Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Last Flat.

Time was running low. After a week of fishing and relaxing we had precious few hours remaining to put Mark on a bonefish. He needed to be at the airport by 5:30 for his flight outta paradise. We decided to hit one last flat on the way to the airstrip, hoping against hope for some bonefish.

We pulled up and peered through the windshield at a gorgeous flat, looking primed for some cruising gamefish. The promise a pristine caribbean flat holds for an angler is unlike any anticipation experienced by a trout fisherman. Any character in a cast of species could appear as a fin knifing through the still surface, bisecting the reflection of the sky into what came before the sight - hope and strained eyes, with what comes after the sight - twitching fingers and tunnel vision.

Within that promise lies the problem. Invariably, when rigged for bonefish a baby tarpon or two will cruise into your sights. When you change leaders and fly for that tarpon, a school of bonefish begin tailing to your right. Cursing your impatience, you switch back only to lose the school of bonefish and in their place, a shark moves effortlessly through the casting lane, looking hungry. A shark won't eat a shrimp pattern. A bonefish won't eat a tarpon toad. The jacks mauling a baitball just off of the edge shy at your 80lb abrasion tippet.

As we waded onto the flat, we were rigged for bonefish and planned on sticking to it. The ripplings beyond our footsteps disturbed the perfect reflection of the sky. Mark, Stacy and I headed east, eyes peeled.

I knew there were bones around. Big ones. In the past, I've seen many, cast to a few, spooked almost all, without a fish landed. Time ticked low and no fins appeared. Mark spotted a bonefish and then marveled when it simply vanished. No wake, no ripple, no wormhole. Just...gone. They'll do that, I consoled him.

Mounting desperation.

Conceding to the setting sun, Mark tied on a clouser to mine for whatever was making glass minnows dance for their lives just off the edge of the flat. Two hard takes and missed hooksets later, we angled back towards the car. It was 5:15. We would be late.

Last chance.

Mark's words to me as we left the flat were "You waited until the last hour of my trip to bring me here?" The challenge of bones in skinny water, the tailing permit taunting us from the waves, all of the tarpon that got away...these things will haunt him, day and night, until he returns.

When he comes back, we'll stop at this flat again. Only this time it will be on the way from the airport instead of to it.


Fishing Fury said...

Awesome read man, I know what it feels like!

Mark said...

Thanks, much appreciated mention on your site. Keep up the awesome work!