Tuesday, August 12, 2008

by Robin

I absolutely love this action picture that Billie took of us last week. I think it describes a lot of what we look like when out fishing.
I'm in the white shirt at the back end of the boat, holding the net, looking intensely at the blue water to get a first glimpse of "Christmas". Anticipation. Excitement. Curiousity. Moments seem like hours. You know it will be there soon enough, but that doesn't keep you from straining your eyes to see the first shape from down below. In this particular case, we got the net out instead of the gaff. However, "Sluggo" was bigger than the net and so we got most of him in the net. I lifted the handle and Jack lifted the round rim. It takes teamwork to bring a fat grouper over the side. (It's not that Jack couldn't lift 35 lbs on his own, but after using so much energy fighting the fish, I'm sure his arms burned. I'd like to think of it as I'm helping.)

Jack does what he does best. Bring up heavy things from the bottom. I'm pretty wimpy on the reel so even if I were to catch something big, I have him help bring home the groceries. Anyhow, this was his fish from the start and I can feeeeeel the strain in his face as he tries to lift the beast off the bottom. The first 15-20 ft are the hardest. As the old fisherman saying goes, "You can't catch a grouper sitting on your pooper." My boys love this, of course.

In this particular case, we're lifting a fish off of deep bottom. Like 150-200 ft deep. Imagine trying to stay on a bucking bronco for 5 minutes instead of 8 seconds. It's eternity for the guy on the bronco but the audience would eventually get bored.
My youngest is still looking for Daddy's fish, but my eldest knows how long this fight is and he's decided to go around the backside of the walk-around to get a closer view down in the cockpit (back end of a boat.... front end of a plane. Clear as mud?). Once there, he can be a valuable asset if we need something handed to us or pictures taken. Plus, he knows that bottom fish are not likely to thrash once they get to the surface and are brought into the cockpit area. Now, a wahoo or cobia, that's a different story. He might have chosen to stay up front for one of those.

But, generally a fish that continuously lives in that type of water pressure doesn't do well once living without that pressure near the surface. Their eyes bulge out & their stomachs bloat up & out of their mouths. (see pic) If you plan to release a bottom fish after something like this, you have to release or vent "air" from their body cavity with a needle prick, so it all returns back to it's rightful place and they can then swim back down to the bottom of the ocean. It's rather hard to explain and I don't have the exact science down in my head.
Hope you enjoyed seeing our experience from the perspective of fly-on-the-wall or rather gull-in-the-sky. (I made that up. Like it? No? Ok. Won't do that again.)
Happy Fishing,

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