Family fishing gets competitive
On July 4, my family and I were off work to celebrate Independence Day. While we drank our morning coffee, my wife turned to me and said those three magic words — “Let’s go fishing.”
I immediately finished my coffee and ran for the garage to load the boat — before anyone could change their mind. I hooked up the boat, loaded the bimini top, removed the towers and platforms, loaded the rods, cooler, net, and check it stick. Then off we headed to the store for drinks and snacks and to the landing.
Since my wife doesn’t fish with me much this time of year due to busy schedules, tournaments, and the summer heat, I decided we head to go to my favorite tournament spot in St. Andrew Bay, where I knew she would catch fish and have fun. We arrived about a quarter-mile above the spot, to allow the wind and waves to drift us to the spot while we rigged and prepared.
My wife was throwing a Bass Assassin 4-inch sea shad on ¼-ounce jig head, and I was throwing a bait I made to test it out. We drifted to the spot, poled down, my wife cast and hooked up. She landed a 19-inch red, and immediately broke out in a dance while singing, “I caught the first fish and you didn’t.” I just laughed, unhooked and released the fish, made sure her bait was still rigged true, and went back to fishing.
She threw and hooked up again, an 18-inch red with many spots, and she began singing and dancing again — “I caught two fish and you caught none.” I was laughing, but in awe.
I took her to a place to make sure she caught, and now it had become a competition. I asked, “Are we really going to do this?” She smiled and said, “Yes.”
I reminded her I was testing homemade baits, but game on. My whole family is very competitive, even with each other, but in fun. I threw, hooked up a 24-inch red on a bait that I had sculpted, made the mold, poured the mold, made the colors — and now caught reds on it. The score was 2-1, and as it began to get serious, our oldest called and asked if we could pick him up at the landing because he wanted to fish with us.
Now it was my wife, Jake Wright and I, back at the same spot. No Alex this trip; he was with his cousins and grandparents in Tallahassee for the week. My wife informed Jake of the competition and how she was whooping me. He said he wanted in and told his mother he was coming for her.
I threw, hooked up a 25.5-inch red that weighed six pounds. My son threw a 4-inch Bass Assassin Sea Shad and caught a 23.5-inch red that weighed 4.5 pounds. Now the score was my wife 2, Jake 1, and me 2. I threw and hooked up with a 26-inch red that weighed 6.5 pounds, and I just smiled at my wife, released the fish and then it was like a light switch.
I went on a catching spree and hooked up every other cast for the next 45 minutes. I patterned the fish while we were there and figured out how they lay, moved, and at what depth. I may have forgotten to mention that to the rest of the boat, since we were in competition. The score was now my wife 2, Jake 1 and me 10, and then the bite just stopped for the reds at that spot. We decided to make a move to a spot on the way in.
We drifted the flat, fan casting, and Jake was looking for the reds to tie his mama and hopefully a third to beat her. We drifted for 45 minutes, with not as much as a pinfish peck. Then Jake set hook, the drag pulled, and then nothing — spit the bait. When he reeled up, I realized he switched to a ZMan Minnow Texas rigged. When you Texas rig a ZMan product, you have to double and triple set the hook, as the elaztech material does not allow for the hook to unpin on the first hook set and you will miss the fish 98 percent of the time.
After Jake lost the fish, we called it a day and headed for the house to get in early enough to avoid the firework crowd. Once we got back to the landing, I had to smile at my wife and asked if she kept count as I lost count after five. She just smiled and said, “No one likes a sore winner,” and laughed. It was a great day to just go catch with family for fun, and I wouldn’t want to spend it any other way.
A family that fishes together, stays together.