The sea was calm, the day was hot and the wiry little man stalking down the beach with a big rod under one arm and a little boat under the other looked for all the world like a demented angler who had given up fishing for towing toy boats through the surf on the end of his fishing line. But looks are deceiving. The angler was Herb Goodman of Lake Worth, Florida, a remarkably dedicated shark fishem1an. Herb was no stranger to Boynton Beach that Sunday afternoon in mid-July. And the boat under his arm was no plaything. It was an ingenious device he built for launching baits, specifically shark baits in the two to five-pound category. The craft was thirty-six inches overall. Outriggers contained two six-volt Ray-0-Vac batteries for powering two small motors originally designed for bailing out a boat. Propulsion was by aluminum paddle wheels, one on each side of the hull. Inside the miniature vessel was an electronic guidance system that could be activated by a compact wireless transmitter from shore. Herb propped his fiberglass Harnell rod and 12/o Penn reel on shore, scooping a hole in the sand for the rod butt and bracing the reel with a slab of driftwood. He put the reel on clicker and paid out his 130-pound-test dacron line to the water's edge. At the end of the line was fiftteen feet of flexible cable terminating in two 12-o Sobey hooks, both firmly skewered into the bow and stern of a whole bonito weighing about seven pounds. If the belly of the bonito seemed to have an unnatural bulge it was because Herb had inserted half a sash weight, which would later hold the bait down. When everything was ready, Herb waded the boat and bonito just out beyond the riffling surf, loaded the bait aboard and set the craft adrift. On shore he flipped the switch of the small transmitter and the boat's paddle wheels began churning. Slowly it moved out into deeper water, throwing up a small wake and towing the heavy leader and line behind it. The 12/o chattered evenly and the dacron moved out through the guides. Minutes later Herb squinted toward the tiny vessel that was now barely a white speck some three hundred yards from shore. "That should do it," he said, and threw the reel in gear. Line stopped. The bait dragged off the stem into the water. Herb manipulated the transmitter again and the craft executed a right turn and headed back toward the beach. "Can't use the boat all the time," Herb told me as he snapped his reel out of gear and dropped down on the sand beside it. "When there's waves it doesn't work right. Can't keep it on course. Takes calm days like this, then she goes perfect." He peered out at the little boat homing in on us. "Now all we got to do is wait and see what happens," he said, smiling. Things have been happening to Herb Goodman at Boynton Beach Inlet every Sunday for longer than he cares to remember. They all concern sharks, and the only thing that. occasionally breaks up the routine is a giant ray. His most recent conquest was a nose-to-tail-tip fourteen-foot specimen that put up a two-hour battle and weighed about a thousand pounds. The fact is he likes it. lie likes the challenge, the excitement, the rough-and-tumble fight and the crowd ~attracts-the people who can't quite believe what they see this spunky little man in a natty straw hat haul out of the ocean on a Sunday afternoon. He doesn't have a fancy boat, nor do his catches have the revered reputations of sailfish or marlin. But no one who has ever setn him in action will ever doubt that Herb Goodman's sport isn't big-game fishing in all its glory.
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