I love baseball. It's very similar to fishing with the moments of excitement surrounded by plenty of downtime. This leaves creative time for pranks and goofing around. Perhaps one of the best moments is when a player hits his first career home run, and his teammates in the dugout seemingly ignore him before all coming together in celebration. Harmless and hilarious.
For John Scovanner, it was a unique circumstance that allowed him to play the ultimate baseball-like prank while he was fishing with friend Taylor Chadsey III. Scovanner landed his first-ever sailfish about 12 miles offshore, and Chadsey wouldn't find out about it until they returned home, prompting him to ask, "When did this happen?"
Their plan for the day was to do a little diving for hogfish and grouper while fishing the surface for kingfish and mackerel. On their second spot, Chadsey set to the bottom for his turn to shoot. With not much else going, Scovanner free lined a shiner behind the boat to avoid any diving conflicts.
"The first cast the line was cut, so we were thinking there were kingfish," he said. "I rerigged with wire leader and a long shank hook before casting another out.
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"After a few minutes, I started to reel it in and noticed there was something on. I felt a head shake, but the fish didn't run. After a minute, it started jumping and I saw it was a sailfish!"
After a fun fight and many jumps, the small sail was able to be landed on light tackle. After a picture and release, Scovanner put his prank plan into motion. He told everyone on the boat to keep the sailfish catch a secret from Chadsey, who, still diving below, would have no idea what happened.
Chadsey surfaced from the bottom with a full stringer of hogfish and grouper. "Did you guys catch anything?" he asked.
"Not much," Scovanner replied.
After loading the boat with more hogfish, grouper and large kingfish, the group was excited about a great day on the water as they headed home. Not another word was said about the sailfish.
"When we got into cell phone range, I put the picture on Facebook and tagged Taylor because I knew he'd check when we got home," Scovanner said.
And check he did. When they returned to the dock, Chadsey turned on his phone and opened his Facebook app, and a notification was waiting for him.
"I looked at the picture, saw the boat, saw his shirt and everything else," Chadsey said. "I looked at John, put it all together, and said 'When did this happen?' I couldn't believe it. They got me."
Perhaps the most bizarre fact of all is that this is the second time Chadsey has been diving when a sailfish was landed in the Gulf. "The same thing happened during the St. Pete Open," he said. "I was diving when my dad and CJ Wickersham landed a sailfish."