Three days, eight species of fish, multiple shark attacks and one (perhaps) world angling record. How a Canadian got his fishing groove back
On my third and final day in Key West, I head out on a beautifully rigged 31-foot Mako belonging to Columbia Sportswear pro staffer George Poveromo (above). A Florida legend and host of the nationally televised George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing, he’s taking us for mutton snappers at a reef area known as the Dry Rocks.
Under grey skies, we anchor in 80 feet, and set out bottom rigs consisting of a three-way swivel with a 15-foot leader and a 7/0 circle hook baited with a six-inch long live pinfish, and a heavy weight. Averaging 15 pounds, mutton snappers are big and strong, so we’re using rods as thick as broomsticks. We immediately have a few takes, but can’t convert.
Meanwhile, Poveromo also tethers a frozen block of chum to the stern, where the eight-knot current creates a chum line. He gives me a medium-weight outfit and shows me how to “flatline.” Using a 1/0 circle hook, a credit card-sized slice of dead bait and no weight, I just open the bail on the spinning reel and let line out in a controlled drift through the chum slick. With about 100 feet of line out, I feel a small bump, start reeling, and the circle hook does its work. It’s a 20-inch yellowtail snapper—trophy size for this species—and a nice fight on the light gear. I decide I like flatlining.
More excitement ensues when Poveromo spots a nice dorado cruising near the boat. He grabs a spare mutton rod, tosses the bait right on the fish’s snout, and it takes. George passes the rod to Tonkin, and after a short, frantic, battle she gets it to the side of the boat where Poveromo gaffs it beautifully, like a viper striking a mouse.