Laguna Costa Happenings
Mitch Nau's Comstock, Texas Mountain Lion March 10, 2017 12:31
Introduction: Welcome to Laguna Costa Radio, featuring interviews with authentic anglers and hunters from around the globe, and brought to you by Laguna Costa Outfitters, purveyors of sweet threads for the salty soul. Check us out at lagunacosta.com.
Dink Murphey: Okay. Hey, Dink Murphey here with Laguna Costa, Laguna Costa Radio, and I've got Mitch Nau on the line with me, and we have been trying to hook up for a good while now. Mitch, you there?
Mitch Nau: Yes sir, I'm here.
Dink Murphey: Man, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us on Laguna Costa Radio.
Mitch Nau: Love [crosstalk 00:01:00]
Dink Murphey: Mitch, you're kind of famous, in social media anyway, but we're going to get to the mountain lion here in a minute, but tell us just a little bit about yourself if you don't mind.
Mitch Nau: Okay. I grew up in Spring, Texas, just out of Houston. I've been hunting out in west Texas pretty much my whole life. Grew up, went to Texas A&M, actually played baseball there for four years. Came back, worked for the family business now. Every hunting season, I head out to the canyons out west and that's where this whole thing took place.
Dink Murphey: Texas A&M, okay. I went to the other Texas university over in Austin. We better get off that subject real quick.
Hey man, tell us about the cat. Were you specifically going out to hunt the mountain lion, or was that a byproduct of another hunt? Tell us a little bit about that.
Mitch Nau: Yeah. We really weren't hunting at all. We went down there, it was late September, we went down there and we're on an MLD plan out there, so we start up October first. We went out there, just to get all our jeeps running, get everything squared away. We had some customers coming down next weekend. We were trying to get everything working and working order, and we decided we'd worked enough and we'd mix a drink and go just ride around the ranch. I just happened to, I just bought a Howa .22-250, and nobody else has a gun with them and I just threw it in there, I figured I'd go pop off a couple rounds somewhere, just to try out the new gun.
We pulled up on the ledge, it's kind of like a lookout spot, on our ranch. If you've got somebody that hadn't been out in that part of the state or anything, you always pull up there, watch the sunset, whatever. We pulled up there and the guy I was with, he had a pistol with him and he popped a couple rounds off in the bottom of the canyon. Sure enough, here came that cat out of the bottom, running straight away from us.
Dink Murphey: What part of the country was this, this was in the Comstock area, or outside of Comstock, Texas?
Mitch Nau: Yeah, it's actually ... I think we're 17 miles out of Comstock down 1024 towards Pandale.
Dink Murphey: And somebody not familiar with that area, like myself, what would be some of the closest bigger towns if you will?
Mitch Nau: Del Rio is the closest town, right by Lake Amistad, so right on the border. Then you go north northwest of Del Rio, and you end up in the wonderful metropolis of Comstock.
Dink Murphey: Comstock. Tell everybody, you mentioned MLD property for those who aren't familiar with that, what is that exactly?
Mitch Nau: It's just a managed state property. We'll file for state tags every year. The deer we shoot off of that property are not coming off of our individual license. It's more of a Texas parks and wildlife managed property. You have to meet your quota every year for that. It's just something that helps us maintain our deer herd. We got 50,000 acres out there. It'd be tough to do just on allotted tags for an individual person.
It's something that they do to help land owners out.
Dink Murphey: Back to the mountain lion. Are there a lot of mountain lions? I've hunted different parts of Texas and I've certainly heard them before, I have never seen one, but I certainly hear them fairly often. Are there a lot of them out there in that area? Have they had problems with the mountain lion in the area, were people on the ranch or in that county appreciative of your harvest? Tell us about that.
Mitch Nau: I know that they ... We border the [Neches 05:28] River, and I know they travel that river corridor and go down into Mexico and all. I know that's fairly common for the guys that have ranches on that river corridor, to see them or have problems with them and their goats. That's big goat country out there. I know I've heard of that. My father's been hunting this piece of property since '83, and neither him nor anybody that he knows has ever seen one on our property.
I would say that rare would be an understatement for us. To see one in broad daylight without using a trap or dogs or anything like that. Yeah, the ranch owner, as soon as he got word of it, he came out. Actually, it was the ranch manager, I'm sorry. Came out, and met us out there on the ranch, and was absolutely ecstatic about it. He's been ranching that country for, I don't even know how long, so I'm sure he's had his fair share of run ins with them.
Yeah, he was very appreciative. He actually loaded it up and took it back into Uvalde for me himself, to the taxidermist there in Uvalde.
Dink Murphey: What were the measurements and weight and all that stuff, do you have those numbers? Looking at the picture, it's huge. I know you played baseball, you look like a big guy, as do the other two gentlemen that were with you in the picture, but this cat is big. How big was it?
Mitch Nau: Yeah. We really didn't take a head to tail measurement of it. We put him on a scale in a little swing, and ... We recovered him the day after, so he had bled out all that night, and after he'd bled out all night, he was 160 pounds on that scale.
Dink Murphey: Wow.
Mitch Nau: I tried to get the taxidermist, because I was thinking, that's probably a state record, something like that, I've never seen a cat like that in Texas. They're usually malnourished, they're scrawny looking. I actually hit him in the head, the second shot, and that .22-250 put its skull into about, I don't know, 1000 pieces, so the taxidermist couldn't get an actual measurement, because I guess the skull is what they go off of.
Dink Murphey: .22-250 is one of my favorite calibers, certainly for varmint hunting, coyote hunting. Do some people think that was a little light to take that big of a mountain lion, or ... I guess the headshot ... What kind of feedback did you get there?
Mitch Nau: I personally think that's very light. If you would've told me I'm going out to chase that size cat, I would've grabbed something a little bit bigger than a .22-250. Yeah, I actually had to shoot him twice. He came out of that canyon straight away from us, and then he turned quartered and away from me to my right. I let the first one go, and he wasn't that full stride, but he was hooking it out of there pretty good.
First one went, hit him dead in the shoulder, and actually rolled him over from the impact of the bullet. At that point, we're all high fiving and stuff, because it was a pretty big deal out there. As we're high fiving and stuff, he gets back up and takes off again, and now he's full boar, as fast as you would think a mountain lion would be, screaming across those rocks out there. I reloaded and let another one go, and that one flipped him head over heels, come to find out it went in his right ear and came out his left cheek.
Dink Murphey: While he was in full stride?
Mitch Nau: Yes sir.
Dink Murphey: Do you have any military background, any sniper background?
Mitch Nau: I don't, I don't, but I have been hunting ... There's not one deer stand on that whole place. Everything is, usually when we're shooting deer out there, and I've been hunting out there since I was eight, usually when we're shooting deer out there, they're on the run. It's almost, I wouldn't say second nature to me.
