Great Bahamas Fishermen Lou Rabin
April 11, 2017
The Lady Pamela II sportfishing’s fish of the week is the tiger shark. I am writing about the tiger shark not because we caught one this week, but because the first one I ever saw and caught, was aboard Captain Lou Rabin’s boat, Bewitched II. “Uncle Lou” as I called him, passed away this week, and my story of the tiger shark is in many ways a tribute to him. Lou was a somewhat legendary big game fisherman and charter captain who spent his summers in Bimini. In the winter, he was a big game hunting guide at his ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It was aboard the Bewitched II that noted angler Bill Tweedle landed an impressive 971 lb giant Bluefin tuna. That catch stood as the Bahamian record for over 30 years. Lou was at the helm of the Bewitched II for that fish, and many others over the years.
Lou watched me grow up on the docks at the Bimini Blue Waters Marina during the summertime, chasing me out if his hammock, and regaling me with stories from his past. Though Lou was more than 50 years my senior, he became both a mentor and friend to me. I learned a lot about fishing from Lou, and when I got old enough and big enough, he started bringing me along on some of his fishing trips, which brings me to the tiger shark. I’ll never forget the day.
I was 13 years old, and Lou took me and Rommell Rolle, a Bimini kid who was my age (and my friend) out deep-dropping for yelloweye snappers. We were running two 12/0 electric reels with wire line and 6-hook deep-drop rigs, fishing in about 1,000 feet of water. We were bringing in a dozen nice yelloweyes with every drop. As usual, Lou was on the flybridge, yelling at us to get the fish in the boat, and don’t tangle the lines!! But he was happy as a clam because his coolers were filling up. Anyway, on what turned out to be our last drop of the day, we are getting ready to reel the lines up, as the yelloweyes were popping the rods, when wham, the heavy rod attached to my electric reel bends way over, and the wire line on the reel starts going back out. Lou is fit to be tied, as he knows a big shark has just eaten his prized yelloweyes, and is now hooked to his rig.
For nearly an hour, we worked to get whatever giant was on the line, up to the boat. We locked down the drag on the reel and Lou motors the Bewitched forward to literally pull the fish up toward the surface. Finally, the monster hits the surface, and I am face-to-face with the biggest fish I have ever seen! We had hooked a monstrous tiger shark that was nearly 15 feet long and over 1,000 lbs. I still shudder as I recall that huge black eye staring at me as it hit the surface. Tiger sharks are relatively uncommon off Florida, but I have caught a few on the Lady Pamela II boats off Ft. Lauderdale. Some of these sharks have topped 500 lbs., but nothing like this behemoth.
So, this massive tiger shark is thrashing at the surface, and Lou was yelling at me and Rommell to gaff the beast, even though both us, shaking in our boots, didn’t know where to begin. We tried to gaff it, but the gaff wouldn’t go in! Lou was furious at that fish, and jumped off the flybridge with gaff in hand, ready for war. As Lou battled to gaff the shark himself, the brute broke off and swam away. God knows how we would have ever gotten that fish in the boat, but if we had, it could easily have been another Bahamian record catch for Lou.
I’ll be attending Lou’s funeral on Friday, and will surely hear many more fish stories just like mine. I expect the attendees will be a who’s-who of veteran big game fishermen and boat captains from all over south Florida and the Bahamas. These will be Lou’s contemporaries, with great stories of Lou just like mine. Good bye Uncle Lou. Tight lines and smooth sailing.
Capt. David Ide
Lady Pamela 2 Sport Fishing