Last weekend, I took the kayak for a paddle hoping to sneak up on a few tarpon near a mangrove shoreline. I didn't even see one. Later in the day, however, I rounded a rocky point on the way to a rendezvous at a sandy beach with some friends and spotted a dark mass huddled near the shoreline being pounded by small jacks and pompano.
I beached the kayak and strung a new leader on my 10wt and started casting into the shadow. I hooked pompano and small jacks on every cast. They've got a lot of heart and I would have followed that baitball up and down the beach all day, but it was one big pull that really got my attention.
I had heard rumors of bonefish at this beach when the swell is way down, and as soon as my backing knot ticked through the guides I knew that it wasn't a jack or pompano on the end of my line.
In all of last year, I struggled mightily for bonefish action. Reading back on the blog will illuminate you if you haven't been following along. Between August 2009 and July 2010, I landed PRECISELY ONE BONEFISH. In my eyes it was an epic fail.
When Mark and Adam came down for three weeks in August of 2010, the three of us teamed up for 10 bones brought to hand in 21 days of fishing dawn 'til midnight.
Call it being at the right place at the right time. Call it finally being rewarded for the endless sun-scorched hours of searching the flats. Call it karma for the dues paid, or whatever. By the end of this day, I would land 4 nice bonefish and guide two friends who have never held a fly rod to 4 hook ups. It was an atypical day, to say the least.
Friends helping with the landing.
I landed the first bonefish by myself. Later, I met my friends and went for an awesome snorkel to some offshore rocks. On the way out, in three feet of water, a school of about 30 bones cruised through. I knew that as soon as I returned to shore I would have to take some casts at these fish if they were still around.
I swam the 200 meters back to shore well before anyone else and spotted the school on the way back in, as well. I jogged up on the beach and rigged up at the beached kayak. On my first cast, a decent sized fish took the minnow imitation and streaked out towards my friends who were swimming back in.
They saw the fish, then saw me. A buddy started chasing the fish and filming it with his underwater camera while I tried to haul it in. My friends gathered around as I put on a clinic on how exactly to not land a bonefish properly. I handed the rod to a friend who promptly dropped it in the water, then proceeded to pull in the fish by hand for the last 6ft or so of the leader. I went for the scoop, missed, and the fish popped off. I dove under the water and reached for it, but he got away before a hero shot could be snapped. Rightfully so.
The fateful scoop.
The desperate, pathetic grab.
After that, I calmed down and started behaving myself. It was another great day. Too bad every single one of these photos has blur from water spots on the lens.
My first needlefish.