The Great Escape

C.C. October 27, 2011

Fishing was my escape from the everyday grind of life…that is until my wife forced me to fish with my neighbor. John was a dedicated kayak fisherman, but his approach to inshore fishing was one for the record books. “Craig, If you don’t go fishing with the neighbor this weekend I’m going to stop cooking your dinner and doing your laundry,” my wife exclaimed.

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Photo: David Goldstein

“OK, whatever you say, just don’t make me wash my own clothes!” I responded. My neighbor John was never interested in prowling offshore waters for oversized game fish, but his strange approach to shallow water fishing stemmed from offshore tactics uncovered in big game publications. I never questioned why he enjoyed reading Blue Water Troller and Game Fishing The World, while he should have been perusing the pages of Shallow Water Sportsman and Grass Flat Grazers.

His plastic boat was already outfitted with electric trolling motor, livewell, GPS, radar, depth finder and fishbox, so I was really curious to see what else he had conjured up.

Whatever the reason for his unique approach, John was totally hooked. Even though his offshore approach to inshore angling was one I could never understand. Whether it was a collection of artificial shrimp rigged as a daisy chain teaser, makeshift outriggers, a monster livewell or collection of fishing kites, his friends and acquaintances have told me that you never knew what John was going to attempt on the flats.

The dreaded day finally came and since we were neighbors, I offered to drive to the kayak launch. Although I could easily fit two kayaks in the back of my truck, John said he would rather meet me at the park. I thought it was a bit strange, but didn’t argue. John sounded particularly excited and mentioned he had a new addition to his kayak that he was ready to test in the shallows. At this point, I simply had no idea what to expect.

His plastic boat was already outfitted with electric trolling motor, livewell, GPS, radar, depth finder and fishbox, so I was really curious to see what else he had conjured up. I noticed his turbo-charged silver Subaru enter the parking lot and was completely baffled with what I saw next.

To my astonishment, John proceeded to mount a makeshift tuna tower onto his kayak. “What the hell is that?” I exclaimed. “It’s my new tower,” John responded. “What do you think?”

“I think you’re going to be the laughing stock of the flats,” I told him. “Whatever…I’ll be the one laughing when I spot tailing redfish 100-yards out.“ He commented.

We proceeded to board our kayaks and started to make our way to the nearest flat. “Where’s your paddle,” I asked John.

“I left it at home. With my new GPS guided trolling motor I don’t need a paddle.” He added. Not wanting to be seen with my wacko neighbor perched 10 feet in the air, I paddled as fast as I could trying to create a significant distance between the two of us. Unfortunately, his 101 lb. thrust trolling motor had more juice than I had paddle power.

While I strained to gain distance, John was perched atop his tower checking his spread. “Man, I just had a redfish crash my shrimp daisy chain. I missed the bait and switch because I didn’t let him eat long enough. Aren’t you supposed to drop back and count to ten before setting the hook?” John questioned.

Literally flabbergasted that a fish would even come within a mile of his kayak, I continued to work my way to the nearest shoreline. I needed to get away from him quick and I had the perfect plan. Knowing John’s tower extended high above the water’s surface I made a made dash for world famous Jack’s Creek. This narrow, winding, mangrove tangled creek opens up into a shallow honey-hole that’s usually loaded with tailing reds, and I knew that John’s kayak couldn’t navigate the overhanging branch system. Regrettably, he would be left high and dry. What a shame.

I staked out and enjoyed catching countless redfish for the next two hours. Every so often I could hear John in the distance. I had finally found my escape in the form of redfish nirvana…and I would still have a hot meal and clean clothes when I returned home.

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