Anglers, do you keep track of your unwanted trash while out for a day on the water?
After my experience last Saturday with a pelican entangled in a braided line, I will be taking extra care in the future to properly dispose of unwanted lines, hooks and other garbage.
The morning was calm and cool as I left early with Capt. Carlos Boothby of Sinbad Charters. We loaded the live well with beautiful bait near the beach in a few throws and were off to target snook, redfish and other inshore species.
With the high tide in around noon, we ventured to the Seven Pines area at the southern end of the mouth of the Manatee River for the incoming water. We slowly worked down the shoreline with a few acrobatic snook and bonnet head sharks making their presence known.
After setting up anchor, Boothby and I heard a commotion coming from the mangroves. Our first thought was snook attacking our free chum offerings under the bushes. Looking closer, it was far from that. The commotion was a pelican that was struggling to move as it was completely wrapped up in fishing line and pinned in the mangroves.
Seeing it struggle, I knew its only hope was being cut free. I hopped into the knee-deep water with pliers to cut the line, a towel to grab his beak, and a Wang Anchor to keep my distance if needed. I had my GoPro recording as well.
When I approached the pelican, it looked to be in good shape like it hadn't been tangled for long. I grabbed his beak with the towel, trying to free him from the line. He was wrapped tightly, obviously aggravated, and I worked to begin cutting the line as quickly as I could.
The pelican was wrapped up in what was probably 100-pound, red-braided line. The line was far too heavy for anyone who properly fishes inshore, leading me to believe the pelican traveled with the line or it floated to the shoreline.
After a few minutes, I was able to get the pelican freed from the mangroves, but I still needed to cut the rest of the line that was wrapped around its body. Luckily, there was no hook involved and only the line. When it was finally free, the bird swam off almost like nothing had happened. I was relieved and felt my good deed was done for the day.
As it turned out, maybe a little good karma helped us out. During my freeing of the pelican, Capt. Boothby hooked up on a snook and a trout doubleheader. We had a hot bite for about 30-minutes on snook, trout and mangrove snapper as well before heading in early to watch football.
I've never had to save wildlife in such a manner, but it really did put into perspective for me just how easily our actions can affect animals. Bring a bucket or can to store your trash until it can properly be disposed of, and situations like this can be avoided.