Friday evening brought some wicked storms to the area but Sat looked good for fishing and the Mack Attack tourney was on, We talked to Ernie Cavitt and his friend (Sorry, I've forgotten your name already) who were aiming at Navarre.
Mark W., Jack, Rick, Bryan and I were all geared up and aimed at our fav Destin spot. 3:30 AM meet for 4:00 splash. Yeah, right. More like 4:00AM whine like a girl. Those wave were huge, messy and less than 5 second intervals!!! After staring at them for an hour and the sun confirming that Yes, they are huge and too fast to outrun, we decided to pack it in.
But wait!! (I need a sound effect here)
After hauling all 5 kayaks back to the cars and completely loading three of them, the waves are getting smaller. Let's second guess the first decision.
New plan -- let's eat at Waffle House and test the theory that if we get bigger, the waves will be smaller.
(Note to self -- Never again eat at the Destin Waffle house)
Well we get back to the launch spot at about 6:15 and the waves are smaller. Launchable in fact. Alright!! let's unload...AGAIN.
In the 20 minutes it take to haul an expedition worth of gear to the water, guess what. THE WAVES ARE BIG AGAIN!! DANG!
Too bad. We have to launch. Why?? Because there is already another kayaker out there and we don't want to look like weenies. Great, peer pressure from someone I can't even see.
I figure I need to be the first since I make a good guinea pig with training wheels on the AI and all. I shove off...
The first wave hits. Chest high. The second wave hits. Something snaps on my pedal but no time to worry about that now. The third wave hits I am making progress. The forth, fifth and sixth waves hit in quick succession. After my vision clears I can see that I have been driven backwards and am back on the beach where I started. Thirty seconds of the hardest pedaling in my life and I am nowhere. Bail out and reassess.
I look at the group behind me. Rick is laughing his A$$ off, Bryan is calling his wife to tell her he loves her for the last time. Mark is rewriting his will, and Jack has this 16 year-old skateboarder, snowboarder, thrill-seeking kind of look that says, "when is it going to be my turn?"
Maybe we should wait for the lull in the waves. I reset the pedals which have just slipped a notch or two in the mayhem and start watching the surf carefully. Here comes a lull. Ready go.
Jump in, pedal, pedal, snap! the pedal gives again. No time to worry. Keep going. Keep going, I made it.
I am alone, no one else went. So much for, "Let's all go at once."
I know from the huge rollers I am experiencing beyond the surf zone that the lull is over. I look over my shoulder to see that the group is launching. THis is not going to be good. These rollers are going to be huge when they get to shore.
Mark is paddling, (He's smart), Bryan in swimming his yak out (another smart one), The waves are so big, I can't even see Rick but I already know he is crazy and will go for it. I think at this point Jack has already rolled because he is no where in sight.
Eventually, everyone gathers beyond the surf zone. We can see that Jack is back on shore (at least he is safe) Mark calls Jack. His rudder cable snapped in the roll. At least one broken rod. The day is shot. Sorry Jack, but in true kayaker fashion -- you're on your own.
After a somewhat successful launch, we find ourselves amongst a ball of bait. Sabikis come out and a few (very few) hardtails are caught. Rick is the first to get a rig set. The plan is to hit the Miss Louise wreck for more bait then troll to a group of 9 other spots.
At about 7:50 my live hardtail goes off for a very brief two foot zing then goes slack. Dang, I just got a short strike. Oh well, I'll check it later, there is bait ball busting within reach and I need more bait for the day. 5 more casts with the sabiki rig and the bait have moved away. I'll check that short strike now. I start to reel it in and it gets heavy....then moves... then gives a head shake. Fish on, but what is it? It just takes line very slowly and feels very heavy. I am thinking shark. The way he took the bait then sat still for so long... shark makes sense.
No problem, sharks are fun, tasty and worth 100 Kayak War points. Let's bring it in.
It takes a while before I see color and it does look like a shark but it kind of looks more like..... A COBIA. Woohoo!!
Oh Oh, now Rick is pissed. He wanted to be the first. Sorry Rick.
This fish has some serious strength to it. Rick is now beside me with the video going. He says he really just wants to see how I land a big, mad Cobia. He wants video of me getting my a$$ kicked off my yak.
It seemed like hours for me to get this fish within reach. The whole time, Rick is behind me saying, "He's going to go nuts when you gaff him so hang on tight."
