Catch and release. Ah, it's a beautiful thing. It's a great feeling to track down and catch a fish and then see it swim away to live another day. Thankfully there are more anglers practicing catch and release these days. And for some, I do mean just that. Practicing.
It was late summer and the fishing had been painfully slow for us that day. It was closing in on our twelfth hour on the water, and we hadn't even had a rip. The sun was beginning to set and we knew we had just a short time to latch onto a fish. On our final trolling pass we crossed paths with another boat heading in the opposite direction. In passing, a few kind words were exchanged and they agreed that things had been really slow.
Not ten seconds after we had passed them, we heard a drag screaming like a newborn baby seeing light for the first time. We ran to the rods but unfortunately it was not one of ours, it was one of the rods belonging to the guys that we had just passed. We were in such close proximity that we stopped our boat to watch them land the mighty beast. Bringing the fish to the boat was lots of fun to watch; the guys were screaming, laughing and jumping around the whole time. Once the fish was at the side of the boat it was our turn to laugh.
Immediately, the net man stuck the oversized net into the water and started chasing the fish around. These guys must have had horseshoes you-know-where, because they managed to keep the fish on the line and finally had it resting safely in the net. This whole time I was wondering if these guys really knew what they were doing, but I figured that they were just excited because it was a really big fish. Well I was about to be proven wrong.
With the net man still holding onto the net, the other guy was scurrying around the boat looking for his camera, giddy like a little schoolgirl. I don't blame him; I would have been the same way. The only difference is that I am a girl, so acting like a giddy schoolgirl would not be far off! He found his camera and set it on the floor for the net man and then leaned over the boat to go to work. After heaving himself over the side, he got his first glance at the fish. We could literally see his eyes bug out of his head.
Pliers in hand, he assessed how he was going to remove his lure from the giant's mouth. Numerous times, he plunged his pliers towards the fish's mouth and then withdrew them quickly, reassessing the situation each time. He finally set his pliers on the hook and started to take it out of the fish. Good, now just a quick trophy photo and away she goes!
Uh-uh. After grabbing the fish at least five times and dropping it back into the net each time, he decided he was going to go about it a different way. He took off his shirt! Yes, being bare-chested was going to help him out. Good idea. Once more, he grabbed the fish and it slid right out of his hands and down his chest.
This catch and release was now going on for far too long, so we started our motor with the intention of going over to help. If that fish wasn't released soon it would have died. At that moment he finally got a good hold on the fish and it was hoisted up for a few photos. Unintentionally, the fish was torpedoed back in the water but it somehow managed to swim away immediately. Thankfully!
Everyone's catch and release methods will improve with time, everything takes practice. We were all beginners at one time, and everybody's learning curve is different. Apparently this guy's learning curve was shortened by removing his shirt. And I say, to each his own!