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Fish Stories


Red Sea Fishin


By Darrel

STORY 1

Red Sea Squid For my first story, let me tell you about squid fishing in the Red Sea and I have to say I was a little surprised as to the technique's used. Let me give you a little brief history of how I discovered this marvelous madness and my new found friends. Well back in the late 1980's I was asked by the company I worked for if I minded to go to Egypt and do a little bit of installation and repair and me being of (ha ha) sound mind and body and a thirst for adventure and a quest for the unknown I said OK. I will admit at first of being a little bit hesitant as to getting out and about but it was short lived because my thirst for adventure overcame me. It is amazing to stand beside the pyramids and feel their awesome power and sheer size and to think they were built 1000's of years ago is simply amazing. Touring the museum's and other archeological site's was awe inspiring but what I was mesmerized with was my first look at the Red Sea and the feeling like being drawn to it's infinite beauty. I believe the name of aqua was started when the first person was standing and overlooking this vast body of heavenly water called the Red Sea because it truly is beautiful and I think everyone visiting Egypt need to see this body of water or they will miss the best part of Egypt and that would be a big mistake. Enough of that and now lets talk about the fishing, the Red Sea has an abundance of fish, crustaceans and mammals that remind me a lot of fishing in Florida since all if my adult fishing has been spent in and around the state of Florida. So don't be surprised when I tell you Florida techniques work well but there is always something more to learn and you have to admire those Red Sea professional fishermen because they don't have access like we do to so many different kinds of lures and products that we take advantage of and they end up learning ways to improvise and apply their home made techniques to the catching of many a possible record breaking fish. I wish my Egyptian fishing friends had the chance to visit any of the Outdoor world superstores because I believe they would probably try and use one of the display tents in the middle of the store and take up residence and stay all day long and even into the night just mesmerized at all of the different products offered by such a fantastic under one roof store.

Now on with my story, my experiences with the elusive squid started when I was invited to stay with a group of professional fishermen at a fishing and hunting lodge way south on the mainland side north of the Sudanise border in a place called Marsa Alam and if you are driving through don't blink because you will miss it, the lodge was a little quaint but adequate and the hired help overseeing the lodge was so friendly and helpful that I felt a little guilty not being able to do the most simplest of chores like for example making a sandwich or a simple cup of coffee because they would get offended even if they were in the middle of doing something extremely physical and time consuming so I would go with the flow and constantly thank them all of the time. The first day that we arrived it was decided that live bait would be needed so my friends suggested we try our hands at squid fishing at a nearby bay just as the sun was setting and boy what timing it was. We arrived at this bay about a half hour before the setting sun and I was handed a super light spinning combo with probably 5 lb test line and a green and shiny rapala looking lure with numerous small curved barbless umbrella shaped hooks on the tale end and a small center weight mounted on the underside to keep this lure sitting up while on the bottom. My friends told me to cast out as far as I can into the bay and let it drop to the bottom and then slowly retrieve it dragging the sea bottom. Naturally I assumed I would snag it on the bottom but they assured me everything would be ok, (right). Just when we arrived and as the sun was close to set one of my friends hooked the first squid and it bent his pole double but he dared not set the hook because don't forget there are no barbs on this lure so he just kept on reeling it in slowly all the way to the shore and wow, I was surprised what simplicity in this technique and just at that moment I thought I hooked the bottom but my friends laughed at ma and assured me to just keep reeling slowly and sure enough I felt the pulling and I knew I had something on the other end. It took me about 3 minutes to land a beauty about 2 lbs I guesstimated it to be and with this new found feeling of accomplishment I was ready for anything. After catching about 2 more or so, I hooked what I thought was a bigger one and on getting it to the shore this squid decided to do a little damage. Just as I was reeling and at the point of reaching the top of the water just in front of me about 5 ft away the squid took its anger out on me and started spraying its jet stream of ink right at me and you can only imagine what this looked like to my friends with the ink coming out in spits and spats and me trying to avoid it, I must have looked and acted a little crazy because I wasn't about to drop the pole and throw in the towel at that moment so the squid and I were linked by just a thin line and need I say more I landed that sucker and what came over me was a challenge to all of them squid in the bay so the war was on. All of my clothes were ruined with the black ink