We set out from our put-in point around an hour before sunset amid beautiful conditions and where else would you rather be on a Friday night? (Well, besides hanging out with my favorite female meteorologist).A light SE breeze was blowing in our faces as we paddled south and water temperature at 78 degrees. It was a longer than normal paddle since we usually head north to fish the dock lights, but I wanted to try the lights to the south since it would be closer to the inlet. The docks are pretty much the same as to the north, deep water, moving water, and docks lit up like a central Florida theme park.
As we were approaching the first dock, I could see scattering baitfish and what looked like floating logs around the green underwater light. We quickly and quietly dropped anchor. This dock was situated right in the main channel and the outgoing tide was coming right towards us.
My first cast with a natural colored DOA Shrimp was perfect – just past the light and I slowly swam it towards the lighted circle. A few of the “logs” turned to have a look. They were Snook in the 15-20 inch range. I gave the lure a twitch and suddenly, a HUGE shadow came flying out of the darkness like a Mack truck, eats my lure and turns back around to go back from whence she came. Not so fast there, bucko….I raised the rod tip and reeled as hard as I could. The drag was set a bit tight, but not locked down. I could see her stopped in her tracks and turned sideways giving hard head shakes and a huge tail boil.
Then…she headed east, away from the dock with my kayak and I in tow. Line was coming off the reel in long buzzes, but I kept the pressure on when she’d stop…then back to pulling me. About this time, I had reached the end of my anchor rope. This put more pressure on, but I was gaining line on her, then just like that, she was gone.
WHAT? Did she find a piece of structure to wrap me around? Did her sharp gill plates or sandpaper mouth wear through my leader?
No! I could feel the slight resistance of the lure as I reeled back in.
What could it be?
Yep! That’s right the hook bend out! Of all the years I’ve been fishing, this is only the second time I’ve experienced this.
After re-rigging, we fished this dock full of Snook for close to an hour, heaving everything in our tackle bags to no avail.
We paddled out to another set of docks and pulled out close to 2 dozen keeper trout with a few ladyfish mixed in. I caught a nice 19 3/4 inch trout that was just shy of 20 inches, but no comparison to the biggun that had pulled me off my anchor and bent my hook from a J to an L.
After being out well past midnight, as we paddled back to the put-in, making sure to check back in with the Snook we found at that first dock. They still had lockjaw, and today, I’m left to think about the “one that got away”, with lessons learned and a heavy heart.
About the Author: Rob DeVore is a Pro Staff Member at Yakangler.com and an outdoor writer from the Tampa Bay area. He writes for various fishing publications and is the host of The Late Show on the Kayak Fishing Radio Network. Rob also is the author of ABadBackcast.com