There is no way fishing is for the birds! Fishing is for…well…it’s for us! Or is it? Introducing live bait into an outing attracts anything else out there swimming in the water and unfortunately, many things flying in the air.

One day, a friend and I were enjoying a lazy conversation while fishing in our jon boat when we were startled to hear a big splash near the boat. We turned quickly hoping to see the bobber diving underwater only to be surprised to find an osprey flying off with my live bait in its talons. The line raced out of my reel but before we could process the whole thing we heard another splash. We turned towards my friend’s bobber and found another osprey had grabbed his bait and was flying off in the opposite direction. We had two birds on our lines at the same time!

We were not sure what to do as our fishing gear was obviously not set up to catch birds. Needing to stop the lines from racing out, we pulled back on our lines forcing the birds to swerve. We were relieved when they finally dropped the bait without getting hooked.

On another occasion, several pelicans decided to hang out next to our boat while we were once again fishing with live bait. We could see their steely eyes looking for an opportunity to swoop in and grab our bait. Even with our wariness, we were not fast enough to keep the inevitable from happening. At one point, while reeling in the bait, one pelican pounced on it and got hooked. There was nothing left to do but to finish reeling him in and try to get the hook out. It took two of us, but we were eventually able to get the hook out without hurting the bird.

In addition to the bird ambush, I have also had snakes on the end of my stringer on two different occasions trying to take my fish. Anyone who has fished for any length of time, has probably experienced the occasional turtle that comes in for a snack. While tarpon fishing, it is not unusual for a shark to attack and decimate your tarpon before you get him to the boat.

Let’s face it…when you are out fishing, you have become part of nature’s extensive food chain that is happening all around you. Small fish are eating insects, bigger fish are eating smaller fish. Birds are eating insects and fish…gators are eating birds…and then there is you and me. We take our fishing gear and head out on the wild blue water wanting to be a part of it all. At least the part of it that has us on the top end of that food chain. As long as we have a boat or are on land, we retain the mantle of alpha fisher. Once in the water, however, without that protection, we are just live bait.

I guess it is okay to share our fish with the birds and the rest of hungry nature and just be satisfied that we are not on the menu.

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