Red Fish

One year, my parents decided to gather all of the kids and their families together and meet up down in Dauphin Island, Alabama. This was a spur of the moment family gathering that would no doubt turn into a fishing trip.

My older brother and his family arrived two days before we did and enjoyed some great fishing.

At the time, my dad had a twenty-three foot Scout fishing boat. This is similar to a Boston Whaler. It comes with a center console and plenty of fishing space all around. For those of you who haven’t been fishing for your whole lives, this was an awesome boat!

Coming from a family that loves to fish has its advantages. One of these advantages is that someone usually has the right kind of gear on hand for most kinds of fishing.

My dad, my older brother and his two sons set out to catch some Red fish. This very stout hard fighting fish has many game anglers in its fan base. When you hook into a red fish, hang on, it is like latching onto a fast moving train. They really are a lot of fun to catch, but it’s no walk in the park.

On their first trip out, they stopped at the marina to get some fuel and asked at the bait shop what kind of bait they would need. They were told that for red fish the favorite bait is the croaker. This is a medium size bottom feeding baitfish. They also picked up some large hooks and some very large sinkers. After being told the general area where some giant reds were being taken, they were off.

On the way out, the tension was high. The man at the bait shop said that some of the locals had caught several thirty and forty pound fish. Wow! Those were some big fish. Not being from the area, they trusted their directions and stopped a couple miles out. The current was very strong here, which explained the need for the heavy sinkers.

They hooked the croakers through the nostrils. This way, there is less chance of damage to the fish. Soon they had two poles baited up and in the water. The current immediately straightened out the lines and put a slight bend in the poles. While dad was baiting up the next pole, both of the poles already in went off at the same time. My brother and his youngest son each grabbed a pole and set the hook, I mean they really put their backs into it. The fight was on! These fish are so powerful. There was no stopping either one of these fish. All they could do was hang on tight and hope the fish stopped before they ran out of line on their reels. Unfortunately, they both were spooled, which means the fish pulled all of the line off of their poles! Each fish they had hooked pulled line off the reels so fast that it all happened in less than a minute. When it was all done they couldn’t believe what they had seen. They just looked at each other and smiled. Time to re-spool.

After putting new line on each of the poles, they were able to land several fish in the twenty- five to thirty pound range. These were some very nice fish! As I write about this my mouth waters, but I’m getting ahead of myself. To put it mildly, red fish is delicious.

Meanwhile, as my family was packing back home in Ohio, I got a call from my dad. He filled me in on how great the fishing was, and asked if I would bring my electric knife. He said that these red fish had scales like body armor, and that they were having trouble making the initial cut as you fillet the fish. A razor – sharp fillet knife would not even cut through these scales! I agreed and added it to our pile to be packed before we headed south.

When we arrived, we were all ready for bed. It was very early and we all had time for a few hours of sleep before sunrise. After a hearty breakfast and some Dramamine for those unfortunate enough to need it, we headed out. My daughter was not feeling well that day so she stayed back with the rest of my extended family, while my dad and my family had a go at these hard fighters.

When we got to our location, my dad showed us how to bait up, and soon we were all fishing. Just a few minutes later, my wife was standing in the stern of the boat watching the waves when the pole in front of her started peeling out line. She looked at us with a startled expression that said, “Ok, one of you guys should probably come and get this thing”. I said, “Grab it, grab it,” and she reluctantly picked up the pole. A very surprised look came over her face and she said, “Here one of you guys take it.” We were not having any of that. We reassured her that she was doing just fine and gave her some friendly advice on how to bring her fish in. My dad got out the fighting belt that they had used the day before and we strapped it around my wife’s waist. This is a leather belt with a ceramic cup on it. You place the butt of the pole in the cup and it keeps you from being bruised. Without it, the next day will definitely be very uncomfortable, to say the least.