I apologize in advance for the out of focus pictures. My phone doesn't seem to be focusing properly.....dropped too many times, likely.
I ventured out into Kings Bay for the first time. I launched my kayak from Hunter Springs Park dark and early. The crystal clear water layered with fog as sunbeams shot through the canopy was a beautiful sight. Plan of the day: find snook.
Not knowing what to do, I started working the east edge of the bay along the docks and seawalls using a Zara Puppy. I wanted some topwater action. I had a ladyfish try his damnedest to grab a hold, but he kept missing. Spooked a bunch of mullet and needlefish too. Not much happening until I got to the south end of the bay where I fished the edges of the grassy islands (Banana Island, et al.) I got into some 1-2lbs largemouth. Forgot how fun these guys were to catch. Great pound for pound fighter.
After a few of these guys, I moved up the west end of the bay heading north. Nothing going on here. I head into the mouth of Crystal River and fish Miller Creek. Nada.
Exiting Miller Creek, I work the dock-lined mouth of Crystal River. Deciding I wanted to ditch topwater, I dropped my light-action Calico Jack w/ CI4 3000 and 10lb braid to my med-actionTeramar w/ 5000FJ and 20lb braid. At the end of the line I had 40lb floro an a chartreuse bucktail. 2 casts.....nothing. I'm glad I swtich to heavier tackle, because on my 3rd cast........BAM! I get hit by a freight train. I feel the weight of the fish bearing down on my tackle. Quickly the fish rises and I catch a glimpse of a large head thrash at the surface. Looks like a tarpon! I get all giddy inside, I've never landed a poon from my yak. Slowly the fish turn and heads out towards the channel. He wasn't running, just a slow, heavy pull. I see 3 buoys. Oh crap, I thought to myself (actually something worse, but this is a family forum). I'm praying he doesn't get me tangled up in the buoys. By now, he's giving me a bit of a Nantucket sleigh ride. As he passes the buoys, he catches a glimpse of the safety of the channel and lets out a screaming run. I hold on with a big grin on my face. After he slows up, I start gaining some ground on him. His head turned, he next starts a slow run back to the docks. He's getting dangerously close with no sign of slowing up. I start thumbing the spool and adding pressure hoping to get him to slow and turn away.......SUCCESS! He heads away from the docks and is all tuckered out. I feel him give up and now it's just a matter of hauling him in. As he nears the yak, he heads underneath it and somehow I managed to pull a ninja spin around the stern of the kayak and get him to the other side......
That's no tarpon.....it's a monster snook!
After getting my deck ready to haul him over, I grab his lower jaw with a death grip and hoist him up. I'm struggling with my phone (in a water-proof, floating case) to get a good picture quickly. I manage a few decent shots.
I estimated 36-38" a new personal record! At this point, I'm looking around hoping to see a passer-by. I would love for someone to get a nice hero-shot of me on the kayak with my catch and then text it to me, but to no avail. I focus my efforts on reviving. After a few minutes, he shows signs of activity, I let him kick away, but he floats up to the surface. OH NO! I quickly paddle back over to him and resume resuscitation. After another minute or so, he really starts to struggle and violently kicks away drenching me with a nice shower. That's more like it, I though to myself. Still, I waited for a bit to make sure he didn't resurface. After a few minutes and no signs of him, I rejoice in my successful catch and release.
I head back over to the docks and manage to catch a baby redfish before leaving for the day.
Slow day to start, but a great finish!