This is a story of why you should never give up on the water. This is a story about how a tough day can turn around in an instant.
My friend Neil and I decided to go hit the Banana River No Motor Zone one recent weekend. This is one of my favorite areas to fish in my region as you can find monster bull Redfish in just a couple feet of water at any given time out here. Your average Redfish out here is 32", with specimens over 40" very common. We met up at 6am and paddled our way out to the target area under light wind conditions.
We hit a sandbar I like to call the candy cane to begin. I call it that because it's a long and narrow sandbar that goes north and south for about a mile, then at the north end, makes a hook, resembling a candy cane on satellite images. I have pulled many a monster off the candy cane over the years and it was a great place to begin our hunt. When we hit the bar we both stood up and began poling our kayaks slowly and silently, scanning the water for any signs of life.
About the only signs of life we ran across for a couple hours were sting rays and catfish. Not exactly what we were hoping to see, and with the wind picking up and clouds covering the sun, sight fishing conditions were rapidly deteriorating. We decided to go duck behind an island and soak mullet chunks in a deep trough where I have seen large schools of monster reds in the past.
I caught a few mullet and we set 4 rods out and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Our chunks were being whittled down by catfish due to the long soak times with no action. This was not looking good at all for us. We were 4 hours into the trip at this point and hadn't seen a single fish the whole morning. We remained patient though, and put out fresh baits, hoping a monster red would come by and bend one of our rods for us.
It never happened. Now over 5 hours into the trip, it began to look like a bust. As good as this area is, just like anywhere, it can be dead. And this looked like one of those days. At this point the wind had lightened up and we decided to stand and pole the top of the candy cane one more time while conditions would allow sight fishing. The sun was peeking in and out of the clouds and every time it would come out, it would illuminate the flat, allowing me to see better. After about 15 minutes of poling around, the sun popped out again, and I realized I had a monster Redfish floating within spitting distance of the kayak.
My heart dropped as I thought for sure he would see me. I put the brakes on silently with the push pole and made a small push backwards to put a few more feet between me and the fish. Unbelievably, he didn't see or sense any of this. I slowly reached down to grab my rod which had a Pearl White 4" MrWiffelure on a jighead tied on. All I had to make was a short flick of a cast to put the lure about 5 feet in front of and 5 feet beyond the fish's face. I closed the bail and whizzed the lure right past his face and I watched his pec fins straighten out, his gills flare and he pounced on the bait and made it disappear literally 5 feet from the kayak. It was hands down the best Redfish eat I have ever personally witnessed.
Even while in shock that the fish didn't see me and pounded a piece of plastic 5 feet from the yak, I had the sense of mind to set the hook. When I set, he came alive, dumping line off my little 2000 size Pflueger with blazing speed. I was still standing and he began to give me the good ol "Space Coast Sleigh Ride", towing me around all over that sandbar. He put up a great 15 minute tussle, but eventually saw it my way and I was able to net him and get him in the kayak.
I was psyched at this point, it was the perfect fish, the perfect eat, the perfect fight. And such a great way to cap off a day that had all the makings of a fishless outing. He measured 42" and he literally inhaled my MrWiffelure. I like to get pictures of the fish with the lure hanging out of their mouth, but this guy had it about a foot down his throat so that wasn't happening. After a few pics, I jumped in to give him a more thorough revival as he was a bit sluggish after the long fight. A couple minutes of rest was all he needed, he kicked out of my grip under his own power and took off toward the channel to go shake it off.
This is a classic example of why you should never give up! You never know what's right around that next corner, or up on that next flat. It could be that trophy that will change your whole day. Never give up!