Tuesday, November 30, 2021

How Many Wraps

Adventures of the Saltwater Cowboy

Photo by Mark Dunstan


The sun was high in the Southwest Florida sky on a balmy summer day off Marco Island, Florida. A slight Southwest wind blew across the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula, absorbing the heat of the Gulf Stream along the way. 

The water on the western side of Marco Island was a clear and vibrant turquoise with patches of green from the seagrasses mixed in. The towering condominiums of Caxambas Pass were visible above the tall mangroves that line Cape Romano.

A flock of brown pelicans glided gracefully, slowing to divebomb schools of bait. With reckless abandon, they hit the water with a force that would seemingly rip them apart. Tough birds they were—my favorite bird. They remind me of the Cadillac Allanté. 

The tide had been rushing in, swirling around the jagged metal piles of the Cape Romano Dome Houses. Making calculated drifts, we floated live greenback shiners past the structure. 

“There he is,” Ben, my customer and lifelong friend from North Louisiana, uttered as his hips thrust forward, his arms bowed, pulling against the creature surging on the other end. Rod bent nearly all the way over, the drag buzzed in spasms – “zzz…,” “zzz…, “zzz…,” as the line was stripped from the reel. Music to my ears was the high pitch whine of the braided line as it was being reeled back through the guides of the rod. 

A wide bucket mouth burst through the water from just outside the corner piling of the last Dome House. Followed by an expanse of silver and black sinew, the snook danced across the surface. All of a sudden… “Pop!” Ben and I exchanged a look—that look of mutual disbelief. Then, from the aft deck came a volley of obscenities, his fish was gone.

Ben reeled in the line. Sure enough, a little squiggly—a tell-tale sign of a compromised knot, solidifying operator error. Those of you among the community of avid to expert light tackle anglers along the Gulf Rim understand.

“How many wraps did you use on that loop knot?” I asked, already aware that his answer, if honest, would be less than it should have been. 

“Just one, same as always. Usually, it’s not a problem.” Ben was still looking at the “little squiggly” in disgust. 

“It’s got to be at least three wraps on the loop knot, man—not two, not three… maybe even four. One may be enough for those three-pound basses in North Louisiana, but not for a big snook. That was the last greenback, Amigo,” I said, pulling on a long cord, lifting the trolling motor out of the water. It folded down nicely; the pin “clicked” as it snapped into the base. 

The boat was drifting dangerously close to the jagged and rusty metal beams of the Dome House. I hurried down the gunnel and plopped down on the bench seat. Without a moment to spare, I cranked the motor and punched the throttle. The little skiff danced across the still water, heading due north towards Caxambas Pass.

Jon Edward Edwards is a local author and avid sportsman.



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