On some occasions it is the people we have on board, not the fish that make a trip exceptional. Today I had the great pleasure of meeting Katie, a young woman who was celebrating her 15th birthday with her dad Jay and best friend Bailey. We were out for the day and the day was not exactly the Chamber of Commerce type day Fort Lauderdale likes to talk about.
Grey skies with rain forecast and a chop on the seas was not what you’d hope for on your birthday. And with a storm not too far from us, we decided to put the kites up quickly right by the sea buoy for what we hoped was a quick bite of a Sailfish.
The kites were only up for about 30 minutes before we had to retrieve them because of the rain. We had seen 1 small Dolphin which was too small to eat the live bait. We began trolling in light rain and hopefully finding an area where the rain would stop and we could back to our quest.
Trolling turned out to be quite fun. A few Blackfin Tunas were caught, one nice sized… A Kingfish, 2 Mahi-mahis and a few Bonitos too. The girls did all the reeling as dad sat and watched. The rain was still light and that’s unusual here, it usually lasts no more than 30 minutes.
After a few hours of trolling and catching some nice fish we decided that we should try for something big. Katie had wanted a Sailfish and we hadn’t seen one trolling but with the rain still lightly coming down, flying the kites just wasn’t an option. So we put out some big baits and waited to see what might come along.
A short break in the rains had us putting our kites up but it was only for a few minutes before it began again and we had to retrieve them before they fell from the sky. And that’s when the bottom rod went thump… It was a soft pull. Almost like we’d hung something in the bottom, and then released. I had moved the boat ahead and then stopped to see if it was bottom or a bite. Again it began to pull down the rod very softly and this time I didn’t stop. The rod bent and I still wasn’t sure if it was a bite or hung. Dave came running and began winding on the rod and screaming GO! He could feel what I couldn’t see. We had ourselves a sea monster on here!
Now this is where Katie really impressed me. I’ve been doing this a long time with all kinds of people. Young or old, male and female, every type of person from novice to experienced. We had a big fish on here and now, the rains had really started coming down. It wasn’t raining anymore, it was pouring! And here comes young Katie in her shirt and shorts, plops her butt into the fighting chair, grabs the rod and begins to reel! She was not fazed in the least that buckets of water were pouring on her. She had her birthday wish and was going to land this fish no matter what.
After about 30 minutes we got our first look at this fish. But the look was only a glance as the shark we’d hooked took 300’ of line away in just seconds and it took another 20 minutes to get him back up to the boat. A Thresher Shark had taken our bait and was quite a big one too… probably 3 times Katie’s size and over 5 times her weight. She never faltered or complained, never whined she couldn’t do it. She just held that rod and wound with Bailey’s help on the handle and they giggled the entire time.
It’s not an easy task to measure a live fish and we came up with 12’10” long and a weight in the area of 500 lbs. Big Eye Threshers are protected by law so after a few pictures that weren’t so great because my phone was soaked, we released this fish and watched him swim away. A magnificent fish caught by an exceptional angler. I couldn’t have been more proud of her tenacity. Oh, BTW, that’s her in the green.
And with the release, we headed home. Our guests were beaming and they should have been too. And up on the flybridge, soaked to the bone? Well, it’s days like this that keep me coming back for more.