Water Temps upper 60's low 70's, winds 5-8, temps upper 50's to lower 70's - one 19" trout, but the story is probably better than the summary.
I was up and moving at 4:55am, but I was slow to move and ended up leaving late at 5:30am. The drive to Ft. Desoto is 1 hour for me. Driving down I-75 I saw two fellow kayakers and we swapped out leads down 75; I was wondering if they were headed to Ft. Desoto with me, but they peeled of at exit 238 . Presumably to Bishop Harbor. No home field advantage for me today.
Arriving just before sunup I managed to get the boat on the water and paddled out. With a great sunrise over the starboard side I snap a couple wildlife shots. Mentally I prepped myself for a decent paddle into a reasonably stiff 5-8 knot wind/breeze. Google Earth shows it being a was a 1.5 mile paddle to the Key, but on the way back I would have the wind to my back so it would be an easy paddle - hopefully.
Looking at my sportswear for the day I was hoping that I wouldn't get the crap beaten out of me on the water. I had lost a bet on the GA/SC game and was sporting my "Breath like a fish shirt"...in hot pink. "Looking sweet, John Looking sweet." At least I wouldn't get hit by a powerboater. No way they could miss my sweetness.
Fishing a plug early on I managed to pick up a decent trout (19"), but I was looking to biggie size that fish.
Things were pretty slow for several hours with several smaller trout and a bunch of power boats showing up. We did the proverbial "I'm in you line dance", but after a bit we settled on who would fish what line. This guy had a pretty good feel for what to do and he laid off the trolling motor as much as possible. I took the skinny water, he took the deeper water and we just let the winds push us along. Seeing mullet we figured one of us would get on some reds, but we both stunk it up and after about half a mile of drifting (sea sock deployed) we went our separate ways.
By now it was almost noon and with the winds slowing down I figured I would get on the windward side of the key - leeward wasn't doing much for me. I found a huge school of mullet and as I rounded the corner I came across another a power boat. I settled about 50-100 yards S/SE of him and figured, "What the heck - nothing else was working. Let's fish this water." It was moving and clear. I dropped anchor and got the bow of the kayak facing into the wind.
Sticking with the top water plug, I was able to fire the plug out at least 30 yards and worked my way from the outside in. Several times I thought I spooked mullet as the swirls were really close to the plug. I kept chucking the plug and worked it differently - plug, sit for a sec or two, plug sit, plug...with a loud splash I hooked up and felt I was on a good size red. With about 6' of anchor line out the fish pulled me straight into the wind, passed the anchor, and eventually I reached the end of the anchor line. At anchor's end, drag now started being pulled out aggressively; as did the head shaking..."Holy crap - this is the mother of all trout.", I thought. Eventually I manged to get the fish boatside, but totally flubbed up "boating" him and so the story is incomplete with out pics. [sigh] I would estimate said fish in the upper 20's - thick as all getout and very healthy.
Elated and frustrated, but not deterred I figured I might as well try again. Two to three casts later the scene started out the same, splash, miss, splash, miss, splash, on...this time there was no doubt it was a red. A couple of wallows on the surface and some strong pulls the fish did the same thing. The anchor line reached it's end, but this fish had different plans. Apparently all the sudden it realized it was hooked and decided it was game time. Pulling into the wind, drag peeling out, the anchor line full of weeds and what not the kayak kept moving into the wind. I couldn't believe it...this had never happened before. I just held on and looked backwards in disbelief. Sure enough he was pulling boat, drag, and anchor into the wind. Seeing that the fish was headed for open water I just let him play it out; there wasn't much I could do but hold on. I started to gain some ground on the fish, but he decided it was time to head off the starboard side with a really strong run. Still holding on tight I thought all I had to do was hang on and he'll tire out. By now the boat was perpendicular to the wind, had water coming over the beam, and was still moving. 25 more yards and this fish is mine; just as I thought it was over - well it was. The plug had pulled and came flying back. I suspect I had hooked him in the body or somewhere other than the mouth and the fight was done. With several R rated exclamations. I licked my ego wounds, and figured it was a day.
Paddling back was in fact "a breeze" (pun intended), but kept replaying the scene in my head. Well...maybe GA will beat AL for the SEC Championship tonight. That would make this day a bit better.
My wife knows the drill and game time I swilled down several cold adult beverages. She doesn't like it when I hydrate on beer - I got the usual stares, but after 25 years of marriage I was both battle scarred and oblivious to the stares. Knowing the the winner would take on Notre Dame (and probably pummel them) this was more than just a regular SEC matchup - this was for the National Championship. "Look this beer is 95-96% water and as long as I don't pee I'm hydrated." That line still doesn't fly with her, but watching AL run the ball down "our great NFL like defense" was just a replay of this morning - close, but no cigar. Into the fourth quarter I was watching and calling my SC, FL buds...everyone wanted AL to lose (these guys are "anyone but AL guys"). The texts and calls were coming in at a feverish pace - I kept telling 'em "You don't understand this is GA football - the same team that gave up 44 to TN, barely beat KY, got whooped up on by SC. I know what's coming - it'll be in the last 34 seconds we'll lose this game." "No way." was the reply...Fast forward to the last 10 seconds in the game and GA has the ball on the AL 8 yard line. "Holy cow...we might actually win this we have time for 2 - maybe 3 plays, but without timeout it better be incomplete or in the endzone". And of course we get the ball tipped - our guy catches the ball and falls on his own feet at the 2 yard line, the clock runs out and we lose. I text my buds..."Always the bridesmaid, never the bride."
Sunday I wake up with a headache (three beat downs will do that), thinking about the beast of a trout, the lost red, and the lost game. Lovely Sat. Hey, but it's Sunday and a new day.
Oblivious to the losses, Wonderboy comes over,"Hey Dad check this out. Pretty cool huh?"
Beautiful...where's the beer.