The Redneck Canoe, a Trout Attack and Redfish Club Initiation
I can’t stop grinning ear to ear when I think about it. And, of course, I can’t stop thinking about it. It may not be a big deal to experienced anglers living in Southwest Florida. It happens all the time — to other people. As a lover of fishing, wife of an awesome fisherman, Charlotte High School Graduate and three year resident of SWFL, living on the water and boating, it was a HUGE deal to me. What, you ask, was such a momentous occasion?
I caught my first redfish. There I said it! I am finally able to say I have caught a beautiful (and delicious) Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) AKA redfish, rat red, bull red or just plain old red.
Living on the water in Fort Myers for over three years, it had been haunting me. I’ve caught catfish, ladyfish, sea trout, sheepshead, sting rays, specks, snapper, bass, heck … even pin fish. I have seen my husband catch redfish in the boat beside me, off of our dock, in the canoe, off the shore, you name it. Every time I was thrilled for him and for having a delicious dinner, but all the time secretly disappointed that the fish didn’t take my bait.
Today was different. I had a good feeling when we rigged up our redneck canoe with a princess tent and two tired little girls who couldn’t wait to go for a boat ride … we were going to catch fish.
Last weekend we were lucky enough to bring home a beautiful 23-inch trout that I caught (and who subsequently bit me — I didn’t realize they had such sharp teeth), but I was still hankering for my red.
My husband, Matt, spent half the day rigging up a trolling support to rig our family canoe with a trolling motor. Paddling is fine, but when you want to take a quick trip out on the water with two little girls, some sort of motorization is highly recommended. Lilly fell asleep on the way out to the spot where it all happened.
We were in our spot, early afternoon about 1 pm for about 15 minutes when I caught my first fish. Catfish. Disappointing, as usual. Then Matt caught one… Catfish, slightly larger. We knew we were in a catfish hole, so we moved closer to a small mangrove island in the middle of the Caloosahatchee. It was a perfect day for fishing, regardless of our luck so far. It was slightly overcast and warm. And we had a wonderful view of downtown Fort Myers and entertainment from the wood storks playing in the mangroves in front of us.
Matt made the first cast into the honey hole. I didn’t see his line, so naturally, I cast right on top of his. He reeled up and something big snatched my bait. It didn’t come up to the surface or jump, so I assumed it was another cat. But this had to be a big cat. “It’s a sail cat, isn’t it Mama?” Lilly chimed in (we have caught our share of cats).
I thought it was. Until I got it up. Matt saw it first. I almost jumped out on top of the fish when he declared it a red. You think I am kidding, but I have seriously wanted to catch a redfish for too long, and have been too long skunked by these magnificent beauties. He fought and dug, but I got him in the boat and in the cooler, pronto. My heart was beating and I had a stupid grin on my face. This was my day.
Matt caught the second one. I caught the third one. Lilly ended our fantastic trip with her first redfish. At 5 years old, she beat me by 24 years on catching one of the most delicious fish in the sea. Its not the first thing she has proven herself better at, and I am sure it won’t be the last.
In addition to the dinner we will have for two nights, we will always have the memory of the redneck canoe fishing trip where mama caught her first redfish.