's mouth. Luck was with me one more time when I managed to slow the run and turn it again just as the line was getting pretty skinny on the reel. It was easier this time to get it back to the boat but not close enought to identify until it turned and swam back and forth accross the stern.
I had taken the motor out of gear when it got close to the boat the first time in case it decided to duck under the boat. Finally I got a good look and realized I had a Smoker King on and after 45 minutes it was ready to gaff. As I reached out to gaff it the fish decided on a few more heart stopping maneuvers including making me jam the rod down in the water to clear the motor as it darted under the boat. It did not go far and came back easy, I knew it was tired. I was fortunate to gaff it the first try behind the head and raised it as far out of the water as possible holding it up until it weakened enough to bring on board. I got a real soaking by the splashing tail as I held it up outside the boat.
To bring a big fish, while green, on a small boat can be dangerous so when I did bring it onboard I held it tight to the floor with the gaff until I was sure it was finished. It never moved. I heard a cheer from the point when I boated the fish and realized they had watched the whole fight. I waved to them as I went by to go to Charlie's Place and have it weighted and entered in the Sailfish Tournament. It weighted 41Lbs 14 Oz. I have the commendation on file and the sequel was when the next day I trolled by the point the guys yelled for the size and I yelled back all the statistics and trolled on smiling to try for another memorable catch.
A couple nice Kings caught trolling. My friend Joe Spena over my left shoulder. Fish cleaning table on my right. Hidden Harbour Mobile Park, Stuart, Florida.
Left is pictured the hydraulic reel I made and installed on my 25 1/2 Ft. Dusky. The hoses are to the motor seen on the left side of the reel and go to a power take off on the diesel engine. A switch at knee height operated the reel after I hand cranked to hook the fish. I fished 380 ft. deep for Grouper and 720 ft. for Golden Tile ESE of St Lucie Inlet, Fl. Story follows:
A hydraulic reel I made almost got me in trouble. Have you ever heard of long lining? Long lining is a method of fishing by the big commercial fishing boats. It is the practice of dropping a 1/4 inch nylon line (it sinks) with a baited hook about every 3 foot along the line that can be a mile long weighted on both ends to hold it from drifting. No markers on the surface and located only by Loran numbers. The mother ship will drop one today and go find another dropped yesterday. One day I was fishing for Grouper on Push Button Hill and I saw my pole dip a little so I gave the reel a crank and hit the switch with my knee to bring up what I thought was a Grouper. What I saw was a long line hooked on my rig and I glanced back to see if the fishing boat I saw was moving. It was not and I carefully leaned out and held the long line to unhook my rig and leaned way out to let them know I was not stealing their catch when I released the line. I then moved about 300 yards and made another drop. The same thing happened and I knew that they were watching me when I again released their line. I moved away altogether and fished the drop off on the South end of the reef that we called 'The Wall'. I believe that is where I caught the 80 Lb. Grouper
but not that day.
While fishing for Golden Tile in the Gulf Stream where we run as slow as possible to the South against the Stream on auto pilot with an 8 Lb ball weight and 125 Lb monel line with two spreader hooks 640 Ft. on the bottom, I had lots of time to look around and spotted a distress flare. I took a bearing at once to be able to run to the area, pulled in my line and took off in the direction of the flare. Just over the horizon from where I was fishing I came upon three guys awash with about an 18 Ft. outboard. Seeing that there was no immediate danger to them I kept my distance circling and asking the usual questions. I also called the Coast Guard who ordered me to stand by after I gave them the Loran Numbers so they could find us. After awhile with two of them in the water and one on board I was satisfied it was not a setup and asked them to throw me a line. Naval Law comes into play here so when using their line they are responsible if something goes wrong. Their line broke when I tried to tow them to dump the water out of the boat. So I gave them my 3/4 line and told them to hang on and gave it full gun and dumped almost all the water out of their boat. They were tickled and threw me the fish that caused the swamping. It was a nice 30Lb Dolphin that when brought to the stern of the boat they all moved to the stern when a following sea came over the transom and swamped the boat and motor.
The floatation kept the boat afloat but they needed help, therefore the flare. We had to wait for the Coast Guard and luckily I spotted a blue light flashing way off heading out too far north and called the Coast Guard to line them up with our location. They arrived and took over to tow the distressed vessel in to St Lucie Inlet. I stayed with them because the day was shot anyway. As we got near the Inlet the Coast Guard got another distress call from a boat south of us by Hobe Sound. I offered to take over the tow and take them in the Inlet but they said no, however inside the inlet they released the boat to me and took off for the other call. I started to tow them and in a short time they got their motor started and were able to go on by themselves. A Good day.
I have a story that is most unusual. It was to me at the time and still boggles the mind. Have you ever heard of the Bermuda Triangle? Well it is real and I fished in it for years with no problem, however the "Mary M" fishing boat out of Port Salerno reported one day that on the way out he ran into a situation where the sea, the sky and the air all turned yellowish and his compass started to spin. The captain turned back on his wake which was the only thing he could see and held the course till he got out of the mess and continued back to port. See link below for more on the Bermuda Triangle. Several large ships and crews have been lost without a trace. Commercial planes have disappeared and a squadron of Grumman TBM 3's was lost without a trace. Think about it. It is weird. It is there!