Entries in team rebel (13)
Since we have been stepping our game up, and taking our operation to new heights with shark fishing on ladders on the flats, it was obvious that we needed a ladder company to rise up, and help us take things to a new level! Enter- House of Ladders in Oakland Park Florida. With the biggest selection in the South, and a great, family owned and operated staff, House of Ladders is the premiere scaffolding and Ladder outlet on this side of the Mississippi. If you can climb it, rest assure House of Ladders has it in stock for you!
This is long overdue, but we here at Team Rebel and Team Rebel Fishing Charters are product to announce our partnership with Aquatic Nutrition and their innovative line of chum Products. They are quickly cornering the market with their product, due to its scientifically formulated product, along with the dry storage capabilities of this highly concentrated product. It really is an impressive product, and we have been out destroying many sharks since we have began using their product! Check them out, "like" them on Facebook, and stay tuned for much more as we used their product in many new and interesting ways!
It all started when I received an e-mail a couple of weeks ago, from the head of the marketing department from Aquatic Nutrition Chum, asking us if we would be interested in collaborating and trying some of their line of chum products out. After a little bit a coaxing and arm twisting, we came to a deal and I rallied the troops to put together a plan to see what this product was all about, and if it could stand-up to the insanely hard Team Rebel test.
However, some kinks needed to be worked out, and a meeting on the West coast was scheduled with Brooks and Sean Paxton of Think Out Loud Production, to hammer out some details for the upcoming collaboration appropriately dubbed "Project X". So needless to say there wasn't any time to play....... Kinda.
After a short trip over for a "productivity" meeting, it was time to head back East and assemble a group of a few of our close friends to begin to test the chum product on a "baby step" plan. So we came to the conclusion that the best way to do an easy test of their "chum slick" concoction. We would bureak out the smaller gear and head out to the bridge on incoming tide to see if we could get some small bull or lemon sharks to bite on our new tactic. I loaded up a random bottle with the Chum Slick product, which is advertised as "smelling like death",poked a few small holes in it, and proceeded to heave it off the bridge as the tide was just beginning.
On the other side of the bridge, I was alone with my 8lb setup trying to coax one of the 4 million picky ladyfish into biting my 1/8 oz white jig, but after forty minutes it was looking quite grim. Through the mounting frustration and disbelief that there is such a thing as a picky ladyfish, I finally got a hit. However, this fish decided to completely spool my 3000 sized spinning reel against the current, it was quite a surprise. And after about a 10 minute fight that took me about 100yds on foot, I landed a 41inch surprise snook. I picked it up for a moment to get a quick solo shot of it on the ground, but as it kicked, it fell out of my hands into the water, snapped the hook in half, and I just let her swim away without me pursuing. You know ladyfish are picky if you can get a 40" snook before a ladyfish.
Anyways, my crew for the night had arrived, Mike and Chris came to hang out and see what this chum was all about. And after about an hour of slicking down current, we were ready to put some baits in the water. Within about ten minutes of bait deployment, my wide 6/0 starts screaming, it was definitely a shark. However, I tried to come tight with the circle hook and somehow it just didn't connect. I still had bait on the hook so I decided to just drop it back down and hope it would get hungry again and partake in our fresh jack offering. And about 5 minutes later, the reel went off again, but this time it was much slower, and acting very funny. It didn't matter to me, because no matter what it was I was going to put the wood to it, which I did. But as soon as I came tight to the mystery taker, it was acting EXTREMELY weird, just sitting on the bottom and moving very slowly, I knew instantly it wasn't a shark, but we thought it was a Goliath Grouper, the slow moving, the head shaking was very tell tale of the super grouper. After about 15 minutes, I saw a break at the top of the water in the dark, and it didn't look normal by any standard, something weird was going on, and the head shaking was now borderline unbearable on my end of the rod. I perched myself about 5ft from the 5ft or so tall railing, trying to high stick the fish to keep pressure on it, but some of the head shakes were so brutal, that the rod would fly 10ft and slam into the railing, ripping epoxy off my rod and destroying my Aftco reel seat. It was getting ugly, and this fight was no where near over....
We fought the slow moving, head shaking fish for over an hour until we got a slight glimpse of the beast on the edge of the shadowline. "Sawfish!!!!" we all yelled as we saw its bill start thrashing ontop and violently disturbing the tranquil river water. We knew this was going to me an interesting landing attemp to say the least, and we were not prepared for what we were about to experience.
