Almost exactly a year ago, I experienced the best weekend of fishing I could imagine, documented here, here and here. That same long weekend rolled around again and I found myself riding the same borrowed bicycle down the same lonely roads, dodging potholes and cowpies between a hammock slung between a stand of whispering pines and miles of sandy flats.
As it took me into the backing for the 2nd time, I reflected on the past three years and said aloud that I better take all of this in; the bend in the rod, the pumping tail reverberating up the line into my arm, the rippling surface, the intricacies of the mangrove roots, the birds circling in the sky, the howling wind. I landed the fish and held it in reverence. Perfectly evolved. She swam away.
A new rainfly - a step up in luxury.
There won't be many more of these moments...
Forced off of the flats due to the gusts of wind, I rode the bike to a beach in the lee of the wind and started to blindcast with the spinning rod. I jumped 2 small snook, landed this decent 'cuda and then jumped snookzilla before heading back to the hammock to nap away the rest of the afternoon. I had mellowed considerably over the past year, I realized.
I lost every fish I jumped. If don't want to know the number. I was surprised at how not pissed I was.
Ten minutes later, I had the creature directly below me with the braid disappearing into the abyss, straight down. The cheap rod was bent like a horseshoe. The animal stopped cold. I could feel the rod flexing in the reel seat as I unstuck it from the bottom and realized that it was a ray. Twenty minutes later, 4ft-across of shark relative came to the surface, gurgling and wheezing in the wind-driven whitecaps. I cut the line as close as I could and watched the primitive thing glide into the dark green and vanish. My arm hurt. I rode back to the hammock and slept like the dead.
Satisfied for some reason, and conceding defeat to the wind, I caught an unexpected Sunday morning ferry for home.