We live in Lynn Haven, along Upper Goose Bayou, a bayou that rambles off to the west of North Bay. We bought this house mainly because we fell in love with the view of the bayou and because we are both "water people". Sunday afternoon, my first mistake was walking out to the seawall to check the water level of the tide. Next thing I know, I'm stairing into the eyes of one of the largest Sheepshead I had ever seen that close and in less than three feet of water. There were also about five sea trout cruising about two feet away. If you've never been less than five feet away from that many edible fish, it is an exciting feeling for a lifetime fisherman.
You see, I've got a problem and I'm willing to admit it. I'm addicted to fishing. Well, maybe "catching" not fishing. I grew up fishing Merrit's Millpond in Marianna for brim and shellcracker starting at 4 years of age. That means spotting those fish made me forget all my prior plans for the afternoon and get to the nearest bait store to stock up on shrimp.
The evening before we had eaten dinner with one of the most well known amateur fisherman in Bay County and he had given me all the secrets to catching trout and redfish. I was dying to try out the new techniques I had learned. He coached me on rigging, bait, and fish habits. He also gave me some great recommendation on how to handle the line to get the most interest from the fish.
The rod and reel I was using were not the best available The crank was a little sticky on the reel but the rigging was solid down to the hook. That's where I developed another problem. After catching two very small "non-legal" sea trout, bending the hook on a catfish, and then losing two nice sized trout right at the dock, I got my favorite deck hand to put a larger more sophisticated hook on. It was exactly 5 minutes later that I hooked into the largest fish I have ever caught off our dock. It was a large redfish or red drum as it is sometimes called. The fact that he was large and strong made me even more nervous that he was perilously close to a piling with barnacles and oysters all over it. The last thing you want is to have the fish wrap the line around a piling with sharp barnacles on it and cut the line or worse, loose your rigging by having it become snagged where you can't retrieve it. I faught him for about 10 minutes and fought the reel in the process. I would pull up on the rod and then laboriously crank on the reel, all the while "big red" was doing his level best to pull the line back out that I had just cranked in. After 15 minutes, I pulled the fish up to the dock grabbed him by the gills and went running up to the house to show my husband and son the monster I had just pulled out of the back yard.
We checked his size and verified that he was a keeper. My husband tackled cleaning and filleting him with our electric knife. He bagged and iced two nice fillets and put them in the refrigerator. You see I had planned on hamburgers for dinner, not fish, so we needed to save the fillets for later. At 6:00 am this morning, we fixed pan grilled redfish with fried eggs and sliced tomatoes. Now that meal is not something everyone can enjoy on a regular basis. But for those of us who live along the Gulf Coast and the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico that is regular fare.
Today after I headed home from the office, I made a quick trip to Half Hitch Tackle to pick up some live shrimp and to evaluate what is would cost to upgrade my rod and reel. You see, I've got big plans to catch "big reds" close friends over the next few weeks. See you on the water!