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First Fish of 2012

January 10, 2012
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For those of you who have read the Jan/Feb 2012 issue, you probably saw a piece in it written by Mark Hatter about the Banana River’s No Motor Zone. It was a little too warm to fish the area while we were putting it together but I was getting excited for a real cold front to come through and clean up the water so it could be fished properly. Finally, the front came through and Hatter and I made plans to fish.

This would be my first trip of 2012 so I figured why not try something a little different. I’ve fished the No Motor Zone before and since paddleboards have become so popular, I wanted to give it a try. So, I borrowed a buddy’s board, strapped it to my truck made my way to the coast.

This was going to be an experimental day for me so just as the sun was coming up, I told Hatter to go ahead. With that, he paddled away. I hopped off the board, strung up my rod and just as I got re-situated on the board, a tail broke the surface. My rod, was on the deck of the board and the paddle was in my hand. I figured that it would be best for me slowly and carefully ease myself off the board and chase this fish on foot.

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I learned very quickly that it’s tricky to stay balanced when you are focusing on something other than staying balanced. I wobbled once, overcorrected and fell into the cold water. Yep, 6:30 a.m. and I was soaking wet and there was a chill in the air. I also learned that smart phones are indeed very smart, but they aren’t very waterproof.

Cold and embarrassed, I pressed on. Finally, I found that the best strategy was to paddle upwind, put the paddle on the deck and have Mother Nature be the guide – letting the wind push me across the flat. This yielded great results – finally. After a couple nice redfish, I was elated and told myself “I GOTTA get me one of these!” Then it was time for the paddle back. Just like a road trip, getting there is always faster and more exciting than getting back. About 10 minutes into the paddle, I realized returning to the truck was going to be brutal – and believe me, it was! The wind had picked up considerably (of course), I was still cold and Hatter was about a mile ahead of me. I thought the return trip would total about an hour.

By the time that hour past, I was cursing paddleboards and vowing to NEVER do this again! Another hour passed and I could finally make out my truck parked where we launched. About a half hour later, I was on dry land. Waiting on the bank was Hatter who had already loaded his gear and kayak into his truck, I even think he was wearing a dry change of clothes. My first words to him were “&^%$ paddleboarding!” He smiled, hopped in his truck and took off. Physically exhausted, I loaded all my gear in my truck and looked at the board sitting there on the ground…if it had been mine, I may have just left it there. But, since I borrowed it, I threw in on the truck, strapped it in and headed home.

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On the way, I called several friends to tell them how the day was. I stressed to all of them how bad the paddle back sucked. I also commented on the fact that it took a little while to get the hang of casting from the board but once the kinks were ironed out, it was indeed effective. I also told them all I’d never do it again because paddleboards just weren’t meant to be paddled long distances in open water. However, when I pulled it off my truck at my house and thought about the day, I decided to make one more phone call. I called my friend whom I borrowed it from and asked “hey, you mind if I hold onto this board for a few more days, it was awesome and I’m going out again as soon as I can.”

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