Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle
Capt. Alex Crawford
June 26, 2006
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report
CREATURE FROM THE BLUE LAGOON
Some of you may remember the classic movie filmed up the road a short way at Wakulla Springs, titled “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Well ,yesterday, on an offshore fishing trip we had a thrilling adventure with what I have affectionately named the “creature from the blue lagoon.”
We were catching snappers on an old shrimp boat wreck south of Apalach, minding our own business, when we came under attack by the creature. Like the original creature from 40 some years ago, our creature was elusive and mysterious.
It all began when several snappers were stolen by the creature, as we attempted to pull them up to the boat at the speed of greased lightening. Our efforts proved ineffective, as the line would just grind to a hard stop at mid depth and then go slack. My first reaction was “pesky porpoises!” And then, damn sharks, go away. But we were able to pull one snapper up into the boat and upon inspection, there was no evidence of torn flesh like jagged shark teeth. About this time a 500 pound turtle came to the surface for some air behind the boat. Well, ocean turtles don’t eat fish, so that left only one explanation. Must be a giant goliath grouper! Wrecks make ideal habitats for these big groupers and they are endangered. Even divers are prohibited from possessing what we used to call jewfish.
I was more determined to get a look at our creature. More than anything my desire was to help my customer catch fish, without being constantly harassed by our creature. Since I had no air on board to swim down and check it out, my only alternative was to somehow hook up the creature and bring it up for a close up look.
Fortunately we had a 50 pound class stick onboard. I quickly tied a heavy leader and 12/0 grouper hook onto a heavy glass stick with a Penn 6/0 reel, spooled with 80. With a big chunk of cut bait, I dropped the new creature rig down into the depths of the wreck. At once I was hooked up with another snapper. But slowly I started reeling up and WHAM, the line stopped. In fact, it started moving south to Cuba. Before I could stop the fish or turn the drag down to the terminator setting, the fish had me holed up in the wreck.
What to do? Some anglers will say, just put the rod in holder, take tension off the fish’s mouth and wait for it to swim out of the wreck. I decided to try to pull the fish out of its steel home. After putting on a fighting belt, I gimbaled the big rod in, turned the star drag down as tight as it would go and starting pulling with all my might.
The drag did not budge and neither did the fish. The mono was stretched a tight as a banjo string. My guess was that something had to give and it did. As I pulled up with both hands on the fore grip of the rod, sweat rolled into my eyes. After about 30 seconds, it happened. The fish either swam out of his home or was tired of the pressure on its jaws.
Thankfully, I had some purchase on the fish. I shot of adrenalin flashed through my body and I felt instant energy. Pump and wind slowly, no slack I thought. The small car was actually moving in my direction. Hooray, hoorah! My arms and shoulders were on fire with muscle fatigue. But there was hope and I was gaining slowly.
Finally, our creature surfaced with a splash. As he came to the top, this oversize GOLIATH GROUPER simply spit out my small red snapper, just as you would spit out a watermelon seed, turned and swam back down to his home. My estimate was over 300, a giant by any measure. These fish have a consistent food source and grow very old. What a really great fish! They deserve to be protected.
When I got some air and my heat rate dropped, I examined the snapper that was given back. One whole side of the snapper had no scales. It looked as if it had been run through a commercial scaling machine. Amazing!
We had done battle with our mysterious creature and he lived to fight again. There was no fish-stealing porpoise, sea turtle or pesky shark, just a hungry goliath with an appetite for snapper. It was an awesome experience.
Till next tide, solid hookups and tight lines,
Captain Alex Crawford
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