Published Dec 14. 2014 - 9 years ago
Updated or edited Jul 29. 2022

My float tube is a sputnik

I enter the water... I enter another universe. My tube is a sputnik suspended in the space above a lunar surface of sand and stone. I'm the astronaut. The clear water is my vaccum. I turn on my mental time lock and make the first cast.

A handful - Cod are great to eat, and I used to keep a bunch for the pan when they were numerous on our coasts
Martin Joergensen

I used to do a lot of float tubing in the ocean. A friend who worked in local tackle shop convinced me to try one, and ended up almost giving it to me, so suddenly I had a float tube in the garage. Tubing for sea trout didn't make much sense to me, not least because most fish were caught very close to the shore and could easily be reached wading.
But cod was something different. Back then, some 20 years ago, cod were very common here, and some evenings and nights they were almost a curse. As the sun set, they would come in large schools of small fish in the 10 inch range and simply hammer your flies no matter what you did. Since sea trout were the goal and the cod were way too small to keep or even put up a decent fight, they were simply a menace.
But further out, where the depth was maybe 3-4-5 meters or up towards 15-20 feet, the larger cod would roam the bottom, and be reachable from a boat, or from... you guessed it... a float tube.
So I rigged a 9 wt. rod with a very fast sinking line, created some crab flies for the bottom feeding cod and had a ball during several seasons catching cod from my bellyboat.
On this particular day I had taken a drive across the island I live on to get to some different water. The location was a fairly deep fjord, known for some good fishing, but not for cod in particular. I could park near the water, but had to carry the tube down a hill to get to the water. Getting into the tube and out on the water was always a clumsy ballet performance, but once I sat there, I felt like floating in space. This day was beautiful. It was autumn but sunny and fairly mild.
I kicked myself away from the shore and past the bright sandy areas close to land and out over the darker and deeper water. I used to bring a spinning rod to find the fish. Cod roam in schools, but finding them could be hard work. Casting a lure in all directions could help covering a large area, and once I had felt fish, I'd anchor up over the spot and change to the fly rod.
Same thing this day.
I cast a lure left and right, and soon felt a tug. I maneuvered myself over the spot, dropped the anchor and had a ball fishing with a crab on the bottom.

I penned down these words one day after such a trip, which pretty well captivates the feeling as I remember it:

I enter the water... I enter another universe.
My tube is a sputnik suspended in the space above a lunar surface of sand and stone.
I'm the astronaut.
The clear water is my vacuum.
I turn on my mental time lock and make the first cast.

The original article from 1996 is here: My float tube is a Sputnik

In this case it wasn't a single fish that left a lasting memoir, but a seemingly endless row of takes and hookups with absolutely decent cod in the 2-3 kilo or 4-6 lbs range as a result.
Cod are not clever fish, not fierce predators and not great fighters either, and the routine went something like this:
I cast out the line by roll casting and feeding out line until the heavy shooting head was outside the tip top.
The line would start sinking and was in this case taken by the slow current and stretched.
I fed out running line until the head hit the bottom and then a bit.
When everything was stretched, I started retrieving the fly slowly, keeping it on the bottom.
The bottom was small stones and silt with few rocks and little weed, so snagging wasn't a problem.
At some point a fish would go for the fly, which could be felt in the line.
The trick was to do nothing until a firm contact was felt.
Cod are slow and not very deliberate, and will pick up and spit out several times.
At a certain time, when I felt the fish was more determined, I'd lift the rod and most of the times set the fly.
If there was no contact, I'd let the fly drop and repeat the sequence.
If a fish was on, a tug of war would start.

The cod doesn't run, but it's not exactly willing to be dragged to the surface either. So my 9 wt. rod would bend over like a horseshoe, and I'd have to pump the fish to the surface. If the fish was a keeper, I'd whack it, unhook it and put it on a stringer on the side of the tube. If not, I'd slip out the fly and let the fish go. No matter what, the fish would defecate on me and the float tube, and oftentimes also gulp up half digested crabs and small fish. The result could be pretty messy, but also a stringer with a healthy portion of cod, ready to be gutted and cleaned on the shore and delivering some of the best fish meat you can get: white, lean and very tasty.

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Great article, Marti...

Great article, Martin. And yes, float tubes are lot of fun everywhere. Good fishing! Juan


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