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Been a While

Had only been out 2 times in the last 2 months and had not done well. The heat really wears me out. Had a gas hose issue and wanted to get out today to make sure she ran well. Thankfully she did.

So I hit the South Shore just after 8am, despite getting up at 6am. Water temp was 86 and a slight breeze out of the east. High tide was at 10:30am. Hit the flat and was getting puffed at first. Finally got on the board at 8:55am with a small trout on the RT Mullet in shadflash color. Lots of puffers out there too. Picked up another small trout on a gray spook at 9:03am. Another small trout just a few minutes later and I caught a much better trout of 18 3/4" on the spook at 9:15am.

Worked near a pass and more of the flat, but just not getting bit. Went to another area and got a solid strike on the smoke/gold halo mullet along a mangrove edge at 11:37am. Turned out to be a solid red of 26 1/2" at 11:37 that gave me a great battle. She almost took me into the groves.

So it wasn't going to be a total bust with just trout. Kept working around and lost 2 lower 20s snook that spit my bait.

Getting close to 1pm and the tide was rolling out. Cast out my shadflash in skinny water next to some groves and it got blasted. Set the hook and a big fish ripped off some line and kind of stopped. The fish didn't seem to fight that hard at first. Must have been the 90+ degree water temp. Finally got a good look at her and it was a huge snook. For the next 10 minutes it was just a tug of war. She wasn't ripping off line or making strong runs. It was just a steady pull. Finally she said **** this and took off. She hit some deeper water and got airborne. A tremendous jump. Needless to say I was chitting myself now. A true mogan. The battle continued for another 10 minutes with 2 more jumps completely out of the water. After numerous surface/ sub-surface head-shakes and tail thumps on my line, I was getting the upper hand. After more pressure, she began circling the boat and I saw a small shark behind her. I said to myself that I have to get her in now. I'll be damned if I am going to let a shark take a chunk out of this beauty. I finally got her to the side of the boat and slipped her in the net. I was completely spent. At 41", she is not my biggest, but a more solid fish I cannot recall catching. She is a tank.

OK so after a couple of pics, I hurry to get her back into the water...shark be damned. I take her off the bocas to grab her by the tail, but she slips out of my hand and sinks like a rock. She is belly up. ****! I circle with the tm and net trying to scoop her up. I just can't get her back in it. Now panicking, I reach down with my hand. She is so close, but I can't reach her. Somehow I was able to finally get her back in the net head first and back on the boat. She was still breathing. I put her back on the bocas and held her in the water. She immediately kicked. I held her there for a long time. She was recovering and started tensing her muscles. Her tail was moving along with my side-to-side motion at the head. I took her off the bocas and held her by the tail a bit longer until she was able to kick free of my grasp. She swam away and I followed her a ways until I couldn't see her anymore. Hopefully she lives to fight another day. Lesson learned...Don't take a big fish off the bocas until she is ready to swim away on her own.

After that exhilarating catch and stressful release/re-release, I was wasted. I went up to work a nearby pass and water was rolling out. Got a number of strikes and caught a 17" trout, a couple of small snook and a mangrove snapper. Water was skinny on the flat and it was soooooo hot. No more strikes so I headed for the ramp around 3pm. It was a great day!
Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release


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