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The Thrill of the Unexpected Sailfish

What a trophy, what a fight, what an experience, what a rush, what the heck. A monster Sailfish in New Port Richey.

This is a true story. The names were kept to protect the herds of Sailfish swimming in the waters off of New Port Richey.

It was your average fall day in New Port Richey when the Dykstra family of Mike, Patty, James, and a friend, decided to go diving. James and his friend were going to dive while Mike and Patty enjoyed the day relaxing on their 25 foot Everglades boat.

Mike decided to bring along some light tackle to fish for grunts while the others dove. They anchored in about 30 feet of water just west of Gulf Harbors in the Gulf of Mexico. Mike said he rigged up his eight-foot Shimano Teramar spinning rod with a Shimano Stradic 5000 spinning reel spooled with some old 20 lb monofilament. Hardly the type of line you use to fish offshore, but he planned to use it to free-line bait off the boat in case a school of Spanish Mackerel came by. He had a short piece of thin wire leader tied on to the mono with an Albright knot and the wire attached to the hook with a haywire twist. No that is not a dance, it’s the name of a real knot. The hook was a long shank 3/0 hook.

Mike threaded a frozen threadfin herring on the hook and made his cast, placing the rod in the rod holder of the boat. As everyone was preparing to dive, they were alarmed by the sound of the drag as line began ripping off the Shimano reel. The rod was doubled over and after getting it out of the rod holder, Mike reared back and set the hook, realizing there wasn't much line left on the spool. As quickly as the line came off the spool, James started the outboard engine, pulled the anchor, spun the boat around and gave chase. Whew, I’m tired just writing that.

As the boat gave chase and Mike gathered back some line on the spool, it happened. The fish became airborne, tail walking 75 yards away. It was a monster Sailfish–thirty feet of water, undersized tackle, frozen threadfin herring, and in New Port Richey. What the heck was going on?

“!%[email protected]#$^%^. It’s a Sailfish!” Mike screamed. The Sailfish was first hooked at about 1:00 pm and all Mike could think about was almost being spooled and not having the proper gear to get this fish to the boat. With each run, the Sailfish would take the line down to the spool as it put on a double tail walking display that Mike said he and his family would never forget.

With each run, the Sailfish put on a display, with terrifying bill shakes and head shakes, doing everything in its power to shake the small hook and break the old 20lb monofilament line. As it was reeled to the boat for the third time approximately two hours and 15 minutes into the fight, Mike noticed the hook was perfectly positioned but his reel drag was starting to fail. The Sailfish took off again for the fourth and final time. With little to no drag, Mike had to play his hand on the spool like a pianist playing Mozart at the Policeman's Ball. His heart was beating a mile a minute and his adrenaline masked the pain of driving the rod butt into his body to fight the fish. Since there was no fighting belt or harness on the boat, Mike's wife Patty quickly grabbed a life preserver and tucked it between the rod butt and Mike's body. It was a life-saving move for Mike.

sailfish 1

Each time the Sailfish got close to the boat, it headed right for the engine or sounded under the boat and across the bow, running around in circles, down deep, and back towards the prop. It took over four hours, but when the Sailfish was finally secured, it measured out at over 86 inches and weighed over 60 pounds.

What a trophy, what a fight, what an experience, what a rush, what the heck. A monster Sailfish in New Port Richey.

If you want to book a Sailfish charter, call Mike, who now has quit his job and has become the lone shallow water Sailfish guide in New Port Richey.

Captain David M Rieumont
Guy Harvey Magazine's Online Fisherman.com
www.theonlinefisherman.com



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