oFISHal page
Big images...could take a mo'. The newest, biggest fish story is near the bottom....

Oh Cod! An Estuary Cod.

This bass was a big suprise....caught in a strip mine lake in central Illinois. I would usually not keep a fish like this, and I believe in catch and release unless I'm fishing for food, but there were a bunch of people who never would've believed me, so I had to show it. It was night and I held it behind my back as I walked towards the bonfire where my chums sat. A herd of cats was following me. It was a beautiful sight. We'd never even seen a bass that big in that lake, much less caught one.

It was the inagural weekend of the "Angels Crossing" dance camp, in West Virginia, at a beautiful hilltop site. As most everyone else was eating dinner, I was fishing in the tiny pond near the dining hall. I felt the strike, brought it in, and it was this fine bass, with a bonus....in its mouth, the large bluegill that had actually taken my hook. A true "life in the foodchain" event. Note the hand, deep in the fish mouth....trying to get the bluegill out so we could release them both. Rumor has it, they named the pond after me.

Here's me, at the pier on Sanibel Island, my favorite place in the world, holding a redfish that was just right...about 26 1/2 inches. Legal size is between 18 and 27 inches. Salt fishing is the most exciting...the sound of your drag screaming when a fish hits is adrenalin city. You never know what's got your bait...could be anything in the ocean. Some are so big, that strapping men wheeze and grunt and gasp, trying to get them in.

All these years I wanted to catch a snook. Did.

I noticed a churning in the water off Narragansett, Rhode Island, and little silver fish were beaching themselves. I got out my tackle and tossed a plug at the churning water. Almost immediately, something slammed it and broke my line. I went to the tackle store, got another plug and went back. Landed 3 big Bluefish, the biggest of which was 14 lbs 4 oz. Wow. Voracious, mean, hard fighting, and best of all, really tasty on the grill.

Fish Story

If you just want to see the picture, scroll down. 
The text is the journal email I sent back the day after
the fish.

So.  Where do you start.  Okay...I caught a fish that
weighed almost as much as me.

So anyway, I picked Shari up at the airport.  We get
to our digs and take a walk around Ft Myers Beach.  We
get out on the pier and there's some people fishing,
and I got that old familiar gee it's great to be in
Florida fishing feeling, except that I'm with Shari
and she didn't come down here to fish.
So we're watching the sunset at the end of the pier
and this guy who has a couple of poles in the water
tells me to watch one.  I get a strike and reel in my
first fish, a nice legal spanish mackeral.  I'm
already into the fishing thing.  I ask her for a few
more minutes, she kindly waits, then realizes I'm kind
of stuck there for awhile in my mind despite being
hungry and us just being there an hour or so on the
island.  So she takes a walk and comes back.  We go to dinner.
Did you think I would catch the fish as big as me
there?  Not yet.  So we take a long walk down the
island, stopping at a small pier at a resort, where
there are dock lights shining on the water.  I look
down, and there are these huge snook (best tasting
fish around) hovering aroud the lights .(they do that
because the lights draw baitfish which they eat).
They were a sight.  But I didn't have my pole.
Next day, we went to the big bird sanctuary on
Sanibel.  It is a glorious day, sunny, breezy, in the
seventies.  The tide is out and there are birds
everywhere, cormarants, herons, ibis, spoonbills, a
redshouldered hawk which we got within 15 feet of, ospreys,
white pelicans, a huge alligator, maybe 11 feet.  We
walked about 4 miles.  When we got back to the truck,
she suggested we find a place to sit and have lunch,
read a little, and of course, I jumped on the chance
to suggest I fish while she reads.  I got some shrimp
and we went to one of my favorite spots.
I fished, caught a bunch of snapper, sheephead and a
small snook.  Shari read to me from a book while Ifished.  Suddenly......
It was dark and buggy and time to go.  
We went to dinner.  After dinner I suggested we go to
the pier, just to "check it out"...with the idea, of
course, that I might dip a line.It was windy and chilly, 
but nice out there.  I
decided to fish a bit, and shari would read in the car.
I baited a hook and dropped my line in.  There were
some others on the pier, including an obnoxious kid
named Jason.  I'd met him before, a friendly but coarse 
and graceless lout.
He had a line in the water, with, as bait, a mullet,
which is a fish about 15 inches long.
His drag started clicking, a sign that something was
pulling the bait.  We yelled for him, he came running
and set the hook.  Something big was on there.  He
said it was a shark, but he's a punk and we didn't
believe him...but his bait was a fish that was 2 lbs
or so.  Almost immediately he shouted....."hey big
guy!"...and I turned around..."me?".
"Yeah!"...I said "what?"...he said "I'm going to need
your help!..I gotta bad back!".
I reeled in my line and went over there and took the rod.
It was as if the hook was on the bumper of a buick.
It pulled out line faster than I could reel it.  I'd
make a little leeway, then it would dive again. 
For almost half an hour, we traded off the pole, me,
Jason, and guy named Tom.  
It left a bruise in my thigh were I had it anchored for
stability.  I went to get Shari because I thought
she'd be interested and maybe would take a picture.
There was swearing and weakening and PAIN as me and
Jason tried to get the thing to a point where we could
just see it.  The beast weakened a little.  We made a
little gain. Suddenly, there was a huge brownish form
below the surface, then after a few more dives into
the deep, we got it near the surface.
It wasn't a shark.  It was a fish that was almost as
big as me, and we all know how big that is.
It was some kind of grouper, I though maybe a Jewfish,
the biggest grouper there is. It made many more dives.
I had the pole for most of the last 20 minutes,
my shoulder, leg and wrists screaming.  Finally, the
fish weakened to the point where I could drag it along
the pier towards the beach, where we finally got it on the sand.
Once on the beach, it was so heavy that 3 men could
not pull it up on to the beach.  Its mouth was big
enough to put a basketball in, and full of teeth.
We couldn't budge it.
Finally, (ingeniously)I went to the truck and got a
small anchor with a piece of chain on it, hooked it
behind the gillplate and 3 of us dragged it onto the beach.
Needless to say, there was excitement and jubilation.
Pictures were taken.
A fisherman walked onto the pier, looked at it and said
"thats a jewfish"..."you're caught with that and you
go to jail...it's federally protected, it would be
like killing a florida panther!".
The mood turned somber.  It appreared to be dead, and
had been out of the water for more than 10 minutes.
What are we going to do??" Jason cried.  He had
planned to bring it home to his mother and now he was
faced federal charges.
The new guy said "you have to put it back. 
"But it's dead!!!" Jason cried.
"You still have to put it back".
They rolled the fish back to waters edge and pushed it in.
As soon as it hit the water, it flicked it's tail,
splashing them, and started swimming back out to sea. 
It swam by where I was standing on the pier, a fish,
but a fish so big it was unreal to look at it in the
water, a fish somewhere between 200-250 lbs.. It 
kicked off into deeper water.
It was man against fish and we all won.  It was the
biggest fish I've ever seen or caught there, and
possibly the biggest fish I've ever seen.

and here's the picture.  Thank goodness Shari was there
with a camera, because no one would have believed it.

email with any questions or comments!