Now, if you asked me if I was aiming at his head or not, I'm going to tell you yes, but I don't know if I could swear on the Bible on that one.
Dink Murphey: Let me ask you this, because when you gave me permission to post your photo, we put it on Instagram and I think it far, not that we have a huge following, but it far surpassed any post as far as likes and comments that we've ever had ever. I have to say, maybe half of them were not very friendly. In fact, they were so nasty, I had to delete them. Then I had to add a comment that hey, this is a hunting and fishing focused business and Instagram site, and I'm not going to, if you're going to make a comment that's just trying to make a statement ... If you have a question for us, when we conduct the interview, that's great, but ...
Anyway. What kind of feedback did you get, positive and negative, if you don't mind, on social media? I know it's pretty safe to say it went viral on Facebook.
Mitch Nau: Yeah. I experienced the same. The people that I knew well that come from our background and enjoys to do the things that I do, that was all very positive, couldn't believe it, all sorts of stuff like that. As far as the negative feedback, I feel like you're going to have that with anything you do today in the world we live in. Is it amplified on a scale where this is a large cat and people don't understand the concept of conservation and management.
That's your opinion. I have my opinion, I'm not going to go stick my nose into something that you do, but unfortunately, people always do that, and it's just ... Before I put the picture up, I knew that was going to happen. They can say what they say, and we'll move on down the road. Not a big deal.
Dink Murphey: I have to tell you, we have some pretty overwhelming positive support and comments. It's pretty incredible. As you described, the way you took him in full stride, that's very impressive. I know I couldn't do that, even if I had a tripod or something.
Mitch Nau: Yeah.
Dink Murphey: Stable blind or whatever.
Mitch Nau: Yeah.
Dink Murphey: Mitch, man, I appreciate it. Are we leaving anything out? Is there anything else cool or interesting about the mountain lion story you want to share?
Mitch Nau: I don't think so. I'm glad I didn't run into him cornered up in the bottom of the canyon or something, that's for sure. Glad he was out there a little ways.
Dink Murphey: Boy, isn't that the truth. That's a whole 'nother topic. There's not real common for people who've been killed by a mountain lion. There's been some in Texas, I think New Mexico and probably the most of them out in California. They're not real common, but it does happen. I think you could talk to some of those families that, they'd have a little different perspective. Certainly the ranchers, they've had their losses over the years due to mountain lions.
Anyway, it is a beautiful animal and quite a story. Mitch, appreciate you joining us. I'll follow up with you and we'll get you some good Laguna Costa merchandise as a small token of our appreciation. Thanks again for joining us here on Laguna Costa Radio.
Mitch Nau: Thanks Dink. I appreciate it.
Dink Murphey: Take care, Mitch.
Introduction: Today's podcast was brought to you by Laguna Costa Outfitters, purveyors of apparel for the authentic angler, hunter and outdoors enthusiast. Check us out at lagunacosta.com, or join us on Instagram and Facebook. Laguna Costa, sweet threads for the salty soul.
Podcast Interview Transcript - Extreme Kayak Angler Brian Nelli September 21, 2015 10:57
Laguna Costa Radio Podcast Interview
with Brian Nelli of Pushin’ Water Kayak Charters and Extreme Kayak Fishing
Speaker 1: Welcome to Laguna Costa Radio, featuring interviews with authentic anglers and hunters from around the globe and brought to you by Laguna Costa Outfitters, purveyors of sweet threads for the salty soul. Check us out as LagunaCosta.com.
Dink: All right, I’m ready. All right, everybody Dink Murphey here, with Laguna Costa Radio. I have our first guest on the line with us, Brian Nelli. Brian is owner and founder of Pushin' Water Kayak Charters or Pushin' Water Fishing. You got to correct me on that already, Brian. What is it?
Brian: It’s Pushin' Water Kayak Charters.
Dink: Where is that out of?
Brian: We’re in the Palm Beach area. We run trips anywhere from Del Ray Beach up to Fort Pierce in the Palm Beach area and Treasure Coast of Florida.
Dink: It’s all done out of kayaks, I guess.
Brian: Correct, we only do kayaks.
Dink: How does somebody get a hold of you if they want to book a trip if they’re in that area?
Brian: You can either call us at 772-201-5899 or check out our website at TCKayakFishing.com.
Dink: TC, Tom, Charlie, TCKayakFishing.com.
Dink: All right. Do you mind sharing rates? Just go ahead and throw that out there. What’s that going to cost somebody?
Brian: Your inshore trips are going to run two fifty for the first person, seventy-five for each additional person. Then your offshore trips are three hundred and a hundred and twenty-five for each additional person. That includes all your equipment, kayak, fishing gear. We only use Hobie fishing kayaks.
Dink: All right, awesome. I’ve been with Brian with a few of our sales managers before. It was a good time, did a little inshore and hooked up on some trout. I think somebody maybe landed a redfish, but good times. Look Brian up for that. Brian also fishes in the extreme kayak fishing tournament series or extreme kayak wars I think as some call it. He just so happens to be two-time Bahamas champion. Tell us about that. Let’s start there. Tell us about the most recent Bahamas tournament and how many anglers were in it and what it took for you to win it. Walk us through that. Paint a picture for us there.
Brian: This year I believe there was just over [sixty 00:02:57] anglers fishing in the Bahamas. The Bahamas tournament it’s a little different than the ones that are run in the States. The fishing over there is good. There is a lot of barracuda. You have to lead yourself through to get to the other fish. Both years this year and last year, there to win the tournament it only took three or four fish. Compared it to the stateside tournament, there’s not as many fish caught. There is an opportunity to catch a lifetime of fish over there in the Bahamas.
This year, I still really don’t believe that I did it back to back. The fish that took to win it was a kingfish, about fifteen-pound kingfish, fifteen-pound mutton snapper. Second day, I only got around a fifteen-pound dolphin, which on that second day I didn’t think I had enough to win it, but it ended up being enough. It was a great time.
Dink: You got another ring I guess. I think I’ve seen a picture of it on social media. It looks like a dang Super Bowl ring.
Dink: Those aren’t cubic zirconia stones in there, is it?
Brian: Yeah, yes, at first when Joe Hector the founder of the tournament series, had said that he was going to be giving rings out, I was like, “Oh, God.” I was like, “Oh, I’d never wear that,” but it’s actually pretty cool to see. You get your name engraved on it and everything. It’s neat. It’s a little better than taking home a trophy. You got something that you could wear all the time.
Dink: That’s awesome. On that note and those fish you just described, I’d love to talk about inshore. Let’s talk about something we’re seeing a lot of on your Instagram site and at Facebook. You seem to be heading offshore an awful lot lately and landing some really beautiful fish. I saw one picture where you had some, what some of my fishing buddies call pig snappers or hog snappers. They look like they were the size of a wild hog. There was about six of them. On those trips, tell us about your gear. Let’s start with your rod and reel and what you’re spooling with, if you don’t mind sharing that with us, not so much how many rods you’re taking and how each one’s detailed. If you grab two setups, what would you typically take offshore with you?