We tricked the fish after almost two hours, the sawfish finally made its mistake, and ran toward the only portion of the bridge where there is a strip of land to allow us to land a fish, we knew we had him, or so we thought. We enlisted the help of three random guys who showed up to fish to help along in the landing of this extremely large specimen, and they seemed to be a gung-ho as us to get an up close look at the monster we had only viewed from 35ft above. I gave the rod to Mike to keep it close to shore, while I went down to help assist in the landing, but upon arrival on the bank, we realized that there was a 6ft rock ledge drop off mere feet from the bank, and the sawfish had posted up on it, with only its 6ft saw staring us down, peering at us just a few inches above the water line, that's when reality hit of how screwed we really were. Now everybody (including myself) seem to believe sawfish are very docile creatures, that just wrap in your leader and headshake a lot and don't do too much else, and everybody is pretty much right. HOWEVER, once we leadered it off the ledge and its tail became visible, we realized that this fish was 15-16ft long. You read that correctly, 15-16ft long including its 6ft long tooth laden bill. I yelled at Chris and the random dudes to "get the rope" on the fish, which Chris succeeded at pretty quickly. There was one of the three random guys snapping pictures on his Iphone as we were getting ready to turn it around to beach it for a couple of quick pictures before the release. Once the four of us got part of its insale long frame out of the water, that's when it all went to hell! In ONE single kick of its tail, with 4 people on the rope, it took us ALL to the ground in a split second. I wish I could have seen the looks on our faces, because we had NO idea that this fish could possess that much power. The next kick of its tail occured while we were all fumbling trying to grab the rope, and this kick threw a 20ft wall of water over everybody in range, soaking us, blinding us, and ruining cameras and phones. Now we were pretty much fighting for our own safety instead of a legendary photo opportunity. I regained my footing and looked up just as it swang its 6ft saw, in a 15ft radius in what I swear to you was an 1/8 of a second. It actually broke a rock from the impact. I was completely terrified, in 4 inches of water, 10ft from its saw. None of us could believe what was happening to the five of us, as we watched the sawfish THROW the tail-rope off of itself ,and swim away from us in 4 inches of water. In a flash, the river was once again silent, and the sawfish had slipped back to the deep channel in which it was patrolling, it was over, and this is the ONLY picture we have of it.
The fish became free from our grasp, 5 minutes past midnight on the 4th of July, it only seemed fitting for some odd reason, and the experience was something none of us will ever forget. But we fished on for another two hours, losing 3 more sharks, before we called it quits and headed home to lick our wounds, and relish in the fact that we all escaped with our limbs. The next day, I rendezvous'd with Peter Barrett from Barrett Rods, and he was less than impressed with the story (as any man as metal as him would be) and basically called us out on the whole meyley. So, I told him "screw it, I'm going back there tonight". Which he said he would show up to supervise any more hook-ups and finally get us some good pictures of some fish. I arrived a the bridge, and dropped the Chum Slick bottle back down, and went under the bridge to try to get a snook while I waited for Barrett to arrive. As the fireworks were going off around me 360 degrees , I was able to get a rogue stud trout, that was gut hooked, and was therefore cast into the fridge. I do have to say, outside this metal picture, catching a trout during the peak of a firework show was EXTREMELY American, and I was honored during that brief moment.
But, Barrett was getting close, so I decided to go up and throw a bait out on my tld 50 2-speed. I deployed the bait and posted up for about ten minutes, when the rod began to go off slowly again just as Barrett was driving past me to park, and by the time he got up on the bridge I was already bowed up to what I already KNEW was ANOTHER Sawfish. "Incredible!" I yelled to Pete as he ran up the bridge with his video camera and still camera. This time I thought I had the upper hand, A much bigger reel with much heavier line, which I dropped into low gear, and within 10 minutes I had the beast headshaking on the surface below. It was about 14-15 ft, another world-class, super rare animal, we had another chance to redeem ourselves, while his daughter was celebrating the 4th in her own unique way.....
Pete was shouting that we need to drag it down now and land it, but it was only me and him, and he was certain that the night before the four of us were just weak and let it handle us, and that two of us would be able to take one almost the same size down ourselves. But while we were having a conversation about what to do, it got another wind and dove under the bridge, we tried with everything we had to stop it, but 5-600lbs of non aerodynamic dead-weight said otherwise, and broke us off.....We blew it again, TWO back to back ,once in a lifetime chances (pretty much) gone. Now I was livid instead of intrigued. The freshwater moved in soon after, shutting down everything for the rest of the night.....
I went home contemplating where to fish the next night, as we heard some rumors of some nice bull sharks milling around, but something told me we had to go back there again. I called up Team members Cody and Adam, and asked if they would make the 1 1/2 drive up to try to stop "Ceicel the Sawfish" which they did not hesitate in assuring me their participation. I called upon Chris and Mike from night one and asked if they wanted in on this, which they also obliged. The army had been assembled, and if the microscopic chance of us coming across another encounter like the previous two nights again, we were all there, and we were all ready. We had cameras, tackle, bait, chum, lights, we had it all when we arrived at the bridge for the late night tide.
Just as the previous two nights, I dropped down another bottle of the "lucky" Chum Slick and we deployed baits. About 2 hours went by without a click, it wasn't looking too promising, with only catfish viciously picking away at our baits while we all sat in our giant sewing circle shooting the breeze and talking about good riffs we have heard lately, when Chris' 6/0 started moving real slow. "There it is right now!" I yelled, and when Chris engaged, the mystery fish at the end remained motionless, we had ANOTHER chance.
