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The spirit of NC Angler

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Awarded by , 09-06-2017 at 06:49 AM (310 Views)
Quote Originally Posted by Greenmonster View Post
Hey all - late to the party here and I saw Curtis' post about yesterday's festivities, but true to form I wanted to use a lot more words to describe it, and true to form, he has a lot more pictures of actual fish. This might JUST be my longest post yet, so be forwarned.

ReelPrime and I had been planning a big drum trip to put my son on a fish that would put some hair on his chest. This trip has been in the works for a long time, and we finally locked in on making it a birthday trip for him on Saturday. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and we had to cancel. Being the ever generous and horrifically underpaid fishing guide that he is, he had already booked trips on Sunday and Monday, but checked with the crew booked for Monday and they agreed to let my son and I crash the party. What would have been one crowded boat of four fishermen, ended up being two more comfortably crewed vessels of three each, and that meant we could cover more water to find the fish.

A big thank you to Neptune, J.Edwards, and Curtis Pelt for letting me crash the party!

Monday started out early for all of us - Curtis got up at 3 a.m. to leave from Rocky Mount, I was up at 3:30 to leave from Wilmington, and everyone else was up and at 'em shortly after that. We all met, right on time, at the local Hardees where introductions were made, hands were shaken, and screen names were swapped with real names. It was a perfect example of what this forum is all about. 5 guys coming together from different walks of life, different ages, different occupations, different cities, and the only two things we (initially) had in common was a love of fishing and the membership on this forum.

Over the past few years, I've posted a lot on this forum and I've read posts from each of the 4 other guys who went on this trip. I've always like the "cyber" versions of each of them, but in person, these guys each exceeded their online reputations. I'd had the pleasure of meeting Neptune in person a couple of times prior, but we'd never managed to put a trip together before. J. Edwards and I have passed each other at ramps more than a few times and I finally managed a trip with him earlier this year, Reel Prime and I have managed to fish quite a few times in spite of the distance, but I'd never met the legendary person we all know as "Curtis Pelt".

There are some people you meet in person that restore your belief in humanity. We all know that Curtis is one of the finest fishermen there are, but he is equally fine at being a great human being. If you ever get the chance to meet that guy in person, take advantage of it!

So, back to the story . . . We met up at Hardees, then headed for the ramp. After a quick launch of the two boats, we took off in different directions to search for the drum. It was a slow morning. The weather was perfect, the wind was almost non-existent, the temperature was comfortable . . . so comfortable that apparently the baitfish had decided to sleep in. In spite of perfectly calm, glassy conditions, not a single bait ball was visible. No bait . . . no fish.

Undeterred, we got to work, smashing our popping corks through the water. If you haven't done this before, it is WORK. My arms are still sore from making that thing go "SPLOOOOSH!!!!" for 6 solid hours. We struck out in spot one for the big drum, but I did manage to catch a baby drum on topwater during a quick detour. We checked in with J.Edwards on Neptunes boat by phone and they were having similar struggles.

We hit our next spot and it was much the same, except the baitfish were starting to wake up. Little schools began to emerge and we cast our popping corks into them, scattering them with every "SPLOOSH!" We got into a rhythm of casting and splooshing and pretty soon it became so mechanical that I stopped paying attention to it.

That's when the first hit came. . . .

I had looked away mid-Sploosh and about had the rod yanked out of my hand. I tried to set the hook, but the fish had decided to run at me at mach 6. I watched the line literally shoot 5 feet behind the back of the boat from one side to the other, with me reeling madly to get the slack up. When the line came tight, I handed the rod to my son who experienced the first blistering run of a Bull Drum. He was humbled, but just as the run was coming to an end, the hook pulled free. My lack of attention meant no hook set, and no hook set meant no fish.

We fished the area for another hour without any luck. Boats started cutting across the shoal, so we headed for greener pastures. Reel Prime took us back into a little bay and we began casting again. Within 5 minutes, I saw him do that "thing" he does when a fish hits - he hunkers down, drops the rod, reels like a mad man, and then sets up on a blistering run.

Then Reel Prime did something that reminded me why I like him so much. He handed his hard earned fish over to my son.

Its one thing to give your rod to your own child. It's not hard to give up a fish when you catch a lot of them. But to give up an old drum to another person, that takes something special. To his credit, my son initially refused the rod out of politeness, but we double teamed him and finally convinced him to take it. He took the rod and got a real lesson in how to get whooped by a fish. That fish had him groaning and giggling, panting and begging for mercy. Reel Prime talked him through it, teaching him techniques to get the upper hand again. It was probably a 10 minute fight, but in the end, he got the fish to the gunnel and Reel Prime and I hoisted her in. It measured 43 inches and was one of the fattest fish I've ever seen, drumming so loudly you could hear it a mile away. After a quick picture, we sent him back home to make more drum.

Reel Prime called J.Edwards, Neptune, and Curtis to come join the fun, and we got back to work again, popping our corks. I was now on high alert, paying close attention with every pop for signs of fish. One big sploosh later, I saw that magical thing I was hoping for - my cork disappeared. Imitating Reel prime, I hunched down, dropped the rod, reeled like mad, and set the hook into an angry torpedo.

I've fought a lot of fish, but this was humbling. My line screamed off my reel so quickly that I was into the mono filament backing before I could blink. It was about then that it occurred to me that the mono had been on that reel for a VERY VERY long time. I felt the feeling of cold sweat drip down my back with the dawning knowledge that I was going to lose this fish no matter what, and that it was all my fault. My 4000 Stradic was getting spooled so quickly that there was no way to run this fish down before I was out of line, and there was no way to put more pressure on this fish.

Given two bad options, I make it a habit to chose the worst one.

I palmed the spool, trying to put more pressure on the fish and avoid ending up with an empty reel. A little pressure didn't do much to slow the fish down, a little more didn't either. A little more . . . a little more . . . less and less line left . . . . .a little . . . POP.

The line broke, and somewhere about a million yards away was a Bull drum with a really long leash. Not a good day for the fish and I felt terribly about it. Why it hadn't occurred to me to change out that mono I have no idea.

About that time, the other boat showed up. Much like my desire to put my son on the first Bull Drum of his life, everyone's equally critical priority was making sure that Curtis finally got his own first drum. A few minutes after showing up, we heard a "whoop!" and turned around to see their boat swing around with a distant figure up on the bow in a fighting stance. We discovered later that Mr. Pelt was in an epic battle with a big bull, from which he emerged victorious. A few minutes later, their boat swung around again, and this time, Neptune was hooked up, fighting his fish around trolling motors and all kinds of other obstacles.

We all met up at the end of the session exchanging high fives, congratulations, and friendly banter. Before we all headed back to the ramp, J. Edwards reached down to the bottom of their boat and pulled up a cork and a pile of mono filament backed braided line. Somewhere in all of the madness, my lost fish had spit the hook and the guys on the other boat had spotted the cork.

Back at the ramp, we posed for a quick shot and made plans for another get together. I am grateful for this forum and all of you out there who take the time to tell your stories on here and exchange tips through private messages to help others out. For anyone new to the forum, start making those connections now by posting your stories, reaching out behind the scenes to those who are struggling. It will pay you back huge dividends over time!

Oh, btw, here's a quick clip of a portion of the fight. Didn't think you'd want to watch all 10 minutes!
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Inshore Fishing