April 6, 2006

By | April 6, 2006

The Rescue of George Hamilton
It is my understanding that Mr. Hamilton’s boat drifted off while he was gathering oysters and that there was no one else on board. I came across Mr. Hamilton while on a charter with Miss Judy Charters. The wind the day before was out of the south and strong. I remember pitching a fly was nearly impossible. It was about 8am the wind was much less but the day just beginning. I just pulled the boat off of plan. We were near Turtle Island. Within a few minuets we (Eva, Tina and Bob) thought we some unusual noise. Between the wind and birds it’s hard to say what we hearing. Then we saw a face near the tree line. My charter was worried that we stumbled on a drunk, a criminal or something worse. I wasn’t sure all I knew we had to investigate.

The mud flat was massive. We poled as close to island as could get. It was a man. He was semi coherent and unable to stand for more than a few moments. We could not understand what he saying. One word stood out, water! He was in trouble. Prior to poling the flat we called Miss Judy, Bahia Bleu and the Coast Guard to let folks what our situation was just in case. The tide was ebbing. Direct access to the island was impossible. Each time pushing in we were more likely to get stuck. We pushed in close as possible nearly sticking the boat. Still no Coast Guard. Another phone call, another request for a helicopter. Half an hour later Petty Officer Taylor called. They were in a boat at Whal’s Cut could I lead them in. I did. Their zodiac while a great rescue boat wasn’t the best for the flats. I asked if could off my charter and take one their men to the island. I poled as close I get and the officer made his way to the island. Knowing Mr. Hammond’s request was for water I repeatedly asked he had plenty of water. The reply was yes. After some struggle the officer reached Mr. Hamilton. He yelled back he was badly lacerated and dehydrated and he needed more water. The officer wasn’t able to trudge through the mud. I tried throwing water but to little avail, too much tide had gone out. It looked like a stand still; however, the flats were taking shape. Outline were appearing. I ran the boat up and down the flat. I found a deeper edge relatively close by. I was able to put about 30 feet from the grass, from that position tossing a few waters was no problem. In a short while Mr. Hamilton and the officer were making their to the boat. The shortest distance would have taken them in soft mud. With a little guiding they stayed in the grass and made their way safely to bank. Shortly before Mr. Hamilton would have piled on my boat a Coast Guard jon boat arrived and the transfer was complete.

Just another day not hardly. When I reflect back on this event a couple of things stand out. One was that Mr. Hamilton signaled other boats who either did not see him or would not investigate. Sometimes whether we like it or not we need to slow to ensure our fellow boater is safe. The roles could easily be reversed. Second be observance. It will help your fishing. Who knows we might help someone. Frank Sitera (retired army) says stay in one location. Mr. Hamilton spotted a helicopter combing one side of the island. He moved to that side then the helicopter started combing where he was. Tough call I remember a similar situation while duck hunting we made torches out of the marsh grass and stayed put. Concentrating your efforts on signaling is a better than moving. Last but not least a Coast Guard boating course is a good start to safe boating!

It’s remarkable the old gentleman survive. A testimony to his water skills, God grace and simple good fortune. The lesson I take from this event is that we all need a reminder to slow down. Afterthought, I think Mr. Hamilton was missing for nine days. I think the search had been called off for 3 days. Perhaps this is a fitting report for Easter. Not so much about chasing redfish or kids catching whiting but about hope and faith. Mr. Hamilton’s survival was unlikely. Mr. Hamilton’s will to survive was impressive no doubt there were other forces at work that day. I believe the good Lord chose for his pleasure that intersection of George and Jack and all the parties involved. What was meant for ill was turned to good. Thank God!

Best Wishes and Happy Easter! Capt. Jack McGowan

The Legend of Big Red
You’re probably wondering who or what is Big Red. Big Red is a redfish. Big Red isn’t your ordinary redfish. He’s a redfish with attitude. I came across big red early this week while fishing a mud flat. We were catching some nice redfish mostly 16 inchers, and a few oversized fish. Then big redfish hit! The 20 pound power pro snapped like it was thread! He was definitely the boss fish of the bunch. With an attitude like that it was little wonder that Big Red engulf our shrimp with such relish. With a hook firmly set Big Red was trailing a small red float, hence another reason for his name Big Red.

Over the past week we’ve seen Big Red move up and down the same mud flat. On one occasion when we were fighting a fish Big Red charged out from nowhere. We tried poling to Big Red and grabbing the float with no luck.

There has been lots of speculation on the size of big red. Some say he’s a monster. Other say he’s only a small fish with a monster attitude. I’m not sure all I know is that Big Red refuses to leave his flat and he refuses to be landed. The question is how long will Big Red have carry his scarlet float? When will Big Red become untethered? Big Red appears to be in good shape able to feed and swim. There was talk of offering reward for bringing in Big Red.. Big Red has to be captured and released!

Lessons learned from Big Red

Big Red moves with the current. He is a social fish. He likes the company of other fish. His ability to sense a boat is more acute than most would believe. Big Red is able to feel the pressure of the boat on the water and move away. Big Red’s range is smaller than most would think. His range consists of about the size of a football field in length and no more than 60 feet from the bank. When you’re not seeing or catching fish there are a few possiblities: they aren’t present (the fish have been caught or spooked) or the fish are there and conditions are not favorable for fishing. You need to have confidence in where you’re fishing. If you are waiting on the fish, wait until the water is out of grass before you give on an area. The more fishing pressure any area receives expect the fish to move later tide. Most redfish are caught in 3 foot or less.

News Flash****News Flash****News Flash****News Flash****News Flash****News Flash

Sunday March, 26th after four days Big Red was captured by rod and reel. Contrary to reports Big Red’s appetite did not do him in, an accurate cast did. A cast a nice 40 foot cast approximately 3 feet in front of Big Red snagged the wire on his float and the fight was on! In all the trashing Ryan managed somehow to keep the hook cradled on the wire. Big Red was quickly boated and released. Pictured weren’t taken but Big Red was well beyond keeper size. Big Red was no worse for wear. He was missing a small chuck from the corner of his tail where he had a close call with a porpoise. Otherwise he looked good shape.

After Thought

Lots of people have lots of opinions about redfish. One opinion I’ve heard is that these fish can’t be hurt with rod and reel. The bottom line is even the largest schools can be fished down. Releasing fish can only be of benefit.

My hope and desire is that we have many many Big Reds for years to come and that you have the opportunity to experience quality fishing!

Good Fishing! Capt. Jack McGowan