Whole Fish

Gulf Seafood + Southern Food

The first day of Snapper season was a good one but the story of the day belonged to 13-year-old Ryan Smith.

Ryan with snapper and father Cameron

When we reached our Snapper quota, our focus shifted to Kings and Cobia. We had already landed a couple of Sand Sharks, a Bonnet Head and busted off on a pretty big Cobia when one of the reels began to scream. Ryan quickly grabbed the rod, flipped the bail and set the hook, but this big boy wasn’t turning. He kept peeling off line like a freight train and wouldn’t stop. Quickly, John cut us loose from the rig, I fired up the engines and tried to give young Ryan a bit of help. Ryan had been putting the screws to this hoss for about an hour before we even caught our first glimpse of him: it was a Black Tip Shark and Lord was he big -- between 6 and 7 feet, a true monster tipping the scales at about 150 pounds. A good match for Ryan, who weighs about the same.

Ryan Doing Battle

My friends, I must tell you, the fight that Ryan put on that fish was of epic, Hemingway proportions. This young man was truly a sight to see: his hands were cut up and burned, back aching and the butt of the rod had started to wear a hole in his gut, but he refused to give up. One and a half hours after our first hook up, we got the first pass on the monster and we all took our stations, ready to do battle. Once close enough, I went in hard for the gaff and, as soon as I made contact, the shark flipped and dove hard, leaving my brand new gaff in shambles, bending the metal shaft straight as an arrow. He made a second and third pass and, on the third, he thrashed, spun on the leader and cut the line. I wish you could have seen this one but unfortunately, when the bite is really on, everyone picks up the rod not the camera.

Two hours had passed and, as we watched that monster slowly swim off, I wanted to cry. I looked over at Ryan -- he didn’t say a word, just set the rod down, walked to the front of the boat, lay down and passed out, exhausted. It was an inspirational fight.


Anonymous said...

Great job - just as well you didn't land him though. We need the big sharks out there. Hopefully the gaff didn't mortally injure him.

neverfull said...

great young man and the sea story. poor kid, the last photo says it all.

Post a Comment