On the Hook: Faux skill on display

Bill Walsh
Matt from Minnesota with a nice 42-inch snook.

Unfortunately, we all know a few … folks that are self-proclaimed experts of just about everything. Bring up a subject, most any subject, in a small social setting and there they are; the dominating, self-proclaimed expert on just about whatever subject is in play and under discussion.

More:On The Hook: The gentle side of sportfishing

Once these individuals crank-up, it’s hard for anyone else in attendance to get a word, let alone a differing opinion, in edgewise.

Although, it thankfully occurs very seldom, those same personalities go fishing and bring their overbearing opinion to the water’s edge with them. But their faux expertise becomes apparent in a different way. They demonstrate their expertise by disregarding advise, tips and become iconoclastic as if gifted from above.

As is quite possible in most charter captain’s experiences, we all have the dubious chance of being “graced” with one of these folks aboard at some time during a career. I’m not the exception.

So here goes the story of “my turn” …  

Our “stars” of the episode were two couples from one of the major EU countries (left unnamed to protect international relationships) who called one evening inquiring with a plethora of questions from how and where we fished and what species they could expect; they absorbed the responses and said they would call back if we were selected. They were polite but left me with the feeling that I was running for office.

Dismissed the event until the phone call a week or so later.

“You have been selected and we’d like to go Tuesday” Luckily, (or maybe unluckily) Tuesday was open and we booked a morning backwater trip for both couples.

Fortunately, the day selected had very favorable tides and weather forecasts. We made our greetings and I went over our intentions on fishing locales and species we could expect. Most of the inquiry came from one of the men in the party of four. They didn’t volunteer names; so, I just will refer to him as Hans for our story.

We started our adventure on the incoming tide in Capri Pass. I passed out the rods and baited up the jigs and explained the technique for jigging with tipped rods. All four showed they could marginally handle the casting technique for the light spinning rods.

So, we moved out west to the outer edge of the Pass and started our drift. Soon all four had baits in the water in one fashion or another and I noticed that Hans was fishing with the rod upside down; the reel and the rod guides were facing up (backwards). As politely as possible “Excuse me, sir but you are using the rod backwards; the reel and the guides should be below the rod. If you want to reel with the other hand, I’d be glad to move the reel handle to the right side for you”

“Nein … this is the way I fish. Always catch big fish this way.”

I pulled off. Obviously, this fellow knew it all.

As the first hour of the adventure melted away we were catching mainly small ladyfish with a few pompanos in the mix. The “we” were the other three. Hans would get strikes but the upside-down rod would pull at an obtuse angle with the guides on the top and he would inevitably lose the fish on early “release”.

I offered to change the handle again and told him he had mucho strikes and his problem was how he was using the equipment. He waved me off.

Thought maybe, if we worked anchored up and concentrated on more stable fishing, his convoluted method would get him some fish. So, we powered up and went into the Addison Bay environs and would work for snapper and maybe, just maybe, get Hans onto a big black drum. They all bought the idea and off we went.

As we finished anchoring, I went over in detail about the strong strike of the snapper and the subtle strike of the drum; they all nodded, got baited up and in the water, including Hans.

It was quiet with a few lost baits from the others and all quiet from Hans, then suddenly, he announced a big strike displaying his light rod bent in half but with an absence of fish struggle surges was evidence he did not have a strike but was snagged on the bottom

“Excuse me, sir but I think you’re hooked on the bottom, snagged”

“No. This is a big fish and I will land him” was his retort.

With every crank of the handle he placed another twist in the light line but there was no changing his mind or stopping his cranking.

“Sir, please believe me, I’m the captain’ you’re stuck on the bottom. Please stop.”

“No, know I have a big fish. Biggest of all”

I turned to assist the other three who were amidst real strikes; one on a drum and the other two on snapper.

Left Hans with a departing piece of advice. Over my shoulder, I told him “OK, go to it, let me know when you need the net.”

While engaged with Hans folly, the other three had caught two undersized snapper and a take home 16” black drum to their beaming smiles and snickers at Hans futile effort.

We finally had to cut Hans line (under protest) and the line was so twisted that we couldn’t even get the line back on the reel; it all was in a macramé ball.

As we finished the trip and headed to the filet table with two pompano and the nice size drum, Hans was still at it, claiming to the others that he won the big fish prize.

In fact, if you were in one of the beach hotels that week, you probably ran into. Hans at a social gathering; he’s the guy with the big mouth that caught the big fish.

More:On The Hook: Fishing’s future belongs to us too

Capt. Bill Walsh owns a charter fishing business and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments to dawnpatrolmarco@cs.com.