Carlos Hyde: The Fisherman

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Pierre Garçon can be a difficult man to reach during the offseason.

His cell phone won't have service, so that's not an option. Your best bet is to rent a boat and start sailing miles into the ocean off the Atlantic coast. That's where you're likely to find the San Francisco 49ers running back – out fishing with a group of his best friends.

"I love fishing," Hyde's eyes lit up at the mention of his second-favorite sport.

Hyde's passion for fishing developed when he moved from Cincinnati to Naples, Fla. at the age of 15. His uncles had taught him the basics when he was a kid, but it was his friends in Naples who made him a pro.

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Much like football, technique is everything as a fisherman. Among the most important lessons was what to do when you got a bite. Hyde learned that he had to vary the height of his pole. Keeping the pole too high while reeling in meant risking the fish getting away. Sometimes doing nothing at all is the best tactic in order to let the fish tire itself out.

"That's pretty much all those guys did. If we weren't playing football, we were fishing," Hyde reminisced. "They taught me everything about fishing. We'd fish everyday."

What began as a hobby for Hyde, quickly evolved into a lifestyle.

The running back recalled that his initial fishing experience took place under a bridge at a nearby river. 

"We were under the bridge, and I caught a sheepshead. It's a fish that sits by the wall – some of them grow to be pretty big," Hyde said, remembering every detail. "It's one ugly fish. They're kind of freaky, though. They have human-looking teeth.

"When I brought it in, it felt like an accomplishment. I was excited. I just wanted to throw another line out there and catch some more."

Hyde's first catch was more than a milestone – it was dinner. His friends showed him how to properly filet and prepare the fish.

"Free food. You can't beat that," Hyde laughed.

He caught a snook next, a fish that "likes to put up a fight." His group of aspiring anglers found any body of water where fish were waiting to be caught. That included small, backyard ponds. As the stage got bigger, so too did the fish.

They eventually graduated to the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean. That's where Hyde reeled in his most prized fish to date.

Three years ago, the summer before his final season at Ohio State, Hyde and his usual crew took a boat off the coast of Naples. A massive tarpon hooked onto the line of one of Hyde's friends. The group battled with the 200-pound fish for more than two hours.

It was a bout that resembled Santiago's legendary struggle with a giant marlin in Ernest Hemingway's novel, "The Old Man and the Sea." You know, the famed book that's a staple in all high school English courses? The one that you probably skimmed the spark notes summary rather than actually reading?

No matter…­

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"We took turns trying to reel it in," Hyde said. "That fish was strong. It was such a big fish, and tarpon put up some of the biggest fights. They jump out the water; they go crazy."

The group drove back to shore simultaneously. Once they were close enough to stand, Hyde ran onto the beach to enlist the closest bystander to be their photographer. Hyde wanted proof of the tale he was going to share with those who didn't see it in person.

"The fish was so tired that we were able to jump out of the boat and get a few pictures with it," Hyde said.

Following the photo shoot, Hyde and his buddies parted ways with their worthy combatant and released the fish back out to sea.

The story of Hyde's 200-pound Tarpon is accompanied by dozens of others that are far more trivial. That's why there may not be an apt comparison to the adrenaline rush of getting a bite.

Where else can you find complete tranquility, followed by a trial of such endurance and will?

"When it comes to fishing, you've got to be so patient," Hyde said. "You can go out there for five hours and not get a single bite."

If he's had any embarrassing moments as a fisherman, Hyde kept them to himself.

He did, however, provide his greatest fear out on the water: Sharks. Hyde credits that trepidation as the reason he's never had any unintended spills overboard. You never know what's lurking below.

"I watch too much Animal Planet," Hyde joked. "When I'm fishing, I'm thinking about how there are probably sharks around, and the last thing I want to do is fall in this water." 

An encounter with a shark, one large enough to be worthy of an appearance on Animal Planet's popular "Shark Week," proved Hyde's caution to be well placed.

"We were catching baby sharks, and a big tiger shark came up next to the boat," Hyde explained. "And now I'm like, 'Yeah right, I'd never want to fall in this water.' Just because of that moment. That was one of the scariest moments I've had. The boat was rocking and everything. 

"If I had an HD camera, I could have gotten some great pics for National Geographic."

Fast forward to present day and Hyde preparing for his third NFL season. San Francisco's starting running backs has big plans for himself in Chip Kelly's offense in 2016.

But when the season is through and it's time to pick up his fishing pole again, Hyde will resume his search for more worthy adversaries.

"Fishing, to me, gives you a chance to be somewhere peaceful – to be patient and just relax," Hyde said. "It's like a getaway to me. It feels like a getaway from the world when you're the only boat out in the ocean. It's just us and all these fish that we're trying to catch."

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