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The Big One That Didn't Get Away

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The Big One That Didn’t Get Away


I got out last night just before the sunset, the bay was as flat as glass. The sunset quickly and the summer sky turned a brilliant shade of red, then it was over. It was to be another very dark night, neither moon nor stars to help light my way. As a matter of fact, the only light I recall was the distant glow of the mainland.

I was tossing some tins and buck tails along with chasing some swirls and splashes with some top water plugs, but no luck with either of those techniques. The fish were there, but I was unable to get them to take my offerings. I switched over to trolling a tube and worm. I managed a couple of hook ups but lost both of them. I began to notice fascinating bioluminescent light in the water beside my kayak. And guessed that they were some kind of small jelly fish. Every time my paddle would move through the water it would light up with a brilliant explosion of green light, and when I would paddle at a faster pace, the small wake off my bow also twinkled with these little mesmerizing green lights. They seemed to be quite alien and I enjoyed playing around with them for a little while.

I posted an inquiry in a fishing forum if anybody knew for certain what I was seeing, and I told them not to say ‘flashback’ because I had already thought that. I was later told that they were Noctiluca, a type of plankton known as dinoflagellates. Its name literally means night light.

Noctiluca, like many other bioluminescent life forms, lights up in response to physical disturbances in the water. Now if I was able to see these little luminescent critters that meant that I was completely without the element of surprise, surely my quarry noticed. I decided that it was time to take a short break on an area of shallow water known as the flats, to refuel with a sandwich that my wife lovingly made.

Soon I was on the hunt again. By this time the incoming flood tide was really beginning to pour into the bay. With hopes that large stripped bass were working their way from the ocean to feed in the warm shallow waters I deployed my lure of choice which was the tube and worm, again, seeing how I had some action on it before.

It happened on my first drift…..WHAM! Something had hit my line hard and began to run, the rod was bent over, and the line was peeling off at an unbelievable pace.

My short lived excitement soon turned to concern, this fish was big, and taking off lots of line and it seemed that I was not going to be able to slow him down. Then suddenly it happened……..THUNK! Everything stopped. No more screaming reel, no more excitement, just the thought that I had been spooled by a monster. As I tilted my headlamp towards my reel I could not believe what I was seeing - the end of my line and it’s still attached….the knot held! That brief moment of disappointment is replaced by another rush of adrenaline. Knowing that I could be only seconds away from losing this fight I slowly start gaining line back on my spool. Aided by the strong currents and the sheer strength of this fish, this is turning into somewhat of an epic battle.

After a few more exhausting runs I finally got him close to the kayak. From the size of the splashes and what I could see with my headlamp,I knew that I had hooked into a very large fish. I switch the rod from my right to my left hand, moving it as far away to the side as I could and reached for the tube then the beast’s lower jaw. I’ve got him!

I begin to realize that I’m having a hard time pulling this brute on board. Out of desperation I muster up the strength and with one last heave I pull him out of the water and onto my lap. After I secure my fish and catch my breath, I recall that line from the movie Jaws, “I think were going to need a bigger boat.”

This stripped bass measured forty-one inches from head to fork and probably weighed thirty pounds. I was proud to have caught this fish on a traditional style paddle kayak with no rudder, no electronics and no live bait. Apparently other people felt this was a worthwhile accomplishment as well, because when I turned on my computer, my favorite fishing site had chosen me and my catch to be on their home page cover. I was quite honored.


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