Tuesday I fished the Gulf side of Bolivar Peninsula for the fifth time in six months. I’m hunting the Peninsula for bull reds.
High tide was approaching its peak when I arrived. I had the beach to myself as far as the eye could see. The wind was calm, and the sea was in the process of laying down. The surface was alive with fish and bird activity.
I grabbed my inshore rod with a cream-colored swimbait and tossed it into the surf but grew tired of inshore fishing after 30-minutes without a strike. I decided it was time to break out the long rods, a 12-ft PENN Carnage II and a 13½-ft Shakespeare Agility, and start surf casting, and maybe, just maybe have a chance to sit in my fishing chair, sipping on a coffee while taking in the wonder of the Gulf.
The transition from stained to blue water appeared to be about 300 yards offshore with the first sandbar wave occurring 150 to 200 yards offshore. Hmm…my best throw is 100 yards, 125 yards at most, and sometimes barely reaches 50 yards. I began scouring the wave action looking for holes and troughs that might be holding fish and that I could reach. Making my selection of targets I landed two sand spikes in the beach about 20 yards apart.
I then went to the back of my car—yes, Bolivar Peninsula is one of those places where you can drive your car onto the beach—and began setting up my long rods. I put a PENN 525 Mag reel on the Carnage rod and an Aba Garcia 7000 Blue yonder on the Agility rod. My main line is 40-pound PowerPro braid, which I attach a 20-foot shock leader made from 50-pound fluorocarbon line. The rig I attach to the shock leader is called a pulley rig. I use breakaway spider weights—8 ounces on the Carnage rod and 6 ounces on the Agility.
Now the bait; I started with frozen. For the Carnage rod, I wrapped three-shrimp in a mess material much like a lady’s nylon stocking. Then I attached this shrimp hotdog using two hooks—see pennel rig for details. For the Agility rod, I cut a 12-inch mullet into 2-inch chunks. After attaching a chunk to the circle hook, I wrapped the bait with a dental floss like material to secure the bait to the hook, keep the juicy guts from falling out, and minimize loss to critters other than the intended target.
All day I waded out about knee-deep and cast my bait using the pendulum cast. I had no breakoffs—a first since starting surf casting nearly a year ago—but I had several reel overruns on splashdown, which I was able to successfully take apart without cutting the line. (I must remember to put my thumb on the spool just before splashdown to prevent the overrun!)
My first cast was the shrimp. A good cast I remember thinking as I turned to walk back to shore and place the rod in the sand spike. But before I could reach the shore I felt fish attaching my bait. I struck and reeled in the first fish, a gafftopsail catfish. My shrimp was gone so I wrapped another shrimp hotdog. Another cast and the story repeat again and again. Well, this is not working, it's time to try the cut mullet.
Back and forth between car and rod and between rods, many miles for an old man. That hope of sipping coffee and taking in the wonders never happened. It was a busy day. I caught 12 gafftops, 4 hardheads, 4 sand sharks, 1 pelican, and received golden showers from pelicans overhead, and 3 empty lines from toothy fish.
But it was not a fulfilling day--yes, busy, but no bulls.
Edited by Bob Shepard (07/13/18 07:57 AM)