Sunday, December 5, 2010

Racing a Bonefish.

The pelicans were still around, and that was a good sign. I parked the truck near the edge of the sea and stepped out, unable to resist a quick walk along the shore, looking for sign, before I quickly changed and rigged up for an hour of bonefishing as the sun set.

Pelicans are not found where there are not baitfish. Bones, we've come to realize, love baitfish as well. Ergo, bonefish can be found where pelicans can be found.

The bait have been corralled in this tiny bay for the past three weeks and it has been interesting to witness the evolving diversity of things that come there to eat. At first, there were hoards of bonefish marauding the bait, taking advantage of the unusual glut of protein. Then, one or two 20" snook crept into the shadows of the rock wall and took up residence inhaling mouthfulls of baitfish whenever they pleased.

It seems the bones keep their distance from the snook. From the day the snook appeared, the bones stayed well away and were fewer in number. Now, the bones are completely outnumbered by Snookzilla and his spawn. A giant snook, at least 36", spends the days shrouded in a million small baitfish, only really visible when your fly or your shadow or your backcast or the shadow of your fly or the shadow of your cast spooks him. He wanted nothing to do with anything coming his way, except to chase smaller snook and bones from his turf.
I ignored him and focused on the dwindling bonefish numbers.

After about 45 minutes of stalking, I capitalized on an opportunity when a single bone appeared from within the cloud of bait. He readily took my fly, but as he ran, the line piled at my feet, cinched into a knotted tangle. Somehow, the sprinting bonefish ripped the knot through the guides and took me deep into the backing.

Minutes later, I was back into the fly line. The knotted mess was dangling above the surface in front of me, taut on the line connecting me to a big bonefish. As I hauled in the fly line, the knot could not make it past the first guide on the rod tip. It was then that I knew I had a bit of a problem.

Thirty feet of fly line past the knotted mess, the bonefish still pulled as if its life depended on winning this tug of war. I walked straight back, hauling the surging bonefish close to the bank. I then ran forward, putting 40ft of slack fly line on the surface of the water as I went to work trying to untangle the knot.

You know those miraculously elegant knots that sometimes appear in your leader when you suck at casting? This was similar to one of those. The tension from the fish had cinched the knot tight and the multiple loops that protruded made me rethink my strategy.
I had no fingernails to pry the knot apart, and as the bonefish streaked for deeper water the slack line ran after it. It was a race.

My predicament mirrored a scene from JAWS, when Hooper finished knotting a tracking device to a floating barrel just as the line, connected to the shark, spools out and rips the barrel from the deck of the ship. Just as the line went tight between my finger and the bone, I undid one of the loops. The pressure on the line from the bone undid the rest of the knot and we were back in business.

The backing knot ticked through the guides for a second time and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Eventually, I beached this more-than-worthy adversary and posed for a picture with him.

Still high form that encounter, I turned my sights to Snookzilla. Without giving too much away, I used his aggression against him and was rewarded with a bump. Progress.


Ryan said...

Man, things like that never go my way! Good for you.

The Average Joe Fisherman

Alexander Davidson said...

V nice bone. I was there today, snook was still ruling the roost, but all I got was a look and a shrug from him. Saw a few bones but only got a couple of looks, no bites, then saw a tarpon that must have been five feet long, and got no response from him either. Lots of excitement, but no luck. Had a nice bone there last week too. Good spot.