Furry Fiend

Stephan Ramirez April 15, 2009

In anticipation of the upcoming weekend, I went out to catch a bunch of pilchards, the staple offering when targeting Florida’s estuarine habitats. I know artificial “gurus” claim live bait is for kids, but ever since I was brutally snagged by a topwater plug equipped with three razor-sharp trebles, I squirm at the thought of handling any form of fake and don’t even allow them on my boat.

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Illustration: CHRIS ARMSTRONG

After chumming up a healthy gathering, I threw two perfect pancakes and blacked-out both of the livewells on my 23-foot bay boat. I started the big Merc and charged home anticipating my friends’ arrival and our coming adventure.

Someone must have seen me loading the pen and helped themselves to free baitfish. I was outraged!

As my supercharged beauty rest at dock I stared into the livewell, mesmerized by the magnificence of the frisky baitfish. I proceeded to open the lid of my bait pen and began unloading the freshly corralled baits as I dreamed of fish tacos. After giving the boat a quick wash, I drove home and hit the sack in preparation for an early morning departure.

My longtime pals, Kevin and Doug, were in town visiting from Maine, and I was excited to show them a great time. After a quick rendezvous at their hotel, we headed down to the boat. This is where all of the trouble began. We loaded our gear and as I lifted the bait pen out of the water, I immediately noticed the latch on the lid was open. I’m meticulous about my bait, and I was outraged to see that someone had stolen most of my loot.

I explained to Kevin and Doug that the way I designed the custom-built floating pen it was impossible for any of the baits to swim out freely, even if the lid was left open. Someone must have seen me loading the pen and helped themselves to free baitfish. I was outraged!

Fuming over the situation, I gathered the remaining bait and we headed out to my secret spot. After a sensational day aboard Livebait Liaison, we made a quick stop to catch more bait before heading back to the dock. With the same routine as the night before, I cleaned the boat and was soon ready for bed in anticipation of the following day.

The morning arrived way to soon, but I promised my friends another fishing trip. I stumbled to the dock where to my amazement; my bait pet was once again depleted of its shimmering sensations! This time the thief had no remorse and took every single bait in the pen! Without any pilchards, I was left with no choice but to postpone our trip. I told my buddies that I would go out and catch more bait in the afternoon, but first I had to deal with this situation. I called the local sheriff’s office and the response I received was less than welcoming.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“Someone stole my baitfish!”

“Excuse me sir?”

“Listen to me lady. Someone stole my bait and this is very important!”

“Sir, this line is reserved for emergencies and it’s a felony to make a hoax emergency call.”

Seeing as local law enforcement wasn’t going to be of any help, I had to devise a plan to wrangle the perpetrator myself. As an avid angler and trophy hunter, I was more than up for the challenge. I ventured into my garage and rummaged through my hunting gear, returning to the dock armed with my trusty reconnaissance camera. I mounted the motion activated video camera near the scene of the crime and went out to catch bait for the following day’s trip.

When morning came, we were astonished to find out that the bait pen was again empty. I immediately grabbed the camera and reviewed the footage. “Did you catch them? Can you see the guy’s face or make out the boat’s registration numbers on the video?” asked Kevin.
“Not quite,” I replied.

To my astonishment, a large otter opened the latch and literally climbed into the pen. The footage was stomach wrenching, as the marauding otter casually consumed every one of my precious offerings. While the furry fiend may have gotten the best of me, I’m now headed into the garage to locate my 12-gauge. I’ve heard blackened otter taste just like chicken!

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