The law of shark fishing states, that if you put out 10 rods, and one is a small rod and reel, that will be the one getting hit, and of course, that's exactly what happened here. We quickly realized that his "new" 6/0 loaded with 50lb mono, was in a lot worse shape than we could have ever imagined, the drag was sticky and began squeaking, and the gears started to slip, as the unstoppable force drug us 100yds back and forth from each side of the bridge for almost an hour, non stop. Finally, Chris couldn't stand up to the beast any longer, and the gimbal had already ripped through his shorts and cut his thigh open. It was getting ugly fast, as this fish was acting MUCH different from the previous two.....
Before we even knew it, we were moving into the second hour of the fight, and I was on the stick at this point. The shark was running back and forth in the raging current staying on the bottom of the 17ft channel making us look stupid, the drag on the reel was getting worse by the minute, as we had to assist the line off the reel with our hands every time it was trying to pull, fearing the line would just dig in and snap otherwise. The gimbal now had tore my thigh open too, and we were trying to find anything we could to use as a butt cap, so we enlisted the help of an aluminum can and some zip ties as a make shift thigh saver. After about 40 minutes, and two successful attempts to stop it from going under the bridge, I had enough and had to hand it off to Cody. But as Cody was fighting it at about the 2:30 hour mark, we realized the mystery fish had gone to the center of the channel, and sat on the bottom, and no matter what we did, for 40 minutes, it would not budge, no angle we played, nothing. It was at the bottom recharging, getting ready for another battle, or to just wait us and our patience out. That's when we had to make a drastic decision. The reel and rod we had been fighting it on had completely fallen apart, so after a short discussion we decided that we had to cut the line, and to tie into Cody's 4/0 Avet on a 10ft rod which would not only give us smooth drag and a two speed reel, but a rod that could help us overcome the 5ft tall railing. We all took our places, and Adam grabbed the front of the line to keep tension on the resting fish with a shirt, while we sprung into action. Cody ran down the bridge with the main line, and cut it as I was ready to splice it to the new line with a uni-uni. All in all, it went way to smooth with no drama, but now we felt like we had the upper hand going into hour three.........
Check out this short video of the tie-in!
Cody handed the new rod off to Adam for a little bit, as the mystery fish just stayed on the bottom, still recharging, and after 3 people sat on the rod keeping tension for about 10 min a piece, I got back on the stick. Cody suggested we free spool some mono down current to see if we could coax the fish off the bottom. I was skeptical, but we were getting tired, and something had to happen. I threw the reel into freespool and dropped about 20yds of line off the reel, and within a minute or so, the line came tight and started pouring off the reel! We tricked it, but now it was making a bee-line to the lone channel marker, we had big problems. I took off running the opposite direction of the way the fish was headed, and almost ended up in the parking lot, but I'll be damned if we didnt just barely miss that marker. But it held its position about 30yds past the marker, with the line hovering within ten feet of the jagged pole for about 10 minutes, when we got our biggest break of the night. A giant Blue Heron was flying through the sky, as we all watched it make direct impact with our extremely tight 50lb line, and fall from the sky. But that impact on the line from a weird angle was enough to spook the fish into making a kamikaze run against the tide DIRECTLY at the bridge, it was do or die now as Mike yelled from behind "we're at 4 hours".
The mystery assailant was charging the bridge, as I was already out of gas from the legendary stand-off, and now trying to playing catch-up. We all knew that this was going to make it or break it as she hugged the bottom charging the pilings with our measly 50lb line trailing behind it. I let out a yell as I got tight with it only a few feet from going under the bridge, and Adam and Chris stood on the railing on each side of me to indicate where the pilings were that I could not see. I floored the drag , put the rod on the railing , and leaned toward the ground in what we thought was a futile last attempt before we lost it to the pilings. But after about 40seconds of hell some miracle occurred, and it came out from under the bridge and headed back out. I handed the rod of to, well I don't know who, it was about the 20th time the rod had been handed off and now the fight was getting brutal. Over the next 20 minutes, it tried to run under the bridge another 4 times, which each time I was handed the rod to stop it because nobody else wanted the burden of being the one who was on the stick when the line broke. But somehow or another it didn't, and the fish was headed to the shoreline where we had our slim, but only chance to possibly land it. We had to do something, we were all out of gas, so Adam, Chris, and Cody headed down below as we coached them on where to go and tried to keep the fish in the landing zone and off the deep rock ledge. With their lights fixed on the fish, and video cameras now dead, we finally got our first short glimpse of the fish, Mike and myself saw it for a split second up high, but the landing team down low only saw a plume of mud as it took off headed back for the channel. Me and Mike kept switching off the rod, keeping an extreme angle on the fish and risking it heading back under the bridge, in an attempt to force it back to the landing zone. We were being very careless on the rod and running out of gas and people to hand the rod off to headed into hour 5....
