It was a normal Saturday in the summer, which means boating day! The alarms went off at 6:00 am. Between struggling to get my mom up and going, I packed the truck with the cooler and all my rods I pre-rigged at 1:00 am the night before. We arrived in Tarpon Springs around 8 am, dropped the boat in, and headed to a couple of the flats I know hold fish year round. Once we got enough trout to have a fish fry we decided to hit the beach, relax and have some lunch.
I am a fisherman that hates breaks and lunch time. I have been known to go all day without food if I am fishing. I could go all day with a couple of crackers and a bottle of water. As soon as I helped my dad set the boat into beached position and set the anchor, I grabbed my 7 foot Stellar Lite trout rod with a 1/16th oz jig head and a DOA fluke and headed down the beach. I had walked a good amount of shoreline when I realized, “Oh Crap”, my phone was sitting in the boat. Considering I was pretty far down the beach line, I continued walking not expecting to catch much. As I walked on, I noticed a couple of high dollar boats off in the distance. I realize they were guides and became more hopeful of what I could be getting into. I walked passed them seeing customers chunking white bait on knocker rigs. I gave them space and started to cast. I noticed snook after snook being pulled up. Gaining up enough confidence, I walked over and asked the guides for a few greenbacks. The guide looked puzzled and told me–sorry-we are running low, which did not make sense as I noticed his full livewell. I politely walked away and began to cast in my original spot.
I noticed the guides bites slowing down. They power poled up and left the beach. As soon as they left I ran to the spot they were and on my first cast, my DOA gets slammed. IT WAS ON! I am fighting this fish on a 10 pound braid, letting it run, knowing this fight could be over at anytime. I started to notice the Dolphin Watch tourist boat coming closer and thought–that is why the guides left. When the tourist show up they swarm the beach. The boat is approaching faster and faster and at this point I have absolutely no control over this fish. I am almost down to the backing of my reel. The tourist on the boat notice me fighting this fish and tell the captain to back off. He did not listen and my line is practically under the giant pontoon. Before thinking I decide to jump into the surf. The passengers are yelling at the captain at this point. I was not stopping at this point and doggie paddled around the pontoon with my rod up.
Shortly after I landed all 36 inches of this beast, tourist start piling off the boat grabbing their cameras. Paying no attention I cradle this fish like a baby sprinting my way back to our boat. I see my dad in the distance and start screaming like a girl for him to get the camera. He grabbed it and came walking over to me for my photo shoot. I managed to get a good healthy release despite my legit shaking with excitement. I will never forget this day as long as I live!
I no longer complain about docking on the beach. I am praying my next big catch will be right off the shoreline!