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  • Rob Baker

To catch or to catch on


I've been out fishing about half a dozen times now and still my stories are about the fish that got away rather than the fish that got caught. I've spent quite a bit of time and effort releasing my hooks from things other than fish, although thankfully not yet from my ears or the back of my head.

I was casting nicely in a shallow tidal pool on a warm sunny day. My kayak was safely aground, and I was on foot in about 1 foot of water. Small pools were deeper and covered in sea grasses. Holes in the sand all around me signaled the burrows of crabs, many of which might also have been hiding in the grasses. Fish (of unknown species since I can't yet do that identification while they flip up out of the water for a brief instant) were splashing and jumping all around me. I was using a plastic Pop-R crankbait (cast it out and reel it in and it moves in an enticing way), which was probably not appropriate for that environment but it was already tied to my line when I got there. Any lure with hooks exposed was clearly better presented at the surface of the water anyway, given the shallow water and hooking hazards. I just wanted to see how that lure would work, and experimentation was half the fun.

There was relatively large mangrove tree hanging over the water (see in the top left of the above photo). My goal was to cast past the mangrove and reel in my lure across the reach of the overhanging branches and entice any fish hiding there to bite. I was standing near the bank at the top right of the photo, just to the right of the small channel inlet seen there. I made a strong confident side arm cast to "line drive" my Pop-R into perfect position. My Pop-R lure is shown below.

My lure landed about 5 yards to the right of the mangrove tree in the hard spiky grasses near the edge of the water. My hooks grabbed hold firmly, and my lure was stuck. What a mess, but I was in luck. The water was shallow and I could walk over and pull my lure out safely. I was wearing my favorite pair of tan Keen Newport sandals that had been repaired a dozen times with Shoe Goo. I picked my way over carefully, reeling in my line as I went and trying to free the lure without having to go the entire way. When I got closer I became less patient, and moved quickly to reach the entangled lure. I lunged into very soft very deep mud before I could stop. The suction tore the first shoe from my foot before I could stop moving. The second didn't come out either. I was in mud up to my knees and in water up to my waist. I lost a $100 pair of shoes (granted they were tired) to recover a $5.50 lure. Ahhh the joy of a net loss.

Later that day, after switching to a Bomber Long-A, I moved to an area with faster current in the main part of the channel. I'm sure my Bomber didn't swim deep enough to attract any attention from fish, but a seagull swooped in and grabbed it with both feet and started to take it. Thankfully it let go before any of the hooks set. I wasn't prepared to handle an irate full grown seagull hooked to my lure from my kayak in the current. The Bomber Long-A wiggles and moves and looks just like a small minnow.

I've also hooked my stern splash guard and had to cut the line and pull it out at the end of the day. I've had plastic worms plop into the water and disappear because my knot was terrible. I've broken my 10-lb line and launched soft-bodied lures after failing to open the bail before casting. On only one occasion did I create a line tangle with a reel backlash. I had to cut off about 30 yards of tangled mess.

To date I've had better success catching my hooks on things that aren't fish rather than catching fish.....still had a great time trying, though. Good tan too.

#kayak #fishing #problems

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