Georgia-Florida Fishing Report - Fishing Tips, Trips, Tricks and Techniques
The Battle of Crab Ball Bay
Written by:  Terry E. Richardson
Some of the greatest battles in history take place in remote locations with only a few witnesses. They usually involve people who have never been heard of until after the battle is over. Only then will they find themselves thrust into the fame of heroism. They never ask for it and usually have a hard time when the fame comes their way. They always attempt to shine the light of fame onto their brother in arms. But the truth always seems to come out and these unlikely heroes are showered with the recognition they deserve.
The Battle of Crab Ball Bay was no exception. It took place in a place few have ever heard of. Far removed from the big cities and the lime light it started with little fan fare and an unsuspecting crew aboard the ‘Real Believer’. The ‘Real Believer’ was a vessel of little fame just like her captain. The crew was just as common as their captain, made up mostly of land locked farmers was led by some unknown force to attempt to tame the forces of the open sea. It was a classic makeup for a hero to be born from. As it always is the captain and his crew started out with meager expectations. Not desiring to do great deeds or even get recognition for their actions. As a matter of fact they desired to ‘fly below the radar’ so to speak. Not wanting to draw attention to themselves especially from the local Marine Patrols! There seems to always be a problem in becoming a hero once one has been cited for numerous violations of fish and game regulations!
The day started innocently enough. The captain and crew loaded their gear and loaded their gear and loaded their gear. One way to tell if a captain really knows what he is doing is by how much stuff he attempts to put on his boat. I mean who would dare to strike out on a boat without 5 extra poles for each person, enough tackle to choke a goat, enough food to survive a 5 year island stranding and 300 pounds of tools including everything from hacksaws to roto-rooters! Once all the necessary gear and the unnecessary gear was all loaded onto the ‘Real Believer’ and all were confident that she would not sink under the load the voyage began. 

The seasoned captain steered a course for what he had calculated to be rich fishing grounds that could only be reached by navigating a series of narrow tidal creeks and strong currents. And after grounding the boat on multiple occasions and demanding the crew disembark to pull the ship from the mud flats that he said were not shown on the map they reached the entrance to ‘Crab Ball Bay’. That is when things began to look up! As the captain steered the ‘Real Believer’ into the incoming tide the crew noticed that there were hundreds of large fish going with the current evidently to rendezvous and feast on hordes of bait fish a little further upstream!
The crew immediately jumped into action under the orders of their seasoned captain. The captain had seen this scene before. Fish everywhere just waiting for a lure to be tossed in front of them. It would be like taking candy from a baby. He just hoped his crew was up to the task. After all they were not all they seemed to be. Even though they were eager their experience in these situations was limited. The only feeding frenzy they had seen was when the ‘Ancient One’ had fed the catfish in the baskets back home on the farm. Take for instance ‘Shorty’ his small statue was only surpassed by his constant shivering and complaining of being cold. Then there was ‘Flapper’, it is believed his parents named him after seeing his ears flapping uncontrollably as he sat in the back seat of the car with the window down on the way home from the hospital. There was also ‘The Ancient One’. For obvious reasons he was given this name. But with white hair comes wisdom and experience. His experience is not necessarily in the technical side of fishing. It is more along the lines of funding! This crew may have been slow but they realized the need for a crew member that understood the true meaning of ‘being GREEN’!
So it was on! The crew was quick to follow the captain’s orders. He had positively identified the fish as tarpon. That was the first indication that something must be wrong because it was the wrong time of year for tarpon to be in Crab Ball Bay. As a matter of fact there was probably not a tarpon within 300 miles of Crab Ball Bay. The next red flag was the fact the captain had never seen a tarpon in his life! But the warning signs were ignored and the ‘Real Believer’ crew pushed forward.
As they approached the first fish ‘Shorty’ stood at the ready to take his turn to cast to the trophy tarpon. But after several casts that resulted in nothing the frustrated captain removed Shorty from the lead and inserted Flapper with a second type lure for another attempt at the hook up of a life time.
The entire crew had already begun to conger up the stories they would tell of this epic battle. They could already hear the congratulations from the jealous farmers left behind back in Rutledge. They would definitely be the talk of the town for years to come. They discussed plans for a great tarpon fish fry that would feed the entire city upon of their victorious return.
But after several failed attempts to draw a strike the captain, over come with frustration at that obvious lack of necessary skills on the part of Flapper bypassed The Ancient One and grabbed a rod himself. The crew stood back in awe. It wasn’t often they had the privilege to see their beloved captain in action. To actually get to experience a living legend performing at the highest level was almost unheard of. Shorty was given control of the ‘Real Believer’ as the captain moved to the bow with his choice of baits. The crew instantly realized their mistake in choosing lures of lesser stature stood back and waited for the great battle to take place.