Brian: I use Shimano Trevala. They’re actually jigging rods. I’ll use them for live baiting as well. The reason for that is I like to have a short, compact rod and reel. I don't want some big, bulky like a twenty-wide with a big, heavy hundred-pound rod. These rods are actually really small and compact. They more look like an inshore rod, but they have the power you need to be able to fight the bigger fish. Like I said, it’s this Shimano Trevala rod [inaudible 00:06:17] fifty to a hundred-pound to do. A thirty- to sixty-pound will work well [inaudible 00:06:23] for live baiting. Then I’ll match that with an eight thousand to ten thousand series Shimano reel. I’m using Spheros right now. I like [inaudible 00:06:34] good for the price point that they have, that they sell for.
That’s lined with thirty- to forty-pound braid. I use braid on everything. Some guys only prefer to use mono especially for live baiting. Again, I’m looking for more [light 00:06:50] capacity and the ability to use a smaller reel. Again, I think you’re looking not to have something big and bulky that I got to fight the rod more than the fish. That’s the main line is thirty- to forty-pound. Then I’ll run a fifteen-foot. Thirty, forty pounds will cover me there. That’s a general setup.
Dink: I know you’re repped by a number of lure companies. I believe Victory is one of those. Would that be something you’re stringing on there a lot, something from Victory? Tell us about their tackle and what you prefer when you’re jigging or whatever.
Brian: The Victory was a great company. They offered jig of all sizes at a very reasonable price compared to some people. The rods, I get down to a forty- to eighty-pound with a jigging rod. They’re a little shorter. It’s a six-foot-three instead of a six-foot-six, seven-foot. I like to use a smaller jig to start off if you can. Then what determines that is really how fast the current is moving. Then you can move up anywhere from up to a seven-ounce jig. I would prefer to use the lighter one.
We catch a lot of two-ounce jig. Then that’s mainly what would do that for, for [lots and 00:08:15] bottom fish. Big [elks 00:08:18] seems like a smaller jig if you can use it. It also helps on your shoulder and arm as your jig and throughout the day if you’re using a little lighter jig instead of going to the seven-ounce right away.
Dink: I left out the kayak part because I know you’re sponsored by, I believe it’s Hobie. What are you paddling or maybe I should say peddling when you’re headed offshore? Tell us about that gear.
Brian: We use the Hobie Outbacks for our whole fleet. It makes a huge difference having the peddle option. Those are the only thing that … The Hobie Outbacks are the perfect size for pretty much anybody. You can fit six-foot, seven-foot tall person in there anywhere down to a four-foot tall person. They’re a great all around boat. It makes it a lot easier having the peddles there for you.
Dink: All right, good, where are you headed next in the tournament series? Something stateside I guess.
Brian: The next event is the 27th of this month. That’s going to be held in Pompano Beach. I’m looking forward to that.
Dink: What do you do to prepare for a tournament like that? You just keep on fishing. That’s pretty tough, huh? Is that [crosstalk 00:09:40]
Brian: Yeah, I don’t really do a lot of pre-fish [interviews 00:09:43]. You generally are going to know where the fish are going to be holding a majority of the time. If you don’t, you figure it out really quickly out there. Again, in these tournaments, your objective is to get two kingfish and then try to find something else to add to your weight. Your kingfish are generally going to be in one or two areas that you should be able to figure it out pretty quickly out there.
Dink: All right, I’ve got three closing questions. There is about the first one is if you were headed offshore right now, just by yourself or with some buddies, what would be the top three or top four or five things other than your rod and reel and your tackle that you cannot live without when you’re out there on the water? What are you really upset about if you leave at home or forget?
Brian: Your main thing is a depth finder. You feel blind when you’re out there if you don’t have it, also sunglasses, of course, pretty basic stuff, depth finder, sunglasses and maybe a [gaffe 00:10:56] I would say are probably the top three.
Dink: On that topic, I do see that you’re harvesting some fish from time to time. Are you carrying an ice bag with you or how do you keep those fish fresh? You’ve got some good stuff you’re bringing back. You certainly don’t want it to spoil.
Brian: We use Engel coolers. It has a pretty decent size fish bag that you can actually still fit inside the back of your kayak. Another kingfish, put maybe two ten-pound bag of ice in there. That’ll keep your fish pretty well iced down for the whole day even during the summer.
Dink: They’re just regular ice.
Brian: [Crosstalk 00:11:34]
Dink: You’re not going with the dry ice then, huh?
Brian: No, no, no. Regular ice will do the trick for you with those coolers.
Dink: Awesome and then the second question I have what would be your top two or three knots that you … I’m sure you’re an expert at tying them at this point. If somebody doing this type of fishing is going to learn two or three knots, what would be your recommendation for them to practice and be able to tie on the water and sometimes just [pool 00:12:08] conditions?
Brian: [I’m being 00:12:10] simple with knots. It’s really [heavily tilled 00:12:13] me too often. A good one to know are just a basic clench knot. A good line-to-line knot would be a uni to uni. There’s also some other ones you can do that make it [a little 00:12:29] so there is not so much of a bulk on your knot if you want to be able to bring your line to the guide tips. I’m pretty like I said, pretty basic. I’ll do a uni to uni from my floor up to a main line knot either a clenched knot, a uni knot. I’m sorry not a uni knot a loop knot as well as a Palmer knot would be good to know. Basically, the majority of the time if I’m on the water and I want to try something fast, it’s going to be a uni to uni or a clenched knot. Those are really your basic knots. You can learn those pretty quick.
Dink: All right, I guess the last thing I had is where on social media can people find you, Facebook, Instagram, other than your website? What would be your username or account profile name that they can find you?
Brian: You can find us on YouTube and Pushin’ Water as well as Instagram and Pushin’ Water Kayak Charters. Then Facebook, you can find me under my name as Brian Nelli or on our business teams at Pushin’ Water Kayak Charters.
Dink: All right and that’s Nelli, N-E-L-L-I?
Dink: AKA NELBAG is that your nickname out there in the tournament series?
Brian: Yeah, that’ll work too.
Dink: All right, and do you want to go ahead and plug in closing plug your sponsors or some of your primary sponsors, somebody other than Laguna Costa, of course, thank you very much?
Brian: [Again 00:14:02] DOA Lures, Engel Coolers, Victory Lures, [Yavase 00:14:08] some of the main guys there’s a lot, Eagle Claw. They help out with all my hooks and everything for the offshore series.
Dink: All right, Brian Nelli of Pushin' Water Kayak Charters and extreme Bahamas champion, two-time champion, thanks for joining us on Laguna Costa Radio and hope …
Brian: No problem.
Dink: … to see you somewhere soon. Thanks Brian.
Brian: Sounds good, thank you.
