At about the same time Bill fastened the meat grinder to the gunnel I realized the absurdity of the rig in my hand. An 8" neon orange fly on a 6\0 hook twisted to five feet of single strand 70lb wire tippet attached to 6ft of 130lb mono, looped to a fly line spooled on an Orvis Mirage VI reel that was screwed to a 13wt Loop Green Line two handed broom stick. In what alternate universe have I landed where this is considered a good idea?
We were anchored on the edge of a slow current in 60ft of water. We removed two big and dead barracuda from a cooler and butterflied them before hanging the carcasses over the side. Immediately, an oily, particle-filled slick began to meander away from the boat. I took a turn on the grinder, turning bags of pilchards and sprat into a mush that we slowly slung into the slip stream.
With the slick started, we rigged up three powerful blue water rods and Shimano TLD level-wind reels with the same leader recipe as on my fly rod. This wasn't Bowman's territory, with makos in hundreds of feet of water. The 130lb mono offered as much protection as we could get from the sharp reef around us. The 6ft of wire hopefully prevented the shark skin from severing the line. I recognized hyperbole when Bill and Terry said a blacktip will hit the bait at 80mph and head straight for the reef, with about half of the battles ending in the first few seconds. The fly rod seemed sillier by the minute.
Baits were floated out into the slick and so began the waiting game. I looked for fins and pushes back in the slip but didn't see one for three hours. We had a take on one of the rods and line screamed off of the reel for all of half a second before something severed. Mysteriously, the line cut above the 12ft leader...
Forty minutes passed. Somewhere back in the slip, a big shark was casually investigating the intoxicating trail we had laid for it. Without changing pace, in the course of its investigation, it took one of our baits.
I was standing motionless at the transom when the line connected to the rod nearest me began to change angles relative to the boat. Ever so slowly, the rod tip began to bend downward. I think I probably smiled. The drag engaged. Just a click or two, then the clicks all ran together into one furious scream.
The rod was taken from the holder and placed in my hands. Unsure what to do, as if there was anything else I could have done, I just held on as the butt dug into my stomach. I tensioned the drag as far as it would go but the fish accelerated.
Ten seconds of this.
The fish was far away and deep. The bent rod rebounded and I immediately knew that I'd lost it on the reef.
Expletives flew. The drag was so tight that I could not pull line out with my hand. It was the leviathan; the gatekeeper into the world of sharking. It kicked my ass and probably wasn't even trying. Bringing the fly rod had been a silly idea.