The One That Got Away

I usually don’t post reports about poor fishing. To be honest, I usually have good days on the water and I don’t think a report about a bad trip is usually a good read, but I assure you this one is. Spoiler alert! I did battle with Redzilla on the fly rod. Redizilla won! Read on if you dare!

First of all, let me make it clear that it wasn’t a bad day of fishing. The weather was good, light winds, sunny, and hot. I had a chance to take my brother and one of his sons fishing for redfish and specs this weekend. My brother now lives in Atlanta and doesn’t get to fish our marsh very often. With the tropical system that passed through earlier this week, I had my suspicions about how the fishing would actually be. Would the water still be very high and muddy? Would the tidal surge have brought in more bait? I contacted many of my fishing buddies to get a report from Friday and Saturday’s fishing and the reports didn’t look promising. The only good fishing I heard about was in Delecroix and I had never fished there before. Thus, I wasn’t going to take a couple of inexperienced kayak fishermen to a place I didn’t know well. I opted for an old faithful spot near Bay Lanier. I had caught redfish there a few weeks ago and I knew there would be some grass to clear the muddy water up a bit.

We got there bright and early and paddled out to one of my more promising spots. Right away, I saw a couple of big swirls working the banks. We cast to them multiple times; my brother and nephew with spoons and myself with my fly rod. We got no hits at all. Even more surprising was there were no redfish in the grass. Just three weeks before, there were hungry reds in the grass feeding on shrimp and baitfish. I didn’t see one fin or blowup at all for a half hour or so.

We left that spot and headed out to fish some other promising water. During our paddle, I spotted a couple of shrimp jumping out the water near the bank ahead. I stopped paddling and placed my gold spoon fly a foot ahead of the commotion and I was hooked into my first redfish of the day. “This is how it’s done,” I chimed. Wow, I must have jinxed us all. We proceeded to fish the rest of the day and not land another fish. My brother and nephew never got a bite. I actually hooked up on three redfish but two broke my tippet and one got away while I was fooling with my camera.

It’s the last one that made the day memorable for me. In the past, I’ve seen and done battle with what some of us call ‘redzilla.’ Redzilla is the Moby Dick of inshore bull reds. On my paddle back to the car, I spotted a small tail sticking out of the water near a marsh bank. I knew the area had oysters on the bottom so it always was a promising spot. However, I originally thought that it was only another of the thousands of mullet that we had been seeing all day long. As I got closer, I was able to make out the telltale pumpkin-orange color of a redfish. I stayed seated in my kayak to keep my presence less noticeable and started casting my gold spoon fly toward the fish. From this far away, I estimated the fish to be a slot redfish but nothing really big. After a few casts that were clearly rejected by the fish, I decided to stand to get a better view of my adversary. That’s when I noticed how big the fish really was. Yep, it was redzilla! It looked like a submerged submarine out there! I must have been putting the fly over its back and it hadn’t spooked it! The fish looked like it was sunbathing in a foot-and-a half of water. Of course my knees started shaking as I cast several more times. The first landed too far away from it. It slowly turned away from me and my next cast sailed too far out in front of it and my line was resting on its back! I just knew that I was busted and it would spook. I slowly stripped but it casually turned again to my right and never saw the fly. Now the fish was facing me and I presented the fly to it like I would a carp. I put my fly three inches in front of its nose and I let the fly wobble down to where it could see it. Strip ever so slowly…slowly…slow. Bam! Fish on! At first, I don’t think it even knew it was hooked. It kind of lumbered off, taking me on a slow sleigh ride with it. When it finally figured out that it was hauling a twelve-foot kayak and a fisherman with it, it got angry and slammed around to my right. It circled the kayak once and I winced as I tried to maneuver my fly line around my other rods behind me. I thought about calling my brother to tell him that if he was near me, this was going to be quite entertaining for the next 15 minutes or so. I dared not lose my concentration so I didn’t pick up my phone. Then the redfish started coming toward me. I stripped frantically to get back my line and banged on the kayak to keep it from going under me. It veered again to my right and I thought it would circle me again. Then it took off to my left like a rocket. I have seen videos of guys fishing for big game fish where you see the fish jumping about 20 yards away from where you see the line. Redzilla didn’t jump, but the wake from its explosive run was about 20 yards ahead of my line. I didn’t know what to do but hold on and my line sliced through the water. There’s a cool feeling I get when I see my drag working on my reel. The fish is stripping line out. It’s still on. My reel is doing its job! Excellent! Well, when that run ended it started back toward me. Again I stripped frantically because I couldn’t reel the fly line in fast enough. I probably had nine feet or so of line in my lap before the redfish slowed and turned away from me. I let it take more line out on its next run and to my dismay, my fly line got tangled around the handle on my reel. NNNOOOOOOO!!!! Without much effort, it broke my tippet!

At first, I was so mad. What an idiot I had been. I hate losing fish! After I settled down, however, a peaceful calm came over me as I thanked God for the opportunity to battle such a worthy adversary! I estimate the fish to have been well over 30 inches and probably 15 pounds or so. As for you Mr. Redzilla, we will meet again. We will do battle again. I’m sure it will be epic, but you better bring your “A” game because Musicdoc won’t make the same mistake twice. J

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One thought on “The One That Got Away

  1. Great story. I always tell myself that’s just part of fly fishing, I’m intentionally putting myself at a disadvantage b/c I enjoy the challenge. And every catch is that much more rewarding.

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