Fishing with RT and Fitz
On Monday and Tuesday I fished offshore with RT and Fitz Coker. Joining us each day was Captain Jared Cyr, and on the first day we enjoyed the fine company of Captain Doug Kilpatrick and his father, Jerry. Typically, with this many people on a boat, there is at least one personality that I’d rather stay away from. In this case, being surrounded by so many great anglers and captains, I was amazed at how well everyone got along and how much fun we had. I need not expand on this more than to say that it was a pleasure of the highest kind to spend a day on the water with so many great and talented people.
On to the fishing:
RT and Jared showed up with wells already blacked out with pilchards, and within an hour RT was powering down in search of a wreck that he most likely discovered in the 1970’s. Within minutes we were tight to the anchor, and the bait was deployed. Soon, panic ensued: two large cobia appeared behind the boat, following a blue runner that Doug had hooked. I threw a small white pilchard fly into the melee multiple times, but was to get their interest away from the thrashing blue runner. Despite Doug’s efforts to play keep away, the largest of the cobia latched on to the bait. With Doug’s steady hand and RT’s gaff skills, the fish was in the box in 30 seconds–the blue runner came out, clarifying that the fish was never hooked. Soon Jerry had the other Cobia on a spinning rod, and I re-rigged my fly rod with a larger fly in case a cobia returned. This didn’t take long, and within a half hour the chaos began anew: a large cobia was near the boat. I threw the larger fly, and it was summarily dispatched. This fish, while not as large as either Doug’s or Jerry’s, still gave a great account of itself and was my largest yet on fly (at the dock, it weighed 34 pounds).
Kingfish followed, some on fly. Soon I caught another cobia on a blind cast – smaller than the rest but still well over 20 pounds – things were great. Soon, the small blacktip sharks took my attention and pulled it fully in their direction – for a few hours – all I wanted to do was catch one of these little athletes on my fly pole. With Doug and RT’s help, I was rewarded (after no small amount of failure) with the cutest little blacktip I’ve ever seen: a fish of no more than 5 pounds that fought like it was 20.
We stopped at another spot on the way home to catch some bottom fish. They never materialized, and we left for the dock to filet our fish and get some sleep.
It’s worth mentioning that between the company and the fishing, this was one of my favorite trips I’ve ever had.
Doug and Jerry did not join us for the second day, so Fitz and I set forth with RT and Jared in search of more large cobia. Given my current obsession with (and glut of tippet and flies for) 6 pound tippet, we took a look at the record books and decided to bring the light line. Our intention was to find a cobia that was over 41 pounds, the current fly rod 6 lb tippet world record. We didn’t find any fish at our first stop, and our second produced nothing. The cobia were absent, despite the improved weather and heightened expectations, and within a few hours we were discussing shark fishing as an alternative. We decided to give the cobia one last shot, and at our final stop we finally found our target species. Though not in the large size we needed to break the record with 6 pound, the fish were welcomed with great enthusiasm. Fitz caught one, dropped another one, and soon I was up with the six, trying to get one to play ball. It’s a funny thing, throwing light tippet at a fish that you know isn’t the record just to do it, but it’s fun nonetheless. I fed three that came unbuttoned immediately before the fishing slowed and we decided it was time to leave. We were stowing our gear when a cobia appeared behind the boat. In no time I was hooked up, and Jared pulled the anchor and RT gave chase. The fish didn’t approach the boat for a passing gaff shot, so we went to work: RT on the controls, me on the rod, and Jared standing by with the gaff should the cobia wander into his window. After a tense 12 minutes, the gaff found a home and we put a legal cobia into the boat on 6 pound tippet.
Fishing with light line is fun precisely for these experiences: setting out to do something with limited equipment and doing it, just because. Thanks are due to Fitz for inviting me along, to RT for his mad skills, Jared for aiding and abetting, and to Doug and Jerry for their contributions to one of the best days on the water I can ever hope to have.
Shark fishing tomorrow. reports to follow.