(Note to self, make sure your next fishing partner does not resemble the little devil on your shoulder that says, "yeah, you might die, but it will make a great video.")
I finally get him close and miss the gaff set. There goes another 25 yards of line. Winch him back in. Rick is now serious. He is telling me that we have plenty of line and time and there is no need to rush.
I get him close again and he is pretty docile. Let's try to gaff him though his mouth for a good solid grip. I miss the mouth a couple times but finally get it set. He fights pretty hard but I have braced against the yak. He is caught but not yet in the yak. He is not even going to fit in the yak. What to do?
At Rick's advice I decided to use my big stringer (the one that looks like a big safety pin) to control the boating of this fish. I touched the tip to the cobia's gills and it went nuts again. I finally got him strung and hoisted him aboard, ready to jump over the other side if I had to. He just laid there, com[pletely worn out. A few pictures and then he went back into the water for safe keeping (there is no way this will fit in a cooler bag)
Wow, what a great catch. I cannot claim any skill in the matter. I didn't even know he was hooked. I just muscled him in.
I think Rick has some underwater video of the catch. I look forward to seeing it. http://emeraldcoast-speed.com/ted_cobia_05-24-08.wmv
Now that I had wasted 25 minutes of everyone's time we all decided to get back to fishing. We head out to some numbers about 1.8 miles offshore.
All of a sudden, Rick yells, "What was that? Did anyone see that? It looked like a whale." We all look to the west and see about three big boats trolling toward us. In the middle of them we suddenly see a huge fin rise up and slap the water. It is a whale.
About 60 seconds later this thing launches up out of the water and breaches. It must be 20 feet long and will pass right next to us. Someone yells out, "Where's Bryan?" Oh crap. He is right in the whale's path. Rick is again shooting video. So am I. The whale launches again. It is maybe 100 feet from Bryan and comes out of the water past its pec fins. Huge splash and sound. WOW!!!
Convinced he will not survive this day, Bryan is once again on the phone to his wife.
The whale calmly passes by with a parade of boats behind it. WOW, again. Here is the video. You can see my kayak w/ outriggers in the middle clip
http://emeraldcoast-speed.com/whale_wat ... -24-08.wmv
Back to fishing.
Nothing much happens for the rest of the day. I got a good 20 minute nap on a drift, hoping to be woke up by a screaming reel but it did not happen. I got woke up by Rick's constant whining about how big the waves must be on shore.
We go back to the Miss Louise (I need better number cause we never actually found it) Lots of bait but no kings. Dang.
Time to head back and once again temp mother nature with a surf landing.
Dang, these waves are huge from the backside too.
Here it goes. Rick first, so far so good. Keep an eye on behind me, ready to bail and swim the yak in if the set looks too big to handle. Rick is in front. Here comes a wave. Getting bigger. I think it will pass below me. Nope. It has me now. Too late to jump. Oh look, I am 8 feet above the nose of my kayak. Oh crap. Going over. Total endo. I flipped the Adventure Island, end-over-end. 16 foot cartwheel. Now I am under my flipped yak. Cobia around one ankle, bait tube hitting me in the head. Another wave coming, I am sure.
I come up for air on the side with the outrigger still extended. The other side has collapsed. Three tries to right the yak. Three more waves hitting me. Finally, I am shallow enough to touch bottom. Push and lift and the yak in upright again. Gear everywhere. Luckily, most of it was in side the hull. Shaken but contained.
I get to shore with Rick's help. Exhausted and under the stare of lifeguards who we are sure were cursing us for making them stop flirting and get ready to call 911.
A crowd has gathered. All the usual questions about the fish and how far we went and ....
Rick and I get ready to swim in case anyone else needs assistance. Mark executes a picture perfect surf landing. He actually road three waves in and never even got wet. Maybe it has something to do with that thing he was holding. It kind of looked like a paddle. (Note to self, try using a paddle next time)
Bryan decided to take no risks. The cell was stowed and he could call his wife anyway so he chose to swim his yak in. No problems, we are all safely ashore, I have managed to locate at least half my gear. I trust all the yard-sale shoppers to send the money to me later. Miraculously, I have broken no rods. The whole crate laid over sideways and saved the rods. Whew.
A few short hours later, we are loaded up, exhausted and happy.
This day held such a wild combo of excitement, disaster, awe of nature, survival and friendship. It was one of the best ever. The only downsides were Jack's damage and no King Macks for the tournament. The kings will be coming soon. Let's do it again.