The rod jerked in the rod holder and a section of line was ripped from the reel. There was a pause, then the line stripping began. I know of few other sounds which make me happier than the sound of line being ripped from the reel by a good fish.
I let the fish run for about five seconds before having my fiancée, Tay, pick it up and turn off the bait feeder mechanism on the reel. It was as if the 10-foot rod had hung a pickup truck. That big surf rod bent over, and the struggle was on. There was another couple of fishermen on the pier and they helped her as I was reeling in our other lines. She went back and forth at the end of the pier fighting the fish. She would reel some line in, then lose some.
We suspected it was a shark by the way it was running and shaking its head. I had hoped it was because she had really been wanting to land one. Tay got it in close to the pier and we saw it was, indeed, a shark. It was not played out though, and made a run under the pier. The main line braid hit one of the pier supports and the shark broke off.
I think I was more disappointed than she was.
Night on the water
We were night fishing at the Grand Isle State Park Pier before it was closed by Hurricane Ida. We had made an eight-hour drive down from home in Arkansas. There is good beach access and to the pier. As a matter of fact, we had camped on the beach that weekend. There was a full moon and a good breeze. That, plus hearing the surf crash onto the beach made for some great sleeping. I had stayed at the state park before, but never camped on the beach. We will definitely do it again.
Another bait was rigged and chunked out. She hooked up two more times but lost both fish. One was a shark and the other a redfish. Tay looked like she wanted to cry, but she kept her chin up.
Our last live pinfish was sailed out into the dark. I was dreading the bite for fear of another lost fish. I guess the Lord was just testing our patience, because things started to change for her. Pretty soon the drag started singing again. She hooked up solid and started fighting the fish. The result of the fight was a lifted curse. The bull red she landed measured 39 inches. It was the biggest fish she had ever caught, and I was proud of her.
Our new friends congratulated her and then packed it in shortly thereafter. We were about to head out ourselves since we were out of bait. I then noticed that our friends had left behind a couple of big chunks of a ladyfish they had caught earlier. Tay wanted to fish a little longer, so I baited her hook and slung it out into the Gulf. Tay watched her rod while I cleaned her redfish at the fish cleaning station. I had just got one side of the big fish filleted and I heard her yell.
Another fish fight
I looked over and she was in another fight with a fish. I went to her and started coaching her. The fish would take line and she would gain it back. It worked her up and down the pier. The fish was shaking its head, so I figured that it was another shark. I said a prayer that she please get this one on the pier. I had her continue the battle with the fish a little longer than the ones earlier and then had her bring it towards the pier. It was a nice shark! I lowered the net, and she was able to work him into it. The second he was in the net, I started pulling. Up and over the rail and Tay’s first shark was on the deck! She was smiling ear to ear, and I was proud. The highly sought-after catch was dumped out of the net and the circle hook easily removed. From nose to fork it measured 40 inches. A few pictures were taken with Tay and her trophy before the shark was gently returned to the salt.
After Tay caught her shark, it was time for me to fish for a little bit. I tossed out our last piece of bait. Just a few minutes passed before I was battling a redfish that was my personal best. I got him on the deck without any issues. He measured 44 inches. It was a good close to the night!
That fishing trip ranks up there as one of my favorites. It was just a quick two-day trip with a lot of living packed in. Being able to put Tay on her first shark and her personal best redfish was just icing on the cake.
Grand Isle is responsible for me becoming a saltwater fishing addict. I am obsessed with all aspects of fishing the surf and the marsh, even though it is torture having this addiction while living in the Arkansas Delta — an eight-hour drive away.