Treasure Coast Sleigh Ride

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Lately, my work has slowed a bit, allowing me the free time to go fishing. And it has been such a blast! Last week, I went on what Scott, one of the founders of Back Water 2 Blue Water fishing club called a “Treasure Coast sleigh ride” – hooking into a large game fish, in this case a nice bonito, while fishing from a kayak. To feel the sheer amount of strength in those fish as they tow me, my kayak, and all my gear around is a true joy.

While it doesn’t require snow, or a steep incline, it does require some mid- to heavy tackle, a kayak, and an early morning launch.

It also requires you to keep moving, as you are actually trolling, though under paddle power, not a motor (at least until I break out my motor setup in the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Floating Lure, Bleeding Red Head, 5 1/4-Inch


Take a 7+ foot long pole, (with a fairly beefy reel) tie on a Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Floating Lure, Bleeding Red Head, 5 1/4-Inch, stick your rod in a holder, and paddle away. If the time and location is right, before you even start to get tired, you’ll have hooked up on a bonito.

A small cousin of the tunas and mackerels, bonito are prized as a food fish…just not here. Bonito flakes are a staple item for many Asian kitchens, and I promise that any of the local fisherman that turn their noses up to eating bonito, have done just that at many Asian restaurants.

Bonito meat has a firm texture and a darkish color with a moderate fat content. The Atlantic bonito is also found in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where it is a popular food fish, eaten grilled, pickled, or baked.

I’ve eaten it, and cooked fresh it isn’t bad. It’s not great, but it IS edible. I grilled mine, and was moderately pleased with its taste. There were no leftovers, if that tells you anything :)

Back to the Sleigh Ride…

Having not gotten the memo on what lures to bring (I know better now), I followed Scott taking pictures and video. To be honest, just watching him was a lot of fun, as he zipped back and forth being hauled around by the fish. I would have been content to just play cameraman all day.

After his third fish, Scott rowed over to me, cut off his lure, and said “OK, your turn.” Grateful for the chance, I tied on, and started paddling. I was not happy at the prospect of having to paddle around just to hook up, and was starting to think that I wish I’d brought my motor along, and BAM! FISH ON! I had paddled less than two minutes, and already had a fish on!

Of course, I still had the only camera available with me, so we missed the opportunity to get any video. The fight lasted almost ten minutes (based on time stamps from pictures before and after “my turn”), though while it was happening, it felt like it was only seconds. Adrenaline and excitement will do that…

Kayak bonito
Please notice the obligatory Mora knife on my vest, stainless of course!

After the fish tired out, Scott paddled over, we transferred the camera (I MUST get a floating tether for the camera!), and took a few pics. Here I am, a very happy camper, after my first Treasure Coast Sleigh Ride.


 As you can see on my face, I was pleased with my catch. It was easily the largest fish I’d caught on my kayak, and I learned quite a bit about what my setup needs to have modified.

I already mentioned a floating tether for my camera. Waterproof does NOT equal floating…A waterproof camera does you no good if it is sitting on the bottom of the ocean.

Another thing I need to modify is the tether on my pliers needs to be long enough to get to anywhere I can reach with my right hand. I landed the fish on my left side, but couldn’t reach the lure with my tied down pliers. I eventually shifted the fish to the other side, but not without a bit of a flashbackfish count to the time I was hooked to a fish that was hooked to my lure.

The final thing is that I just need to go out more. Like anything you want to get good at, practice makes perfect. Scott had a simple, no frills setup, and you can see here how many he caught in the short time we were fishing.

Nothing lasts forever, and as the sun started to heat up, Scott told me that it was over, time to head in. Apparently, the predatory fish move in for an early morning feeding, then move further offshore as the sun gets higher in the sky. I won’t argue with him, as about the time he said the fishing was over, the catching stopped.

But what a fun ride! Here is Scott on one of his passes:




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