I learned a few valuable lessons this summer, none of which relate to fishing: do not take your health for granted, value time with family and friends as much as you can, and don’t take a concussion lightly, no mater how mild. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT resume normal strenuous activities until the headaches and pressure subside or things could go from bad to worse.
In late June, I whacked my head hard while cleaning my boat on the trolling motor keel. I had no pain the rest of the evening. The next day I had mild head aches and a strained/pressure feeling which I figured was to be expected, but nothing that would make me consider slowing down my activities. I toughed it out and jumped right back into scouting out new fishing spots the next day and a charter two days later, all the while pushing through the pain and mild vision strain. That is when things turned and my mild symptoms blew up into a major problem.
I have a new found understanding and respect for those struggling with brain injuries and post concussion symptoms. For most of July and August, I dealt with a lack of energy, headaches, strain/pressure, blurred vision, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, light and sound sensitivity, a lack of balance and nausea. The worst of my symptoms were the first three weeks and I was pretty much resigned to bed rest. Just as I felt I was turning a corner, my symptoms relapsed and in a way became worse, especially from a mental stand point.
The hard part about a brain injury is that you can not just shut down and rest your brain. If you break your ankle, you can stay off of it for 4-6 weeks and completely immobilize it. Not the brain. There is no “shut off” button. Every time you look, hear, think, and in my case, worry, the brain is working and all this can slow recovery, especially the stress. Recovering from a brain injury is as much mental and emotional as physical. I dealt with thinking I would never feel normal again, sleepless nights, doubt, anger and depression.
I spent a lot of time in a quiet dark room the two first weeks in bed, not able to watch TV or read or do much of anything. The only thing that got me through the low times was a lot of cold showers, praying, especially the rosary, the encouragement of my wife, prayers from family and friends, and reports and pictures from my fishing buddies.
The good news is now that summer is over I feel back to full strength and have returned to my charters with the help of my first mate Brandon. The fish got a summer vacation from me, but now it is time for Fish On, and I am looking forward to making up for lost time.
After two months of being on the shelf it didn’t take long to dial it back in. On my first trip out late in August, the redfish cooperated nicely feeding on cut bait near intra coastal spoil islands on flood high tide. This bite should continue well into September. I find that cut bait is often a go to bait in the hot summer months, working not just for reds but trout and snook as well. The fish get a bit sluggish in late summer from the high water temp and opt for the fresh cut bait rather than chasing down frisky live bait. Cut bait is also kayak friendly for obvious reasons with limited live well space. My favorite cut bait by far is ladyfish. There was a time when I scoffed at hooking up with the lady, but now I spend time looking for ladies because it is fun action and I can easily turn a lady into a good redfish bite. Cut whitebait, pinfish and grunts also work well.
Snook are beginning to transition from summer patterns, but there will still be plenty around working the beaches and passes before they start pushing to the back waters with our first cold front which usually passes our area late September.
The beaches are exploding right now with bait and the mackerel, ladyfish, and jacks are staging up on the shoreline and the near shore reefs. These reefs are also holding good numbers of grunts, flounders, redfish, grouper, cobia, sharks, and even tarpon as they make there way back from off shore spawning to gorge on white bait pods. As water starts to cool, i will be breaking out my stinger rigs for one of my favorite species, kingfish.
Hear are a few of the the pic of reds from my first charter back in late august with Shandy and Melissa!