Georgia-Florida Fishing Report - Fishing Tips, Trips, Tricks and Techniques

Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Family Fishing Circus:
By R. Alan Richardson


I’m sure most of you readers have at some point been to a circus and were left in awe of:  Tight-wire acts, Trapeze artists, Riders standing on horsebacks and flying around, sword swallowers, lion tamers, and much more.  These people are truly gifted athletes who have trained for years to perfect their crafts and it’s hard to believe all that they can accomplish.  I’ve been to a few and it can take your breath away at all the things they can do without getting hurt, maimed, or killed.  I don’t do well with horses, swords, or lions in particular.  Never ridden a horse, never even thought about the merits of sword swallowing, and definitely don’t want to become lion food. Well, we found a new act for Ringling on one of our trips to Tybee Island, GA way back yonder in the good old days.  If they could have seen this performance, they would have hired them on the spot.  It was truly amazing to all of us onboard that day.

This is one story that you won’t believe unless you were there to see it in person.  This actually happened with God as my witness. I’ve been to a goat-killin’, the World’s Fair, pond drainins', and several coaching clinics, but I ain’t never seen anything quite like this.  In the immortal words of Larry Munson, “Get the picture”.  We were fishing about 15 miles offshore near Savannah, GA for Spanish Mackerel in a 20 foot Proline with a 175 HP engine that at times that day I really didn’t feel safe in.  The day was particularly rough, but we were flat catching them.  Solid 3 footers were pounding the boat and it took everything you could muster to stay upright or not get thrown overboard.  As we trolled along we kept hearing another boat approaching in the distance.  It kept getting closer, but we still couldn’t see anyone.  The boat finally approached us but was disappearing into every swell so we really didn’t get a true picture until it came alongside us pretty closely.

Here’s where the circus act started.  The boat was about a 14 foot john boat, yep a john boat, like you might see in a farm pond fishing for bream and the motor sounded somewhat like a sewing machine in the 15 HP range.  Don’t forget we’re 15 miles offshore.  I don’t know how long it took them to get out there, but it had to have been several hours.  The motor was so small that it didn’t even have a steering wheel, but was a tiller style motor.  Inside the boat was an older Vietnamese couple and I’m thinking that they have absolutely lost their minds to be this far out as rough as it is.  We saw the second act when we realized this 60ish looking couple did not have a single fishing rod in the boat.  They were using hand lines.
The final act proceeded when they really started fishing close by us.  It looked like the boat might capsize with every passing swell, but the old man is standing on one of the seats with no life jackets in sight.  I’m wondering what in the world is he doing.  He then proceeds to put one foot on the seat and begins steering this little tiller motor with the other with the balance of a circus performer and is fishing all at the same time with his hand line.  It was an impressive display of athleticism, grace, and courage that would put any circus act to the test.  I mean it’s rough enough to sink the Titanic! 

In the end, they would troll by us every few minutes with multiple fish on their lines and he would throw up his hand on each pass and give us this big old grin like we were a bunch of rookies.  Compared to him, we were.  They definitely caught more fish than our motley crew did that day.  One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen and without a doubt one of the most unique.  Ringling Brothers wasn’t hiring at the time of this writing, but they shoulda been as  this little guy was definitely qualified and would have made a nice addition to their show.
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