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Joined: Jan. 2004
||Posted: July 15 2008,04:58
It was just another yakabout...
It was my day off and what with gas prices headin toward five bucks I tend to do my yakking closer to home, Fort Lauderdale. Many of you know the George English launch. My favorite paddle is to head out to the ICW, head south, turn west on the New River and take the back canals back.
Or the reverse. Catch the ending of a high or low, pick which way you're doing the route to take advantage. About 6-1/2 miles. Yesterday I did the route as stated, hit the ICW, took the turn west to the New River.
Now when I paddle I always troll a nice chartreuse slider jig with a sparkly chartreause 3 or 4 inch curly tail rubber grub, one of my go to lures. I stick the rod down the front of my inflatable jacket and troll over my shoulder (trust me, this is ideal - your rod is right there at hand and you feel the tiniest hit or even when you pick up weed). You set the hook by continuing to paddle to where you want to fight the fish.
But this was no tiny hit.
Of I sudden I got the solid hit and strong run typical of a large cuda. Maybe 2-/12 or 3 ft I thought. But the reel kept singing. Make that 4 feet. And singing - holy shit! I paddled more toward the channel and grabbed my rod which was still ripping of line.
Getting spooled was a concern now, so I slowly tightened up the drag until the kayak started moving and it was now a sleigh ride. Nice. I knew I had a very large fish, minimum six feet, towed me perhaps a third of a mile. Now keep in mind I use my cheepo special, all Shakespeare rig.
This was $6 for a medium fiberglass two-piece rod, $22 "Platinum" salt water reel that barely holds 200 yards of Shakerspeare 8 lb. test. Total: Bout $32 out the door. First bought it when I forgot my gear on a trip to Key Largo, worked fine, decided to test it for awhile, now I prefer it over my expensive Shimano/Redbone rigs. And if you dunk or drop it, no worries. And I'd landed some pretty good cuda on it (say 4 feet). But this was no cuda. I'd either hooked a good sized shark or serious tarpon.
A real test of a lighter rig and the cheepo special Shakespeare.
As always it was faultless. Smooth drag and a forgiving medium action, perfect in almost any situation including this one. Now I know my line - 8 lb - and have a pretty good sense of how much force it'll take. So I managed to pump and reel my way up toward what I hoped was a tarpon. Drag was tight, but not overly so as if you need more you can always cup the reel to stop the line or let your hand go if the pressure gets too high.
I managed to turn him and get within maybe 50 feet (at one point I had about 150 feet or a bit more out). Under heavy pressure I even got him to just brush the surface - saw the silver, the hooked dorsal fin - yup, a tarpon. At least 6 feet, maybe 7. I obviously had lip hooked him or he'd have broken me off long ago with my puny short 25 lb leader. And to be honest he should have snipped the 8 lb line with his scales.
Knowing my time (up to about 20 minutes by now) was limited, I decided I wanted to go for it before my line abraded and worked hard to get close enough so, if nothing else, I'd get a close look at this worthy fish.
It was not to be.
I got him within many 15 feet, but down too deep to see, when my line went sickenly slack and I knew it was done. Pretty sure he'd finally cut me off I reeled in and my lure was still there. No frays, completely intact leader!
I then looked at the hook. Now I buy Ray Brown slider jigs with 4/0 hooks cause they are strong, not like most of the crappy jigs. Worth the money. But somehow, this large fish - along with my being able to use my 8 lb to the limit - had bent the hook about 45 degrees to the side and it had worked its way out.
Such is life.
But what a thrill. Talked to Kayak Willie bout this - he felt I'd probably lip hooked him near some bone so the jig was immobile and couldn't flex with the varying angles of pull. And now I know you can bend one with 8 lb., lol...
A tremendous day. Usually it's just a great 6 mile paddle, pick up a jack or two with this lure, get some exercise, enjoy the water. What I didn't tell you was that when I launched, and before I took a single stroke I made a quick cast over by the dock and scored a nice snook.
Then the tarpon. And on the way back a decent 2-1/2 foot cuda. A day I won't forget...
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