The Big One That Got Away!…..Almost.

Since I spent the majority of my time talking to fishermen and women, I hear a lot of fish tales during a normal year.  Most, if not all of these stories have at least of grain of truth mixed in with the embellishments of a normal fishing story.  But the best fishing story I know of from last year is one that I was personally involved in, so I know it’s the complete truth and I’ve got video and pictures to prove it.

Since I bass fish between 75 and 100 times a year, almost all of my fishing stories are about that species.  This story is an exception to that rule.  It took place over New Year’s weekend when my kids took me on a redfish trip as my Christmas present.

Now as you would expect, my kids grew up fishing for bass but this was the first redfish trip for both of them.  They both also have caught some large bass including a 12 pounder that my son caught a few years back, so they have had some good fights before.  Even with their experience, neither of them was expecting the strength and staying power of a good size redfish.

For those of you who haven’t had to chance to go after redfish, I’ll give you a brief description of how our guide goes about it.  He uses normal size bass tackle, mostly spinning rods with either 25 pound mono or braided line and a popping cork setup.

The popping cork is a pretty simple rig.   Basically it’s a cork with a 2 foot section of line tied to it and a weighted jig head tied on the bottom.  You bait the jig head with a dead shrimp, cast it out and use a popping motion to retrieve it.  When you pop it, the jig head and shrimp rise up and then fall on the pause.  When a redfish hits it, the cork goes under and you hold on.  The fight is unlike anything a bass fisherman has experienced before.  Think about what the largest bass you’ve ever caught felt like at his strongest and imagine that fight going on for several minutes.  It’s not at all unusual to get a redfish to the boat and have him surge and rip off more line than he had when you started the fight.

This particular story is about one of those fights that my daughter started with one of the redfish on the first day of our trip.  We had pulled up to a point and we catching redfish just about as fast as we could throw out and get them landed.

After a few smaller fish, Melissa hooked up with one that was obviously larger than what she had been catching.  You can see from the video below that she was making progress landing it when the unexpected occurred.  With the rod fully loaded, Melissa was unprepared for the surge the fish made and the line parted somewhere above the cork.  You can see how much pressure she had on it by the way the rod knocked her hat off and hit her between the eyes.  The look on her face was one I’ll remember for a long time and having been hit that way a few times myself, I knew exactly how she felt.

With most fish stories, that’s how the story would end. The big one got away, AGAIN!  But with this fish, that was only the beginning of the story.  We got Melissa re-rigged and went back to catching them, but after about 15 minutes the guide noticed that her cork was back on the surface about 200 yards from the boat.  I figured that the fish had managed to dislodge the hook and we’d pick up the rig when we got ready to leave that area, but then we noticed that the fish was still on the rig and swimming around.

For the next 30 minutes or so, we watched that cork make large circles around the area we were fishing.  Using it as a marker, we could see exactly how the fish were acting.  They would swim around in large circle, feeding around the shell bed that we were fishing.  Finally, after watching it for what seemed to be forever, the cork got closed enough that we decided to throw at it and see if we could hook the line.  After numerous attempts (it’s harder than it sounds like), I managed to land right on top of it and the jig caught the line and slid up to the cork.   Once again the fight was on and after a few minutes that redfish was in the net.  It turned out to be the largest fish of the day and you can see both corks in the pictures at the end of the video.

I’m a catch and release guy when it comes to bass, but these redfish trips are for filling the freezer so normally this fish would have gone in the ice chest.  But it was hard not to sympathize with this fish.  I’ve had days like that before; where it seemed everything you did was wrong, so I didn’t have to heart to keep this fish.  After all, he’d had a pretty rough day already.

Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible:, Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Bass Angler Magazine and Mississippi Van Lines.  Without all of you, none of this would be possible.

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