I was reminded through social media flashbacks that one year ago I was on the hunt. My prey is considered one of the fiercest beasts on the planet.
I have hunted dangerous game before. A herd of American bison turning and charging can be a stressful moment when you realize there is very little to hide behind on the open prairie and they can reach speeds of 35 mph. And their nickname of the thunder beast doesn’t help as you feel the ground shake, a large cloud of dust and a deafening rumble of hooves growing increasingly louder.
Going after a large tom mountain lion while on horseback in some of the roughest country on the planet isn’t a picture of serenity either. Knowing the lion can bring down you and a horse in moments is always on your mind. And when you double back and see lion prints in your tracks you suddenly realize you were not hunting, the cat was.
Then of course, there is one of the country’s great reptilian monsters. The American alligator lurking just beneath the surface with a mouth of full of teeth able to take a grown man under water into a violent spin without giving that man time to realize what had just happened. Sweeping a light across the surface of the swamp is bad enough with the eerie sounds calling from the dark. Even the ever changing shadows that bring up night terrors from the same light is not the scariest thing. It is definitely the red glowing demonic eyes peeking along the surface getting closer and closer without you even realizing until it is too late.
But none of these were the dangerous creature I was seeking. No my goal was to tangle with something even more terrorizing.
In the 70s one of the most iconic movie posters ever released spoke of the terror. A lone swimmer centered along the top. Below, the depth is not given, but the triangular snout with a mouth the size of the swimmer and so many teeth that rows and rows of them are present in order to fit them all in.
Of course the movie is Jaws and the monster below is a shark.
While I wasn’t after the great white, I was after something big. I wasn’t alone. An experienced captain was tagging along as well as another friend. And for whatever reason, I was prepared to get in the water during the catch once we hooked on.
We had some excitement early on. We hooked into something that was giving a good fight; stripping line on the large reel with no effort. As we tired it down playing with the drag, we eventually landed a large stingray. Nice fight but it was the wrong creature.
Then we had something hit one of the baits hard. By hard, I mean it was relentless and quick. The backbone of the pelagic rod doubled. The 80-pound line was running at such a pace the reel had no hope of gaining the upper hand. The drag could not be set hard enough as it continued to strip line.
As a last ditch attempt to turn the battle in our favor, the drag was turned as tight as it could be. The rod let up and the line went limp. The fish, the big shark as we believe, had taken several hundred yards of line in less than a minute. We had nothing to show for it. We not only couldn’t get a glimpse of what attacked our bait, but we couldn’t even get it to turn direction.
Such is the nature when dealing with something whose only purpose is to find food no matter how big it is. And after a few attacks already this year and the news of a friend catching an 11-foot tiger shark surf fishing, we are planning on the attempt once again.