I'd like to wish my brother, Rob Chapman IV, a happy birthday today. Many people know him as the artist behind a collection of shirts featuring various fish around the Sunshine Skyway, or as the designer of many years of Crosthwait, DeSoto and other fishing tournament logos.
Long before he was the "Fishartguy", he was doing everything he could to avoid fishing with me. I was probably an annoying little brother who always needed help rigging or baiting, perhaps getting in his way a time or two.
Now, the times have changed.
He currently lives a few hours north of Bradenton. When he's in town, he's always trying to get with me to take him fishing. I usually oblige, and if I can't, he's made enough connections through Outdoors360 -- the outdoors website he has become the face of -- to get on a boat.
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His recent trip home brought him into town for two days of fishing. I was with him on day one, but on day two, he ventured offshore with Capt. Jason Stock. They found themselves about 7 miles out, catching kingfish, mackerel, grouper and snapper, when Capt. Stock probably got a few crazy looks.
"He grabbed a whole bonito and put a 27/0 Mustad through it," Chapman IV said. "That was connected to a steel leader and rope that was tied off to a cleat."
40-feet below was a wreck that many goliath grouper have made home. Stock loves to go one on one in what could be considered combat fishing.
"Jason's got it down to a science," Chapman explained. "You can't catch these fish easily on hook and line because they are so massive and there's no stopping a 200-400 pound goliath."
Chapman was ready, but he was going to be restricted to basically one hand.
On day one of the fishing trip, he pulled a 7/0 Mustad through his index finger on his right hand while tying a knot. We were able to pinch the barb and back it through, but the puncture was very tender and his priority was to keep it dry to prevent infection. This would severely limit his grip.
As the bonita sank down, the fight was on, and a massive goliath had no intention of coming to the surface.
"Hand lining was very difficult because the index finger is key to completing the grip. Once it started ripping line, I couldn't fully put the brakes on. Jason was key -- I started slipping because I couldn't get the bandage wet, so I tried to basically do it one handed."
Capt. Stock was there as backup, and helped get the goliath turned. "Straighten you back out and stand right over top of him," Stock can be heard explaining on video. "Get the momentum, get them surged and roll them up."
With Stock's coaching, my brother pulled the 250-or-so-pound goliath to the surface. After a few photos, it was set free return home to the wreck below. "Awesome fight," Chapman said. "Totally different than a rod and reel, gladiator style. That's fun."
To see the video of the battle, head to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IdviRodHu0.
This week's solunar fishing table
This table lists top fishing times and days for the coming weeks. For best results, begin fishing one hour before and continue one hour after the times given.
Sunday 8:05 a 8:25 p
Monday 8:50 a 9:10 p
Tuesday 9:30 a 9:55 p
Wednesday 10:20 a 10:45 p
Thursday 11:10 a 11:35 p
Friday Noon 12:25 a
Saturday 12:50 p 1:20 a
12/13 1:45 p 2:15 a
12/14 2:40 p 3:05 a
12/15 3:30 p 3:55 a
12/16 4:20 p 4:50 a
12/17 5:15 p 5:40 a
12/18 6:05 p 6:35 a
12/19 7:00 p 7:25 a
12/20 7:50 p 8:20 a
-- Source: U.S. Naval Observatory data