By 11am on this particular Saturday, I stood, knee deep in the salt, drinking from a bottle of warm water as three bonefish meandered into casting range and closer, content to just watch. The fishing was so good that morning that I was just laughing, and the fact that it turned off around noon for the rest of the day had no impact on my memories of it.
I landed 6 bones that morning, which was more than I'd landed over 4 previous days on the flats combined. One of them, though, I will probably remember for quite some time.
Moments after releasing a fish, I spotted two more bones moving towards my position. I made a good cast for the lead fish but before my fly landed, the trailing fish tailed and revealed its true size. It was easily one of the largest bonefish I'd ever seen.
Regretting my presentation but knowing no recourse, I stripped and the lead fish ate. The first run was just insane.
For the first time ever, I heard the warning knot tied 75ft from the spool in my backing tic through the guides. The fish was blazing and I began to worry about losing everything.
Twice more, that knot ticked through the guides as we see-sawed back and forth. The fish then turned at me and made a good run causing almost all of my line to lay slack on the water. The Runner picked it up and I was relieved to still feel its weight.
I now had the fish in close enough to see it, but not close enough to realize just how big it was. That moment came when I grabbed the leader and led the fish towards my now shaking knees.
I could not spread my hand wide enough to cover its shoulders. I couldn't not hold the fish under the belly if I tried. It reached from its fork at the butt of the rod to its nose just beyond the first set of wraps on my 6wt, putting it at just over 30 inches (77cm). It was the biggest bonefish I'd ever personally seen.
In a state of slack-jawed awe, I let the brute recuperate for a moment before allowing it to kick free and swim off.
As for that moment, I was done for the day. I spent most of the rest of it enjoying the view, watching the animals, and reflecting on the past three years here.
The only more poetic ending that I could imagine for my last solo fishing trip while living in these islands would have been a slammer permit. I will happily settle, if that's the word, for the fish that I actually caught.