Aaron and I had a tough two days of fishing, mostly due to the ridiculous amount of wind and cloud cover that typified the two days of tournament fishing. Day one was cast, strip, repeat until your done. All this effort netted (ha! get it?) us one 28 inch fish and two more bites from fish that were larger but not by much.
Day two was a change of plan for us. And while it was one of the toughest days on the water I’ve had in a long time, it also proved to be one of the most thrilling. We began by covering a rocky edge on the Gulf, and after 20 minutes of throwing our giant orange cuda fly we moved a large fish from a rock. The fish didn’t get hooked, however, and I re-cast the fly to the structure and came tight on my second strip. We both thought it might be a little grouper or, when it was closer, a mutton snapper. When we got the fish next to the boat we were amazed: it was as large a grey snapper as I’ve ever seen caught on a fly rod.
So big, in fact, that we thought it might beat the current IGFA 20 b tippet world record that stands currently at 5.14 pounds. We removed the hook, cut off and stored the tippet for a potential application, and put the big guy in our livewell for an afternoon of barracuda fishing.
In a few hours Aaron found our fish, and lots of them; the problem was the sun and relentless wind. We had shots, and more than a couple follows, but couldn’t get a fish to commit to our fly.
After four hours of hard fishing to very large fish over white sand, we finally hooked a big barracuda. The fish ate the fly not ten feet from the boat, cleared the line, and jumped like a tarpon. A few minutes later, and I landed the largest fly-caught barracuda of my career: a 46 1/16 inch fish that put the Boga-Grip down to 20 lbs. Light colored, healthy, and in the prime of its life, this is a ‘tournament fish’–one that I might never have caught if we didn’t stick it out and remain committed to our fishing through the weather.
Here are some photos:
After looking for a smaller fish to round out our score card, we returned home after releasing a 20-incher that didn’t make the 24 inch minimum.
At Hurricane Hole, we weighed our snapper on a certified scale, and found that he weighed 4.8 pounds–.34 pounds shy of the current 20 lb record. We were able to release our snapper alive and no worse for the wear at Hurricane Hole, and I hope he has a better day today than yesterday.
We also found that we lost the overall fly category by 3/4 of an inch to Trent Miller and Captain Scott Irvine, who came through in the end with three fish and displayed a level of commitment I am always happy to see. It wasn’t easy going for those of us who stuck with the fly rod, and Captain Irvine and Trent came through with style to take the victory. Hats off as always.
So, an incredible day on the water and one that I will remember for a long time. Thanks to Aaron for the guiding, and sorry for messing up those upwind shots!
Congratulations to Captain Justin Rea who took top honors in the spin division with his angler Jeff Pierce from Mustad.
Thanks of course to Justin Rea and his wife Loren, who put this tournament on and make it fun for us all. Here’s to the continuation of this great tournament next year.