I’m leaving Florida where Wright & McGill Co. took me to some Gander Mountain stores. The reason for the trip was to promote my Skeet Reese Tessera rods and TroKar hooks. But, we were able to mix in some fun along the way.
Pure Fishing’s Scott Dubiel hooked us up with inshore guide George Gozdz of Flat Lined Charters, in Jensen Beach, whom you may have seen on Byron Velvick’s Going Coastal show. We wanted to go after tarpon, snook and goliath grouper.
Things started with a bang when Ryan McCullough, who handles the larger retailers for Wright & McGill hooked a big tarpon, which took more than an hour to land. At 120 pounds, Ryan said it was a hard fight, but I think he was just being a wimp.
We went to the docks and caught a bunch of snook on Berkley Gulp Shrimp. At three to seven pounds, they weren’t big, but they were a lot of fun.
Then it was time to go after the goliath grouper that inhabit the bridge pilings. I’d heard stories about them, but until we got to the bridge and pulled out the tackle, I had no idea what I was in for.
They were heavy saltwater rods with giant Penn reels and 300-pound-test braid and 400-pound-test steel leaders. Our giant hooks were loaded with five pound amberjacks for bait.
It was 10:00 at night, dark and windy as we approached the bridge pilings that are only in 15 feet of water. George said it was dangerous because of the wind and darkness, and that if someone fell out, one of the fish could eat us.
With that in mind, I pitched towards the piling and let it sink until my rod jerked – and I do mean “jerked” to the water. All I could do was squat and pull with all my might. Eventually I was able to pull the fish into open water, where we landed it.
It was about 90 pounds, which I’m told is a small one, as they can weigh between 400 and 600 pounds. What was cool is that I landed one on my first attempt, and on his show it took Byron several tries to land his first, which was around the same size, he even broke off several times. I don’t see what was so hard about it (just kidding Byron).
During the battle the fish pulled the rod down and broke the button off my shorts, which made them fall down, and somehow I even ended up with a lamprey on my rear end, I’m not sure how that happened, but oh well.
Wright & McGill’s marketing manager Chris Russell took a turn and after he hooked up, he broke off. But, it wasn’t the line; it was the wire leader – those things are beasts.
We had a great night; the five of us on the boat was absolute chaos. George Gozdz is the real deal, check him out at www.flatlinedcharters.com , and if you want to see some pictures of the night, go to my website – www.skeetreeseinc.com .
I can’t wait to go again, but it’s off to Norman, Okla. and Mark Jeffreys and Gary Guidice’s Fish and Chips tournament, which combines poker and fishing on Arbuckle Lake and Riverwind Casino. It should be a lot of fun – I’ve been practicing my poker – I just hope Mr. BASS ZONE .com found us some fish.