Friendship, comradery, brotherhood. All words that come to mind when I reflect on the past weekend’s adventures.
What started with Jimmy McKinney‘s vision to unit members of the fishing community led to one of the best weekends, forging new friendships that will no doubt last a lifetime.
Complete strangers from all over the country gathered in Virginia with one dream – chasing Tuna, Mahi, Wahoo, and Marlin. One by one, the team assembles. By Friday night, everyone was here and ready to fish. I think I can speak for most when I say this but there is a certain level of apprehension associated with inviting strangers to your home. With the crack of the first beer, smiles on everyone’s face, that all fled away. We spent the evening bonding over stories, unique to each of us and our lives in different parts of the country. Even boasting about our personal best, favorite catches, and the best way to cook it. We where no longer strangers.
Time to Hit the Water
After long hours of travel the day before, and merely a cat nap, it was 1AM and time to gear up! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many guys that happy at 1AM. We load the tackle and pile in the truck to begin our journey. I listen to all the stories being told as we headed south to Oregon Inlet North Carolina. I can hear the excitement. I cross my fingers that fishing is good! And boy was it.
Boat is loaded, iced, and all crew is aboard. It is pitch black out with only the glimmer of the stars in the sky. The air is salty and humid. We begin our journey out of the Oregon Inlet. Many would argue that it is one of the most dangerous inlets on the east coast. There was a large eastward swell, crashing across the sand bar that separates the ocean from the inlet. These waves continued to break all the way across the inlet. With safety being paramount and fearing disappointment, I opted to turn the boat around and wait for day break.
The horizon begins to lighten up. We once again make a run for the inlet. This time armed with daylight. We can see the mist rising off the surf. White water as tall as the boat. We lined up with the break, and held on tight! Once the bar was crossed the sea conditions improved, and continued to do so all day. Now begins our 40 mile journey to the ledge.
Admiring the sunrise as we run due east, we arrive at the fishing grounds. Lines start going into the water. POW! The first fish pulls the line from the outrigger. FISH ON! The second line in the water yields a nice Mahi. The skunk is off the boat. We reset and get back to fishing. There was a steady pick of small yellowfin tuna and mahi. Everyone was all smiles, taking turns playing with the fish. Amazed at the power of these fast creatures. POW! The long rigger goes off. This was a much bigger bite! Everyone looks at each other as the fish is peeling drag off the Shimano 50 wide.
After a nice run, the fish plays nice. As its being cranked to the boat, we can see its colors below the surface. The water is crystal clear. WAHOO!!! One of the fastest fish in the ocean has decided to snack on our ballyhoo. There will be tasty eats for everyone.
The day grinds on. Spirits are high, and the fish box is steadily filling up. POW! POW!….. POW!. 3 fish strike at once. A small yellowfin makes it into the boat, and is released after we measured it, discovering it was a mere 2 inches short of legal size. Its larger friend making its way into the ice box. The third fish is still peeling drag! It’s always exciting when an angler says “we are going to get spooled!”.
Suddenly it’s time to go to work! With the command given to clear all the lines, we begin to back down on this fish. With over 32 pounds of drag on 80 pound test line, this fish still managed to gain the upper hand. This was the fish we came for! The mystery of what could be on the end of our line turned to the excitement of what is on the end of our line. Big fish take team work, with all hands on deck. There are lines to be cleared, rods to be put away, gaffs to be pulled out, and a fish to fight! 20 minutes pass. The 800 Yards of line what where once gone from the spool is slowly replaced. Suddenly there is color … SHARK!.
An almost 9 foot, 250 pound Black Tip shark has fallen victim to a “green machine”. Moral on the boat is soaring. Smiles from ear to ear on every face.
As the day winds down we spot a piece of floating debris, an old log. As we troll past it we can see Mahi under it. Dozens. POW! Several more lines go down. We pull in Mahi, leaving one in the water. Mahi are schooling fish, and will stay around the boat when one is left on a line. We can see fish all around us, so we elect to pull out the bailing gear. Chunk baits and spoons, we begin to pull in Mahi. What great fun on light tackle! And what a great way to round off an already awesome day.
What Angler Pros is REALLY About
That night we sit around a table, the grill burning, and beverages on ice. I think to myself how awesome it is to have met all these guys from different places in life. Hearing how they got into fishing, or why. Even what it saved them from. What it means to them now. It’s amazing and i can’t help to think that in a world when there are so many divides, so much turmoil, all of those things disappeared. We weren’t rich or poor. Democrats or Republicans, left or right. We are anglers. New friends, and surely lifelong buddies looking forward to the next adventure.
If this does not embody the vision for Angler Pros, I don’t know what will.