Georgia-Florida Fishing Report - Fishing Tips, Trips, Tricks and Techniques
Man Overboard:  Told by Terry Richardson
Written by R. Alan Richardson
I once heard a story, true or not, of a man that fell off the back of a boat at night while in motion and no one noticed.  He ended up swimming several miles back to shore and was butt naked when he showed up at a hotel in Daytona Beach, FL.  Not a pretty picture.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be eaten by a shark, taken into Davey’s Locker, and lost forever to the depths than show my hind parts to a bunch of tourists on the beach.  By the way, my fanny won’t fill out a good pair of Levi’s anymore and has fallen to the approximately same fathoms of the ocean.

The story you are about to hear is not out of the Twilight Zone, but a true rendition given to me by my little bro, Terry Richardson.  He’s a Baptist preacher now so I think the good Lord would not allow him to stretch the truth on this one.  Who knows?   I have an entire family that writes about certain outdoor events and I’m not sure if any or all of them are truths, half truths or downright lies.  Case in point, the landing of the great crab trap that Terry wrote, but that’s a story for another day.

I have nightmares of going overboard on a fishing trip.  Thankfully that has never happened as I would probably be pulled up with some unnatural, rather smelly stuff in my trousers that would do nothing more than encourage the crew to throw me back again.  I have seen Captain Pat and Captain Jason jump into the ocean on fishing trips to untangle an anchor rope that was underneath the boat.  Just go ahead and kill me now.  It ain’t gonna happen.  As scrawny as I am, it would take 10 NFL players to throw me off a boat 20 miles offshore.

With all this said, let’s get back to the details of the story.  Several years ago, Terry was fortunate enough to take several folks, including one son who was very young, on their very first saltwater fishing trip. The team was giddy to say the least.  They ventured out of Tybee Island, Georgia to the radio tower about 15 miles offshore in some pretty rough waters.  The day will live on in fishing lore.
As it was told to me, the crew was absolutely killing the Spanish Mackerel that are always prevalent around the tower due to the large schools of bait in the area.  I’ve been there on many occasions and can tell you it is a great place to fish.  We have witnessed schools of these fish covering 1oo's of acres later in the day.  As was usual the barracuda were also there and were at times cutting off (eating) the hooked Spanish before they could reel them in.  When that happens it looks like you took a razor blade to them and all you have remaining is a head that is still moving when they come onboard.
Terry decided to try and hook one of these toothy critters without telling the rest of his gang.  He hooked up a whole Spanish Mackerel on a big rig and tossed it out unbeknownst to them.  When the giant barracuda hit his bait he set the hook and the monster tail walked across the front of the boat right in front of his unknowing friends.  To say the least it scared the bejesus out of them.  It also gave these wide-eyed guests some idea of what kind of beasts might lie beneath them that day.

Earlier I mentioned that it was a pretty rough day.  He really doesn’t know how it happened, but the father of the young boy messed around somehow and lost his balance and was tossed overboard. With a deer in the headlights look of utter fear, they thought this man might become the second man to ever walk on water.  Remember that this is a guy who has never been saltwater fishing a firstimer/rookie, he’s 15 miles offshore, and has just seen a huge 50 pound plus barracuda tail-walk across the front of the boat.  He’s seen the teeth on these bad boys and wants no part of those dentures.

The athleticism of this man, according to Terry, is legendary and cannot be overlooked.  Terry described him as a good 240 pounds and he was determined not to be found as barracuda fodder.  As he was falling, he gracefully (or in horror) grabbed the handrail with one hand and was holding on for dear life.  His lower body was being dragged into the water but he wasn’t going down without a fight after seeing the aforementioned teeth.  The boat was still moving near the radio tower and the crew jumped into action.  Trying to pull this behemoth over the railing was near-nigh impossible, so he did what any man about to die would do.  He improvised!  With all his might he pulled his legs out of the water and clenched his toes around the railing to rival that of a hawk grabbing its prey.  You might ask, why would he do this?  He was arching his back to get his butt out of the water and away from those barracuda he had seen earlier!

So here’s the picture.  You have a grown man screaming like a 5 year old girl and his son screaming, “Please don’t let my Daddy die”.  You have a crew that is laughing so hard that they can’t muster the strength to pull him out.  You have toes and hands that are hanging on for dear life with a death grip.   He finally was able to work himself  to the back of the boat inch by inch and pull himself out of the water using the motor as a ladder.  I guess the moral of this story is that the barracudas lost a big meal that day and his son was glad to still have his Daddy in one piece.

To hear my brother tell this story the first time made me hurt I laughed so hard, but I bet the Man Overboard didn’t think it was that funny!

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