but it didn't discourage me to say the least and all of my friends just simply sit down on the shore and watched me in action. I walked back and forth covering all of the shoreline and I felt like I was on a mission and don't forget the fishing stops when the sun sets so I was in a rush as well. I had a vendetta against all of the squid in the bay because of this one squid ruined my brand new t-shirt with the fishing logo that I wore wanting to impress my new found friends and all they could do was laugh and watch as I got busy doing what I do best. Well when it was over I had put in the bucket at least 16 of those ink squirting suckers and I felt redeemed to lose a prized t-shirt and I gained the respect of my fishing friends as well and so they all got together and decided to name me the squid catcher of the trip which at that time felt like an honor to be excepted into their inner circle and to provide such a valuable service as to continuously every day catching a valuable bait for the entire 10 day trip. The squid did their job during the entire trip because we caught numerous fish trolling and bottom fishing and in turn we also fed on the big squid as well. I had so much fun on this trip that I bugged my new found friends as to when the next trip was going to take place and so my Red Sea experiences started and as I look back on those days I still have the desire to start it over again and again. Telling you about my experiences makes me live those trips again and it makes me feel so good to think about them and now that I look back on this phase of my life I conjure up more and more of those special moments when you feel one with mother nature and you get the feeling of being invincible and to think I have loads of stories to live over and I would like to share them all with you but I really wish I could be there on the Red Sea with you to experience them for yourself, for sure you would get the very same feelings as I did but for now an old fishing story will have to do.

STORY 2

Red Sea's Marsa Alam Let me tell you more about the Marsa Alam Lodge fishing stories and some of the special people that crossed my path while staying at this lodge. Some of my new found friends were from other countries but most were Egyptian professionals, for example my close friend still to this day goes by the name of Zaky and he was my first fishing partner I met and the one that invited me on my first trip to the Red Sea. He is the owner of a gold and silver shop that is located in one of the oldest bazaars in Cairo and I have to admit he always had an instinct as to what type of bait or lure to use at the right time whenever we would go fishing. I relied on his expertise a lot of the time but in some unique cases I would add my 2 cents to the picture just to give it some spice of my good ole Florida know-how. The Lodge was built next to the water and it had a very long patio overlooking the water as well and we spent many a night staring up at the stars and telling fish tales without any interference from TV or Radio or even Telephones and Cell phones to damage the moment. There was at least 6 bedrooms with 2 beds in every room and donít forget also a couple of shower bathrooms as well, so whenever a trip was planned, it was planned for at least 10 people and sometimes some of the wives would go as well. The lodge provided two boats for us to use however and whenever we wanted and they supplied the skippers as well. All of us would split the overall bill and also, if we wanted, just take along some of the little specialty extras to share with everyone. Of course most of the fishermen had their own tackle and they would also have their own stories as to how they came about having this tackle whether it was from purchasing it in the USA or Europe or even some parts of the Middleeast but it was almost always a constant problem bringing it through customs wherever. I didnít help matters by telling them of my favorite superstores and the mass quantities of fishing tackle and how much time it would take trying to choose the right lure or product for the right fishing trip, boy what would they be like to have an Outdoor World at their disposal. Many of the fishermen that also stayed at the lodge during my episodeís had a hard time excepting my ways and as I said before my ways were proven ways of the typical Florida fisherman, which is to go as light as you can under the circumstances and give the fish an equal chance of survival or (catch and release) so I felt most comfortable using a spinning combination Penn 9500 series with 30 LB test line loaded to the max and this gave me the option of casting for schoolers that would cross our path as well as trolling for the big ones, but whatever the fish, I felt like I had the advantage overall. But most of these fisherman were still of the old world ways of putting food on the table and donít let anything swimming get away or else (I always wondered about the what else part) or maybe you are cursed with the bad eye, donít scream and shout on a hookup (which was my constant problem because of my enthusiasm) and trust me when I say they still believe in these superstitions, so, they use big Penn reels, big lines and big rods and basically wench the fish to the boat. But all in all it was always most satisfying to get my hooks wet and besides I kept my friends on their toes and amused as well, due to the fact I was always experimenting in my endeavors. Now back to some fishing tales, well on one of my trips I decided