One Big Fish

Paul Morrone |

I was never much of a fisherman. As a kid I would fish at Lake Beseck in the summer months and catch sunfish, perch and an occasional bass. These were all small fish not weighing more than a few pounds and not much longer than a foot. None of these were ever "keepers". I have gone deep sea fishing only once about 10 years ago and caught a 3 foot striped bass which was a thrill. Other than some childhood memories and a lone striper as an adult, my fishing stories are very limited. In Florida, fishing is a way of life and a daily event for many. Walking the beach you inevitably come across someone fishing from shore with all the gear. Recently, on one of those walks, Cathy and I came across a woman fishing and it appeared like she had snagged the "big one" so we hung around to see what she had hooked. We never could have imagined what she reeled in.

As she reeled and reeled and reeled some more, the anticipation was starting to build. A crowd had gathered and cameras and iPhones were at the ready. It was obvious that this woman was not a casual fisher. She had a special rod with a reel the size of a large coffee can. The pole was not long but had a large base to handle some serious weight. Even her fishing line was black and looked heavy duty and was more than the transparent type line that most people use. As she continued to fight the fish, her assistant put a fishing belt around her waist with a cup in the front to rest the base of the rod in for additional leverage. This girl was serious. We were there watching for close to half an hour as she continued to reel in more and more line. People continued gathering around and some were starting to cheer her on, including myself.

When the fish first broke the surface of the water a hush went over the crowd. What was it? The excitement and anticipation was electrifying. As she reeled it closer and closer to shore it was becoming more and more visible. This fish was much bigger than any thing I ever caught. Actually, it was much larger than all the fish I have caught all together throughout my life. This girl, from shore, reeled in a 300 pound grouper. It was a monster. The picture attached hopefully can give you an appreciation for the sheer size of this fish. People were cheering, cameras flying; videos was awesome. I have seen many a fish caught from shore but this was incredible. This was the big fish that didn't get away!

Once all the pictures were taken and the excitement settled down, I was wondering what does one do with a 300 pound grouper. Do you sell it to a local restaurant? Do you have it mounted? What she did was release it back into the Gulf of Mexico with even louder cheers from the gallery.

Until the next Tom's Take...