Sunday, July 20, 2014

Florida Shark Punching

Misleading title aside, I spent the weekend in Florida for my brother's bachelor party.

Now now, before anyone goes off thinking we spent the weekend doing shots off of hookers or something, let me tell you.

My brother wanted to go fishing for his bachelor party.


Not strip clubs, recreating The Hangover, or any of the usual hazing stuff you hear about. Nope. It was beers and fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

We hit the boat on Saturday morning at six. This is scientifically referred to as "the asscrack of dawn". I quickly accepted that i was going to be soaked by the spray of the ocean.

I should clarify. The boat was small, the waves were big, and the captain saw dollars over safety.



Anywho. Five minutes out of the harbor, we're bouncing out of the water and catching air under the hull of this fishing boat.

Most of the guys were either in the cabin being bashed against the walls and windows or they were on the deck watching our wake and rediscovering their respective religions.

I decided to pretend I was a viking.


Because if you pretend you're a viking and face the oncoming seas head-on, you can see the big waves coming and ride them out with a little bending of the knees.

In that respect, my calves feel ironclad this afternoon.

Eight of us went out yesterday.

Seven of us hurled our guts out over the rails. I managed to hold out to the sixth hour, but at the cost of pretty much falling asleep in the middle of the deck right after.

Seriously, take my advice... when you eat breakfast before fishing, choose something bread-like or cake-like or not-a-breakfast-burrito-made-the-night-before.

Okay. Fishing. Right.

Bait fishing first. We dropped three- and four-hook lines off the back of the boat, hit the bottom, reeled them in, and were dumping six-inch fish in the bucket as fast as we could get the rods to the deckhands.

That was 45 minutes into what was to be a ten hour tour (a teeeeen hour toooouuuuur).  After that, it was vomiting time all the way out. Once we got into the fish, we started the real fun.

We were bringing up mostly vermillion snapper, and the currents we were dealing with (remember, the boat's way too small and the waves were way too big) had us cycling around the deck, hoping for a bite before we had to reel in and reset on the other side.

We honestly didn't catch too many fish. But I had a couple that stuck out in my mind. The first was an amberjack that gave me the best workout of my life. Even now, the day after, my arms are still burning. But I got him up.

He was about twenty or twenty-five pounds, but I had to throw him back. Amberjacks aren't in season, apparently.

Still. It was a good fight, worthy of a pretend-viking.

The next fish is my story, though. The one everybody who fishes tells their family.  I dropped my line and was waiting, when I got a pretty solid bite. I mean "You better be awake up there, because I'm taking your arm as a trophy" type fish bite.

It was a snapper. A big 'un. We were fighting hard. I was letting him run out, then pulling him back. We did this for several minutes before there was a sudden jerk on the line. I mean HARD. I planted my feet and wedged my knees under the ledge at the rail.

I felt the adrenaline start burning. Muscles like acid, friends. Muscles. Like. Acid.

I fought and pulled and finally, the line went slack. The sudden release made me think I'd just lost my fish.

I reeled in the line, and as it neared the surface, Billy the Deckhand said "You just fought a shark!"

My snapper broke the water and I saw the clean 9-inch wide bite taken out of his back.

I got him on deck, dropped the rod, and blew chunks over the back.

The adrenaline apparently can do that.

So, now I get to say I fought with a shark over a fish (I had it first!).

All in all, the weekend was pretty kick ass. Seasickness aside, I think we all had a blast.

I know I did.

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