Chasing A Rooster

Craig James | July 3, 2020

I have spent the last 5 or so years of my life chasing a Rooster.

Countless hours, miles on my pickup truck, a half dozen worn out trolling motors, and hundreds of thousands of casts have been tallied along the way.

As your probably guessing by now, I’m not talking about a big red yard chicken that wakes the neighborhood up at the crack of dawn every morning.

I’m talking about a large male redbreast sunfish, that anywhere south of Macon is known simply as a Rooster.

I’m blessed to live just a few miles from one of the best redbreast fisheries in the world, the famous Satilla River. Home to millions upon millions of redbreasts, catching one is rarely a problem.

But.. for me… that is the problem. I’m not looking for millions. I’m looking for one fish among millions.

That fish is approximately 12 inches long and will push the scales to 1-lb., 12-ozs. A new Georgia state record. Trust me… he’s out there. I’ve seen him.

Along this journey I started a company, GA Boy Lures, and even created a lure just to help accomplish my goal. The Swamp Spider is an extremely large foam bug with a nasty No. 4 hook. It’s much larger than your standard popping bug, and I designed it specifically with big Roosters in mind. I fish it on a breambuster so I don’t have the hassle of a fly reel, and I can literally make thousands upon thousands of casts in a day of fishing.

Admittedly, up until a month or so ago, I had seriously begin to doubt the lofty goal I set years back. Then everything changed.

I was finishing up my birthday fishing trip, and I had enjoyed a great day on the river despite higher than normal water levels. I had even managed to catch a giant bluegill, only an ounce or so shy of the current Satilla river record.

Then it happened.

On a bluff wall in the middle of nowhere, a giant Rooster suddenly exploded on my Swamp Spider. Water sprayed 3 feet high and my Spider disappeared in a fiery flash of blood red. I set the hook hard on the biggest redbreast I’ve ever seen. My 10-foot breambuster shattered, and the top 4-foot of pole went 15 feet across the river. I hit the trolling motor, frantically trying to get to my broken pole, praying… and I mean praying hard… that he was still on the line. I snatched the piece of the pole out of the water, only to realize that my line had been broken as well.

Nothing I could have done different, Nothing I did wrong. But he was gone. Sitting there in my small sneak boat trembling… he was gone. It was him. One a million, and I found him. And failed.

I told myself I wouldn’t talk much about it, after all I don’t particularly care much for stories about “The one that got away.”

But here I am a month later, and I can’t let it go. It plays over and over in mind and it always ends the same. So close, but so far away.

Since that day I’ve spent dozens of hours fishing the 100 yards or so in both directions of where I lost the record Rooster, thus far to no avail.

But I’ve got two, strong, deep feelings in my gut.

Number 1: I’m going to get one more chance to tangle with this Rooster, though I have no clue win.

Number 2: I’ve got to get him this summer or he’s going to be gone for good.

Maybe my feelings are right… maybe this fish has pushed me out of the realm of reality. Who knows? Time will tell..either can bet your boat. I’m chasing a Rooster.









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