It seems like yesterday. Would you believe its been twenty plus years.
Jenny was six years old. She loved fishing almost as much as playing with
old Rob, our very first Golden Retriever, we've had a few since then.
They were all similar in a way, some were darker, some lighter, all liked
the water and the kids, even us older kids. We've always been dog lovers
and the dogs have been as much a part of our life as the children, who are
now grown with kids of their own. Our latest dog, Robby, loves playing
with Jenny's Golden Retriever Lula.
They are great pals, even though Lula is a dominant alpha female who puts
Robby in his place on occasion, they are almost inseparable.
But we can't take Lula in the boat, because she doesn't stay in it long. Once
when leaving the dock Scott forgot the bait bucket. As we turned to retrieve
it, we noticed Lula was missing. There she was swimming beside the boat,
all wet and having a great time. That did it for Lula. From then on she had
to be tied in the boat, which took all the fun out of it for her, she gets left
I'm a pretty lucky guy. I look out every morning, rain or shine, mostly
shine to a paradise next to a great salt marsh. Every fiber, every strand
of grass stirs something inside me. I can't express what this feeling is – you'd
have to live here. Once when John was in second grade he heard me say,
"God, what a gorgeous day this is going to be."
"Why do you always say that?"
"Because, son, it is true. Everyday is a great day."
Everyday is sunny. Sometimes it rains a little in the afternoon. That's OK.
It's refreshing and it's great. I'm glad he didn't ask me why the sky was blue.
I'm not sure I could have answered that. So living by or on the water is kind of
a spiritual thing. So now that I'm in the mood. Let me share a true story about
Jen when she was little girl.
"Daddy, daddy. He's got the bunny!"
"What's the matter Jen?" I replied trying to console her. Jen was visibly
shaken and sobbing.
"He's got the bunny." I couldn't imagine what she was talking about.
I thought our retriever had gotten a hold of rabbit and asked, "Has Robbie got
"No, daddy." Poor Jen was all upset. She was the cutest little six-year old and
very sensitive at times. She looked a lot like my wife Annie.
"Daddy, he took the bunny down there." Pointing, she motioned towards the dock
where I kept my boat. I was still puzzled.
"Show me Jen," I said, "let's go see."
"OK" she said in a soft voice and took my hand to lead me to the dock.
The tide was up and the boat still had my rods in it, but it looked like there was
one rod on the dock, a 9wt. What a beautiful day. The sea grass was waving in
a light breeze and the water was a steel blue, hardly any clouds in the sky. This
poor child was so upset. She usually didn't touch any of the boat rods, so I was
surprised to see the rod on the dock, I figured there was a good explanation.
Jen was always with me when ever I didn't have a charter. She loved fishing.
I got her a small fly rod to use and she did pretty well. Jen had a number of
favorite flies and she would sit patiently watching me tie flies in the workshop.
Her favorite was a bunker bunny, and now I was starting to get the picture of
what was wrong. The rod was stretched horizontal and perpendicular to the
length of the dock and wedged between two dock pilings. The line was
completely out all the way to the backing and it was a good thing I tied a
perfect Arbor Knot or there wouldn't have been any line on the spool at all.
The rod was in an unusual position. I was surprised it was still on the dock
and not out to sea with whatever was munching the bunny.
"I'm sorry Daddy," Jen said.
"What happened?" I asked.
"He took the bunny and then went that way. I tried to hold him but he just
kept going." Jen was sobbing again. She said that she was down on the dock
with Robbie, our Golden. Rob loved and protected her.
"The bunny was on the dock and I picked up the rod to reel it back when some
wind blew it into the water. I turned around and all of a sudden something took
the bunny and I couldn't reel it in. It just kept going. I had to put the rod down
on the dock because I couldn't hold it."
"It's OK, Jen," I said. This explained it. Some fish or something had taken
the bunny and made a run.
The line was really taut and whatever had it wasn't making any more progress
against the incoming tide. I was curious and couldn't wait to see what was on
the other end of this line. So I said, "Let's reel this in Jen and see who took
I put one arm around her shoulder and could tell that she had settled down
and was now focused on what had the bunny.
I picked up the fly rod which started to bend, and bend, and bend. There had
to be something in the 15 to 20-pound range on the end. This was a rod that
had a 40-pound wire leader for shark and tarpon fishing. But it was too early
for tarpon. There was a lot of tension on the rod now. The line was so tight
that you could have walked down it to where it entered the water.
I applied even pressure and tried pulling back a little so I could get a couple
of turns on the spool. I did this maneuver over the next fifteen minutes and
was able to put about 50 yards of backing back on the spool. After about an
hour, we were still pulling and now into the fly line, which was a great relief.
I was physically pulling this fish, I thought, back towards the dock. What was
so uncharacteristic about this was that the fish was not fighting. The line felt
like I was reeling in a log - no action, no motion, just a steady pulling back.
When half of the fly line was back on the reel, the brut made a charge for the
reeds across from the dock. It was about fifty or sixty feet, but now I could
clearly see what had taken the bunny. The coloration was blue-green shading
above to silvery-white underneath. It had a splayed set of dorsal spines and a
gray-silver forked tail. This was the biggest Bluefish I had seen caught on
a fly rod. It was probably a record fish.
When we got him back to the dock, I had Jen take a fish net from the boat
and we used it to scoop up the 12-pound Bluefish. Somehow the line had
wrapped around the fish and made it difficult for him to make any fast runs,
because he surely would have been long gone.
What a prize Jen had and we made a huge deal out of it. Annie would prepare
a great feast for us. First we bled it in preparation for Annie. Jen helped by
getting the pail and water, and I slit the throat and tail.
This was Jen's first Bluefish. We got the bunny out of his mouth which Jen
cleaned and put back in the fly box, and turned to me and said, "thanks Daddy."
Annie topped of the day with steamed Bluefish with veggies and herbs. We
even got two more meals out of the Blue that took the bunny.
Fly-fishing for Bluefish is great sport in both the Atlantic and Pacific. They are
ravenous predators or scavengers and will eat anything that attracts their attention.
Rods can by sized to local conditions, ranging from 8-weight to 10-weight. The
most effective is a 9-foot 9-wt rod with WF9I fly line. Fly reels should have a
minimum 150 yards of braided Dacron or Gel Spun backing. Leader tippets of
12 to 20 lbs work well, and they should have at minimum a 30-pound wire shock
leader before the fly. Bluefish have very sharp teeth and should never be
handled with your hands. Take a "dehooker" to remove the hook and release
your prize back to the ocean.
Until next time ~ Doug
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.