Hour 5 had just hit, and we were in a battle that not a person on the planet would have put money on us to win, including any of us. We all thought this was a futile attempt, and we were just trying to land it to say we tried. We forced the fish back to the landing ledge, as the crew was standing in the water searching for the fish that we believed didn't have a saw. We kept yelling that the fish had to be within a few feet of them, but we still couldn't see it. Adam took his light and panned it over in front of him, when we heard Cody and Chris begin to scream " IT HAS A SAW! IT HAS A SAW!" Apparently, when Adam shined the light over, the tip of its very short bill was within "7 inches" of Cody's foot. The sawfish decided to take a blistering run toward the channel marker taking all the line off the reel we had painstaking gained over the course of five hours, including the splice we tied off to the new reel with. Tensions got extremely high, because Mike and I couldn't hold onto the rod any longer, and Chris touched its tail when it was making its retreat. I said to Mike "F*ck this man,we are an hour from sunrise, and boats are going to start showing up soon, I don't even care anymore" Mike agreed, and we yelled down below that I was either dragging it in or this 50lb line was finally going to pop. I locked the reel up, threw the rod over my shoulder, and just started walking to the parking lot down the bridge thinking to myself "this is it, its going to pop". But after about 50 steps, all of a sudden the load got light, and the fish charged RIGHT TO THE LANDING ZONE. "You have got to be kidding me!" I yelled to Mike, and then yelled down low that this was the last chance to get a rope on it! I know they were all terrified down there, especially Chris due to the experience he had of him being the rope guy on the last fish, we figured that this one was going to try to destroy and dominate everything in its path as well, and we were scared for them while we were handling the stick up on the bridge.
The sawfish rode the ledge again, and Cody wrapped a few feet of fray 50lb around a shirt in his hand, and coaxed the fish to come off the ledge a little bit. That's when Chris and Adam rushed to the tail to get a rope on the behemoth in front of them. Which Chris again succeeded at doing, but as soon as Chris and Adam came tight on the tail rope the sawfish threw its weight once so violently that it nearly popped Chris's arm out of the socket. You read that right as well, it floored both of them in a split second, and from our point of view it looked like somebody died. The explosion was comparable to Shamu hitting the water at Sea World. And I remember myself screaming "OH MY GOD" as everybody and the fish disappeared into the wall of water. Chris popped back up yelling "Its gone!" As line started flying off the reel, the tail rope was still attached to the Sawfish, and the line was frayed and curled beyond belief. We started panicking, we cant leave the rope on this thing and have it get away!!! But somehow or another with the drag pinned and the line shredded and curling from rubbing on the ledge, that 50lb line WOULD NOT BREAK, it was our final miracle that would never happen again in a million trys. I horsed the fish back to the ledge one last time, as Chris and Adam readjusted his arm. They had one more chance, and with Cody spotting the head, Chris and Adam ran out and grabbed the still attached rope. Cody jumped in on it too, and beached it as far up as they could (which was not far at all) and screamed for us to run down.
Me and Mike ran around the bridge and sprinted down the hill to meet them at the miracle fish, and when we ran up on it we could not believe it. It was the most solid, most muscular, and widest fish imaginable (for something that's relatively flat). It was almost 4ft wide and its back was about 3ft off the ground, every bit of 700+ lbs. Mike grabbed the camera as we clipped the leader as close as we could to its unusually short shafted saw and kept yelling at Mike to square the picture up, but like everybody else he was completely shell shocked and unresponsive and we pretty much failed at pictures again. After a few extremely fast shots, the sawfish began to lose its mind and threw the tail-rope off of it in one insane thrust. War was in this beasts' blood, and even though it was practically beached, within 7 seconds it threw the rope off and was gone. We watched it quickly glide over the drop-off, never to be seen again.............
The celebration as soon as the war had ended might have been number one in the history of Team Rebel, as we were all soaked, screaming and just grabbing each other and falling down over rocks onto the ground. I dont know if we were more excited that we pulled it off, or that we could finally go home and escape our sawfish hell. One by one, it tried to crush us all, from the first sawfish to the last sawfish, it was something none of us who participated will ever forget. For those off you who know us, you know what we have done, and what we are about, from 500lb Goliaths, to 1200lb Hammerheads to my tenure as a gator trapper. We have climbed to the top of almost every land-based catagorey imaginable over the years, and not only land-based, but world-class fish, that's why we are here, and that's what we are about. But coming from somebody who tail roped a 1200lb hammerhead by himself in 5ft of water while it was swimming, I will tell you RIGHT NOW, that though the sawfish fight isn't too impressive, it is the SINGLE strongest animal I have ever been near in my life, and seriously doubt anything will compare to the power these animals have when you get them close. For something that is 15ft, or 700lbs to have that much power after a 2 hour and a 5 hour fight, to be able to DESTROY 4 people in the blink of an eye is nothing short of breath taking. No picture or film could possibly capture what it is like up close, and I don't say that lightly. These two landings, were by far the most terrifying thing any of us have ever participated it, and I'm glad to say that it is out of the way, and we do not look forward to experiencing this ever again.