to try my hand at catching bait fish while we were trolling around some of the numerous reefs. These reefs seemed to pop up out of no where from the crystal clear blue/aqua water and some of them as well, donít even appear on any charts or maps, you really have to take care in navigating in these waters and so itís always wise to have a skipper along that knows the waters. Most of the fishermen like to use hand lines to feel the fish strike better which is what they always told me and on these lines they would use a small homemade spoon or take a bird feather (preferably white) and tie it on to a small hook and then on the line, sometimes they would put up to 4 hooks with feathers on the same hand line to better their chances at multiple hookup in schoolers like small bonito or blue runners and they were very successful as well at this old proven method and I guess you can say donít fix it if its not broken but I can never settle for just an old method. I took out of my tackle box a small saltwater redheaded rattletrap and I begged them to give me a little room to fight the bait so they did with a little chuckle and a look between each other as saying (really right). Well, I made believers of all of them on this trip for not only did I catch the most bait fish 67 in all on this trip, I also caught other kinds like Barracuda and some skip jack and a couple a dorado (Dolphin fish) as well. After the first day of catching, my friends resorted to only me catching the bait for the remainder of the trip which is OK in some instances but I had a hunger to catch the big ones as well, so I would put my bait pole between my legs and trolled over the side while I sit in the fighting chair waiting for the big one to hit on the big Penn reel, I think I won their admiration as to the severity of my hunger for fishing after this trip. So many times I begged them to let me troll with my 9500 at the back of the boat for the big ones but almost always they used the same excuse that if the big fish hits we need to give it a real good fighting chance (ha ha) and then wench it in after that, but you know me by now every opportunity that came along I would put my pole to the test and if you can get a big fish on a Penn 9500 then you will surely know what a good and challenging fight is and even the smallest of these monsters of the sea can give you a fantastic battle that can last you a long time and you do get that heart pumping, adrenaline flowing exercise as well. We would relax after each days fishing by sitting on the patio overlooking the water and reminisce about the days events and get a laugh or two and just when you thought the day was over one of my friends would take out one of the old bait fish and bury a hook into it then tie it to one of the big Penn reels and convince one of the lodge helpers into carrying it out in the dark onto the shallow reef that touched the shoreline just in front of the lodge and then we would go about our evening activities just forgetting about the bait. Some of the fishermen played cards some backgammon and some just plain relax under the stars but donít get to relaxed because the reel starts singing and who knows whatís on the other end in the darkness of the night and into the early hours of the morning, why we have caught from that patio small shark, big jacks, Barracuda, rayí s and an occasional moray eel but whoís counting. Boy, Iím starting to get that feeling of doing it all over again. Maybe I will because when it comes to fishing I think I will always be adventurous and young at heart so how about all you fishermen and fisherwomen out there. STORY 3 Red Sea My Crowning Glory Hey fishing friends its just me with another of those Red Sea fishing tales and I really feel driven to telling you about it. I want you to tell me if it was Divine Intervention or just plain dumb luck, but whatever the answer you derive from this tale please give me your opinion. On another of those Red Sea trips to the same Lodge located in Marsa Alam another group of die hard Fishermen and I decided to go at a time when the weather was not so good but we figured we would try and get our hooks wet in between the wind storm squalls. You may be wondering why we chose this moment but what I didnít tell you about is the usage of this lodge, you see the lodge belonged to a Hunting and Fishing Club located in Cairo and it was available to any members wanting to rent it out at just about any 10 to 20 days of any month but a drawing would be held a month ( democracy at work) before each month to decide which member won and so we ended up on the short end of the stick for this trip, but you know me by now I woní t say no when it comes to getting my hooks wet. The first 4 days we couldnít even take the boats out because of the ferocity of the wind so we would go exploring with the 4 wheelers we had and boy what a view of the desert that ran along the mountains as well as driving all through the valleys and we would spot an occasional gazelle or a free roaming camel. We even stopped at the meteor hole which is what the locals call it but whatever it is, itís amazing and to think it is located just 5 miles south of the lodge and right on the edge of the shallow reef along the shore line and as well in the middle of nowhere or (no civilization for miles). You can stand on the reef just in front of this meteor hole at low tide which is about a foot deep and look at this gaping hole on the shore that drops to at least 30 feet deep or more and at least 30 feet