Any chance I have a chance to go fishing, I usually jump at it.
After about a five-year hiatus, the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament resurrected the “media” fishing day leaving from Sister’s Creek Marina just off the St. Johns River. Luckily I drew my friend Randy Nader as the boat captain so with Matt Kingston from Channel 4 and my son Cole along, we hit the water at 7:30.
“This is great,” I hollered to Cole over the roar of the twin 250’s pounding us over the small swells. “Shame it has to happen at 7 in the morning,” I mused. It is something that you never know when the fish are going to hit, but it’s important to get out there at “first light.”
We were lucky to draw Randy as our captain. I’ve fished with Randy before and not only does he always have the top equipment, but he’s an expert and can find the fish. And if they’re not around, he’ll call somebody and find some. And besides that, he’s about the nicest and best guy you’ve ever met.
As soon as we cleared the jetties, we shot right to the beach looking for bait. From 100 yards away I could see the “pogies” popping on the water so over the side the net went. I’ve looked for bait in the past for half the day and sometimes find a few, just enough to fish with. (BTW, a “pogie” is actually a menhaden fish. Small, swims in big schools and lives near the shore. It’s the right size to use for bait on bigger fish in deeper water.)
When the two mates, Malcolm and Kevin started to pull the net up, it was so heavy they couldn’t get it over the side. At first I thought it was stuck on something but when I went to help, I could tell it was just overflowing. I mean there were pogies everywhere. Never have I seen any one throw of the net grab so many baitfish. Over 1000. Honest.
So with bait onboard we went about 20 miles off shore to start. It was glassy so we were there in a flash. With lines in the water, two sharks were our first catch. Small, and just enough to make everybody on the boat want to head elsewhere. So we did! And fast! Randy punched in the coordinates and off we went. With the stereo blasting, easily the best on-board sound and DVD system I’ve ever seen, we were in a new spot with lines in the water almost immediately.
Right away, a king mackerel hit one of the lines. You could tell the difference in how it took out line. After about a 7 minute fight, our first 15-pounder was in the boat. Then it dried up again. No surprise, but we did boat a small king, cutting it off at the boat looking for, as the saying goes, “bigger fish to fry!” Off to another spot and with lines in the water, you could feel something about to happen.
One by one, the two outriggers and the flat line behind the boat took off, three strikes at once! We hooked all three up and fought them for about 10 minutes. What was interesting was as we were fighting those three, about four other kings where jumping (skyrocketing) around the boat. It was your typical “hair on fire moment” trying to maneuver the boat, catch the fish and stay on board!
We brought all three to the boat, cut two off because they were small and threw the third in the fish box. That’s when we got two more strikes on either side of the boat. I was fighting one fish while Matt had a pretty big one on the other side. As we were brining them in, the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen started cruising around the boat. I got my fish close enough to see he was small and cut him off while Matt was fighting a big kind pretty hard.
That’s when the barracuda cruised around in a circle and “boom” hit the back of the kind and sheered its tail off. Another circle and “boom” the body of the fish was taken away. I know it sounds like a fish story, but that barracuda was more than 4 feet long! It looked like Wild Kingdom out there!
We fished for a while, and caught a few trash fish but the kings had turned off and there’s nothing you can do about it when they’re night biting. That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.
Lets see: on the water, with my son and good friends, having fun, fishing, listening to good music and funny videos, actually catching fish?
Nearly a perfect day!