Speaker 1: Today’s podcast was brought to you by Laguna Costa Outfitters, purveyors of apparel for the authentic angler, hunter and outdoors enthusiast. Check us out at LagunaCosta.com or join us on Instagram and Facebook, Laguna Costa sweet threads for the salty soul.
Podcast Interview TRANSCRIPTION: Josh Jorgensen a.k.a. "BlacktipH" September 10, 2015 10:51
Speaker 1: Welcome to Laguna Costa Radio, featuring interviews with authentic anglers and hunters from around the globe, and brought to you by Laguna Costa Outfitters, purveyors of sweet threads for the salty soul. Check us out at LagunaCosta.com.
Dink: Good morning, everybody. Dink Murphy here with Laguna Costa Radio. I am very happy to have today's guest for our second podcast of Laguna Costa Radio. I have Josh Jorgensen, aka BlacktipH, on the line with me. You there, Josh?
Josh: Yes, I am.
Dink: All right. Josh is the founder and the namesake of the most subscribed to YouTube fishing channel, or online fishing channel, for that matter, in the world. I hope I have that stat correct, Josh. That's pretty big playing.
Josh: Yes, yes. We're very blessed and have been very excited on the content we have.
Dink: That's awesome. Josh is an extreme angler with an adrenaline-seeking appetite for monster fish. He's been featured on CNN, CBS, Shark Week, and many more that we won't mention here. Thanks for joining us on Laguna Costa Radio, Josh. I know you're busy and got a lot going on. I tried to catch you last week and you said you had been up until about 5:00, 5:30 in the morning. I'm assuming you were out trying to catch monster fish. I don't know what was going on, but we're glad you joined us this morning.
Josh: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Very happy to be here.
Dink: Tell us a little bit about you, like where you grew up, when your love for fishing started, and just some general background on Josh Jorgensen, BlacktipH.
Josh: I grew up in Windsor, Ontario on Lake St. Clair. I started fishing when I was about three years old. I mostly fished for bass and pike and [inaudible 00:02:18]. I actually caught everything: carp, bluegill, [inaudible 00:02:23], catfish, anything that could pull line off my reel. I was pretty happy.
2003 I started fishing in Florida. Caught my first shark in 2004, and I've been hooked ever since, and never really looked back too much at fresh water. I love fresh water, but getting into a little of salt water fishing, it's hard to go back. I just love catching the big fish, man. It's super exciting. I love hearing my reel scream. I love feeling that power. I love the tug of war when it comes to a monster, where I put everything I have into the fish and he's still kicking my butt. It's just awesome.
I've been living down here since 2011, and very thankful and very blessed to be here. BlacktipH started out just me posting videos, because didn't believe that I caught sharks on the beach. I start posting some videos, and one thing led to another, and now it's the largest fishing channel online.
Dink: I have to tell you from a personal standpoint, the first time I heard the name BlacktipH, and I'm not trying to plug this company, but I was preparing for Sharkathon, which is another conservation-based, land-based shark fishing tournament. Takes place ...
Josh: In Texas.
Dink: Padre Island National Seashore. I was interviewing him and getting some recommendations on leaders. The guy was with Shark Outlet. Towards the end we said, "Where can people go for some more videos and tips and the novice that's trying to learn a little bit more about the equipment and the strategies?" He said, "Man, just go on YouTube and search BlacktipH." I'm like, "Black Tip what?" "BlacktipH." He said, "Trust me, everything you need is right there. The guy is awesome, very knowledgeable."
Tell us about that name. I think the H is for Hunter. People used to call you BlacktipHunter in the beginning? Is that how that came about? Tell us a little bit about that name.
Josh: Yeah, yeah. I was obsessed with Black Tip sharks. That was my Internet user name. One day they call me the BlacktipHunter. I just love catching Blacktips so much. People would call, short form they'd call BTH, short for BlacktipHunter. I said, "Hey, why not just say BlacktipH?" It was actually funny how the name came to be. It was more trial and error than it was really, "That's such a great idea. Let's go with that name."
It's worked out great. I think a lot of people have learned, are familiar with the name now. It's very unusual. There was actually a time when I was thinking about changing the name of the entire show. I realized that the name BlacktipH, because it's original, it's not something that exists in dictionary, it really helps in terms of ... Whenever someone mentions BlacktipH, that really helps grow the awareness because it's so unusual. The more people see it, the more people pay attention.
Dink: It certainly seems to be working for you mighty fine. As far as that footage and that channel on YouTube, is it just shark footage, or does it feature a number of so-called monster fish catches and tips?
Josh: BlacktipH, we love showing videos that people want to see. My rule is simple: I won't upload anything that I myself won't watch. We like to show really exciting content that really shows how awesome the fish is, whether it's sharks or [inaudible 00:06:14] or sailfish or whatever. I want to show how amazing of a sport that really is.
In the past and also in the future, I focus heavily on education, trying to help our viewers. We answer a lot of comments. We try to answer all the comments, but sometimes it's too much. When someone asks questions, I know what it feels like. I know what it feels like to be in the dark. It really helps when someone who's knowledgeable and has gone through that stuff can really help.
Like when I first started hooking really big sharks on the beach, I lost every single one of them. I was just trial and error, trial and error. Oh, that didn't work. Let's try something else next time. Every shark I've lost, I think I've almost explored every single [inaudible 00:07:10]. I've learned how not to catch fish before I learned how to actually catch fish. That's where I really like to help people, is, "Hey, this is what's worked for me. Don't do this or that, because this is what can happen."
Dink: On that topic, if you don't mind, there's so many options and things we could talk about with such an experience and unique guest like yourself. If we could drill down a little bit on shark fishing, and if you don't mind me doing a little more narrow than that, just to stay focused. If we could talk land-based, course conservation-based catch and release. If we could speak directly to the beginner or the novice shark angler, or the wannabe, or the aspiring. Land-based, whether it's on the beach or whether it's on a pier, whether they have a kayak to paddle a bait out there or not. Are you okay if we drill down there a little bit?
Josh: Yeah, absolutely.
Dink: If we could, could we start with the equipment? If somebody was going out to get their first rod and reel, without breaking the bank, and maybe they need to kind of shoot for the middle. I know there's a wide range of equipment out there, but if we could make some recommendations for that person that maybe doesn't have anything right now, just kind of something that'll be good, solid, all around, and again, somewhat economical, not break the bank. Where would you start with the rod and reel?
Josh: Honestly, I think the best way for anyone to start shark fishing from the beach, the shore, is to start with a surf casting setup. Learn how to catch the smaller sharks, anywhere from five to seven feet. Don't go and buy [inaudible 00:09:13] and 130s and try to catch a 13-foot fish. Yes, it can happen, if you're an experienced angler. If you're an inexperienced angler and you're just getting into fishing, start with surf casting. Get a surf rod that's anywhere from eleven to thirteen feet that can cast anywhere from ... up to eight or more ounces of [inaudible 00:09:40] weight.
