Saltwater Surprise

By Frank Wilem
I’m sure there are a lot more fresh water fishermen than salt water anglers for the simple reason—more people have ready access. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with fresh water fishing, it’s just never been my cup of tea. I’ve asked myself many times why this is the case. While I’m not sure I understand why, I guess part of it is due to the “surprise factor.”

For example, once I was fishing the shallow marsh waters when I felt a little bite after which line started peeling of the reel. After fighting the fish for a couple of minutes, as it neared the boat, strangely the fight got much easier. My dad, who had been observing the scene, looked on with raised eyebrows wondering what all the fuss had been about as I reeled in a tiny croaker. So did I until I noticed marks on the side of the fish.

It seems something large (I like to think a record sized redfish) had grabbed the small croaker right after I hooked up and had fought to claim the contested prize. Approaching the

boat, the fish released the croaker leaving me looking a little stupid. Since that time we’ve had sharks play the same trick on us while reeling in snapper. Of course, they typically end up with half the fish.

Then there’s the time we had spent the night offshore bluewater fishing and left a bait dangling two feet out of the water from the left rigger at the end of the day. Early the next morning, a couple of Vixen’s anglers were casting poppers at black fin tuna breaking around the boat when a large yellowfin tuna leaped from the water, snatched the bait dangling from the rigger, and hooked itself up. As line peeled off the 50 wide Tiagra reel, we managed to stop staring open-mouthed and caught the fish. It proved to be the largest tuna caught on that trip.

We got another surprise on our first bluewater trip aboard the new Vixen. On the first day of the Mississippi Billfish Classic, we had just put our baits in the water when another large yellowfin hit the center rigger. Now the rod for the center rigger sits in a rod holder on the fighting chair and the line goes through a clip on a rigger high on Vixen’s tower so that we can troll more lines without having them become tangled.

Evidently, we had not properly adjusted the tension on the new rigger clip, so rather than the line popping out of the clip as it is supposed to, the rod came sailing out of the rod holder to vanish over the transom. Once again the Vixen team looked on slack jawed until Kevin Lack noticed that the rod remained attached by the safety line and quickly snatched it back then proceeded to catch the fish.

We’ve had mackerel jump into the boat, sent a pogy down to the bottom in several hundred feet of water and reeled back in a white trout not much bigger, and even hooked a whale—literally. But the type of surprise I like is when a 700 pound blue marlin decides to snack on our bait. That’s the type of surprise that draws me to salt water and keeps me coming back.

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