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jbdba01

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Executive Summary - Winds 6-10, Temps mid-70's to mid 80's, water temp 83,  1 poon, but it had a bunch of drama

Details - Originally I thought I was solo poon fishing at the Skyway, but at the last minute Wonderboy chimed in.  With an early rise for both of us we made the 35 minute drive to Cockroach Bay (CRB).  The newly paved road was a welcome sight and made for a much better launch at 6:00 am.

The plan was to hit the Skyway and see what if any poon were there and then make our way back via Port Manatee and back to CRB. We hit marker after marker, but with limited bait being indicated on the sonar and a strong tide, netting up threads was a major hassle.  Even the usual haunts near the Skyway were empty.  

At  7:30 we decided to hit our "secret bunk" at the Skyway and as luck would have it bunches of bait were just outside our hole.  We loaded up with about 30 very nice 6"-7" threadfins, and after seeing someone on a poon we decided to fish and catch more bait as it came by.



We anchored up and tried to set out lines.  Before the the second one hit the water the first had a strike...and a cutoff.  As soon as the second hit the water...the same thing happened.  Mackerel. Throwing a third line I tried the bottom  and was able to finally settle a line in for 30 seconds.  Course the bait was now soaking and I was busy re-rigging when "Joe-not-fish-alot" and his friends shows up chasing bait and motors up my stern exactly where I'm fishing.  While he's looking at me I throw up my hands in frustration.  Not understanding the international symbol of "WTH?!"  I holler out "You're motoring where my lines are".    Issuing me a puzzled look I now realize that a) he is not familiar with fishing etiquette and b) he's not familiar with frustration.   This time I holler out in Spanish - "Estoy pescando alli."  This he gets and moves on...of course he has to motor through the hole and go 15' off my port side.  I give him a not so nice look and try and maintain my composure.  Just as I cool off his amigo in another boat does the exact same thing.  At least boater number 1 hollers at him to get out, and we repeat said motoring through the hole again [sigh].  Seems improper boating/fishing etiquette is not limited to just locals but is an international plague that is rampant across all social classes and all languages.  I remind Wonderboy - "Stupidity is not a sin; it's a character flaw that knows no boundaries."

Finally settled in we fished for about 50 minutes.  I chummed a bit, fished a bit, chummed a bit, fished a bit.  Wonderboiy asks..."What do I do if we get on."  I tell him to listen to me and don't get upset if I yell.  Around 9:30 or so I observed that the tides seemed to be switching and decided to motor to the East side of the Skyway.  We picked up anchor and just as we pushed through the shadow line Wonderboy hollers out.  "Holy crap did you see that?!  It was huge!!"  Yes...just as luck would have it we motored over a pod of poon and one spooked out.  [sigh]  Par for the course this morning.  Nothing to do but keep motoring through....

Now on the other side we threw out anchor.  I had Wonderboy give us some extra scope and tossed out a big 7" thread.  Just as he tied up anchor, my thread did the proverbial "freak out".    I clicked over the bail and dragged peeled out.  Giving it a second or two I tried to figure out if it was Grouper or Poon - poon being the targeted specie.  That was settled quite quickly as drag really screamed.  I hollered out - "We're on.  Throw out that anchor line."  After cranking the engine up, Wonderboy tossed the buoy that was attached to the anchor line overboard.  He spun the boat around and I moved to the bow.  The fish presented itself with two spectacular jumps and cleared every bit of 6'.  Just then Wonderboy hollers, "Damn the anchor line is fouled in the motor."   He puts it in neutral and quickly untangles the line.  By now the fish is easily 75 yards out and still running strong.  As he cranks up again I holler.  "Stop!!! He's coming back!".  I'm cranking for all I'm worth and manage to get strong positive contact on the fish again.   Making a good show for people gathering bait on the other side this only makes the fish angry again and he jumps a third time -.  

We manage to get through the bridge, but the fish decided to make a run back into the bridge.  I holler out "Cut him off."  Wonderboy does a good job of letting me reel in aggressively and keep the boat between the fish and bridge.  Just as I figure we have the situation under control I hear a very loud ominous splash/crash.  Looking up I see a huge swell coming our way.  Seems I missed a cargo ship going by. Now I've seen some big swells at the Skyway, but this was the biggest I've seen.   I watch the swells displace at least 6 feet from the pilings and figure we're OK, but move off the bow and on to the center of the boat.  With a low frequency but high displacement, the swells go by uneventfully.

We dance by the pilings a couple times and at one point I thought  we were going to have to go between, but we managed to stay out of that mess.

With the fish still hugging the pilings I holler over to Wonderboy, "Put that engine in neutral and gun it."  The tactic works and we manage to push the fish to open water.

Finally out in open water we can get down to business and wear each other down.  I tried every trick in the book to keep the fish from gulping air, but was only successful once.

Several times I thought we had the fish beat, but when he gulped air he would regain his strength.  Around the 30 minute mark I was pulling the fish backwards and had Wonderboy get the gloves out.  Just like putting the bats up too early in a Little League game that was a bad idea.  The fish kept grinding things out for another 15 minutes.



Over time we worn the fish down and eventually got leader to the rod.  





I figured by now the fish had seen the boat several times and the gig was up but the fish had other ideas and sounded one more time.  I had had enough and really applied the heat and let out some good grunts pulling back as hard as I could.



I knew that something was going to give - me, the fish, or the equipment.  With some serious heat on but with the fish coming up, the leader finally gave way.  

Using the rod as reference I would estimate the fish at about 6' - probably 135-150# range.  It was a thick fish that put up a really strong fight, but unfortunately it was a leadered fish, but not boated.

I hydrated up and we motored back to our buoy and watched the big storm to the North go by.  We tried for a poon for Wonderboy but when the tides slowed we decided to see if we could get some Grouper at a different hole.

As luck would have it we ran across a fellow who had not monitored his gas properly.  Getting gas out of my boat was impossible, and towing him 4-5 miles to Cockroach was a bad idea. 15-20 minutes later I towed him in to the skinny water and offered to call Seatow but he didn't want to pay the $150 that Seatow would probably charge.  With the skies clearing up and with good cell coverage I knew he was safe, but I wasn't willing to damage my boat with a very very long haul to Cockroach.  We parted ways and at minimum I knew he could walk it in.  A long and not so fun prospect, but doable.

Eventually we made it in and wrapped up the day at Beanines with some good chow and reviewed our trip.  It was a great pre-Father's Day fish and with Wonderboy off to college shortly it had plenty of good memories.  That was the first time Wonderboy had worked the helm when on a poon and he did a great job.  There were many a time when it looked iffy at best, but he did a great job and worked the boat nicely.  There may be a couple more trips to be made, but more than like beach poon.

I liked this shot the best...lots of angles, but the shoulders came out straight.


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JB
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