In the end, "Cecil" or "Cecil's" the sawfish drove us insane for 72 hours, and though catching one is a big deal, never mind a 15ftr. We got three in three nights, all world-class size, which is completely unheard of. We are in touch with a big sawfish research outfit right now, and will keep everybody posted when something happens with the organization. As not only were they shocked at the area we caught them in, or the size, but the number. It was truly legendary in every aspect, and none of the army that I called on to do what was almost impossible with all the obstacles in the area will ever forget. I can honestly say I am extremely proud of everybody involved in this, especially the 5 hour standoff on 50lb test on the final night, and am honored to have done it with everybody there. It is definitely toward the top of our list of most legendary throw downs we have ever been part of, and that is really saying something. And 40ft of sawfish later, and only a couple of crappy pictures to show for what we did, I almost feel like that is how it should have happened, because we (along) with the camera were lucky to even get a glimpse of something like this in our lifetimes. And I can speak for everyone of us, as I sit here typing this with my entire body aching, and bruising and cuts all over my groin and thigh, barely able to walk without pain, that we will all be suffering from Post Traumatic Sawfish Disorder for a long time, maybe a life-time.
Until next time.......
-Team Rebel Out
Special thanks on this one to every one of our sponsors that helped make this possible.
Spring time has arrived in South Florida yet again (well, kind of) and a lot has changed from this time a short year ago. I have relocated the main office of the legendary Shark Command Central much further North, there are new faces, new blood, new energy, and new dis-ownings from the Team Rebel franchise. Everybody thinks when these things happen we will take a drop-off in productivity, but it always appears to make us "Stronger Than All" in the end. And early into this years season, this has proven true once again.
This has ben the longest winter we have experienced in our 25 years in Florida, granted not the coldest, but the longest. We have never witnesses this many successive systems move over our semi-tropical region in a six month period before, which made our hibernation, and wade and snook fishing shenanigans, last longer than we could have ever expected. And all that left us with was memories of combat etched into the lobes of our dormant, surf-less brains. However the time was approaching, April at last, and it was time to hang the waders and the First Light Snook Jigs up, and go after some tackle testing toothys on the ocean-side of the angling spectrum. But this year began different aside from the cold, we lost some people, and gained some people, but more importantly, we added some MUCH needed metal fortitude to the Team Rebel Machine wit the addition of Cody "Paper Shredder" Davis, and Adam "Robofisk" Fisk. Cody fished for shark for the first time last year and he did pretty well, and with our main offices' departure from the South land, he said him and Robofisk were going to "bring it strong" in my absence. So we started getting the gear together for them to take on this monumental task down in the land of the fist-pumpers. Cody and Adam frantically searched for reels, while I was given the task of building them a couple of rods worthy of grander stopping capabilities. And in just a few short days time (and some of the worst rod building luck I had ever experienced) The "Robofisk" and "Live long, Live Legendary" Rope gripped grander wrangling sticks were complete and ready for action, just in time for the kick-off party.
I will spare you the details of Adam and Codys maiden voyage out, because we already reported in on that expedition, which can be seen and read here, or by clicking on the picture of Robofisk below.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg, there was still a lot of fishing that needed to be done, and we are on the clock to meet our own expectations while running a Northern camp and a Southern camp. So without any hesitation, the frantic bait gathering frenzy was on again, proving to be more difficult this year than in other years past due to the volatile weather conditions and the wind changing directions on a daily basis. But Adam and Cody were taking it day by day, slowly acquiring bait and trying to penetrate the unusually rough Spring time surf, in search of some nice sharks.
It didn't take more than one or two trips before Adam and Cody were on the board again with this nice bull between 250-275 and the ball had officially started moving in the Team Rebel Southern outfit. However, we have been forced to unofficially dub this Phase of Domination; Live, the "yeah or horrible pictures" as you have already seen with the first hammer, and will continue to see as this moves forward...
As Cody and Adam were able to fish select days when the surf afforded them the opportunity to do so, way up North at the main office of SCC, my crew and I were not so fortunate, as bait is much harder to come by up this way, and the surf is much rougher than the 3-4ft we normally see way further south this time of year. So to kill time, we went and hassled a couple of corporations for some gear to keep pushing forward, and AFTCO stepped up in a big way and delivered to show their support of Team Rebel's operation.
We also were out on a never ending quest for bait, while waiting for the surf to open a small window that we could slip a kayak into for a few days. However a lot of our bait catching ended up yielding Snook, Snook, and some more Snook, along with a TROPHY, rogue 37 " bluefish that went into the freezer stockpile.
We now had bait, we had the motivation, but we didn't have the weather we needed to get out to where we wanted to go. We did a lot of scouting and honed in on the area we thought we would have the best chance to bust a few studs in the coming weeks, but the weathermans constantly horrendous forecast kept keeping us inland and trigger happy, until we finally saw it.......A 4 day window was about to open up with the correct wind needs to try to catch some lightning in a bottle, and we knew we had no option except to beast up and hit it hard and heavy. However the fish had other plans in mind for us and our rusty tactics.
