Ooops…we did it again
I had the pleasure of fishing with Brittney Novalsky from Florida Sportswoman.com this past Friday. Brittney was in town on business, so we met in St. Petersburg on Wednesday to talk about her company plans and our intended full moon tarpon trip on Friday.
To tell you the truth, I was sweating the trip pretty hard. Tarpon fishing isn’t always easy; contending with the oppressive heat, rough waves from the outgoing tide and seabreeze clashing, and thunderstorms coming out of nowhere can be very nerve-racking. Plus let’s not forget the fact that the fish need to be hungry. Brittney had never caught a tarpon as well. No pressure. With such a positive attitude from her, I had a little faith we would hook a couple and she would get a shot.
Friday came along and the Sea Pro was prepped and ready for a change-I wasn’t scrambling to get prepped as usual. After meeting up at the house, off we went to launch the boat, just a little early to get some insurance bait before the crab flush. The bay was pretty choppy but Brittney didn’t mind it so we checked markers for threadfins and at last found some. Getting bait took some time as the tide was slacked out and a significant chop on the water, but after some persistence there were a few threadfins in the well.
Heading to the tarpon grounds, the tide was just picking up. After anchoring up the best as possible, Brittney and I soaked some threadfins. Nick headed out to line up with us so we had some company too. After a few drifts the sound of peeling drag was heard from my lucky set up, which Brittney was using. A huge jump was next. Chaos ensued. Reeling in my line, throwing the buoy and setting Brittney up was the plan, and it was accomplished, but definitely a tense moment as the anchor buoy was stuck on the motor, and I was stressing. After freeing the buoy the tarpon was still stuck; time to pursue the king. Maybe the rod wasn’t lucky, it could have been her.
This being a lively fish, Brittney got through five good jumps and this tarpon was definitely hooked well, so she was in it for the long haul. In addition to being lively, this fish was also stubborn, hugging the bottom and heading under the Sea Pro numerous times, causing some anxious moments and wild driving. Brittney fought the fish well and we got the leader in about 30 minutes but the poon stayed green. After another ten minutes of me bossing her around (she was probably tired of hearing it for the first 30), and making sure she got the fish boatside, the catch was admired and a few pictures were snapped.
I gave Brittney the hook for good luck, and following a quick revival, it was back to the spot to line up and hit the crab flush. With an understandably worn out, yet stoked fishing partner, she stayed on crab duty for a short time, netting up some bait while I fished, losing two tarpon while Nick and his crew put on a clinic right next to us.
Calling it a day, we loaded up the boat and headed back to clean up and grab a bite to eat, a tradition I insist on after a good days fishing. Dinner was fun with both of us talking fishing, especially her catch of the afternoon.
I’m no tarpon expert, but it felt great to put someone on their first fish, especially Brittney. Watching the adrenaline rush on the initial hit, seeing her dejection from the seemingly never ending fight and the accomplishment of landing a huge fish was very rewarding for me. Hooking the fish herself with no rod pass off was awesome as well. A textbook fight for her that I’m sure she will never forget. Nobody forgets their first.