True Fish Stories
"By the time the tarpon was close to our boat, darkness had set in and the guide had erected a large floodlight that lit up one side of the boat and reflected off the dark water. As I caught my first glance of the fish my jaw dropped. It was immense. It was well over five feet long and the guide estimated its weight at 150 pounds. As the tired behemoth yielded and finally allowed the guide to slip his hand under its gill, we watched in amazement as the tarpon opened its massive mouth. It was so large that I could have placed my entire head in the toothless cavern! The guide's hand and forearm seemed small as he reached into the huge mouth to disengage the hook."
"As 1960 approached, we caught fewer blue pike, but they tended to be larger. The size differential seemed to make up for the fact that we were seeing fewer numbers of fish. At the time, we felt we were in the midst of a cycle that would eventually return us to better days. Commercial fishing for blue pike with gill nets was discontinued in 1962. Over the years we caught fewer and fewer fish. Gradually it became a rarity to catch a blue pike. The fish was declared endangered in 1970 with only isolated reports of catches. The blue pike was declared extinct in 1983. The beautiful and tasty fish that was native only to Lake Erie was gone."
"The battle lasted about 15 minutes and finally the fisherman reached down and slid his hand into the fish's gill slot. This fellow was of average size and as he walked out of the water he attempted to lift the steelhead so that it would not drag on the ground. His elbow was almost shoulder high and the fish's tail was still barely touching the water as he stepped on shore. The gigantic fish was well over 36 inches long and easily weighed 25 pounds."
"The crew was preparing the skiff for abandoning the ship. I was in the wheel house after the second drop failed. The Coast Guard pilot called the Prince and told the skipper that a second C-130 was being re-routed with more pumps and would reach our position in one hour and thirty minutes. "How does that look for danger to your vessel?" asked the Coast Guard pilot. The skipper replied, "Not very good….not good". I could see several crew members putting on survival suits."
"It was a delight to watch Felix fight this fish. When the fish sounded (heading deep below the surface) Felix tightened up the drag and began to challenge the marlin. His technique consisted of rapid, short pumping strokes that he had perfected catching numerous large tuna over the years. The spinning rod bent more than 90 degrees as Felix began to ratchet the fish up foot by foot, reeling with incredible bursts of speed with every quick drop of the rod tip."
"The line was returned to the water with a fresh bait and I settled back into the security of the fighting chair as the seas continued to build. It gives one a unique feeling when you glance over your shoulder and see a wall of water approaching the boat. For a second it appears that the wave will engulf the boat. Instead the boat moves up the approaching water and rides like a bobber over the cresting wave. The wind was whistling and the dark blue sea was accented by the white foam formed as the waves broke and crashed down upon themselves."
"We had not yet seen the fish, but everyone peered over the side of the boat, attempting to see what was placing such pressure on Phil's rod. The fish suddenly dove under the boat and Phil held on for dear life as the rod tip dipped into the water under the immense pressure. Phil's knuckles whitened as he tightened his grip on the rod handle. For a moment, the priority had shifted from reeling in line to hanging on to the stressed rod. A myriad of questions were being shouted by his fellow fishermen."
"We continue our conversation as we watched him pull in the dead mullet and remove the clump of seaweed that was clinging to the hook. He casually flipped the mullet back into the water, made a slight turn with his body and then tossed the entire rod overboard as if it was a piece of used bait. It took him a fraction of a second before he quickly turned back to the stern as if to confirm his mistake."
"We continued to battle our way through the raging storm as the waves increased in size, further adding to the danger of the moment, not to speak of our anxiety level. We were barely making any headway and were desperately peering through the driving torrents of rain and darkness, occasionally stopping the boat completely to avoid a boulder collision. It was so dark that it seemed like night. We had reached a moment of deep concern. Our lives were in danger."