We arrived for our maiden voyage of the year, and the new land in which we reside. We had high hopes, as we thought the conditions were prime, however the tide wasn't juuuuuust right......yet. But even with great conditions, the wind was still blowing 15-20 straight down the coast-line, making it extremely difficult to paddle out, in some still sloppy surf, the only good thing was that it wasn't breaking. We fished a 7 hour session on day 1, getting nothing but some nasty sunburn and our baits being toyed with by the never welcome Nurse sharks that roam the area, until I saw one of my lines go slack. I reeled tight, and was able to feel something on the other end, so I threw the reel into free spool and tried to let it take a little to eat, that was short lived, once I realized the fish was heading against the wind and with the current. I cranked like a madman trying to get tight on the fish, but after two minutes of cranking without catching up, it finally decided to stop teasing us and spit the hook. Needless to say we were heart broken, but it definitely confirmed our hunch, and it was now time to gear up for day two.
Me and 50 cal arrive at the beach around non-time, just to see lightning crashing and rain dumping all around us. "SHIT! This isn't good" 50 cal grunted out while checking the radar on his fancy phone. The only rain anywhere up the coast except right where we were at, and it just kept building. So we just posted up listening to some Pantera in our VIP parking spot awaiting a break in the weather so we could get the show on the road again. Well, of course this took two hours until we finally had a window to get some baits out. But naturally, as soon as we got baits out, the storm built up again, and began to bludgeon our camp for a couple of more hours, while I took cover in the sand under a sideways umbrella to stay moderately dry in the sideways rain. Well while I was hunkered down, and 50 Cal was hiding somewhere else, my 14/0 let out a strong steady cry, and in the midst of the storm, a nice fish decided to inhale the bait. I sprung into action solo as 50 was making his way down the beach to assist, but when I threw the reel into gear and came tight, the circle hook did not catch, and the fish was gone. Another soul-crushing blow to our camp, on back to back days nonetheless, but we couldn't stop now, if we could paddle we had to fish, no other option. We re-rigged and re-deployed, and waited an hour into dark without incident, well that is if you count a 350lb nurse shark noteworthy or not, and we packed up with our tails between our legs and headed home to re-strategize once more.
Day 3 of four comes, and I was burnt and tired and did not want to fish. It was scorching outside, and 50 Cal was at work for the next 36 hours, so I made some half-assed and un-motivated phone calls to a few people to try to get someone to come with me and suffer all day in the sun. To my surprise our friend and wade-fishing phenom Jayson aka ".38 Special" said he is in. So now I was committed to going, and giving this a try again. As I sipped on my 64oz Mountain Dew Code red, with the soothing riffs of Corrosion of Conformitys "Albatross" serenading me through the speakers of my ice cold truck interior, something clicked inside my brain, and I said to myself "Did I bring the f*&^ing paddle?!" I had already driven about 18 of the 20 miles needed to get to my destination to deploy, when I pulled off on the side of the road, and of course, there wasn't a paddle. I called 38 in a frantic rage asking if he knew anybody who had a paddle we could use, but nobody was answering calls or were busy doing other things. "I'm screwed" is the first thing that went through my head, Time was ticking on the day and we were already super late. But something told me to drive to the spot anyways just to take a look, probably just to make me even angrier if it looked good when I arrived. But long behold! Upon my arrival, I went and crested the hill to view the ocean, and in the middle of the sea grapes, I see something yellow, it was my paddle! I left it there the day before and didn't even remember. It was laying there like god himself placed it there, like it had a celestial glow around it. I calle 38 and told him to keep coming, because it is on! While all this was happening, my dad called me, apparently he made a secret trip to the area to do some wade fishing and was asking what I was up to, and he just happened to be around the corner, so naturally I told him to come on down for a bit while he was taking a break. He arrived a few short minutes later, and crested the hill to where I was standing and we began talking for a moment, when he looked down and made an excellent observation. Big Break number two had just occurred, when he reached down and pulled up a rotten, fiberglass, ball ping hammer from the bushes...... You don't just find a hammer in a spot in which you are looking for hammerheads, and not catch hammerheads! That's against the law!
Jayson arrived moments later, and we set-up camp and proceeded deploying baits as fast as I could get them out. Too many things had already happened for this day not to be successful, I started feeling it as we patiently awaited the sound that all fisherman long for. About an hour passed and one of my 14/0s exploded! I picked it up instantly just to look up and see a huge black-tip shark way out there just biting through all my line and leader as the line went slack. "Yup, here we go" I thought to myself, the good luck was now starting be overshadowed by the bad once again. I sat down to tie up a new rig real fast, when my 2 day old umbrella decided to launch 60ft in the air and implode upon hitting the sand. We were now back to full bad luck, and I was getting pissed, and scorched now. My dad decided to depart, he thought Trout fishing was going to be much more entertaining, leaving myself and Jayson there to stick it out till the end of the day.
