It is the time of year when the heat begins to pick up to mid-summer proportions with a humidity level matching the temperature. It is not like that everyday, but enough days to forewarn you of the coming dog days.
And there I was, just wondering, what gave me such a fight on the coast just a few weeks ago. What was it? How big was it? Can I duplicate the scenario and possibly get that fight one more time?
The unknown is both a great motivator and a great hindrance. Unfamiliar with talking in front of large crowds? The unknown drives you away. Set up on a blind date by a friend’s friend? Escape plan is in place.
But the unknown as in the big one that got away, well, it kind of ways on your mind for a while.
So, before dedicating some time to the piedmont and mountain rivers where the water is a little cooler and the heat is not quite as bad, I had to try one more time.
The best way to get the same results is to repeat the same steps. While paddling out I dropped some bottom rigs looking for croaker, mullet and pinfish I could use as bait. After boating a couple I cut them into two strips each.
Changing poles to a heavier, stronger version with 80 pound test line, I was ready to find out what was in the depths. Two lines were dropped, one from each side. After a casual ten minute drift, I noticed some action on one of the rods. Wait. Wait. Set the hook!
The fish started to run as the rod doubled. I found a good fish, but not quite what the one was a few weeks ago. I got the fish turned and began making progress bringing it back to the kayak. Then the line went limp. The leader was cut.
I reeled in the other line as well, and switched over to steel leaders on both rods. I attached heavier gauge steel circle hooks too. With three of the four fish strips left, I dropped them to the bottom once again.
I proceeded to bring in a few sharks, each of them being on the smaller size. I fished some more for baitfish, but the sharks were taking my shrimp just as quickly. Finally, I brought in another croaker. This time though, I decided to use the whole fish as bait.
That was the right thing to do.
I hooked into another shark, but much larger. The fight was more of a tug of war than a ‘take off and run’ type battle I had a few weeks prior. He would go down, I would pull him up. He would show a burst of strength and head down, pulling drag, I would wait and tire him a little more. Just as I got him to the surface, he just let go.
I never had the hook set. He was holding on to half the fish like a puppy to a shoe. Technically, he didn’t just let go. Technically, he just decided to bite down harder, cutting my bait fish in half right behind the gills.
The fight was fun, like many of the sharks I pulled in that day, including one that was just a little too big for me to pull up in the kayak, so I looped the hook off the leader instead. But none were my mystery fish from before. None of the sharks pulled and fought the same way. Maybe that is proof enough to rule a shark out of the equation.
With the kings and cobia starting to get close to the beaches, perhaps I can stand another heat wave in order to keep searching for the one that got away.