Being an avid angler for over 60 years, I truly enjoy the numerous fishing programs that we have available on cable television today. From the WPTS, tarpon tournaments in Boca Grand pass, to Extreme Fishing, Fishing the Flats, and many more, all are entertaining, educational and fun to watch. The videography and the fishing action is usually quality, and the story lines enjoyable. The modern technologies that allow these shows to be broadcast are truly a marvel.
Having fished in some of the same locations and having caught many of the species shown, these type shows bring back fond memories.
Today, with the internet, we have numerous blogs, You Tube videos, and photo galleries of fishing from around the world. Someone makes a nice catch, and within moments, people around the world have a pic or a video of the action, and a blog describing the fight. We live in great times
Having begun my fishing adventures in the freshwater lakes and canals of south Florida at 4 years old, catching bream, shell cracker, catfish, and bass with my Grand Daddy over 60 years ago, I have been blessed with a long life of fond memories, on the water pursuing the fight of a hungry fish. When your career has taken you to the professional ranks of Big Game offshore blue marlin and giant blue fin tunas, you realize that most anglers only get to dream of such experiences.
Thinking of days gone by, the memories are sweet.
When sitting in a bucket harness, with a 12/0 Fin Nor – 2 speed reel on a 130lb curved butt rod, tied to the chair gimbel of the Rybovich fighting chair, (to keep it in the boat), between your legs, you realize, this is a “Big Game” pursuit. The tuna fish pushing down sea behind your bait are 10 to 12 feet long and weight 500+ lbs each. One just boiled on your bait, and you wait!- He’s coming back again. He explodes on your mackerel and yanks you in the air. The 130lb green spot dacron line screams off the reel, and the fight of your life begins. Those were times at Bimini, Cat Cay and West End Grand Bahama at tuna time.
In the “old days” of tournament fishing, if we did not put the Big fish on the scales, they did not count. Before wind on leaders, when our swivels tipped the rod, the fish was still 30 feet behind the boat. As mates, we lived to be the wire man. Wearing two pairs of cotton gloves, one inside the other, you got the great privilege to reach out and begin taking wraps on the .035 wire, or 300 lb. mono leader. It was just you and that 500 or 600 lb.+ blue marlin, tuna fish, or bull shark on the other end. When you were able to wire him within reach, the second mate, or captain stuck him with a 12″ meat hook, fastened to a fly gaff. Most often, he exploded with one more attempt to escape, with you holding on to three wraps of leader material around your hand. Great memories of days gone by.
I think of the days on the flats of the Bahamas, or Florida keys, with family and friends, catching yellow tails, muttons, grouper, sharks, cudas, permits and more. I cherish the days as a mate on head boats with a full rail of anglers and boating 300 to 400 kingfish in a half day trip.
Getting to Fish many of the top tournament anglers in the world at the time, like Jojo Delgerico, Dave Carpenter, and Annie Kunkel, I consider a true blessing. To watch Jojo fight a sailfish on 20lb. line, with barbless hooks, in 12 foot seas, and release him in less than 2 minutes was something to watch. He was a true “Master Angler” of the trade.
I not only thank God for many great memories, but I would like to thank those that film, produce, broadcast and post the many great shows, galleries and blogs that we can enjoy today. Thanks for the technology that makes it all possible.
Captain Mickey Oliphant