Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fish Stories… Or Not!

Stepping Stones

I absolutely love it when my wife Cathy and I go out for dinner and the folks at a nearby table, or at the bar, are talking loudly about their recent outdoor escapades, especially fishing. A guy might tell his friends that a grouper he caught was just under the legal limit. One beer later that same fish is now six inches longer and put up a heck of a fight. After another beer, this guy caught a world record great white!

We all hear fish stories and tales of monsters from the deep that have resulted in close encounters or “the one that got away.” It’s amazing how a fish that is no longer alive can continue to grow over time. But some of these tales are not so “tall.” There are some good-sized fish that have been caught in the Marco Island area and here’s one of those stories that is true.

Captain Teddy Naftal runs a fishing charter out of the Rose Marina here on Marco. He’s got a great clientele base that want to catch everything from backwater snapper to giant sharks known to patrol the Gulf waters. Trout, redfish, grouper, snapper, tarpon and shark… Captain Ted’s 30 years of experience will help you catch each kind.

As we approach the spring season, some of the larger species will be closer to the shoreline. Captain Ted has caught and released several prehistoric looking sawfish in recent years and has the pictures to prove it. Along with two regular customers that he has known for years, Dr. Tom Graham and his son Michael, the trio have been on the hunt for a very large hammerhead shark that comes to the area and is said to be more than thirteen feet long. Maybe this is the year that they nab this one!

One of the best sport fishing adventures is catching the big tarpon. The Grahams have been quite successful landing quite a few of these, then releasing them. Here’s a story that you won’t want to miss…

In a land not so far away and a time not too long ago, Michael Graham, with his dad Dr. Tom by his side, was fishing for tarpon using a headless catfish as bait. Working with a rod sporting a forty-pound test line he hooked something, something very big. This fight called on Michael to use all of his strength and tactical knowledge. He had a tarpon and it was a monster!

Using such a light line he knew how to work the fish, bring him to the surface and tire this big guy. While a less experienced fisherman might lose such a fighter or take a long time to get it to the side of the boat, Michael’s tactics allowed the team to capture their trophy in just fifty minutes. Only a seasoned veteran could accomplish such a feat!

Measuring more than seven feet long, the girth was also measured and the estimated weight of this tarpon came in, on the low side, at two hundred and forty pounds! An amazing catch and release here in our area waters!

I’m sure there were some celebratory cocktails when the group reached shore, but I can guarantee that the weight, before the first beer, was 240 pounds and, maybe after one or two more beers, it was still the same weight. Unlike some fish stories, this one was real and maintained its truthfulness over time.

Congrats to the team for a job well done. So, what’s next? Maybe that thirteen-foot hammerhead will be back, and the Grahams with Captain Ted will be ready for another true fish story! Good luck guys!

Bob is a Florida Master Naturalist on board the dolphin study/eco-tour vessel Dolphin Explorer leaving Rose Marina. He is the author of two books and a regular speaker at area venues. You can contact dolphin-study.com for more information. Bob loves his wife very much!

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