When a relationship goes sour, it is all but guaranteed someone will comment, “it will be ok, there are plenty of fish in the sea.”
And there are. The oceans and seas are full of fish. I cannot think of a time when I went fishing at the coast and did not catch anything. I may not have caught the species I was targeting, but I caught something. And even though I write about hunting and fishing, I will be the first to admit that I will never be mistaken for a professional angler.
In fact, I just wrote a column recently about how great I was at catching small fish. I would love to say it is an artform. And, as mentioned in that previous column, catching small fish is an artform in some parts of the world. But I would say I am just a magnet for the smaller of the species.
I can live with that. I enjoy catching the fish, floating on the water, and seeing the sights around me. I catch as much peace as I do fish. It may be what keeps the stress levels down enough to let me see a retirement age one day.
That brings us to this last weekend. I decided to hit the saltwater and target a species I have never caught before from the kayak, the gray trout or weakfish as it may be called. There was also word that a few blues had made their way to the nearshore and inshore areas as well.
One thing I always try to catch is croaker. Just call it my ‘priming the well’ moment. I drop a piece of shrimp and hope to bring one up. Depending on the time of year, I will find black sea bass, pinfish, mullet and spot in multitudes that drown out my croaker catches, but again, I am reeling in fish so I am happy. Occasionally I may hook into something more interesting like a toadfish or lizard fish, or maybe a puffer. When I do, I am like a kid at an aquarium show and tell. Things like that fascinate me.
But as many fish are in the sea, they are not all small. Some are big. Some are bigger than what you want to know. And regardless of how good you are at catching the small stuff, the big stuff will sometimes bite too.
I brought in a small fish early. Since the blues were potentially in the area, I used the small fish for bait on one of my rods. After an hour of drifting slowly with the current using my anchor as a drag, the rod with the fish for bait doubled over dipping the tip into the water. At first, I thought I had snagged a rock in the 20 feet of water. But I quickly realized that I was not going fast enough in the current for my rod to react that way.
I gave it a quick tug. That set everything into motion. Whatever ate my bait fish, didn’t like me tugging. The drag started screaming from the line going out. I reached around and grabbed my anchor line and pulled it in as fast as I could. I used my paddle on the other side of the kayak as a rudder to get the kayak pointed in the same direction as the fish.
I gradually tightened my drag as the kayak began to move with the pull of the fish on the rod. Eventually, the fish was no longer dragging line, rather he was dragging me in the kayak. For sure, this would tire it quickly and I could reel in whatever this behemoth monster.
He pulled me into the basin against the current. Boats were passing by me. Waves were rocking me. But as long as I felt safe and visible, I felt I could continue to wear the fish down.
“Pop!” The rod snapped back toward me as the 40 pound test monofilament broke in two. My big fish was gone.
After catching many more smaller fish, including the trout I was after, I headed to the ramp and loaded the kayak and gear into the truck. A boat which was pulled out before me was being tied down by the three men who enjoyed their day as well.
“You got a trolling motor on your kayak?” one asked.
“No sir, I paddle.”
“No, I knew you didn’t. I was referring to that fish you had hung up out there. We saw you fight it for 30 minutes.”
“It was that long? I had no idea! It was fun though,” I replied.
“Yeah, we saw you hook on. We all reeled in, grabbed a beer, and sat back to enjoy the show,” he said while the three of them laughed.
At least I was being laughed at for a big fish this time. There are a lot of fish in the sea. Sometimes though, you may not want to see just how big they are.
The word is the kings and cobia are making there way into our coast, and in all likelihood, I hooked a cobia. Not having a gaff or club, a cobia would not have been a fish to catch on a kayak in that situation. Though I was not prepared for what may have been, it was fun.