across forming almost a perfect circle with a small mound built up in its center and the sea water rushes in and fills it up to the level of the sea. This water hole is filled with sea creatures of all kinds just like an aquarium loaded with for example Lion fish, small schools of bait fish, angel fish, jacks and many different kinds of crustaceans you wouldnít believe it if you didnít see it for yourself and all of these sea creatures have their total freedom to ro! am in and out of this meteor hole, amazing. Now back to my fishing tale, we were able to start fishing on the 5th day but decided to stay close to the lodge for fear of a wind squall because weather reports donít exist over there but things werenít going very well and we all have those moments donít we. My friends started getting restless because we werenít putting any fish on the table and I kept giving some of my closer friends a pep talk telling them that things would get better but what do I know when it comes to the Red sea, Iím just a Florida fisherman. Things went from bad to worse as we were getting closer to our day of departure and everyone really was getting irritated at just about anything that occurred because very few fish were being caught and when something good hit we would lose it by not setting the hook just right or the fish breaking the line or gaffing at the back of the boat but whatever the reason it just wasnít our days. Finally on the evening of the 7th day one of my close friends whom I really respected announced out loud in the presence of others that maybe I wasnít that good a fisherman to fish in the Red Sea and that maybe I should concentrate on my Florida fishing only, but it really surprised me for him to say it to me because this wasnít our first time together and we have caught lots of fish other times so at that moment I shrugged it off and told him maybe he was right, so I thought about it silently for awhile and came to the conclusion how could I be inexperienced at fishing when I have fished for over 35 years in many places fresh and saltwater, so I started thinking that all of them were looking for an excuse for their bad luck and the easiest thing to do was to lay blame on someone being bad luck ( the black sheep ) or maybe one of my enemies put the bad eye on me, if you can believe such hogwash but whatever the reason was, most of them seemed to except this excuse and react more calmly now that I was blamed for all of their bad luck and also maybe because I was the only foreigner on this trip. I was really bothered about what was said to me all of that evening and even into the night because up till that moment I always felt like I was one of them but in just a swift jab of the tongue I was put in my place so now I didnít feel so enthusiastic about this trip and I was questioning the fact of who were these people, my so called friends and how could they believe in such superstitious ways. I couldnít sleep all night and so I convinced myself that in the morning I would take out the smaller boat and just do a little bit of fishing all by my lonesome and this would give all of them the opportunity to prove their theory, in other words let all of the experienced Red Sea fishermen go out on the bigger boat and be set free of this inexperienced Florida fisherman. Well 6 am rolled around and this was an hour before everyone else woke up, but I was on a mission from GOD and all fired up and bursting at the seams by now to find out if they are right and that I am inexperienced, anyway, the one friend (Hany) that didnít agree with the majority on me being bad luck heard me rustling around and decided to get up as well. I told him my plan to take out the smaller boat and so he asked me if he could go along since there wasnít very much fish being caught anyway so I said OK. We ate breakfast and by 7 am we prepared our poles and bait and I looked up at the morning sky giving caution to the wind and noticed how beautiful and refreshing it felt for me to go out on my own to try my luck so we headed for the boat and just at that moment some of the others heard us leaving and asked what we were doing so I told them I felt like trying my luck in the small boat and go near the shore and not get to far from the lodge for fear of the wind, they excepted my excuse and wished me good luck as well, I could tell by the look on their faces that they were relieved and a look of hope came across them as well so now everyone was happy and no more bad luck or no more me, ( Mr. Enthusiastic the foreigner ). We immediately started trolling at the break of day and my instincts told me to hug the shoreline just outside of the shallow reef which extended out into the water and it drops off sharply like an underwater cliff into 90 feet or more as well. By 9 am we had a couple of bait fish so we decided to rig them up since the fishing was slow and by 10 am my world changed. The monster hit the bait the same time I was fighting to untangle the line that was kinked in the Penn reel and me being a gentleman I offered the pole to Hany but he didnít seem to enthusiastic about it, maybe it was to small a fish or whatever but he refused and said to me that I would have to break the curse so I calmly fixed the kink in the line and picked up the pole and tightened up the line and set the hook and boy was I surprised, the fish immediately surfaced with all of its gleaming white teeth gnashing and thrashing back and forth and Hany sitting in front of me was closer to the fight kept screaming