Depending on the beach conditions ... It could be strong current, it could be whatever. You want to be able to make sure you can catch a heavy enough sinker [inaudible 00:09:48] or even a claw sinker. You want to get a reel that can hold a minimum of 400 yards of line. A lot of people, they go, "You don't really need that much." I've hooked a lot of fish where you really needed that much.
One thing that, especially when you're first starting out, nothing hurts more than losing a really nice fish, in my opinion. I can remember all the fish I've lost more than the fish I've caught, because the fish I've lost are the ones that ... It's like a scar, man. It's like, oh, man. It sucks.
You can get ... I'm not going to say any particular brands, but like I say, a spinning reel, or if you like casting a conventional, something that can hold a minimum of 400 yards of line. I recommend fishing braid if you're going to do surf casting. I would start with minimum 50, 65 preferred. When you tie your knots to your leaders, make sure you double up the knots. You want to wrap the line around the eye of the swivel twice. That's a really major thing, especially with braid. Swivels, most of them, they're subject to corrosion, and that braid, as it moves back and forth from that swivel eye, it can really fray. You get a big enough shark, it'll just pop it off.
Those are some pretty basic techniques right there. Another thing, for bait-wise, my rule of thumb is never use a piece of bait larger than a closed fist when you're surf casting. There's no need for it. In surf casting, the larger the bait you use, the more likely you are to lose the shark.
Dink: If we can circle back just real quick to the rod and reel, and I understand not wanting to mention specific brands, but like the eleven to thirteen foot surf rod, any type of ... What do they need to look at as far as what might be stamped on that rod for line or medium action or medium heavy, that sort of thing, as far as the rod? Let's start there.
Josh: I think the most important thing is your [inaudible 00:12:09] weight. You want to make sure that your rod is capable of casting ... I personally use [inaudible 00:12:15] sinkers. I never really use a sinker less than five ounces. When you take into consideration your [inaudible 00:12:23] weighs two ounces, your weight is five, six ounces, and your bait is probably three ounces ... You want something like a ten ounce. If you guy anything lighter, it's going to snap like a twig.
Dink: That's usually marked on the rod, right? Ten ounces.
Josh: Yeah, yeah.
Dink: Yeah, okay. The reel, you said spinning reel. What are they going to spend there? Is there anything to stay away from in the spinning reel line? These things can get pretty sandy and salty and messy, and if they're not going to be cleaning real well ... You want something durable.
Josh: The reality is ... I personally use a very high end reel because of how much I fish. If you're going to fish a lot, invest your money wisely. Buy a reel that's sealed, that's designed to take the abuse of sand and saltwater. Don't buy a cheap reel.
Dink: Sealed. That'll be marked on the advertising of the box, right? Sealed bearings.
Josh: It's just sealed so water can't get in, if you're going to fish a lot, because otherwise you're going to go through reels. I've broken a ton of equipment. The cheaper end reels, they fall apart. They really do, especially if you fish them hard.
Dink: Yeah. The line we're going to spool that reel with, do you ever do any mono filament backing, or do you go straight braid?
Josh: No, I never, ever do mono filament backing. I've seen the horrors of mono filament backing. If you want to lose your fish, because you care more about your reel, then yes, get mono backing. The problem that I saw is ... One time I saw a fish that had ... We had very tight drag, and there was mono backing. The braid cut into the mono and it jammed. It jammed the entire reel and eventually it snapped.
Me personally, I will break a reel to catch a fish, especially [inaudible 00:14:37] knot. In my opinion, it's a great story. "Hey, I came to a knot. I stopped a fish at the knot." I've stopped a lot of fish at the knot. You can stop fish at the knot. It's very powerful, especially if you have a strong knot.
Dink: Okay, so we're going straight braid. What pound test on that braid?
Josh: I would 65 is a good starting one, just because they give that little extra strength.
Dink: Okay. Then rolling right into, I guess, from the braid straight to the leader, the shark leader.
Josh: Yeah. We got a video on YouTube that your audience can watch about how to make a leader for surf fishing. It's a pretty good video there, pretty well organized. If you don't know how to crimp, there's a little video thumbnail inside the video. You can click another video that shows you how to crimp.
Dink: This is making the entire rig.
Dink: This is not buying a prefabbed shark rig.
Dink: You can walk them through right down to the hook size and everything like that.
Josh: Yeah. I never recommend buying store bought rigs. They fall apart. It's junk.
Dink: They can find that on your channel, excellent. They should spend a little time there, and practice makes perfect, and make some rigs.
Josh: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Dink: Okay. What about other peripherals, or as I might say, tools for the trade? Bolt cutters, rope to land the fish, things of that nature. What else might they need to consider to be prepared for a decent size catch?
Josh: You're going to need a de-hooker. I've used pliers a lot, but the problem with pliers is they don't always work the best. Sometimes you just can't get that angle. A de-hooker is sometimes better. Bolt cutters, I never like leaving the hook in any fish. I'd rather just cut the hook and pull the hook out. If you can't get the hook out of the shark, use bolt cutters and just cut the hook in half. Usually a tapped hook in the fish's mouth, it will shake out.
Dink: It'll work out over time.
Dink: A lot of people don't realize that.
Josh: If the hook's [inaudible 00:17:04] skin, you cut half of it, the other half's just going to come out, whether it's chasing a fish and it gets caught on the fish he's catching, or if he rubs his head on sand or something, it's going to come off.
Dink: A lot of people don't realize just how tired a shark might be by the time you actually land it, get it to shallow water. Can you walk us through that process? I think, if I'm not mistaken, you can bring it up too high on dry ground and it's not so good for the shark.
Josh: Sharks don't have any bones. Their bodies are designed for zero gravity, like in the water. What's the term? It's neutral gravity in the water. They're not fighting against ... as much as someone on land is. When you pull a shark up, especially a larger shark, the gills can get crushed, the organs can be damaged. You have to remember, it's very important to land a shark as fast as possible, any fish as fast as possible.
I'm not against light tackle fishing, but I believe with light tackle fishing there comes a lot of responsibility. Maybe you have to rule out having a photo with your fish. At the end of the day, catch and release fishing, 50% is catching and 50% is successful releasing, and if you don't successful release, you fail.
Land the shark as fast as possible, bring him to shore. You want to pull him as far enough out of the water where they can't swim away. Don't pull them on the dry sand. Leave them on wet sand. Don't be over-obsessive taking pictures. My rule of thumb is one to two minutes max. It's all based on the situation. If you have a foul hook shark, don't even take it out of the water. Get the hook out and let it go, because it's probably extremely tired. You just have to assess your situation.
Some people, they do it because they have an ego to fill and they want to take a great photo of their great catch and they want to show the world how awesome they are. Some of these sharks you catch, especially when you get into the larger species, these fish are probably older than you are. I've been there. I've seen fish die in front of me, and it's not a good feeling. It's terrible.
