Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pound for Pound.

The kayak has opened new saltwater doors for me. No longer confined to land, I can slip through inches of water to sneak into prime casting positions to hit up mangroves, structure and cover, all of the places toothy critters lurk.

Not that I have done any of that yet. I just got the thing.

What I have done, though, is spend a good deal of time chasing birds around our front yard. I can drag the ‘yak across the street, hop in and pursue marauding brown pelicans, roseate terns and black-headed gulls as they pick off the wounded and frightened fry that blue runners, false albacore and mackerel have frightened to within inches of the surface. If I can get close enough without splashing or knocking things against the hull of the boat, I might even get an actual cast or two into the swirling maelstrom before the neon yellow hull puts the fish down and they sprint off to greener pastures.

I can tell that I'll soon have the shoulders and back of a greek god, as well. The fish are quick, and it is all I can do to head them off at a full speed paddle. When they go down, they pop up a few hundred yards away, and you're off again.

Fish breaking the surface, or ‘beating’ as it is called here, are easily seen from my vantage point. The trick is figuring out which way they are heading and paddling like mad to cut them off. If there are just too many birds in the air, particularly the pelicans and roseate terns which are listed endangered species, I wouldn’t dare cast into the furious mess of wings, beaks, fins and teeth and instead I paddle around the edges, dragging a fly behind the ‘yak, hoping for a pull.

I have not succeeded in casting and hooking up yet, but it is only a matter of time and how confident I am that I won’t snag an endangered bird. I have, however, done quite well while trolling.

Mackerel are willing, as long as the fly is far enough away from the frightening color of the kayak. Last week, though, I had a take from something that clearly wasn’t a mackerel. It pulled like nothing I have ever hooked before.

Once a tarpon settles down, you’re in for a bulldog battle. I can liken it to a tug of war.

Once a bonefish is hooked, it lasers for the horizon. Once your drag sinks it’s hooks in, the fish knows it is defeated and more or less gives up.

Blue Runners offer a see-saw battle of gaining line and then giving it back up. They also pull like a bulldog.

Everything else either shows itself with some acrobatics or you’re sight fishing to it and know your quarry ahead of time.

This fish immediately pulled very hard, then bolted directly towards the boat. I frantically reeled slack line for about 20 seconds, thinking that I had been bitten off, when I felt the fish again.

This life on the end of the line, which bent the 10wt dangerously to the cork, literally vibrated with adrenaline. If I didn't stupidly delete the video, you would have been able to see the rod tip vibrating as the fish approached the boat.

It wouldn’t give an inch. Steering the fish with the rod only made it more pissed off. I was forced to let the fish swim circles around the kayak. If I tried to steer it, it would only pull harder. It was so quick that at the slightest pressure from my end, the fish would increase its pressure in the opposite direction and put a seriously dangerous bend in the rod. It is easy to see that this species deserves the reputation as the destroyer of the most fly rods.

When I finally brought the tank in close enough to see it, I realized it was a false albacore. Pound for pound the hardest fighting fish I have ever hooked.

Out of breath from chasing the birds.

I had recently attached the GoPro to the end of a broomstick in the hopes of getting some interesting underwater footage while kayaking. This was the first fish I’ve hooked while having that ability. Needless to say, I was more focused on not breaking my brother’s 10wt than getting some good shots.

It was also one of the prettiest fish I've ever held. The patterns on it's back are reminiscent of a brook trout, only they are not colored to match a dark stream bottom. However, everything this fish represents could not be more removed from the lazy, small stream mentality of a soft-bodied, gently-sipping, resting-in-the-eddy brook trout. To say the fish's body was solid muscle would be an understatement. The thing was made of pure energy, a tightly-wound piano wire, and as I held it for a few moments I could feel how this creature makes its living. Constantly searching, franticly rushing, desperately never stopping.


Fishing Fury said...

Good stuff!

Do you recommend the GoPro? I've had my eye on it for a while now!

chris said...

I haver got to say that i am jealous, I would love to go out on a "'yak" and fish till the sun sets. What a great experience, unfortunately I am stuck having to studying for exams, I cannot wait until they are done.

Kind regards