Thinking Outside the Box
As anglers, we often find ourselves in productive waters but can't buy a bite. It doesn't matter how many fish are stacked up on the sounder, or what other "fishy" signs indicate a quantity of fish in the area, the damn things just won't bite..!! Its times like this that a talented angler must reach into his bag of tricks and try to pull a fish out of his hat. Often the difference between a successful day or a "booze cruise" can be the ability to think outside the box.Sometimes it is as easy as rigging a bait in a different fashion, reducing the leader size, or going to a smaller hook to make things less visible. Or sometimes it can be much more profound, like spending hours of time and effort to catch some live local baits to be fished only at the perfect tidal period to greatly increase the enticement level.Recently I was filming an episode of my new TV series on the World Fishing Network, IGFA Saltwater Adventures. We were fishing with two of my favorite angling friends, Jamey and Sjon Harless of Billfish Safaris out of Papagayo Marina, a stunning new harbor on the Northern edge of Costa Rica's Pacific coast. After two days of plying the offshore waters for some extremely shy billfish, we decided to go to their favorite fishing haunt, a place affectionately called "Jurassic Park". The area has produced several women's IGFA line class records for Sjon in the past, and her name has plenty of ink in the annual record book these days. We joked about cool it would be to catch a new IGFA women's record on this day since we were filming an IGFA based show. Once arriving to the spot, the place was GOING OFF..!!! Huge congregations of jumping manta rays on the horizon appeared very surreal as they flipped and flopped in what appeared to be a aerial ballet of sorts. A large pod of 5 humpback whales went loping by while straining massive qualities of small tuna crabs along their compass course. But as anglers, the most interesting phenomenon we witnessed were the red splotches of amoeboid masses we saw periodically over the reef that could only be one thing, swirling schools of red colored snappers near the surface and gorging on the same tuna crabs the whales had just made a snack of.Using the new FOX international multi-piece travel rods, I rigged up a Diablo 550 spinner and some TUF-LINE braid and started casting small chrome jigs on their heads. No biters. I increased the speed of retrieve, slowed down the speed of retrieve. No biters. I decided a wakeup call may be in order. Tying on a new WFO-6" popper, I threw some of these bombs on them. Follow-ups right to the boat, but still no biters. It wasn't until I slowed down the retrieve, and made the popper "wiggle" instead of pop, did I get the crushing strike these snappers are renowned for. After this little alteration to the fishing technique, it was GAME ON. After landing 3 nice mullet snappers on 3 consecutive casts I was confident my out-of-the-box thinking was the sure fire method of coaxing a strike on this day with these particular fish.Jamey Harless, always looking at the world record potential for his angling bride, beamed with a Chessy Cat grin while reading off the current women's records for mullet snapper on light lines. Humm, a 3.26 kg mullet snapper on the 3 kg line, and a 3.44 kg fish on the 4kg line. Seeing as how every one of my fish was in the 5-6 kg class, the opportunity to put Sjon's name in fresh ink in the 2011 record book was looking good. But trying to cast large poppers on 3 or 4 kg line was out of the question. Again, we looked out of the box. I rigged a WFO 4" bright orange trolling bird teaser with a super sharp treble hook and we slow trolled it in wide circles around the surface schooling snappers. Thirty minutes later a 5.22 kg mullet snapper was the new 4 kg line record, thirty minutes after that, a 5.13 kg fish was the new 3 kg women's record. Two new light line records in just over an hour, on an unorthodox lure set-up, and all caught on tape for the show. Out of the box and into the record books.