Sailfish and salt

It's Tuesday evening, and I just got in from my second day of sailfishing off the Florida coast. I can hardly express how much fun I had out there. I caught three or four — my first sailfish ever — and are they ever tough fighters. When I hooked my first one yesterday he jumped and ran and jumped and ran for over an hour before I finally got him to the boat.

They fought even harder today. I'm guessing that's because the water has cooled down a little bit and that gave them more energy. I suppose saltwater fish respond to temperature pretty much the way freshwater fish do. We hooked a double today.

When we did, I saw something I wouldn't have believed if it hadn't happened right in front of me while I was standing there wide-eyed watching it unfold. We (my friend Jim Casto and his son Tyler) had one on the bow and the other on the stern. That's a problem with a 50-inch fish that weighs a good 50 pounds and that doesn't know the meaning of the word quit.

Faced with that dilemma, the boat captain tied one of the rods and reels to a big buoy and tossed it overboard. The sailfish pulled everything away towards the horizon. That was of no importance to the captain. He turned; we landed the other fish and then went looking around the ocean for our buoy. When we finally found it we pulled it back on board to continue the fight we had started.

We had a problem, though. The saltwater got inside the spool and was causing problems. It wouldn't turn smoothly and the drag wasn't operating properly. Quick as could be, the captain swapped spools on the reel, tied the new line to the old and handed me back the rod and reel. I landed the fish.

The functioning drag was the thing. I never realized how important a drag was until I needed one today. We were using 12- and 15-pound-test line out there. That's really light tackle considering the size of the fish we were catching. Without a high-end drag, it would have been impossible to land one. They'd break you off on the first run but with that drag all the first run does is start to wear them out. That's enough about sailfish.

I've been getting reports from the Louisiana Delta that the fishing's tough and the weather is brutal cold. I wish I felt sorry for them but I can't. I'd give my you-know-what to be practicing for the Classic regardless of the bite or the weather. But it was not to be; not this year anyway.

Did I tell you I'm going to fish two Open divisions next year, as well as the Elites, in the hope of taking advantage of the new rules? If not, you know it now.