Shark fishing with Jake
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Jake Barker with a Jack Crevalle (shark bait!)[/caption]
He comes every year and is the namesake of his grandfather, was a Russian born farmer that was said to be one of the toughest men there ever was. The small town of Milliken, Colorado is just north of Denver and is where the legend of Jake Hergenreder originates. No one could out work Grandpa Jake, and if you crossed him he wouldn't back down, ever. Grandson Jake Barker lives up to that reputation every day at the young age of fifteen. Although the tasks are different the determination is the same. Jake's two younger sisters are both disabled by a genetic disorder that requires constant care from him and his parents. Jake, just as his grandfather did, works hard and never backs down from whatever the girls need from him. The yearly birthday trip to the Florida Keys is something his parents have arranged to help him find a bit of relief from the extraordinary responsibilities he faces. This year he wanted to go shark fishing.
Captain Seth Hopp told his cousin Jake Barker to take a seat on the boat and hold on. He then throttled the backcountry skiff up to a comfortable 20 miles per hour through the Key West Harbor mooring field. The pastel colors reflected off the water and onto the hulls of the moored sailboats and combined with the powder puff clouds dotting the western horizon. It was surreal. Jake just stared ahead, not saying a word, just taking it all in. The plan was to wind back through Calda Channel and then head east.
The first part of the shark experience would be to catch fresh shark bait. As the skiff settled to a slow drift, Seth handed Jake a rod with a jig and directed him to start working the channel edges with a series of jerks while reeling, then repeat the process until a bait was hooked. It wasn't long before a jack crevalle crashed the lure and became shark bait number one. A few casts later and a yellow jack made the same mistake. With the switching tide, timing couldn't have been better, and it was time to set up for the sharks.
The process was perfectly executed by Captain Seth, and before long Jake was hooked up to a full-sized nurse shark that primed his biceps for what would come next.
After the nurse shark was released, a more powerful and faster lemon shark forced young Jake to break a sweat as the sun sat high and the lemon shark ran long. Nothing was in his mind other than landing the shark. He was in his element, taking relief from worry and responsibility, living in the moment.
The first lemon shark was leadered and then another much larger lemon shark was lost after a lengthy battle. Then there was the ten foot hammerhead shark that wouldn't eat. Those are the ones that will ensure that Jake back next year. It's always the one that got away or the big fish sighting that get the most play in the stories that are sure to be told after the week is over. Jake has stories to tell for sure.
Happy Birthday Jake Barker, see you next year!
Captain Marlin Scott
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