And take place it did. The captain had realized he was under a lot of pressure to perform at a high level in front of his crew and was prepared to do whatever necessary to impress his inexperienced bunch. In other words he had made a tactical decision to ‘snatch hook’ the great fish. A maneuver he would later regret. But on the first cast he did just that! As the boat approached the target he made his cast just upstream of the tarpon. And then at just the right moment he snatched with all of his might! To the innocent bystander it looked like he was setting the hook on a massive strike. But in reality he had indeed snatched at just the right moment. As soon as the ‘strike’ happened Shorty cut the engine. The drag began to scream as the fish lit out for parts unknown. With all the skill he could muster the captain fought the great fish. But in a few moments he realized he was losing the battle. If things kept going like things were going he would soon be ‘spooled’ and their prize would be free. “Start the engine Shorty” he yelled “we are going to have to chase this joker”! Shorty, who was no stranger to being told what to do by the captain, immediately did as ordered and started toward the tarpon. With that maneuver it looked as if the wise ol’ captain had turned the tide of battle.
As he gained line on the great beast he took the opportunity to give his crew a few pointers. “You may have noticed that it only took one cast to entice the fish to ‘bite’” bragged the captain.  He further explained “It was a combination of lure selection and bait presentation”. As he continued to shower them with his vast knowledge of how it should be done he began to really gain on the great fish which was evidently close to exhaustion. Once again Shorty cut the engine when he came close to the fish. But he had gotten too close and the fish spooked and was off to the races again. This time Shorty did not have to be told to take up the chase. And this time the fish tired quicker. But every time they got close the ornery prey took off as soon as Shorty would cut the engine again.
After several attempts to wear the fish down Shorty began to notice something funny was going on. With the tide at its incoming peek the current was moving at a rate that was a lot like a running fish. And every time they cut the engine is when the fish took off. Could the current be carrying the boat away from a snag and not a fish! Shorty was now convinced that his great captain was hung on some immovable object. But he was hesitant of bringing it up in fearing the captain’s wrath at being showed up. But given the circumstances he had no choice he said “I think you’re hung captain”. All eyes turned to the captain who was still locked into a life and death struggle with the ‘fish’. But ignoring Shorty’s comment he just yelled out again how the fish was going to spool him if Shorty did not renew the chase. As the crew held their breath the light began to come on in the captain’s mind. Each time the fish ran the motor was off and the boat was drifting at an alarming rate. When they stopped drifting the fish stopped running? The sick feeling began to creep into the captain’s stomach. Could it be possible that he had indeed been fighting a snag for 30 minutes? What kind of snag could be out in the middle of the bay? What about all of the other fish that still were out there swimming upstream? He then gave the order to leave the engine engaged and approach as far as they could to the ‘fish’. When they arrived at the point of connection it became obvious there was no fish involved in this situation at all. Rather it became apparent that the great captain had been fighting the rope of a crab trap that was attached to the ‘Crab Ball’ to mark the trap. As the crew looked out across Crab Ball Bay it became evident how this body of water received its name. Hundreds of ‘crab balls’ were being pulled against the tide. To the novice eye it looked a little like some kind of fish swimming upstream.
At first the captain thought he might convince his crew that at some time in the battle the lure had lost its grip on the fish and become entangled in the rope of the crab ball. Or maybe the wise tarpon had spied the rope and made a bee line for it to purposefully entangle his enemy on one of his many long runs while the engine was disengaged. But his crew of quick learners began to try to hide their delight at discovering that their dear captain had been locked into mortal combat with a crab trap for the past 45 minutes.
The battle had ended and the hero was not a man at all. The hero that had been born that day in the ‘Battle of Crab Ball Bay’ was just a simple crab trap!
Per their normal practice they performed the ‘catch and release’ method on the crab trap. It looked to be in pretty good shape despite the long battle with the captain. Then as I turned to face my crew I said “you better not tell a soul”!
I had been fooled by the appearance of the ‘Crab Ball’ being pulled by the current. In my excitement to catch a big fish I had let my emotions run ahead of what I knew to be true and that fogged my judgment. What I thought was a good thing was in fact not even true.
We must be careful to compare what we perceive as truth to what to what the Bible says is truth. The Bible has a lot to say about truth. The Bible is the source of God’s Truth! When Jesus prayed in John 17 He acknowledged that God’s Word is true. John 17:17 (NASB77)
"Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.  Psalms 119 is a Psalm that tells us about the truth of God’s Word!
We live in a world that masquerades untruth for truth. It is impossible to tell the difference unless we know what truth really is! In John 14:6 Jesus says He is the truth!  John 14:6 (NASB77)
Jesus * said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me
. If we will trust in Jesus and His Word we will always be on the path to knowing God’s truth!


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