I paddled out another bait so that we had two in the water again, and began the waiting game once, more, and umbrella-less this time. We sat in silence for about 45minutes, when it finally happened, my deep bait ignited, and I could tell it was something decent. I left the rod in the spike while I was letting the fish on the other end devour the bait and the 20/0 circle hook before I engaged and cranked like a madman, the only difference on this day from the previous day, as that this time I connected, and this fish was LIVID. Jayson grabbed onto the rod in the spike while I readied the harness for battle, and when the time came to lift the rod up, it took both of us to do it, This fish was taking line, and fast on pretty damn heavy drag. Jayson has never really done this before, so this was al la learning experience, getting thrown right into gunfire on a front line. This wasn't a black-tip or nurse shark, this was a full blown big fish assault, I didn't know what was ahead of us, as I hadn't been in a harness in almost a year myself, but this was no time to doubt, this was a time to get the job done Team Rebel style. I decided I was going to man up and stop letting this fish take line , I was over it already, time to drop the hammer on this thing and see where it takes us. I told Jayson to clip the safety rope on, and I cranked down to terminate. This fish almost ripped me right off my feet, and had the rod bent to a degree that I have not personaly seen since our granders a few years back. A five minute EPIC stalemate ensued, and I was starting to think this was a stud of a fish, and then it abruptly turned and started the kamikaze run toward shore. I tried to catch-up to the fish but I couldn't, however Jayson snapped a few shots while I was playing catch-up, unfortunately we didn't get any pictures of the epic stand-off. About 50yds from the beach the tell-tale sickle-fin rose from the electric green surf, and now it was time to figure out how to land it. I was DESTROYED and dehydrated already and out of gas from trying o play catch-up, but we needed pictures, and since hammers are so touchy and Jayson didn't have any experience dealing with sharks in the surf, I figured I had to try to rope it too to ensure a safe release of the shark. This wasn't going to be good.....
The shark was close, and I finally got a look at the size of this terror, ad needless to say, this was the first time in many moons I was shocked, the fish was no where near as big as the fight suggested it was, right around the 10ft mark, healthy, solid female, and looked like a "textbook" hammerhead. Nevertheless I rushed the surf with no energy left in me to rope this pissed off hammerhead, and it wasn't going well. I was so slow and weak that it almost bit me twice (which is extremely rare for that to happen to us). I couldn't;t even pull the shark into position for a good picture, and the fact that it was losing its mind did not make anything easier. My mind was clouded, but the first thing I did was reach for the leader to cut it. However, when I pulled tight on the leader, there was no resistance. "What the hell!?" went through my mind, and when I looked down I saw the hook just laying on the sand, the Hammer threw down so hard that it actually bent out the 20/0 mustad circle, and it fell out just after I had made my pathetic attempt at roping it! I could hardly stand-up to take pictures and we could no get any really good shots of this mean girl, but she swam away with the heart that she fought with. One day, that shark will be one of the tarpon eaters and reel spoolers that people tell story's about.
I was dead, dry heaving and wanting to puke, as Jayson pretty much helped drag me back to my chair on the beach as I tried to recuperate and rehydrate. Jayson was floored by the entire experience as was I. He said we should pack up and leave on a positive note, but I didn't even have the energy to pack-up, and there was still one rod out short that I definitely didn't want to reel in. I told Jayson we will pack up in 45 minutes or so once I feel a bit better, but I also told him I had a feeling something else was going to happen, and that if I had it in me I would paddle the other rod back too, however that did not happen. Jayson would say something every ten minutes or so about leaving, but I took the lucky hammer and placed it on the sand-spike of the rod still out. I was still preaching "something else is going to happen" 30 minutes went by and we were still waiting when Jayson lit a cigarette and said "By the time I'm done smoking this cigarette, I hope im going to hear you say "Lets go home now".
I kept peering over to my left at the rod with the bait still deployed with the rotten hammer perched against it, and glaring over at Jayson, watching the paper of his cigarette slowly disappear into the burning ring that was descending down toward the filter of the cigarette, while the ash trail slowly grew larger; as I sipped on what littler water I had left. It felt like an eternity in the heat, watching him smoke that last cigarette to just above the filter, when Jayson began saying "Alright, what..." and he was abruptly cut off by the sound of the 14/0 taking off! "Were ate again" I yelled over toward Jayson, "I told you something was going to happen". I didnt even have my harness on, nor had I literally even moved since the end of the first battle which had ended less than 45minutes prior to the new pick-up. I sat at the spike free spooling the bait, and this mystery fish was taking line much faster before I threw the reel into the gear and started cranking tight. Connection! We were tight again! And this was was taking a hell of a lot more line but at a slower pace. I told Jayson "Oh, shit. This fish is bigger than the last one". Jay grabbed onto the rod as the fish made its initial run, and I readied myself in the harness. He picked the rod up out of the spike and helped me tie in, and now the second battle of the hour was on, with a bigger fish, and I still hadn't recovered from the first one. I can honestly say this now, it is the first time in my life (seriously) I did NOT want to fight a fish. I never thought I would ever say it, but, there's a first time for everything I suppose.
