Wednesday, December 1, 2010

14 Months in the Making.

My local fishing buddy, Zach, and I have hit the flats pretty hard over the course of the past year. Usually, Thursday afternoons would find us rushing to the nearest flat after faculty meetings at the school where we both teach science. Most weekends we'd make it out, as well. Its a good thing that fly fishing isn't entirely about catching fish, or we would both be rather regretful over all of those bonefishless days.

We would consistently see fish tailing, but our early ineptitudes kept us from bringing one to hand. In all of those days, we hooked one single, solitary bonefish. As it ran over the drop-off, we ran after it, knowing all too well what was about to happen. As I reeled in the severed line we alternately laughed, high-fived and cursed.

Lately, things have clicked for me, at least. I've had a few unforgettable days on the water when Zach couldn't make it and I felt more than a little bad at rubbing in my good luck, knowing that he had yet to land a bone of his own. My success, I think, is more a case of being able to be in the right places at the right times than any major increase in skill. Although, I know my eyes are much more attuned at spotting fish than ever before.

Now, Zach had hooked a few fish recently, but something would always go terribly wrong. There was that time at a newly-discovered flat where he hooked up with a nice fish, but as it ran, the line looped around his reel seat. From afar, I watched him take some steps forward to relieve pressure and unloop the line, then it went slack and his shoulder slumped. There were broken hooks, broken leaders, broken rods, old and curling fly lines, scratched corneas, urchins, bonefish coming 'unbuttoned,' and a ton of other things that conspired to prevent him from landing a bonefish. He's got an old Ross reel with not much backing on it and my biggest fear was that a bone would run deep and spool him, snapping an old knot and swimming away with his fly line and backing dragging behind.

My girlfriend had even stopped asking me if I had caught anything, instead asking if Zach got anything before she inquired about my luck. She wanted him to land a fish probably as much as he did.

So it was after I landed my last bonefish, number 9 or 10 to his 0, that I texted Zach and solemnly vowed to put him on some fish.

And thats how we found ourselves on a recent Thursday afternoon. Zach headed to the coast about 30 minutes before me as I finished a tutoring session with some students. I ended the session 5 minutes early as I received a text saying "Dude, there are a lot of bones here."

Less than 4 minutes after locking my classroom door, I was in the water. I threw my bags in the truck, sped to meet him on the coast, changed into my wading gear on the sandy shoreline and stepped into the water as I lowered my polarized lenses over my eyes, scanning for Zach's fish. (I timed myself, a new record.)

It wasn't long before we worked out a system. I would stand down current and call out numbers and locations of bones as they moved up towards Zach, feasting on small baitfish corralled against the shoreline. After a few good shots, Zach's line went tight as he lifted the rod. He palmed the reel to aid the drag as the fish ran.
I was super pumped, but weary of that backing knot. Visions of diving into the sea for a grip on the disappearing line didn't seem unrealistic. I prepared myself.
Zach played the fish well, and I landed it for him in knee-deep water. It was a solid bonefish, easily 6lbs, but the sweetest fish we've landed down here, easily.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

That's a great story! I just busted out of an extremely long fishless slump, I can totally relate.

Great job helping him spot & land it!