Just when I thought spring was definitely here to stay, sneaky old March threw me a curveball this week. If seasons could talk, I would imagine winter might say, “Hold your horses there, cowboy, cuz I ain’t done with your skinny butt yet!”
If you read my columns with any regularity, you know how much I absolutely despise cold weather. I know what you northern transplants are thinking right now, “You call this cold? Heck, I came from Rochester and this cold here is what we would consider a warm day.”
My answer to that is, why on earth did you move here? If I wanted freezing temperatures day in and day out, I would move to Rochester. So there.
I guess that was a bit snippy, so I will apologize, but this week’s cold snap is a perfect example of what cold weather does to me. Then again, an hour and a half in the dentist’s chair recently may have had something to do with my foul mood.
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My brain was literally scrambled as my dentist used a drill bit that was so coarse it could cut through a bank vault door like it was butter. I swear it was straight out of “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Just one week ago, it was sunny, in the low 70s and, for the first time in ages, I went fishing with a gentleman I have fished with before, Jon Harrigan. A part-time resident, he had just come back into town and called me saying, “Let’s go fishing.”
From every report I had heard, the bite had all but shut down, so I tried my best to convince him to wait a week or two because if the weather stayed warm like it had been, fishing would bust loose. Having waited all winter to fish, Jon would have nothing to do with my suggestion.
I finally gave in, but my expectations were almost nil. The wind nixed going after redfish or trout, so the only species left were those bait-thieving tricksters called sheepshead. The only problem was that all my friends that had fished for them in the previous days all told me the same thing: They simply weren’t biting.
It is around this time of the year when sheppies head offshore to some of the artificial reefs. Regardless of the reports, armed with a bucket full of fiddler crabs, a sheepshead’s favorite food, we headed out.
Staying inshore, I was about to head to one of my tried and true sheepshead spots when I pulled back the throttles and asked Jon if he wanted to be adventurous and try to find some new spots and not just do the same ol’, same ol’.
Being quite the trooper, he was all in. So swinging the boat around, I headed off to areas I hadn’t fished in years and never for sheepshead.
Putting along, I saw a spot that looked like it might have a fish, if they were any around, so we anchored, cut off the engine and down went the baits.
I swear my fiddler hadn’t been down for 10 seconds before I hooked into a real rod-bender. Jon just shook his head because he believes I have some kind of “fish whispering” capabilities, which I most definitely don’t, as I did my best to not lose the fish.
I knew from the moment I hooked the fish it was a nice one, and more than once I had to put my rod tip way down in the water as it charged under the boat. All it would take to lose the fish was for the line to touch the boat’s hull, so after a bit of back and forth we netted it — and it was a dandy.
At least now Jon had dinner, so the trip wasn’t going to be a total loss.
Putting down another bait, wham! I had another nice one on. But before Jon could comment on me being the luckiest fisherman alive, he hooks up to a stud. Almost without exception every fish we hooked was big. Thinking back, we never caught a single small one.
Jon told me that he wanted enough meat to have some friends over for a fish shindig, and it didn’t take long to catch all he might need. It was a blast!
Though I wasn’t keeping track, I’ll bet we caught at least 30 fish and lost almost that many. It was so fast and furious that we went through every single bait on board. Some were so large they snapped the hooks in half with those big ol’ buck teeth.
Another thing that struck me as being odd was instead of running toward the structure we were fishing over, something sheepshead usually do to break the line, every one headed for open water.
Back at the dock by noon, I began cleaning the fish and they were all females full of eggs. Having released so many made me feel better about keeping only six or so, but what a bite it was! To say I was surprised is an understatement.
If there is a moral to this story, it has to be “You won’t know if you don’t go!”