Mechanical Misadventures

Updated: Dec 1, 2018

Anyone that fishes with me knows I’m a stickler when it comes to detail. Knots, flies, casting, and poling, I really put a lot of effort in to make sure I am as successful as possible on the water. This also applies to my boat. I have a 25hp Etec on the back of my little skiff, it’s got under 200 hours on it and I keep it serviced and well maintained. I always run ethanol free gas in it, and wash and flush the motor religiously after every use. All that being said, here’s how my day went.

It was a Wednesday morning, and my good friend Lucas had planned to drive over and fish with me on my boat. The targeted species for the day was Redfish and the weather man was calling for very light winds out of the west. Coming over the causeway that morning however I quickly realized that the weather man once again was dead wrong. The wind was blowing from the North East at about 12-15 mph. Not good. Uttering a few expletives under my breath I pulled into the boat ramp. Lucas met up with me and we launched the boat. We deliberated for a bit on what to do with the wind, and decided to run south instead of north to try and hide from the wind a bit. The motor fired up on the first pull (it’s a manual start) and we idled out past the resume normal operation sign, and I opened the throttle up and we ran about a mile south. My boat will run just under 30 mph wide open throttle, and it ran flawlessly. We got to the slow speed sign, and idled onto the flat. Normally I’ll grab the push pole first but Lucas offered and well hey, don’t tempt me with a good time! I grabbed my Echo Bad Ass Glass 6wt and made a few casts just getting my line stripped off of the reel and ready to go. Almost as soon as we got into the shoreline I spotted a Redfish creeping up along the shoreline. When I say along the shoreline I mean this fish was about 3 feet away from the edge. If it was any closer to the edge it would have been half way dry. I made a cast, throwing a small purple and black fly with medium bead chain eyes. The fly landed ahead of the edge that the fish was working down, by about 10 feet. The fly actually landed in the short grass right at the waters edge. The fish got closer and I began to slowly strip the fly towards the fish. All of a sudden I realized the hook was caught in the grass and was stuck. Great. I’m beginning to think it’s over and I’m not going to get this fish. I was wrong. Somehow the fish noticed the fly moving and wiggling in the grass on the edge, now only about 4 feet away. The Red charged and inhaled the fly in a flash, and with some surprise and a little shock a felt the line come tight. My left hand came back to set the hook and the fish took off. Glass rods and fun to cast, very slow and you can feel the rod loading. Fighting a fish on glass rod is a whole new level of fun though, especially a 24” Redfish on a 6wt. Even the butt section of the rod was bending and the rod was in the proverbial “U” shape. First fish, first cast at a fish, crazy cool eat and a solid one at that, my morning was off to a fantastic start. I landed the fish, got a few pics and sent it on it’s way. Lucas got on the bow and I climbed onto the poling platform. I pushed him around for a little while but there weren’t too many fish around and we decided to make a run north. I pushed us off of the flat and trimmed the motor down. She fired up on the first pull and I idled out to the channel. At this point the sun was out and the wind had laid down making for a beautiful morning. A quick twist of the throttle to open up the carburetor and we were flying across the water. After traveling maybe 200 yards however, the motor lost rpms and dropped to a rough idle, even though the throttle position was the same. Not good. No alarms sounded, and the motor seemed to be peeing perfectly so no overheating issues. I throttle down and back up but it won’t go any faster than idle speed. Then it just died. I know a good bit about small engines and I ran through the possible culprits. First, I checked the primer and squeezed it a few times. I started the motor up and it ran for a second but stalled as soon as I put it in gear. I pretty quickly realized it wasn’t lacking for fuel. Next I checked the oil, plenty in there, that shouldn’t be the problem. Lucas suggested that maybe it was bad gas, but that didn’t make much sense to me as I’ve always run ethanol free but maybe I got a bad batch. I played with it for a while and was getting no where. Finally, after fiddling around with it for a half an hour I got it started and was able to get it to run at a fast idle. I’m not even sure what I did but I decided to just idle up to the flat we wanted to fish. A 5 minute run turned into a 20 minute idle but we got there. We realized we might have to pole the boat back to the ramp if the motor gave us more issues but hey, it was nice out and we had all day. Almost as soon as I stood up on the poling platform we started seeing fish. A few nice reds and quite a few black drum. Lucas was throwing a small shrimp pattern, and after a few rejections I handed him a small purple and black rattle fly with large bead chain eyes. He tied it on and we slowly crept towards the end of a dock. I saw a Redfish slowly creeping towards us out from under the dock, “Redfish! 