The reality is, fishing has its casualties. You're never going to have 100% mortality rate. Fish die. It's just the way it is, no matter if you're catching bass, you're catching sharks, or sailfish, or whatever. The reality is some fish just don't make it. As a responsible angler, it's important to make every step possible for the fish to survive. The fish should have priority over photographs or measurements or anything like that.
Dink: That's great. Great information. If anybody who's ever fished for sharks and landed one, you'll know you get a very large crowd, depending on the time of the day, very quickly, and sometimes you even have some people that don't know what the heck they're talking about, yelling in your ear, telling you you're doing something bad. A lot of misinformation out there, so appreciate all of that detail.
Oh, let's talk one more thing on that release. I don't know if you're an advocate of this. I see some that will literally straddle the shark and kind of guide it back into the water until it's got enough life in it that it's going to swim away on its own. A lot of people might look at that and say, "That's crazy. You're just asking for trouble." I think we forget just how tired that shark is. Can you walk us through that real quick on your technique for that?
Josh: You just want to make sure that the shark is getting water through its gills. I've been neck deep at [inaudible 00:21:24] with four hundred pound bull sharks, and big hammerhead, and whatever, and tigers. You want to make sure that the fish lives. When you put him in the water, if he takes off, don't try to be a hero; just let him go. He will turn around. He's confused and he might turn around and bite you. You want to stay away from his head. You want to stay away from his mouth, obviously. You want to make sure that you can kind of guide the shark back to the water. If you have to go in a little bit just to make sure that it lives, you have to do that.
My number one rule is don't try to be a show off. The second people try showing off, or pride sets in, is the very second that accidents happen. You stop focusing on the unpredictable nature of the animal, and you're focusing on trying to use the animal for your own benefit. That's where accidents happen. It's very important to give these animals the most respect as possible, because they are wild animals and they are capable of biting you or hurting you. You've got to approach them very cautiously. They need your help sometimes, and you've got to give them help, but don't go too far.
Dink: Great. We've run out of time here. You just tell me if these things we might have missed can easily be found on your YouTube channel. I guess you've got something in more detail on bait recommendation types of fish.
Josh: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Dink: That sort of thing. Okay. We can check that. Launching the bait, whether you're casting with a surf rod or paddling a kayak when you get to that level, that's all out there as well?
Josh: Yeah, it is. We're actually in the process of making a whole series of land-based videos, land-based shark fishing tutorials. We're going to make sure that these are very well produced and great educational reference videos for anglers. As our channel grows and our audience grows, it's become more and more difficult to answer all the questions. Making videos makes my life much easier. I'd rather take all the questions we've had over the years and take the key points out of them and make videos about that.
At the end of the day, there's always going to be questions you can't answer in a video sometimes. The reality is I'm going to do my best to make sure that we can answer everyone's questions. I had those questions too when I started. You need someone to help you answer them. You don't feel confident going out there on your own trying to do something like that. You want to have some guidance.
Dink: Great. On that note, we look forward to those videos, but there's certainly plenty out there right now, so please take a look on YouTube everybody. BlacktipH, be easy to find with a search. Josh, other website you want to plug, or social media? Where else might they find you out there?
Josh: They can find BlacktipH on Instagram and on Facebook and on Twitter. Pretty easy to find. Just type BlacktipH in. Yeah. On Instagram we're pretty active. We've trying to post multiple times a day. Facebook we're posting unique videos, and Twitter we're giving updates.
Dink: Excellent. Josh, we really appreciate you joining us today on Laguna Costa Radio. We're going to send you some gear. You may be prohibited from wearing it publicly, based on your current sponsorships, but maybe you can sleep in it at home or something. We look forward to sending you something you can do something with, just a small thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Thanks, Josh.
Josh: I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Dink: Have a great day, great week. Take care.
Josh: You too. Bye-bye.
Speaker 1: Today's podcast was brought to you by Laguna Costa Outfitters, purveyors of apparel for the authentic angler, hunter, and outdoors enthusiast. Check us out at LagunaCosta.com, or join us on Instagram and Facebook. Laguna Costa, sweet threads for the salty soul.
Hook, Line and...Bolt Cutters? August 04, 2015 11:01
Hook, Line and...Bolt Cutters?
By Dink Murphey
Normally the conditions along this stretch of Florida emerald coast are ideal for kayak fishing. On this particular vacation however,Tropical Storm Bonnie had stirred things up a bit so we put the kayaks aside most days. By day four of this annual family trip Kevin and I had our fill of family fun and decided to rig up a couple of rods and do a little surf fishing. Before battling the breakers, we headed down to see our friends at Yellowfin Ocean Sports for a couple of custom made spoons.
As expected, the surf was relentless. We ventured out to about chest deep water...going under some of the waves and over others trying to settle into a good spot. It was early July, but the infamous “June grass” was in full play. Somewhere in between navigating the breakers and cleaning our spoons of the annoying grass, the unexpected happened. I was wearing sunglasses, but somehow the new silver spoon I had tied on managed to do a little dance on my face, but I never saw it again. It had decided to snag my skin just below my left eye. More than a snag I soon realized. After blindly feeling around for the little guy I realized that it’s new sharp hook was deeply embedded. I calmly communicated to my buddy Kevin who was fishing close by. "Hey Bud...this is NOT good," I said. Kevin continued on with his next cast responding "Yea, I know...this June grass is a pain in the ass," not even turning around to look. Finally Kevin looked over his shoulder for a look. "Ohhh crap,” he said...“we better head in and take care of that."
We made the long walk back to the cottage we had rented. Walking past bikers, beach goers and finally highway 30-A traffic. The big and heavy silver spoon was just hanging from my face. Periodically I would hold the spoon to relieve the pressure of the pull on my eye to a minimum. As we made our way back, I was devising a strategy. I wasn't sure what exactly but I knew we had to get this thing out on our own and avoid a trip to the hospital. Kevin and I agreed that we would not alert the wives or kids to this predicament, rather we would go to work on it quietly on the side of the cottage. I instructed Kevin to go in and retrieve a few items, stressing to him to be sure and do so without drawing any attention. Bolt cutters we had traveled with for shark fishing, a bottle of Patron tequila from the kitchen counter...and his phone to document the procedure.
