One of my good customers, Jon, called me early in the week and said he needed a mental health day. This means he wanted to go fishing by himself with no clients to entertain. He asked if I was available in 2 days, I was, so we reserved the date. He wanted another shot at some Swordfish because his freezer was empty. The last 2 times he came down for the same purpose, we failed to fill his grocery cart. He told me he was packing one of the many coolers he had bought previously to carry fish home, when his wife stopped him. In her wisdom, she told Jon that every time he comes prepared, we fall short of our mark. If he had to buy another cooler, she would pay for it!
Jon arrived with a severe case of business flight jet lag. Countless hours in airports and on flights throughout the weeks had taken its toll. He arrived with a 6 pack of 20 oz. diet Coke, a 4 pack of Red Bull, and an Italian Sub. When I asked him about that he said he was going to need everything possible to stay awake. Devon wasn’t joining us since he was a bit under the weather. Jon has about 50 or more trips with me in the past 10 years, so I felt he knew the drill and could assist me if need be.
I loaded the boat and Jon iced down our drinks and sandwiches. 5:30 PM and I untied The BEAST and turned her out. I eased the throttles up to cruise and we made way for the Hardtail spots. After collecting 6 big Runners, I eased the throttles up, once again, for a nice leisurely run out to the Sword grounds. We arrived on point just as darkness was beginning to set in. I shut down to neutral and got the floats, baits, and rods, set up as I checked our drift line. OK? 3.5 to the NNE.
I ran back down, passing the drift point to allow more drift time to deploy all the baits. I also adjusted for the drift direction so we would pass over my intended targets. Full darkness has set in and I started putting the baits out at 8:11. First float rod went out with a live Hardtail. Second float bait went out with a Squid. The forward tip rod goes down with another squid. The aft tip rod is going down with a Mackerel and suddenly the forward tip rod begins to walk away. 9 minutes into the drift, not even done setting up, and its FISH ON! Jon grabs the rod as I hurriedly begin to bring the aft tip rod up. Jon says the line is slack but this is not his first rodeo folks. He continues to crank mercilessly as the fish must be rising to the surface. There’s the light about 50′ out! Now the fish is only about 85′ from the boat and it decides to put some pressure on Jon. A meager controlled run to say the least. What do we have? Is it a Sword or one of those Night Sharks? I now have the other tip rod cleared and the fish is trying Jon a bit harder, under the boat. Jon works the fish up and I get the light off, only 25 feet to go until we have the leader! Yeah Boy, it’s a Sword! Although a bit smaller than I care for, Jon questions its legality. Man, no doubt it’s legal. I leader the fish to boat side and notice that the hook is deeply embedded in the gut. OK, Brother, case closed on this one, he’s going home! Your shopping list is full, and it’s only 8:30. I grabbed the heavy stick gaff and gave him a head shot. The fish came aboard quietly. I broke out the measure and it ruled in at 50″ and weighing an estimated 65 pounds. Not a monster by any stretch, but definitely an eater!
We dropped the fish in the fish box and iced it down. Then we noticed the float lines were astern. WHAT? Someone in the process of boating or moving that fish to the box had bumped the electronic shifters into gear. Yup! Prop wrap! Just wonderful! That is one thing I don’t like about the electronic shift. Too easy to engage. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to unwrap the braid line and ultimately ended up having to pull the prop! Everything back to status quo we set up for another drift with the purpose of a tag and release on the next fish.
We’re set up again and Jon says he learned something new. What’s that? He said, never drink 3 Red Bulls and eat jalapeno peppers on your sandwich. He was still very tired but now had the worst case of heartburn, ever! Heartburn and all, we continued fishing that drift until 10:15 with no bites. We pulled the gear to make a move to my shallow drift and I noticed that the Mackerel had taken a slash hit which gutted it. Neither of us had the slightest hint that it had happened.
I was about to head towards our next drift point when Jon asked how long the run was to get in. I told him our estimated ETA. Jon apologetically stated that he had a very early morning meeting and was way too tired to go past midnight. He didn’t want to fight the fatigue since he already had a fish. Jon said “Let’s go home!”? “No problem, Jon.” I pushed the fuel to the Zuke 300’s and pointed The BEAST towards the barn. We enjoyed a short, but sweet, night on the Darkside!