that it was a monster but I was to interested in concentrating on reeling and setting the break and keeping the right tension at all times so if I lost it then it wasnít anything that I did to cause it to get away. We finally got it to the boat 20 minutes later and the local skipper on board decided on seeing the fish that it would take 2 gaffs to get ! the fish aboard only because of the teeth and its size so Hany had to control the moment and what a job he did reaching out to the leader that was very close to the fishes mouth so the fish was landed, I gave Hany and the skipper as well as looking up at the sky, a big, (Thank You) and then I noticed my fish and what a relief came over me because my battle was over not with the fish but my new fishing friends and so was this my bad luck or what. The fish was what you call a great northern Barracuda and it measured 5 ft 3 inches and weighed approximately 50 lbs and when I opened its mouth wide I could place the upper portion of my leg into its mouth and not feel its 1 inch maybe longer teeth, WOW what a fish. I felt a little guilty to keep this great old warrior of the sea but I was on a mission from GOD and I as well had to see this story played out to the end. We stopped for lunch at an island reef just off from shore and as we were reminiscing about the barracuda I was still pumped so I decided to drop a line and do a little bottom fishing while I was eating remimber I told you I can't get enough. Hany cut up some bait and decided to fish, as well as the skipper but I didn't want to touch the stinky bait while I ate so I searched around in my tackle box for just the right kind of jig that could work and I came up with a rubber shrimp and showed it to Hany and the skipper and they looked at each other laughed and said (right). Well just as the shrimp hit the bottom I had my first small reef fish I called it a big eye and both Hany and the skipper just looked at this shrimp in amazement and just couldn't believe it so I dropped it in again and caught the fishes brother and from that moment on my time seemed to be spent going through my tackle box for both of my friends to try just about everything I owned and it really made me feel good to apply my experienced Florida techniques here on the Red Sea. The dayís fishing went very well for us, several more barracuda, jacks and more bait was caught and even Hany had a defining moment as well, he decided to try his luck fishing with a deep running heavy lead weighted hand line (yo yo fishing) with a bait fish with 2 hooks imbedded in it and just after 2 pm his world changed as well, he had a hit while we were rounding a reef point very close to shore, and so he set the hook by quickly pulling up the slack and jerking it tight, what I seen him do next was as I thought a little crazy, at that moment he let the line go by releasing it from his hands and the line started feeding out the back of the boat but keep in mind a lot of the line is still on a spool sitting between his feet and then he picked up the line again and set the hook one more time. All that I could think about was what was he thinking or was he crazy or what but when he finally landed the fish I was so surprised for not only was it a nice sized barracuda but also a nice sized jack as well, WOW. One of the big fish cut the bait in two pieces and was caught on one of the hooks and the other fish was caught on the second hook so all I could think about was Hany's mastery at dealing with this situation and how did he know what the outcome was going to be, he just chuckled and grinned from ear to ear at his good luck but I knew he was surprised as well, you could tell by his excitement. It was time that we headed back to the lodge and both of us felt thoroughly satisfied of the days events and we didnít care what the other professionals caught even if their luck was changed because I wasnít in their boat. Hany told me to not make a scene when we arrive and to go about our usual daily activities until we know what the score is and so I took his advise and believe me when I say it was killing me to not scream out at the top of my lungs and say to the others, well itís not me that caused all of your bad luck so quit believing in such nonsense and superstition and this Florida fisherman does no how to fish anywhere, anyplace and anytime even in the Red Sea but I didnít. I kept my composure and the local skipper carried all of our fish back to the patio and laid them down on the floor beside the other fishermenís catches and surprise surprise surprise they caught the same as all the rest of their past days fishing which were small and few and our smallest fish could have eaten their biggest fish as an appetizer. The look of total surprise on their face told the hole story and it redeemed me as well and I felt like I was 10 ft tall, Their jaws dropped to the floor in disbelief and they started questioning the fact that maybe we bought our fish from somewhere but (ha ha) where in the middle of nowhere. The trip ended with the wind blowing to hard for us to go out the last 2 days so we packed it in and the score was settled, I was the champion of the trip and you know they have never to this day questioned my abilities and from time to time they even have asked for my opinion as well, so please tell me my fishing friends was it Divine Intervention or just plain dumb luck, you judge it for yourself. I hope you enjoy these true tales, from your fishing friend, Darrel


Email: badman@badmanstropicalfish.com