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PlayAction Saves The Day
By Capt. Sean Bloomfield

The market is awash with a wide variety of offshore fishing teasers, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one with the optimum appearance, action and durability of the Flock-o-Birds by PlayAction Products. I was recently able to experience this product's superiority on a day trolling in the Gulf Stream off Stuart, Florida.

After an atypical late start, my father and I stormed impatiently out of St. Lucie Inlet in his 31-foot Rampage. As soon as we were just outside the jetties, the depth-finder screen lit up with the telltale signs of bait schools beneath. My first drop with the Sabiki rig was immediately met with resistance, however, the line soon came slack and I pulled up a bait-catcher rig minus its hooks: the Spanish mackerel were thick.

My father and I opted to rely on our cooler full of fresh ballyhoo and we headed out to the deep. I rigged a cache of naked baits as well as several adorned with skirts. The water was calm, even glassy in some places, and I knew it would take more than the average spread to excite any December pelagics.

We let out the lines around an area known as "the Pinnacle," one of my father's favorite places to begin trolling due to its unique conical bottom contour and the vibrant rips that swirl on the surface above it. A daisy chain of plastic squids bounced off the right rigger, and behind it followed an attractive spread of ballyhoo.

So we trolled . . . And trolled . . . And continued to troll until I would have given anything for even one tiny click from a reel drag to wake us up. Both my father and I had taken to lounging in the shade under the hard-top, on the verge of dozing off. I was eyeing the beer cooler and I knew that my father was thinking the same thing. If the ocean wasn't going to produce, at least a cold one might put us at ease.

I got up and lifted the lid of the cooler, peered inside at the dark beer bottles nestled in a cradle of chipped ice. I imagined popping the lid off one of those babies and taking a big, long sip. But as I reached inside, something came over me. The question came into my mind: were we there to catch a buzz, or catch a fish?

The cooler lid slipped from my hands and I turned to the rigging station. Digging through the coils of wire and bags of lures, my hands came across a brand-new PlayAction Flock-o-Birds. I plucked the colorful connection of skimming birds from the tackle locker and showed it to my father; he had forgotten about purchasing the Flock-o-Bird about six weeks before.

I recalled many previous fishing days with my father using another bird-type teaser made by PlayAction; in my memory, all had turned out to be fantastic trips. I remembered the double-header of sailfish that had swatted the birds with their bills before splitting apart and striking both port and starboard outrigger baits simultaneously. I thought about the trip where an entire school of peanut dolphin had followed the birds as if mesmerized by their color and fluttering action. And with dread I reminisced about the mammoth-sized wahoo that had sprung from the inky depths without warning, slicing apart our coveted teaser with its toothy jaws.

This new teaser I discovered in the tackle locker was striking in its color and design. I was hit with renewed excitement as I replaced the squid daisy-chain with the Flock-o-Birds. Immediately I could see a difference in the spread: this teaser sputtered like a school of frantic baitfish across the ocean surface, leaving behind a rippling wake.

The first strike came in less than ten minutes on the flat-line directly behind the new teaser. A short battle resulted in the release of a feisty bonita. Although far from a trophy gamefish, the capture of that bonita gave us some satisfaction that the skunk was indeed out of the boat.

Less than fifteen minutes after that, a dolphin hit the short starboard outrigger bait, the one closest to the new teaser. As the dolphin, a twelve-pounder, came to gaff, we hooked a larger bull on a spinning outfit. The bull subsequently spit the hook, but at least we had one decent fish in the box. Within a minute, we were trolling again.

After one short strike on the shotgun, twenty minutes went by with little sign. As I prepared to change a washed-out ballyhoo, a sudden flash in the propwash caught my eye. I scrambled to the transom and peered into the electric-blue water. And soon, a slender, purplish form began to take shape right behind the Flock-o-Birds. A wahoo!

My knees began to shake and my adrenaline surged. Once again I recalled the loss of our favorite teaser, and I was intent on not letting that happen again. I instinctively grabbed the flat-line rod, which was attached to a naked ballyhoo, and reeled in the bait until it was between the fish and the teaser. It was only a matter of seconds before there was another brilliant flash; the rod doubled over in my hands and the drag screamed like a banshee.

My father switched the boat into auto-pilot and rushed toward me, wrapping a PlayAction rod belt quickly around my waist. The drag continued to scream, but suddenly, the line slackened. My father gunned the throttles and soon the line came taught again; the wahoo had rushed the boat, a trait not uncommon to these wily fish. The ensuing battle lasted twenty minutes, and soon a forty-pound wahoo hit the ice.

After popping two cold beers in celebration, my father and I decided that we had indeed come what we had hoped to do. And as we steamed back toward Stuart with a box full of fish, I couldn't help but think that PlayAction had saved the day.

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