I had a few hours to kill in Daytona yesterday after dropping Nancy off at a bridge Tournament. Plan was to get my AAA Triptik for the upcoming Jersey trip, get the Sprint phone software update installed, and then find the Library. Somehow the path I took led me by an old, dilapidated tackle shop in a rather seedy stretch of Beach St. Way north, between the main street and Seabreeze bridges. Wooden building, at least 50 years old, with no windows, painted a standout blue and called the â€œfishin holeâ€. A large Mako shark model was hung outside so I knew it was authentic. It hooked me (no pun intended). I’ve been wanting a surf outfit for quite a while now and just hadn’t pulled the trigger, mainly because I am at the beach so seldom and hadn’t really decided whether to get a modestly priced (aka cheap) outfit for tossing sandfleas, probably a spinning outfit, or something to cast lures, seriously. The latter means bigger bucks of course. Honestly, I never even picked up a spinning outfit and went straight to the bait casting reels. I spent a minute or two on a $60 Shimano, ok 30 seconds, and went for something just a bit more. Tried the Calcutta 400 – very nice but the $200+ was a bit more than I intended. As luck would have it, he also had last year’s discontinued model at a modest $170. We quickly found a 10 1/2′ graphite companion rod, loaded it with the best line around, something called PowerPro, a few hooks, weights, and a sand spike. I whipped out the AMX, added enough miles for a round trip ticket somewhere, and was back in the car in a heartbeat. I needed out of there before the reality of the cost sunk in. I think in retrospect what was driving me was all the trip planning. We’re going the whole way up the coast including the outer banks of North Carolina, renown as the surf fishing capital of the galaxy – think Ocracoke, think Nags Head. It would be sacrilegious to visit those hallowed beaches without making a cast and maybe even more so, to use some cheap, WalMart kind of spinning gear. I’m thinking maybe they even do a car search before you get on the banks to make sure you aren’t bringing any junk onto the island. Can you imagine the embarrassment being asked to leave or have your stuff confiscated? And further along the trip, while Nancy is pulling at a slot machine in a Trump Casino, I’ll be within minutes of Barnegate Bay and the September run of Stripers. I’m positive all of this was working on my subconscious as I was locking in on the Shimano.
I opened the reel up last night to set all the brake stops in preparation for the big launch first thing in the morning. I slept fretfully while it rained hard on and off all night. Would I have to go out in the storm to cast? A Ben Franklin moment? Putting it off until it cleared was out of the question. Hell that could be hours, maybe even a day. So first thing this morning, clear skies, I put it all together a large, 3/4 oz jig head with a 6â€ rubber skirt and headed for the proving grounds, aka dock. Was I up to it? I hadn’t handled an outfit of this size in 30+ years and never one of this quality. Should the first cast be a wimpy trial, get the feel of it, or lay back hard and let it rip. I was by myself so the thought of the worlds most gigantic birdsnest was mentally manageable. I’m going for it. That baby soared out at least 200′, I think nearly halfway across the lake, in a perfect, unblemished arc. I cast about 10 times with no backlash or even close call, laying that beauty out at least 200′ each time. What a fine machine!!! The surf god will be pleased.