Chug, chug, chug…Chug, chug, chug

The bright yellow topwater lure slowly but surely made its way back to the boat, each ‘chug’ sending ripples of water outward in the mirror flat water. The sun had just broken over the horizon and its early morning tendrils shone through the nearby pines on the shoreline to dance on the bay.

The wind had yet to come up, so the only sounds to be heard was the quiet whirring of the trolling motor and the rhythmic ‘chug’ of my lure. But that rhythmic chug was abruptly broken.

A splash, followed by the tug on the line and the screaming of the drag ripped apart the early morning calm. The fight was on.

But what I didn’t know was what was on the end of my line. Surely not some trout, I thought as the fish continued to take line. I was fishing too deep honestly. What in the world was it? A small jack crevalle? A red?

After a few minutes of fighting I got my first glimpse of silver under the pale green waters of St. Joe bay. It was a Spanish Mackerel. And a big one at that. The picture doesn’t do it justice, and please excuse the hair…

I generally don’t view Spanish as noteworthy unless I’m writing about a fish fry, but this one was a big one. I never measured it, nor weighed it. But there was a brief discussion with my dad as to whether or not I had a small King.

With a quick tail grab, the hefty fish was in the boat, and thrown on ice. I wanted desperately to fill the cooler with these guys, so as soon as my lure was free, it was back out there, chugging away.

And once again, on my next cast, it only took a few chugs before another monster Spanish attacked the lure. This time the fish went skyward, shaking his toothy head and ripping line back off the reel. But unfortunately, as quickly as the fight started, it ended. That all too familiar “blip” when your heart sinks and you know you’ve been cut off. I reeled up a lureless line and said goodbye to a favorite lure of mine. Luckily it died doing its job and wasn’t lost in grass or some ill-placed tree.

As my luck would have it, I didn’t have another lure just like it. It was the only one of its kind I had in the tackle box. I tried tying on very similar lures, but never had the same kind of luck again. Topwater is always exciting, and I found that big Spanish on the surface are quite the thrill. Over the years I’d actually forgotten how much fun it can be to catch these toothy critters. Maybe next time I can land a few more (with a thicker leader), and make the most of a good fish fry.