Mother’s Day is probably one of the days of the year when there are the fewest fisherman out anywhere, but luckily for me the
mother of my boys was swamped with her own work, giving me the opportunity to get a half-day in before a BBQ with friends later in the afternoon. The launch was quiet with no other kayaks out and only two boats all morning, and the weather was beautiful. Unfortunately, the opelu were scarce and it was all I could do to find a few scattered marks that produced nothing for bait, so I switched to other methods. I threw a dead opelu out and started looking around out deeper and decided to drop some chunk bait on a known spot and immediately got a solid hook-up on the Penn 6/0 reel, my trusty old friend that’s been with me since I started kayak fishing. After boosting it up I was suddenly covered in the blood of a 26 pound shibi.
I set to paddling back to the spot, and got only a few strokes in when the Release LG started singing the “Something Just Slammed My Dead Bait” song. I love that tune- an eternal classic. Turned out to be another nice shibi at 20 lbs, horsed in quickly by the powerful little reel, and dropped in the bag. I put out another dead bait and paddled back to the spot to make another chunk drop. Had it down for a few minutes with nothing interested and thought I would try the jig to see if it could get something going. I wasn’t sure how fast this new lure dropped- I usually count a second per fathom and this one ended up hitting bottom sooner than I expected. I quickly yanked it up, hoping to avoid snagging, and on the third turn of the handle I could feel the weight. I swore, thinking I was about to lose a brand new jig, but then suddenly the rod was bouncing- fish on! It fought really hard at first, but then tired quickly and I was surprised to see a beautiful Kagami (Threadfin Trevally, African Pompano), filaments and all, finding its way into my boat for the first time ever.
The jig was hooked deep, but I was able to get it out smoothly and do a successful CNR. I was trying to film the release of this intriguing creature, and was messing with the GoPro when I was suddenly reminded that I still had a bait down deep, as I could hear about one second of line peeling out of a reel with the clicker off, before my face hit the water. The water is a lovely shade of blue under an overturned kayak at 40 fathoms on a sunny day, but I was wishing I wasn’t there. I think I made a quick scan for loose items under water, but then very quickly grabbed the handles of the boat flipped back over. I got the kage/camera pole back in and got myself back in smoothly before the commotion attracted any unwanted attention by things with big teeth! There were a few seconds of just sitting there feeling stupid, because I still wasn’t sure what had made me flip. I first thought that my dead bait had gotten slammed again and that’s what pulled me over, but I pulled on the leash of the LG to lift the rod back in and found it to be intact. Then I remembered that the 6/0 also still had bait down, and realized that was the one that got hit- and as luck, or lack thereof would have it, today was the first day in years that I hadn’t put a leash on it. Gone. Goodbye old friend. In catching the Kagami, I had tossed the 6/0 down and forgotten that the drag was still tight and the clicker off and one mean strike was all it took to pull me right over without warning.
By then, my half day was almost done anyway, and feeling a little humbled, I went in.
It’s a good reminder to be prepared for this kind of thing- I’m glad I was. If you have never practiced a deep water re-entry, I strongly recommend you take the time to do so- especially if you are a ‘larger’ angler or if you are not a strong swimmer. Go out on a normal fishing day so that you have the boat rigged with all your gear and jump in with a mask on- look around, it really is beautiful out there, then get back in. Make sure you can do it without capsizing. Then, go out without all your gear and flip the boat over and back again. See how fast it takes on water and how much- that’s good to know too. Reach across the boat to the far gunwale with one hand, and place the other hand on the near side, and kick your feet to push yourself as you flop up on the boat on your belly. Then keep pushing yourself up with your arms and twist your butt into the seat. Also note that if you are wearing a PFD, it helps to remove it first so that it doesn’t snag on anything as you slide back in. I feel it’s more important to be leashed to your kayak than to be wearing a PFD in our waters- if you huli or fall out in high wind, you may not be able to catch up with your boat, but your PFD will be floating next to you as long as you don’t strap it to the boat.