Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN 2012

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 77 of 83

LAST CAST HOOKED ON SPECKS The biggest speckled trout I've ever caught was the very first speckled trout I caught. And since that fateful morning, I have become a trout-fishing fool. I have caught more than I can count, just not one quite as big as my first kiss with the beautiful and majestic speckled sea trout. I guess I can chalk that first monster, yellow-mouthed trout up to beginner's luck. Or maybe it was fate. My journey into the trout and redfish fishing circus, or FRED GARTH For the past 25 years, Fred D. Garth's articles have appeared in numerous books, magazines, and newspapers around the world. His most recent novel, A Good Day to Live, is available online and in select bookstores. what I call "backwater fishing," began later in life. As I kid, I grew up fishing in the Gulf of Mexico for king mackerel, amberjack, wahoo, you know, big, bad, blue-water fish that my mama could fry. I knew about speckled trout, but we thought real fishing meant braving the wind and waves of the Gulf, not tooling around on calm water, watching sunsets and listening to the soft blow of a dolphin patrol. As I grew older, the pounding boat rides across choppy Gulf waves began to wear on my knees and my back. Running offshore and getting drenched to the bone in a 20-foot center console became more of a special occasion than an every weekend gig. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a partner in a few private artificial reefs, and I still like going for fresh snapper, grouper, and their brethren. But, the seas have to be calm and the boat has to be big. Yes, age has weathered my youthful bravado. About the time I hit 40, the idea of fishing the back bays, bayous, and rivers for speckled trout and redfish began to have a pleasant ring to it. And one of my crazy fishing buddies had a plan for losing our trout virginity. We'd get up an hour before sunrise and pull the shrimp net for some live bait. Then we'd go to a deep hole under a bridge that was said to hold big trout. I was spending the weekend visiting my elderly mother, who could still fry up a mean filet and tell a good joke. It's amazing she still had a sense of humor, considering she'd lived through the depression, World War II, and six sons— all of whom had a wild streak as wide as I-95. Except for me, of course. She'd been in and out of the hospital for several months and we had almost lost her two weeks earlier. Thankfully, she'd escaped the sterile halls of the hospital and was back home in her own bed without a bunch of doctors prodding and poking at her. That lifted her spirits, and I knew some fresh fish would boost her up another few notches. As my buddy and I stumbled around in the kitchen at "It's okay man," I assured him. "I'll catch a bigger one next time and mount that one." 4 a.m. trying to make coffee and get to the boat before sun up, mama stood in the doorway in her faded blue nightgown and said, "Remember, a fish is like a man, the one with its mouth open gets caught." We looked up just in time to see her smiling and turn to disappear back into her bedroom. Then she hollered, "If you catch it, I'll cook it." The live bait plan worked out well, except we pulled in more jellyfish than shrimp. Not the benign little jellyfish globules that kids throw at each other, but the full-on, red-striped jellyfish with three-foot-long tentacles. As we picked the shrimp out of the jellyfish soup, they jumped and jerked

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