Moderator - Rigs n Rigging
Joined: Jan. 2004
||Posted: Nov. 03 2004,07:35
My work sent me to our Tampa facility for a couple of weeks. I drove in from Jacksonville on Monday and had the forethought of bringing a kayak and fishing gear.
Yesterday afternoon I got on the water right around 4:00 PM. Conditions were very nice and I decided to try my luck around the Gandy Bridge. I launched from the West end of the bridge on the North side. First thing I noticed were the hundreds of dead blue crabs that lined the shore.
Not a good sign.
Crabs are one of the first indicators of contamination or a chemical spill/dump since they can not remove themselves from an effected area as quickly as other "mobile" life forms. Something bad had happened here recently.
After paddling out of "the crab zone", I set up one rod to troll a Yozuri Crystal Minnow and had a second rod at the ready with a soft plastic bait. The depth finder was marking all sorts of fish on a rise from 19 to 10 feet. Could have been just about anything but being an optimist, I convinced myself they were Redfish or Trout.
I was paddling parallel to the bridge and enjoying the almost glass-like water when my trolling rod came alive. It was all I could to remove it from the rod holder because the strike was so violent. I quickly reeled down on the fish and set the hook.
The first thought I had was "I should have brought the bigger rod" as the fish peeled line and sent the drag into a steady whine.
"Dang" I thought, "this fish is going under the bridge". Not that this was a super bad thing but then it hit me that "dang, there sure are a lot of people fishing off the bridge"
Turning my yak sideways to apply more resistance and with the rod in one hand and the paddle in the other, I started compiling data as to how I would negotiate all those fishing lines in the water. Wind, current, drag coefficients, tide and moon phase, paddle angle, the election and an open beer. It was all to much to take in.
This was going to be ugly.
The fish had made it to the bridge and I was about 100 yards behind him. That's when a guy on the bridge yelled "SHARK" and that's when my line went slack.
I never saw it and I'm kinda glad I didn't. The dude on the bridge said it looked to be at least 4 feet long.
Heck, as far as I know, it could have been just about anything. Whatever it was, I hope he enjoys my Yozuri.
As I paddled out of everyone's way I caught an incoming tide current that pushed me away from the bridge, then dissipated.
I reeled in a bunch of line, examined my leader and decided to think about things while I finished my beverage. I decided to tie on a new 25# leader and selected a smaller bait to troll; a Rapala Shad Rap diver. I figured that it would run around 6-8 feet deep and if there were any more sharks around, less likely to attract them.
The wind began to pick up as the sun sank and I was about 1/4 mile from the launch point when the rod went nuts.
This time, everything seemed to be in my favor. I was far away from the bridge and this fish was going to be manageable.
A light chop grew into a heavy chop when a first spotted the fish beneath the surface. Turned out to be a big chunky slimy catfish.
I have to admit that they are good fighters and fun to catch. Not fun at all to release. He had the lure and about 4 feet of line covered with slime. Luckily he had side swiped the lure and had only one hook in the side of his face. A quick shake with the pliers sent him on his way.
The bay was now very choppy and the wind was blowing me back to the truck. I made my way through the dead crabs, loaded up and headed for the hotel.
Maybe tonight I can hang a keeper Red or Trout. I'll keep you posted.
"A good rule of angling philosophy is not to interfere with any fisherman’s ways of being happy, unless you want to be hated." -Zane Grey, Tales of Fishes, 1919