Categorized | Opinion

Heartlander Abroad

By Josh Gowan

Jameson Gowan is on the beach catching "Sea Bream" in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jameson Gowan is on the beach catching “Sea Bream” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ah yes, my favorite title to write under, used when adventure carries me far from home. I could just copy the lyrics to a Jimmy Buffett song, and pretty much encompass my current surroundings! To be honest, between the hot sun, cold beverages, salty water and a general lack of sleep, I’m having a tough time articulating!
I am on the quintessential family vacation, squatting in a luxurious house on stilts, on an obscure beach on the inner coast of Florida. I sat down and began to write, and was called out to the water to observe and identify an enormous bird floating around in the tide. My son, unaware that my vast knowledge of all things outdoors is relegated to a tight, oval-shaped area between St. Louis and Memphis, asked me what kind of bird it was. Without batting an eye, I told him it was a Sea Goose. He asked if it eats the Sea Bream we were catching earlier, and I told him it did…
Many people probably go on vacation to relax, not me, I’ll exert more energy during this week than I have the last four at work! I’ve been out on the beach every morning by 5:30 am fishing. I’m running three surf rods and a smaller setup for catching bait or flounder if I get the chance. I can’t imagine why anyone would go to the beach and not bring a fishing pole, even at the more crowded beaches I’ve visited in the past, there is no one out early in the morning, and it’s easily my favorite time  to be out there.
The setup is pretty simple, the same spinning reels and 10–12 foot rods we use catfishing on the Mississippi work here. I may have $60 in each rig counting line, terminal tackle and all. I’m using 20 pound Cajun monofilament with double kahle hook rigs with a 1 ounce pyramid sinker, using shrimp for bait, and casting out and fishing on the bottom just like I was catfishing. (I managed to catch some sort of catfish this morning, I told my son it was a Sea Cat…) The waves grab your line and bounce the poles a bit, but small bites are not what I’m after. The biggest problem is the aforementioned “Sea Bream” that steal the shrimp off the No. 1/0 hooks.
In an attempt to get some fresh cut bait, and possibly thin out the heard of small fish, I pulled one of many tricks out of my sandy sleeve. I brought some Sabiki rigs, which are used for catching shad and skipjack, basically bait fishing. They have a swivel on top, and six tiny hooks with a snap swivel on bottom. I put a tiny bit of shrimp on each hook and a half oonce sinker on the bottom. I casted the little rig out and within seconds was reeling in “Sea Bream”, which I dissected and used for bait. The catfish I caught came on the cutbait, but the best use of the Sabiki rig and Sea Bream was instant fish, which was a big hit with the kids. I’d re-bait, cast, let them reel in fish, then re-bait, cast… you get the picture. My son reeled in four at once, and everybody got to get their fill of fishing!
I’m still waiting on that big bite, and a 5 pound Jack Crevalle is the biggest fish I’ve caught yet. It is really unbelievable how hard these fish fight. I guess being built to live in ocean currents lends itself to streamlined, muscular bodies with amazing speed and agility, probably why these people think I’m a local…
In a few days I’m going bay fishing with a buddy from down here, and will hopefully have some spectacular tales to tell! See you in a week Missouri and Tennessee!!
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine,

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August 2013
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