I dug in next to the watchful eye of Jayson, dreading traveling the long road ahead of us, as line continually kept coming off the spool. For about forty-five minutes it was a dog fight, it took line, I gained, but I did not get the privilege to crank in a single inch of slack line the entire fight, this one was dead set on NOT coming to sure without winching it to us.
We finally spot the fish out about 200yds on top, dorsal and tail rose up in motion. Another Hammer..... Ok, time to try to get serious about this one and land it. A hammer always equals the utmost urgency for a release, making life just a bit more stressful each time. The fish kept moving from extreme South, to extreme North, and each time I had to summon up what little I had in the tank to turn the girl back toward us.
Close to the end of the fight, my reel began to make a grinding noise, and Jayson asked "what the hel is that noise". Ha, well to make life even better, the spool on my 14/0 had just spread. Nothing we could do now except just try to reel through it, as the spool was grinding against the gear bridge and left hand side plate. The amount of pressure and stretch from the line from trying to winch the fish to the beach forcefully had made the spool expand.....Great news...But too late now, a dorsal began rising slowly from the surf....
I handed the rod over to Jayson, and got it together to try to repeat this process one more time, and just as I had suspected, it wasn't going well. I didn't even have the energy to beach this healthy girl, which was right about 12ft and 450-500lb range. I was officially shot, I couldn't do anything, but Jayson just kept snapping away.....
The pics were going to be bad, I already knew that, the shark kept falling over, and trying to bite me, which it came close to doing a mere second or two after the picture was snapped.
But none of that mattered, time was crucial, and I needed to get my one final burst for the day (for the 9th time) and send this pretty lady on her way! After what seemed like forever I was able to push her out, and watch her fin cut against the breakers and head back offshore, slowly sinking further and further into the blue water.
I told Jayson " I think we can go home now" in a laughing manner, and we packed up as quick as we could to get the hell out of dodge and re group, but not before we paid homage to "THE" lucky hammer, which will now be entrenched as a cornerstone in Team Rebel lore for the foreseeable future.
As I parted ways with Jayson, I called Cody to tell him what had just happened, needless to say he got cranked up, and he was already heading surf side with Robofisk. "Awesome" I thought, lets see if we cant push the envelope a bit further. I went home in the WORST pain of my life, no joke, and started to disect my now broken 14/0, while Cody called me and told me they just put a nice bull on the beach Down South! "Hell Yeah!" Team Rebel on the board with three nice fish today, can;t beat that off with a stick!
I woke up with intentions to fish on day 4, however those dreams of hammers came to a grinding hault when I realized I literally could not get out of bed and every single thing hurt. And the worst part was knowing that there are fish there, and the weather was forecasted to get brutal again the next day. I literally was out of commission, I have done a lot through a lot of pain before in my life, not this time, I couldn't, so I said screw it, ill heal up and just wait for the next window in a few days... Unfortunately, It has now been over 3 weeks, and I have STILL not been able to paddle a bait out there! Who knows what could have happened..... But on this afternoon Cody told Adam he was going to bail for some seriously un-metal reasons, like Snook fishing or something pathetic like that. Anyways Robofisk decided to get his Robo girlfriend and head out solo, with one bait and one rod. He deployed a bait almost to the hub of his spool like a madman. Well it only took about 15minutes and Robofisk was bowed up!
Thank god it wasnt something bigger, we would have been in serious trouble! But his efforts and hail mary drop rewarded him with this Healthy male bull, around the 8ft mark.
Well the end of Phase-1 was nearing, and I was land-locked still, trying to just put bait in freezers and work while the surf kept me at bay. Cody and Fisk were able to sneak out a couple of time before the surf got to rugged for them to penetrate down South, and before they ran out of bait.
Cody told me the night before on the phone, that he wasn't "feeling it" after he had just completed the trip. But he specifically told me " I'm feeling tomorrow, something nice" and he re-iterated this the next day on the phone, but he elaborated even further. " Gonna get a Tiger tonight, on Adams rods." I just laughed and said "Come on man, you keep saying random shit like that, doubt it will happen, you are in a Tiger-less land (which is true)". Well to make a long story short, I get a call from Cody around 9 at night with him just yelling "What Did I say! what did I say!". Well apparently Adam ( just like Cody said) had caught a Tiger (just like Cody said), and it was slightly over 9ft!
Bad-ass way to start our shark year after a 12-month retirement, but we are not stopping, we lost some nice fish, and were not able to fish, etc. And we have a lot more we want to accomplish here soon, but for now, we will call PHASE 1 of DOMINATION; LIVE a success! But we need to set the bar higher than ever this year on all fronts. A lot of naysayers out there, need to be educated on how to conduct yourself, and fish in a respectful manner, a thing that has seem to died over the years, not just shark fishing to pad your egos. Stay tuned, Team Rebel will be back after these brief messages from our sponsors!