More youths needed to join 'rat' race
By RICK FRAZIER
Published May 4, 2007
As a young boy I spent every waking moment when I wasn't at school fishing, or watching people fish, at the old Gulfport pier. It was a place where we could hang out, be a kid, and our parents didn't worry about us.
It was clean fun. Well, maybe not so clean when it came time to gut a fish for bait, but the idea of doing our own thing without our parents around was cool. We were labeled "pier rats" because we were always there running around and doing crazy stuff.
Now, according to the 6 o'clock news, all you hear about kids today is how they sit in front of the computer and TV, playing video games instead of getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors. This is upsetting - but there is hope.
When I accidentally ran into 16-year-old Kyle Martin of Wesley Chapel, he was in the heat of battle with a huge grouper that he hooked off the north Skyway fishing pier. A large group had gathered to watch him fight the big grouper. It was a sight to see. Some bystanders suggested all sorts of ideas to bring the fish over the rails. Finally, one of his buddies held his rod while he borrowed a circle-hoop landing net.
Martin is a "rat" himself. Hallelujah! I thought they were extinct. When Martin isn't attending Wharton High in Tampa, he can be found at the Skyway piers fishing.
When Martin gets to the piers, he's always toting his beloved fishing rod. Now, this is no ordinary fishing rod. Martin is serious, and serious fisherman use serious equipment. Martin uses a 555 Harrington rod. These fiberglass rods are coveted, and anglers who have them would rather give up their right arm than give up their Harrington.
Sitting on his Harrington is a massive, paint-can-sized, Daiwa 900 conventional reel that is bolted to the reel seat so it can't come off. Martin has the Daiwa loaded with straight 200-pound monofilament line. According to Martin, he uses the 200 because if a fish wraps around one of the pier pilings, he can just pull it right around.
For a hook, he chooses a 12/0 straight J-hook. And to keep the bait on the bottom Martin uses about a pound of lead, which will definitely keep it in place even when the tide is running strong.
Hopefully, there will be more Kyle Martins in the near future. It would be a sad not to see these rats on our piers.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376. If you've had a great day fishing from land, contact the lubberline at (727) 893-8775 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.