9:00” Lucas saw the fish right at the same time. He put the fly ahead of the fish and twitched it across the sand. That redfish definitely heard the rattle. It visibly went into hunting mode, the fins all flared and it charged the fly. That fish ate and took off and Lucas was all smiles and hell yeas! We got the fish landed a couple minutes later, a solid upper slot. The standard grip n grin really quick and back in the water it went. The sun was up pretty high at this point and the water was very clear. I decided I wanted to throw a more realistic/natural pattern since the fish could see much better now, and I reached for my other 6wt rod. This one had one of my favorite shrimp patterns on it, the blackened shrimp taco. I stepped onto the yeti that I use as a casting platform on my boat, and stripped line off of the reel in preparation to start casting. Once I had everything ready Lucas began pushing us North again. I saw and made a few casts at black drum, and had a few actually track the fly but no takers. We saw a few more fish farther ahead and then I looked to the left and saw a nice redfish about 30 feet away. I was able to get the fly out ahead of the path of the fish, and I stripped it a couple of times to get it right in front of the fish. Before the fly could even sink more than 6 inches the red surged forward and ate the fly. My left hand grabbed the fly line and came backwards hard, solid hookup. The Redfish took off and I enjoyed a couple minutes of fun that anyone that has had a fairly large fish attached to a fly rod will understand. I landed the fish and it was a beautiful 28” fish with some pretty spots. We switched places and had a few shots at fish but Lucas didn’t connect, and he made a couple of fly changes trying to figure out what the right fly would be. He ended up with a small Black and Tan colored fly with small lead eyes he had tied. After what felt like forever (but was only maybe an hour) I spotted and called out a Redfish working down the mangroves coming at us. “Redfish 11:00 right along the mangroves!” Lucas fired a decent cast but it landed a little short, and the fish didn’t see it. He picked up and promptly piled up the line on the next cast. One of the hazards of trying to use a 6wt to turn over heavier flies. At this point the Redfish is almost behind the boat, and Lucas makes that Hail Mary cast and lands the fly close to the fish, it turned as soon as it saw the fly and inhaled it. It’s kind of fun to watch a 23” Redfish when it’s trying to travel away from you, and then it’s head gets yoked totally sideways on a particularly vicious strip strike. Well that fish is hooked good! He fought and landed that fish, and we decided to run back towards the ramp. Fingers crossed, I fired up the motor after poling us off of the flat. She ran like a top now, and we made the two mile run back at about two thirds throttle with zero issues, running at around twenty mph. Once we had passed the causeway we made a decision to check on a snook spot quickly before heading in. I slowed down and then sped back up and the motor went from happy and running to a rough idle again. Since we were close to the spot at this point we just idled to it and we caught a small snook each. Nothing to really write home about though. We headed back to the ramp and three more times the motor stalled from on plane to an idle. Each time though I just returned the throttle to idle and then opened it back up and the boat would take off no problem again. Weird. Anyhow we made it back to the ramp safely and trailered the boat. Not exactly how we had wanted the day to play out but at least we were able to salvage it with a few decent fish. Moral of the story: adapt and overcome! Sometimes even if we do everything right on our end we get dealt a crappy hand. Be it weather and or an engine malfunction, if you can stay safe then just go fishing and grind it out. All in all we had a pretty great day and headed home happy, although slightly dreading having to deal with boat repairs. Hope y’all enjoyed the adventure! -Noah

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