Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fishing with the Generations

One of the greatest joys of a fisherman, or any outdoorsman, is to see the next generation fall in love with the ocean. Recently I had the honor of an offshore fishing trip with my dad, my brother, his two sons’, and my son. We did not stay out long or tear it up fishing, but we did have a fishing trip with the generations.

It all started 60 some years ago with my father fishing in the rivers, streams, and ponds of south Alabama. He fished as much or more for food as for fun, but times have changed. We fish for fun. To see my dad and my son on the same boat struggling to catch bait, fight fish, and head for home was truly a joy.

It was at the end of May and we decided to take the three boys on their first offshore trip. It was a beautiful morning with forecasted seas of one foot. First we headed south out of Port Canaveral, Florida in order to catch bait. What you expect to be the easiest part of the day often is the most difficult part of the day. This was just such an occasion. The bait we were after are called “pogies” locally. They were there, but they were scattered. Normally you can make a couple of cast with a net and your live well will be overflowing. Not today!! After 30 or so cast with a heavy 10 foot net we had three of four dozen. Not enough for a hardcore fishing trip but plenty for our purposes.

We would be targeting King Fish, so we headed to a popular fishing ground for Kings, called Pelican Flats. All we really wanted was to let the boys tangle with the biggest fish of their young lives. My son just turned six, and other than a few catfish and a shark he has not caught many fish.

We arrived and started slow trolling our live “pogies” over the flat. The people around us seemed to be having better luck than us, but after trolling for a while we got our strike, and my son was up. With some help for dad my son landed the first of hopefully many offshore fish. His mom would have been very proud.

The next strike was a big one, and it was my brother’s son was up. This fish was strong and my nephew would require quite a bit of help. Fishing with live bait for King Fish does not need much drag so whatever this was making short work of our 350 yards of 20 pound test line. Pulling the lines in my dad turned toward the running fish in order to regain some line. After 30 minutes of pulling on this fish, we knew it was not a King, and we finally saw some color.

It was a Jack Cravalle, or what we call an hour Jack, because they take an hour to catch. Pound for pound they are one of the strongest fish in the ocean. Normally this would not be the most exciting catch, but with young boys in the boat it was worth the long battle. We pulled it over the gunnels, posed for a picture, and released it to plague other fisherman.

After one more kingfish, another long battle with an “Hour Jack”, and a couple of break offs and pulled hooks, it was time to head home. It was a short trip, but one to remember for a lifetime. Seize these opportunities when you get the chance. You may have to make a trip like this happen. There will be plenty of time for hardcore fishing trips, but precious little time to help your 40 pound son fight a 30 pound fish.

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