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Great Lakes Scuttlebutt Spring Issue 2017 : Page 48

Fishing The marlin took the second of two ‘chicken’ dolphin I had hooked simultaneously on a solo troll off Florida’s Looe Key reef — the one not on the rod I had in hand and was reeling frantically to release, but the small mahi on rig that remained in the rod holder, bent double toward the startled billfish . Fishing Solo I barely had time to turn the 17 foot Mako skiff in the direction of the marlin and get on plane before the fish burst through the surface after hooking itself and started greyhounding toward Cuba. I grabbed the rod from the holder with one hand while steering with the other until the reel stopped screaming and I was able to keep pace with the fish. Because I couldn’t work the reel, I maintained a tight line between steering and throttle work while holding the rod high, pinned against my other forearm. Finally, after a half-mile run, the blue tired and the battle slowed to a slugfest, and I backed the throttle to fast idle speed and just kept pace with the fish below. It had been the wildest three minutes of my fishing life. After I caught my breath I began to gain some line on the behemoth. Looking at the horizon I could barely make out the dive boats on the reef on that busy spring Saturday, but no other fishing craft were out on the stretch of bluewater where I had been led on the wild Nantucket sleigh ride. I was on my own, mano-a-mano Landing a fish single-handed with my first blue requires being prepared, such marlin. as having the landing net Eventually, lifting handy and in a position for and reeling a foot easy, one-handed action. at a time, I was able to dredge the big By Dan Armitage Buckeye Sportsman Radio www.buckeyesportsman.net blue up from the depths. I had turned the outboard off so as not to startle the fish and gazed down at the broad purple back and caught glimpses of the turquoise stripes that flashed across its flank. The eye of the 200-plus pound fish was the size of a billiard ball and I swear we stared at each other as each pondered the next move. With six feet of doubled leader well around the reel, I tightened the drag and brought the exhausted fish boat-side with one hand and fired-up the outboard with the other. Oxygen-rich water washing across its gill plates revived the marlin fast, and before I had time to figure out how to snap a photo of the fish he was gone with a headshake and swimming slowly into the depths of the Gulf Stream. It was the most dramatic example of countless solo fishing experiences I have enjoyed — for I enjoy fishing by myself and do so often here on the Great Lakes. That said, I have lost many a fish boat-side because I was alone and couldn’t land my catch single-handed. There have been successes, and Boga grips and broad-mouthed nets have saved many a day by getting salmon, trout, and walleye over the gunwale. But for every success there are several that shook the hook, fouled the treble in the netting or dodged the gaff and got away because I was trying to do two things at once: Control and land a big fish by myself. Ed “Doc” Holliger is cut from the same solo fishing cloth. The retired veterinarian spends many a day alone aboard his 20 foot Proline cuddy, trolling for Lake Erie walleye and steelhead that 48 GREATLAKESSCUTTLEBUTT.COM March & April 2017

Fishing

Dan Armitage

Fishing Solo

The marlin took the second of two ‘chicken’ dolphin I had hooked simultaneously on a solo troll off Florida’s Looe Key reef — the one not on the rod I had in hand and was reeling frantically to release, but the small mahi on rig that remained in the rod holder, bent double toward the startled billfish.

I barely had time to turn the 17 foot Mako skiff in the direction of the marlin and get on plane before the fish burst through the surface after hooking itself and started greyhounding toward Cuba. I grabbed the rod from the holder with one hand while steering with the other until the reel stopped screaming and I was able to keep pace with the fish.

Because I couldn’t work the reel, I maintained a tight line between steering and throttle work while holding the rod high, pinned against my other forearm.

Finally, after a half-mile run, the blue tired and the battle slowed to a slugfest, and I backed the throttle to fast idle speed and just kept pace with the fish below.

It had been the wildest three minutes of my fishing life. After I caught my breath I began to gain some line on the behemoth. Looking at the horizon I could barely make out the dive boats on the reef on that busy spring Saturday, but no other fishing craft were out on the stretch of bluewater where I had been led on the wild Nantucket sleigh ride.

I was on my own, mano-a-mano with my first blue marlin.

Eventually, lifting and reeling a foot at a time, I was able to dredge the big blue up from the depths. I had turned the outboard off so as not to startle the fish and gazed down at the broad purple back and caught glimpses of the turquoise stripes that flashed across its flank. The eye of the 200-plus pound fish was the size of a billiard ball and I swear we stared at each other as each pondered the next move.

With six feet of doubled leader well around the reel, I tightened the drag and brought the exhausted fish boat-side with one hand and fired-up the outboard with the other. Oxygen-rich water washing across its gill plates revived the marlin fast, and before I had time to figure out how to snap a photo of the fish he was gone with a headshake and swimming slowly into the depths of the Gulf Stream.

It was the most dramatic example of countless solo fishing experiences I have enjoyed — for I enjoy fishing by myself and do so often here on the Great Lakes. That said, I have lost many a fish boatside because I was alone and couldn’t land my catch single-handed. There have been successes, and Boga grips and broad-mouthed nets have saved many a day by getting salmon, trout, and walleye over the gunwale. But for every success there are several that shook the hook, fouled the treble in the netting or dodged the gaff and got away because I was trying to do two things at once: Control and land a big fish by myself.

Ed “Doc” Holliger is cut from the same solo fishing cloth. The retired veterinarian spends many a day alone aboard his 20 foot Proline cuddy, trolling for Lake Erie walleye and steelhead that he has a special knack for fooling. The 80-something angler fishes like a 40-yearold and has perfected singlehanded fish landing using a common long-handed boat net. In fact, his entire boat is specially-rigged for fishing, launching, and loading solo, with lines attached and fenders placed strategically to allow him to launch and load the craft alone — which he does each trip.

“I like the mobility trailering gives me,” Doc said when I inquired why he doesn’t leave his boat at a dock. “I follow the fish. And it’s easier to trailer it that drive the boat 50 miles down the lake to follow the action.”

When fishing solo I wear an inflatable PFD and any time the engine is in gear I connect the outboard kill switch lanyard to the ignition. I also rigged my Great Lakes boat with a folding boarding ladder that can be deployed from the water. My next purchase is an Autotether wireless kill switch that will shut off the outboard if I happen to fall overboard.

Meanwhile, like Doc Holliger, I don’t take any chances when fishing alone — but I don’t write-off a chance to go fishing just because my buddies can’t join me. And sometimes it’s a matter of choice: I just want the boat — and the fishing action — to myself!

I’m messing about with a boat net this spring with a handle that is actually made for landing fish single-handed. It’s Amish made in northeast Ohio and features a padded forearm bracket on a handle bent and padded to provide just the right angle to leverage fish out of the water and up over the side of a boat with one arm. It’s made by RS Nets of Fresno, and I’ll let you know how it works once I net a few walleyes single-handed. The singlehanded handle pictured fits any of the RS net styles shown on their web site (rsnetsusa.com).

The Autotether Marine is a lanyard-free wireless kill switch that quickly turns off the boat’s engine if the operator falls overboard. It’s a great safety feature for solo anglers who need full mobility around the deck while fishing and don’t want to be limited by a traditional kill switch lanyard attached to the ignition. It also sounds an alarm if a passenger wearing a sensor goes into the water (autotether.com).

Read the full article at http://mydigitalpublication.com/article/Fishing/2723566/388247/article.html.

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