Many organizations strive to make a difference in their communities and most do. Unfortunately, as it is nearly impossible to visit with every organization in every community around this state, we are not always aware of all they do.
Recently, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend some time with the HSFC at their beautiful headquarters in Port Orange, as a part of their Lady Angler's Tournament. What a refreshing look at human nature to see all that this club is doing to introduce our sport to the physically- or economically-challenged. Additionally, they provide fishing outings for the elderly, especially those in group living facilities, which I can only imagine brings back old memories the elderly cherish as they sit again, fishing pole in hand, beside the water. From the construction of wheelchair accessible docks, maintenance and placement of artificial reefs, fundraising for other non-profits and community causes, to support for local Marine Science Centers and museums, this club seems to be fully-involved.
They invited me to fish the ladies tournament with them and put me on one of the most beautiful boats I have ever fished on... the Trina Dai. It was like giving candy to a baby, or in terms more familiar to us, ballyhoo to a king!
Captain DT (Dave Thompson) introduced himself at the Captains' meeting shortly before running off to handle the Calcutta. We (my partner-in-crime, Brooke Van Eck, and I) grabbed some food, sat down, and were observing the other anglers, when a man known only as an acronym to us, TAD, approached us to let us know what time we should be on the boat in the morning. Unless, of course, we wanted to sleep on the boat. Well, I don't know about you, but I seldom get the chance to sleep on a 58-foot Buddy Davis, so we jumped on it!
When we arrived at the boat, Aaron Watson and Carl Lentz were rigging ballyhoo for the upcoming day of fishing. They had as much fresh bait for the dredges as some of us use for an entire day of fishing, mullet for one, and ballyhoo for the other... about thirty fish for each of them! I have used artificial teasers before, but hadn't had the opportunity to use a dredge loaded with natural bait, so I was anxious to see how it worked. First though, we had to get a good night's sleep, (four hours is generally considered "good" on the night before a tournament).
As I lay in the bunk, my thoughts were; since I was already on the boat, I could sleep peacefully until about 7:00 a.m., then come out and fish as we reached our spot. But when Captain DT fired up those twin 1350hp diesel Caterpillars, I couldn't stand the excitement and chose to get up. By the time I crawled out of the bat cave, (that little bunk where your head is under your buddies bunk and your feet are under the stairs), and got dressed, we were well on our way.
Aaron and Carl were already rigging the dredges, as one by one, sleepy-eyed team members began emerging from the salon. First out were Sarah Blanford and Dai Durrance, followed shortly thereafter by KC Vosmik. Brittney Raehn remained snoozing, and Alyson Durrance and Brooke weren't quite ready to come out yet either.
Cruising along at about 30 knots, we made it to our first spot right as the sun was coming up. The team worked well together, Carl got on the outriggers, Aaron and TAD wrestled the dredges over the side, and before I knew it, there were flawlessly-rigged lines out everywhere. The first line started singing at around 9:30 a.m. and Sarah was there to bring it in. It was a nice dolphin, the first of many to go in the box that day.
Almost all of the women took a turn in the fighting chair and did a fabulous job of bringing the fish to the boat. The guys helped rig lines, bait hooks, gaff the fish, clean up... sounding pretty good huh? Kind of like when we cook and they watch TV then just come and sit down to dinner! All joking aside though, the teamwork was impressive. Early in the afternoon, fresh ballyhoo were put on the lines and TAD changed the pink skirt on the shotgun rod to a blue and white Islander.
It was about 2:30 p.m. and Sarah was in the fighting chair when the way back shotgun started screaming. We were in about 150 feet of 79.8* blue water and whatever had the other end of the line meant business! She fought it in the chair the best she could, but with nothing to brace her feet on and with the sweat causing her to slide off the chair, she was going to have to stand up!
For the first time that day I heard Sarah say, "This one is kicking my ass!" About that time, someone put a vest on her and she got the pole set in the harness and the fight was on again. In an incredibly short time, (the fight began at 2:30 and the fish hit the deck at 2:39), the fish was gaffed and brought on board. As soon as it hit the deck the celebration began. It was a big wahoo and we knew it was a money fish! The captain estimated it to be 60-65 pounds, but if you could've heard our personal bets, you would have thought we'd just boated Fishzilla!
This was the biggest wahoo Sarah ever landed and in true fisherman form, she cried! Now you guys say what you want, but I guarantee more than one of you has shed a tear when you landed a big one and blamed it on the sunscreen getting in your eyes! We fished a little bit longer, and then headed back to weigh in. There were looks of admiration and maybe even envy as the team put the big one in the cart to roll it to the scale. They weighed three of the dolphin for 22 pounds and then hoisted the wahoo into the scale... 57.9 pounds! This of course put them on the leader board, but there were still a few boats left to weigh in. No one would know the final results until the following day so we returned to the Trina Dai to clean her up.
The next day we congregated at Caribbean Jacks and anxiously awaited the announcement of the winners. The Trina Dai had taken first place for wahoo and third overall! What a great day of fishing! But, regardless of how we placed, the day was absolutely wonderful, the team was a pleasure to fish with and the tournament was a huge success. Thank you to the Halifax Sport Fishing Club for such an exciting introduction to their organization, and thank you to the family and friends of the Trina Dai for an amazing experience!
For more information or to join the Halifax Sport Fishing Club, visit www.HSFC.com.