We started with the bolt cutters. That was the easiest part, cutting the spoon away from the hook, relieving pressure from the spoon and giving us a little more room to work. As far as I knew, there were basically three options for hook removal. One involves a trip to the emergency room to have it removed. One small problem with that option though. We had dinner plans at a premium restaurant with our wives in less than an hour. Unless we wanted to hear about this the rest of the trip...and jeopardize future fishing time, that was not an option. The other two options involved removing the hook yourself. While I have read about a quick-jerk method using fishing line and strategic pressure on the embedded barb, I was not prepared to execute that method. That particular procedure seemed more suitable for ahook embedded in the thumb or hand...any area less sensitive than the flesh around the eye! Reminding myself that the hook was new, and very sharp...I elected to push the barb along the path it had started. I gritted my teeth and gave it a steady push. It wasn't so painful, but the sounds I heard as the barb made it’s way through were not pleasant. The plan was successful however, and Kevin used the bolt cutters again to clip off the barb before I removed the shank of the hook. Out the way it came in. I would later make my way to a local clinic for a tetanus shot, but not before a good cleansing with the premium Tequila...or our dinner date with our unsuspecting wives.
Small Harvest. Big Memories. July 27, 2015 14:17
Small Harvest. Big Memories.
by Dink Murphey
My 14 year old son, Bobby, and I have been after his first buck for a few years now. We have had a great time leading up to this: his first doe, a javelina and a few other Texas hill country critters along the way, but it was time now. It was time to complete the traditional father-son “rite of passage” of the whitetail hunting world.
Just after Christmas we would we would get an impromptu invitation from my friend, James that would be a game changer. It was time, and I knew Bobby was ready. All the years of practice on the range and in the field, all the hard work, the preparation and management would pay off. Bobby had paid his dues.
The last few years are filled with great memories. We have had a lot of fun making runs to our hill country lease that borders Bandera and Uvalde counties. While it may be later in life before they appreciate the hard work of driving t-posts all day in 104 degree heat I think that both of my boys have learned to appreciate the investment of time and elbow grease involved in loading protein, mixing mineral licks, loading corn and maintaining the feeders.
Throw in a six-hour drive between our house and the hunting lease and the anticipation for a payout grows.
For the last two seasons I have listened to Bobby talk about his hunting friends, his buddies from school who had not only shot their first buck, but a couple. Periodically he would show me pictures that these friends had posted on Instagram or sent him via text message.
Indeed they were nice deer, very nice in fact. Most of these deer he had showed me were cull bucks on the properties where they were taken, management deer. These were big eight pointers and even bigger nine pointers with solid antler mass, deer that would make any grown man proud to show his hunting compadres and these weren’t even the trophies that stalk those properties.
Our current hunting lease is great. It is the most beautiful Texas hill country that I have ever seen. The family who owns and runs the ranch settled the land in 1885 and they have been good stewards of what God has blessed them with.
While I have used the term “God’s country” to describe other locales in my life, this land might just be the land that the good Lord smiles on most. It is that magnificent.
Sitting within a few rifle shots of the town of Utopia the hills hold good solid eight and ten point hill country deer. The hogs and an occasional exotic typical of the Texas hill country are an added bonus.
The primary requirements of our lease are reasonable and conducive to good sound management with all the typical cull requirements, doe and buck alike. Shooter bucks preferably four and a half years old or older but no less than three and a half, eight points or better and antlers outside the ears.
Bobby continued to remind me how many seasons we have had void of a trophy, and have always quipped back that it hasn’t been for a lack of opportunity.
During the second rut, I gave my son the green light on a very nice 4 ½ year old eight pointer. Just before he was to pull the trigger my son paused and came up off the scope for a deep breath...apologizing and returning to the scope quickly, but not quick enough. It was his first bout with buck fever, but surely not his last. The doe that buck was chasing ran off, and so did he. I must accept responsibility for a second opportunity that went south as well. I really like this lease, and would rather not be asked to leave for a rookie mistake.
Mindful of that I hesitated to call a different eight point clear to take. By the time I decided it was alright, the nice eight-pointer decided to make himself invisible. Maybe he was chasing a doe; maybe he got a whiff of my coffee breath that morning. Whatever the reason he was gone, perhaps deciding to venture over the hill or worse over the old cedar and barbed wire fence separating our lease and a neighboring ranch. That fence divided hunters who, while unequal in management philosophy, sit equally eager to bag a buck for the season.
Little did I know that a similar inequality in deer management would be the catalyst for Bobby having a good opportunity at his first ever whitetail buck. As much as I would have liked this to have happened on our hill country lease, we were elated about the invitation from James.
My friend James had asked us to join him, his son and another family to his ranch near Shamrock, Texas. It took me all of about four seconds to accept.
I have never been known as a light or efficient packer, even less so when it comes to hunting and fishing trips. This trip was no exception. I had been intentional about using a Sako Forester chambered in 243 on previous hunts with my boys. I thought it would be extra special for them to shoot their first buck with the same rifle I used for my first buck in Bosque county years ago; a rifle that was used by their father, grandfather and great grandfather.
However, something made me turn to a different rifle for this trip: a no-frills blued and walnut-stocked Remington Model 700 chambered in 30-06. This was the first rifle that I was ever able to call my own; a gift from my father for my sixteenth birthday.
I never really used it much because I did not like its old Weaver fixed-power scope, but months prior I had purchased my first ever Burris scope and mounted it on this sentimental firearm. It gave the rifle new life while maintaining its character. I liked the updated look and even more, what I saw through the new glass. I took comfort knowing that it was recently sighted in and it had not traveled since.
I was excited to learn that our friend and host, James, was not only willing to put us in one of his blinds for a buck, but his requirements were very liberal to say the least.
His ranch is big. Straddling two different counties, it is big even by Texas standards. He has invested a lot of time and money practicing the best quality deer management, an investment that has been paying off, not only for him but the neighboring properties as well. Neighbors with little invested in deer management in the area.
James shared with us how a neighboring farmer had been putting day hunters along a fence line that they share who were shooting at just about anything that walked by. His very generous offer to Bobby and I continued with making it clear that even if a Boone & Crockett was to appear at that blind, we were to take him. Now those were guidelines we could get used to.
All bundled up for the 12 degree Panhandle chill; we headed out to the blind. It was not long before a nice little eight point approached our area, followed by two others. Bobby and I quickly agreed on the larger buck of the three, the one that was farthest back. He was about a 100-yard shot but not presenting himself as we would prefer for a cleaner shot. He suddenly got a little jumpy and wandered off in a slow trot.
I was quick to tell Bobby to take one of the two smaller ones still there. He kindly declined and said that he would wait for the bigger one to come back.
Was this my son who was exhibiting such patience?
I liked what I was hearing, and his patience paid off. Not long after, the buck came circling back and Bobby was at the ready.
I whispered to him, "I will not say another word. Take your time and shoot when you feel that it is right."
A few minutes later, a shot rang out.
While the buck did not drop where he stood, all of the telltale signs of a hit were there, even though he ran off with the others. I suggested that we should sit tight for fifteen minutes or so before we go looking, but Bobby could hardly sit still.
I finally agreed to exit the blind after about 10 minutes and we approached the area where his shot made impact.
Bobby was the first to pick up the blood trail. I jumped ahead a bit and picked it up further. Never rehearsed and certainly not anything we had ever studied for we were in synch and patiently took turns jumping ahead of each other as we continued to pick up the blood trail over and over again.
