Gators and Spec Angels

GO GATORS – chomp chomp. Great game. I was concerned during the first half but convinced very early in the second that Fla had things under control. Very impressive defense. Not sure but I think Fla was the only team this year to beat 2 teams that were ranked #1 in the nation when Florida played them. That’s an important distinction – if you beat a team that at some time in the season was ranked #1 but was ranked lower when you played them, that’s not the same as beating the number one team in the nation. Florida did that twice. And it seemed strange to me that in both of those games Florida was favored to win even though they were ranked lower. What’s that all about? I’ve read that Texas, USC, and Utah all think they should be #1. Question – during the regular season, did any of these teams beat a team that was ranked higher than them at the time they played them? I know they beat teams that were ranked in the top 20 at the time they beat them but not sure about the relative rankings. And bringing in the lawyers? Come on Utah, get over it. Yes, you had a 13-0 season, congrats. So did Seminole High, congrats to them. They were the 6A state champs. There was also a 5A champ, a 4A champ etc. and no, they didn’t play each other for a grand championship. Probably the 5A champs could beat many 6A teams and even a 1A school could come up with a team that would beat the 6A teams but year in and year out, the classifications are made to keep overall balance in games. I happen to think Utah would do well in the Pac-10 conference where year in and year out they would be up against UCLA, USC etc. Strength of schedule does matter.

And how did Tebow compare to Bradford. Looked to me like Bradford was a better passer but Tebow was a better quarterback. No doubt in my mind he played the second half in a commanding fashion and made all the difference. Not much in the first half but Tebow came out smokin’ after the break. So is the Heisman for the most accurate, most effective passer or for the best overall player? Game – Tebow.

What about my Gator undershorts? Should I wear them full time until there’s a new National Champion or should I retire this pair, frame them, and hang them on the wall in a prominent position? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
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I had a great flashback the other day when fishing for spec’s. Took me back almost 40 years and I could remember every detail vividly. I’ve probably fished for spec’s a jillion times but this one trip is the only one I can recall with so much color.

My friend, Luke Manies, and I decided to try Fairy Lake in Longwood. At that time Fairy lake was behind an ABC liquor store on 17/92 and was barely visible from the highway. There were no homes on the lake and only a narrow dirt road around the back side to launch a car top boat. We had never fished it before but had heard rumors that it was a good spec lake. I had a 10′ aluminum jonboat that I cartopped to get to those hard to get to places. As I recall it was a Sears. A boat that size has about a 500 lb weight limit and when loaded like that, you have maybe a couple of inches freeboard. Any movement that rocks the boat risks taking on water. Luke wanted to bring his son Paul, which was fine with me. Paul was probably 8-10 at the time with a slight build. Between the three of us, we probably weighed 400 pounds and a battery and electric trolling motor got us close to the weight limit. But the lake was totally still and we felt ok about it. It was super cold that morning, so probably January or February, the peak of spec season. We decided that if we didn’t catch some fish fairly quickly, we would hang it up and try again when it was warmer.

We had half a dozen bamboo cane poles and a bucket of minnows. We set out all the rods and then drifted slowly around the lake hoping to find a nice school of fish. We lucked on the mother of all schools and instantly all 6 poles dipped. We had discussed how we would deal with this to make sure Paul wouldn’t over react and flip the boat. He didn’t and we started hauling in fish. Paul wanted to be in charge of the stringer and it became pretty much a full time job. I’m not sure how many fish we had but the stringer was filling which meant we had nearly 50 fish. Luke caught another nice one and handed it to Paul to string. Paul got this look of horror on his face and started to cry. The stringer was gone. Luckily, I was sitting between Luke and Paul so he couldn’t reach him and also had the presence of mind not to try to stand up or make a lunge. Either of those would have dumped us. I thanked Paul and said that I had been dreading having to clean so many fish and started laughing. That cut the moment and we all started laughing about it. As I recall we had enough minnows left to catch another dozen or so and call it a day.

What brought it all to mind was that I had a nice stringer of spec’s yesterday and thought I had secured them fairly well. All of a sudden they jerked and the stringer started heading over the side. Luckily the metal end of the stringer got hung up on something in the boat and I was able to get to it before it went over. The whole story about Paul came flooding into my head. Paul passed away some years back so he’s my spec angel and we both got another good laugh out of it. While I’m on specs, I’m tuning up my spec gear. Not that I’m having trouble catching them but the tackle I’m using is not properly matched for the task at hand. They’re set up more for bass than spec’s. That boils down to the line being too heavy to effectively cast the tiny lures the spec’s are gobbling – 1/16 oz. On all my major tackle, I’ve switched over to Power Pro, a carbon filament braided line and I love it. Small diameter, limp, no stretch, and strong. But expensive. Too expensive for spec’s. I had planned to respool my light spinning rods with maybe 6# test Stren or trilene monofilament but there was no such stuff at my local Wal Mart. What caught my eye was a line called Cajun Red. I had seen it advertised and a couple guys I know swear by it. It was also on sale – 300 yds of 8# test for $4.37. That’s very cheap for line of that quality. In addition to being super limp and with quite a small diameter, it’s bright red which supposedly makes it invisible beneath 3′ of water. So I picked it up and loaded it onto 2 light outfits. I tested both as far as castability and found them to be vastly improved relative to the 10# Trilene I had been using. As soon as the wind lays down, I’ll enter the exhaustive fishing test phase.

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