Tue09162014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

A day on the boat, reeling in freight trains

The salt air blew across my face as porpoises eased out of the water at the inlet near Rudee’s. Little did I know that less than a few hours later I would be horsing in a freight train on a reel the size of a bass-casting reel.
Our captain, Ryan Rogers, normally charters out of Smith Point, Va., but takes his boat down to Virginia Beach each June to put clients on tuna, amberjack, dolphin, spadefish and whatever else suits him. This trip I was invited on had a rendezvous with an aquatic freight train. I will never forget the trip as long as I live.
The crew included friends of Captain Rogers and his first mate, Kenny Nance. The group had fished with each other before and although I was the newcomer to half of them, they welcomed me as if I had

known them all my life. I could have not have picked a more amiable crew to fish with.
Wes Seigler, one of the designers of the Release Reel, and a business partner of Capt. Rogers and Kenny, caught some bait for us with a cast net. It is always cool to watch someone who can throw a cast net. With the rising sun behind him, he got enough bait for us in several throws and off we went to go look for a few bigger fish.
The first time a live baitfish was put into the water, it took off but was probably one of the unluckiest baitfish of the day. Perhaps, though, it was the luckiest. It did not have time to suffer at all. The line simply took off.
I was fiddling around with something and had to run to get the rod before the fish that inhaled the bait took off for Florida or somewhere. When I hefted the rod I was stunned at the fish’s power. I was even more stunned at how the reel was responding.
It was a small reel, the size of a bass baitcaster and it was handling the fish without any problem. The fish would pull out several yards of line through the drag and I would horse it back in a few more yards. It was give and take for a while.
Each time I got the leader near the boat the fish would decide, “Nope, the ice box is not my destination today!” and take off again. I don’t honestly know how long it took me to get the first fish in the boat, but I can tell you that I have never felt anything like the fight of that fish before.
The reel cranked evenly and the fish surged and made the rod throb like a steady but strong pulse. When the fish made a run, it had me dancing around the stern of the boat and the starboard side. Finally, someone was fast enough to put a net under the fish and yank it aboard. When it hit the deck of the boat the thud rippled through my feet. The fish was that big! Light tackle for amberjack is a one-of-a-kind experience. It was just me and fish with a well-made reel and rod between us.
There were multiple fish attacking surface lures as well as the live bait. The guys would cast top water plugs to the fish when they saw them and rapidly rip them across the waves and watch as the underwater trains crushed the lures. The explosions of saltwater made by the fish as they chased down the plugs was unreal. If they missed, the anglers just kept ripping the plugs, making a spray of water to attract the fish.  It was the most exhilarating thing to watch. With the water a deep but clear blue you could see the fish down 10 feet and watch as they frantically slammed the bait and lures. Most of the fish were measured and released but we also kept a few to try on the grill and smoker.
I don’t know how many fish were caught and released but the fishing went on until the bait was gone. Once that happened Captain Rogers fired up the boat and headed back toward Rudee Inlet. However, he stopped short at a wreck and broke out the clams. At this point we were going to enjoy some spadefishing.
Although I have spade fished before this was the best experience I have had. Capt. Rogers was able to maneuver the boat around to where we could sight fish and cast right to the fish. Watching the fish take your bait is far better than sitting and watching your float and praying for a bite. The fish were in a large school and ranged in size from several pounds to fish pushing 8 pounds. I am sure there were larger fish in the school.
Throwing a clam-covered hook into a school of fish and watching them nibble at it and steal it from each other is also incredible. Plenty of spadefish were boated and put on ice before we headed in for the day.
I have been blessed to fish in a lot of places and with a lot of people. I would have to say that this light tackle, sight-casting experience for amberjack and spadefish was a trip that makes the top three in terms of fun and enjoyment. If you are up for a trip offshore and can get a group of friends together to make a charter, I would heartily recommend this trip. You can call Capt. Rogers at (804) 580-0245 to see when his next slot is available. I would definitely recommend staying in or around Virginia Beach and not driving down the morning of the trip.
Additionally, if you want a reel that will handle fishing with live bait, eel live lining, catfishing for big cats or even trolling for big fish you need to consider one of these Release Reels. A lot of thought, late nights and fine-tuning went into making these reels. The guys tore apart all brands of reels to see what made them good and what made them not so great. Then they designed their own and came up with a reel that will handle the harsh environment, take on big fish (so far red drum, 70 pound tuna, amberjacks over 50 pounds and various other fish have been caught on them) and handle them well with a smooth drag and reel system.
You can check out Capt. Rogers’s website at http://www.fishmidnightsun.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=583&PN=1Give them a look. I can tell you that you could not ask for a better reel for this purpose.

Mark Fike 

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