On an all to regular basis, we hear about people that get injured or even die while trying to take a picture for social media. This week, I was almost that guy. It all started when I decided to do a little Tarpon fishing. With the water beginning to cool off, Tarpon will be leaving the Lowcountry very soon. So, I set out to catch one before they left.
Step One was to locate a large school of Menhaden just off the beach and catch a few for live bait. Step Two was to stay with the menhaden school because Tarpon, Bull Redfish and Sharks often follow their favorite food source. Step Three was to pick up a 30-pound class spinning outfit and rig a live Menhaden on a 5/0 circle hook. Step Four was to use the trolling motor to stay in contact with the school and deploy the live bait behind the boat. Step Five was to listen to the stereo, enjoy the weather and wait for a bite.
After about 20 minutes, the rod bent over double and a Tarpon jumped right behind the boat. Unfortunately, the circle hook failed to set. No worries, I quickly deployed another live bait and settled back into Step Five. For the next hour or so, not much happened. I was about to call it quits when the rod bent over double again. This time the circle hook did set, and line poured off the spinning reel at a torrid pace. Whatever I had hooked was big. Really big. The fight was tough and the outcome often in doubt. Eventually, a 5-foot shark (not sure what species) came to the boat. My smart-self told me to take a picture of the shark swimming alongside the boat and release it without bringing it aboard. My not-so-smart-self told me to bring it aboard and take a really cool selfie. I pondered both options and decided to compromise, leave the shark in the water and try to get a really cool selfie. I was about to take the picture when the Shark snapped at the hand that was holding my phone (apparently way to close to its face). For a fraction of a second, its teeth caught in the sleeve of my shirt. Time slowed down. I distinctly remember thinking; this is not good. Quickly followed by; you are an idiot. Thankfully, other than a slight scratch, no physical damage was done.
So, this week, there is no picture. Should I ever have the urge to take a selfie with a shark, I will use a selfie stick. Better yet, no more shark selfies!
Fishing with friends can be surprising. Some surprises are pleasant. Others, not so much. On a recent fishing trip with my friend, Shelly Bostwick, all the surprises were pleasant. We launched my Pathfinder bay boat into the last of the outgoing tide. Our plan was to target Bluefish that we could use for Shark bait a little later (on the incoming tide).
My first surprise was that Shelly is an excellent caster. I positioned the boat down tide from a marsh point and cast my lure to “the spot” to catch a Bluefish. Shelly cast her lure, a Z-Man StreakZ 3.75 on a 3/16-ounce jig to the exact same spot. Most impressive casting ability.
The second surprise was that Trout had taken over the Bluefish spot. We released several quality-size Trout and kept a few Bluefish for bait. When the tide stopped, the Trout and Bluefish bite did as well. So, we made a run out past the jetties and took up position about 100 yards behind a shrimp boat. I picked up a 30-pound class spinning outfit, a Shimano 6000 frame Saragosa reel on a medium heavy Teramar rod, and nose-hooked a live Bluefish on a 5/0 circle hook. Shelly cast the Bluefish into the shrimp boat’s wake. Almost immediately, she was hooked up to a Blacktip Shark. The Shark jumped a few times and then made a long drag sizzling run. Sharks are an overlooked sport fish. They are abundant and really fun to catch.
Surprise number three was how good of an angler Shelly is. She kept maximum pressure on the Blacktip. This can be difficult to do with 30-pound class tackle. Her great angling technique brought the Shark to the boat in record time. It was sufficiently large, that I did not want to hold it for a picture, and you know how much I love to hold fish for pictures. After releasing the Blacktip, we moved back behind the shrimper and caught a few more. The Shark bite was still on when we decided to target Redfish at the jetties. After a quick run, I spot-locked the boat a safe distance from the rocks. Shelly cast a Z-Man 4” Jerk ShadZ on a 3/8-ounce jig into the waves washing over the rocks. Surprise! Redfish got checked off our list.
Fishing with your friends can be surprising. When fishing with Shelly, all the surprises were pleasant. I do not tournament fish anymore. But, if I did, I would be lucky for Shelly to be my partner.
The best catch in fishing is the bond that it creates between children and their parents. For me, fishing is the very definition of “quality time”. If you want to learn more about fishing on and around Daniel Island, I recommend the Daniel Island Inshore Fishing Club. If you want to begin creating a lifetime bond with your children, do not miss the 9th Annual Kids Fishing Tournament at Smythe Park Lake on June 15 from 8:30 to 10:30.
Speaking of bonds between children and their parents, I recently had the pleasure of fishing with Trent and Grant Gustafson. They are good friends, fellow members of the Daniel Island Inshore Fishing Club and a great example of the best catch in fishing. Our plan was to fish the harbor and nearshore waters, targeting Bull Redfish and Sharks. Typically, these species are pretty easy to catch. However, after fishing multiple sections of the jetties, the Bull Redfish eluded us. No worries, shrimp boats were clearly in sight just outside the jetties. Shrimp boats are Shark magnets. So, we netted up a couple of dozen Menhaden and headed towards the nearest shrimp boat. While I positioned the Pathfinder a respectable distance behind the trawler, Trent rigged a lively Menhaden on an unweighted 5/0 circle hook. Once in position, I let the bay boat drift and Grant cast the Menhaden into the wake of the trawler. This process usually results in an immediate bite from a Shark. Not so, on that day. We moved from shrimp boat to shrimp boat until we finally got a bite.
Grant held the rod as the Shark rapidly peeled 150 yards of 30-pound braid from the 6000 frame Shimano Saragosa spinning reel. The fight was on. For about 30-minutes the outcome was in doubt. Throughout the battle, Trent stood next to Grant and provided encouragement. I thought to myself, this is what fishing is really about. Eventually, Grant wore the Shark down and brought it boat side. Where it thankfully released itself.
By all accounts, we had a very slow day of fishing. Yet, Trent and Grant made the best catch of all, quality time together.