“Here it is”, I would say.
“Here it is again Dad”, Bobby would respond seconds later.
This would continue for what seemed like an eternity but probably only lasted 5 minutes until finally, while Bobby’s head was still down, I looked ahead and discovered the downed deer. I turned and stared back at him, his head was still down looking for that next spot of blood.
He looked up at me and saw me smiling. He must have known what that smile meant as he quickly changed direction and peered into the distance. He saw his buck, looked back at me and after a brief shout of excitement he broke down and wept.
Wiping his tears and before he looked at his buck again, he embraced me. A hug unlike any I have ever been on the receiving end of from either of my boys. We approached the deer up close and I just stood there as Bobby looked him over. Another bear hug ensued, followed by high-fives and dialogue that I honestly do not remember in enough detail to put to pen and paper.
He finally did it: a beautiful and respectable seven point.
My phone would capture the moment as Bobby posed for a picture he had probably rehearsed in his mind a hundred times; only this time it was for real.
During the drive home we planned a stop at Syracuse Meats. I was selfishly thinking about whether I wanted more “Buck Stick Jerky” or jalapeño cheese links. Bobby had other thoughts on his mind. He wanted a shoulder-mount. I had been thinking more along the lines of a home-made European mount but Bobby reminded me of my first buck, a Bosque county basket buck that sits on the wall of his room today: shoulder mount and all.
It caused me to reflect. There is so much emphasis on the animal harvest these days, often at the expense of the authentic and memorable hunting experiences. While the Wheeler county seven-point riding in our truck wasn’t the most impressive antler harvest, I wouldn’t trade him or the experience for anything in the world and neither would Bobby.
All of our time and hard work had finally paid off. In our family record book he was a trophy, a memory for a lifetime for father and son.
Shark Fishing Gone Bad July 27, 2015 14:10
Shark Fishing Gone Bad.
By Dink Murphey
The day we had set for our shark fishing adventure with the kids was Thursday. It was just Wednesday but the water looked nice and there was no June grass in site to make a mess of the line. June grass ruined our shark fishing the previous year. Kevin suggested we go for it that evening. I agreed.
The gear was all prepared well in advance. A 6 foot boat rod, a Penn Senator 6/0 wide, 100 lb test line, home made shark rig comprised of weed-eater line, steel leader, 20/0 circle hook and a heavy spider weight. We had a nice big blue fish from our outing the previous day...an ideal shark bait. We would be practicing "catch and release" so other gear ready in the bucket included rope to lasso the tail and pull to shallow water, bolt cutters to cut the hook quickly, gloves, camera and a flashlight.
My kayak was also ready to be paddled out to the 2nd sand bar for the bait drop, the major feeding grounds of the bull sharks and other sharks that frequent the emerald coast.
We all met on the beach at 6pm and started to prepare the bait. While preparing the bluefish Kevin suggested it might be a little too rough still and that maybe we should wait until tomorrow as originally planned. The adrenaline was already pumping at that point so I continued to prepare the bait and said "let's go for it". If we lived on the coast it would be different, but we had limited time on vacation and the kids were excited, and the adrenaline continued. We were making a very poor decision.
Working a little too fast on the bait a cut my thumb on the circle hook's razor sharp tip. Not a small cut, a large gushing cut that could have used 3 stitches. One of the kids fetched some electrical tape back at the house and I gave my thumb a creative and tight wrap to hold long enough to make the paddle and drop the bluefish and then finished the bait...running the hook through the mouth, out the gill then punching into the gut and back out. I quickly strapped on three zip-ties to keep the hook positioned properly for an accurate jab into the jawbone of an unsuspecting bull. I finished the bluefish off with some nice cuts, slashes and pokes to make for a a nice bloody bait. Sharks after all love blood.
Kevin took the rod and set the drag open, keeping his thumb on the spool to prevent backlash. I zipped up my life jacket, leashed my paddle to the kayak and straddled it quickly for a launch just after a wave crashed down. Like all the days before on this trip, the surf was tough. I knew I could make the early breakers, but the question would be how much water would the yak take on. Excessive water in the hull was not good for the breakers at the 2nd bar...or the paddle back to shore. A "turtling" was in the cards, but I was praying it would be on the inbound paddle back to shore.
I continued to make it over (and through) the waves, but the ability to regain speed became much more difficult with every breaker. As I continued to pant and paddle to the drop point it suddenly dawned on me that I did not attach the heavy spider weight to the rig before launching. The spider weight is critical as it holds the bait on the 2nd sand bar and prevents it from drifting down current or worse, back to shore. There was no way in the world I could make it back and then do a second paddle. I would just have to make the drop and hope for the best with the fat, fresh and bloody bluefish we were so excited to have on hand.
I was just about there but I needed to clear one more big wave. I needed a little more time in the swell between breakers. Time to allow me to detach the bait from the snap-hook in the rear of the kayak. A fairly simple task but not one you want to do with a big wave on you. The next wave would come...but I wouldn't clear it. It happened so fast. Maybe I was not quite straight enough on the bow. Maybe I just didn't have enough speed. Maybe I just had too much water in the hull at that point. Whatever it was it was irrelevant now, because I was in the water...and my kayak was upside down. As I struggled to right the kayak some immediate concerns flashed through my mind. Find the bait and detach it from the snap-bolt ASAP. Our nice fresh, bloody bluefish was dangling in the water somewhere below the yak. I don't recall really every having looked for the bait, as my mind was quickly focused on trying to right the kayak and climb back in. Visions of sharks honing in on the new bait in the water was strong. I'm not sure how much longer I spent unsuccessfully trying to right the kayak...and before I knew it my mind was made up. Leave the kayak. Leave the kayak with the bloody bait attached to it below the surface. Leave now. So I did.
As I began backstroking back to shore I looked over my shoulder to see just how far and hard my swim would be. It didn't look good...and the thought of it being prime time feeding hour for sharks made it even worse. Even with a life jacket on I know the waves and currents could do strange things in these waters...especially that far out. I continued to backstroke long and hard. When I was what seemed half way home I remembered my injured thumb. The big cut. The big bloody cut. The big bloody cut that was leaving a tasty trail in it's wake. My right arm that housed my bloody thumb shot up in the air a la Arnold Horshack as I switched to a one-armed back stroke. Man, 2 arms are certainly better than one when you need it.
The arrival in shallow water was non eventful as a suddenly realized I was still back stroking in 4 feet of water. As my feet scraped the sandy bottom I did my best to raise my late Elvis frame from the water. Before I could absorb the questions from the kids and worried looks from my buddies on shore I began to hear the voice of my wife. "Honey, I think it's too rough...maybe you shouldn't shark fish this evening."
She has been so right...on oh so many occasions. She was right again. I only wish I had listened. God is good. Yes, even in the vacuum of our own stupidity, God is good.