Fishing for tarpon, according to author and lecturer John Skinner, is “like setting a hook into a five-gallon bucket; it’s a matter of fractions of an inch.” Easier said than done, especially when a big gator muscles in on your catch. But that’s just the beginning as he tangles with threatening weather and clueless boaters. Will Skinner’s skill and persistence pay off?
Gator Grabs Angler’s Catch and Won’t Let Go
Water is low in the back creeks of southwest Florida, so Skinner plans to focus on river tarpon. The early morning starts off promising with the lots of activity on the water’s glassy surface. “Wow,” he remarks, “I’ve never come through here and seen this much.”
Skinner sends his first cast near the mangroves and gets a hit right away. The fish doesn’t come up right away, so he guesses it’s a crevalle jack. He reels furiously as the rod bends, and suddenly a gator surfaces. “Oh my god, it’s a freaking alligator!” Skinner shouts, “I think he’s got my fish.”
The gator doesn’t surface again, but telltale bubbles give it away—lurking right beneath the kayak. “Yeah, that is a little unnerving,” Skinner admits after the line finally breaks. Nevertheless, he switches to another rod and gets back at it.
Boaters Need an Etiquette Lesson
The alligator was only following its instincts, but boaters should know better. Starting just after dawn, a pontoon boat repeatedly trolls through the area, scaring off the fish and even racing Skinner to a new location. Later, a second motorboat buzzes between him and the shore, followed by third boater being ticketed for speeding. What has gotten into people?
Clouds build up throughout the day, and the weather finally breaks with an afternoon downpour. Skinner continues fishing, probably enjoying the relative solitude brought on by rain. He hooks up with a nice tarpon, but loses it after an acrobatic leap amid the raindrops.
Ultimately, the day may not be what Skinner had in mind when he first set out, but it certainly wasn’t dull.