Sunday, April 4, 2010

Research and Development

A few days ago, we came across a shoal of fry in a cove a short drive from our apartment. Pelicans were dive-bombing it regularly, and tarpon could be seen rolling through the aftermath.

The shoal consisted of fry no more than 3\4 of an inch long. In the past, I've had the opportunity to cast to marauding hoards of tarpon as they decimated shoals like this one. They won't even look at a fly that does not mimic the size and silhouette of the fry. Needless to say, it is difficult to tie an imitation on a 1\0 tarpon hook that matches up to such small prey. Even then, the best way to go for a hook-up is to place that fly within the blast radius of a pelican that has just bombed the shoal. Shocked and dazed fry are then snatched up by the tarpon that miraculously appear at the feet of the bird.

I donned my snorkel gear and took my camera into the shoal. There were so many fry that as I was engulfed in the mass, I lost my bearings and became dizzy and disoriented. It was incredible.

Visibility was only a few feet. Out of the swirling mass of sparkling fry, tarpon cruised passed like submarines. The shoal parts for each fish, surrounding them in a halo of space as they silently make their way.

At the edges of the shoal and at the feet of each pelican, blue runners and small horse-eyed jacks performed clean-up. Huge needlefish, up to 5ft long, patrolled just above the mass of fish and below the surface, periodically snatching up an easy meal.

Then, cruising bonefish made an appearance. They arrived at the feet of each pelican and joined the other fish in cleaning up the confused fry. This is a short clip of what it was like to cruise through amidst these predators.

That was enough for me. I rigged up my 8wt, tied on a small gummy minnow (shipped down for just this purpose with my parents, from my brother) and snorkel-fished for the first time.

It wasn't five minutes before I watched a nice bonefish appear from within the shoal, swim to within 5ft of my face, and inhale the fly I had dangled just off of the bottom. I tried to simultaneously set the hook and stand up. Somehow, Stacy captured the hookset on camera before I emerged from the water.

Bonefish on!

Then, of course, something went wrong. I'll never know how the fish snapped my new 8lb abrasion-resistant tippet because my vision was obscured by water running off of the snorkel mask. All I know is that he broke off in less than a second. I am thinking he wrapped me around a coral head and it was lights out.

At about this time, those left on shore needed to leave because the no-see-ums began to descend from the trees and feast. I reeled in, walked out and drove home with thoughts of new fly designs in my head.

The snorkel expedition opened up my eyes to some new tactics that I am reasonably sure will produce the next time I find myself in that situation. Stay tuned.


kerdosy said...

Dad's giggle is particularly chilling.

Matthew D Dunn said...

That video is cool.

Matthew D Dunn said...

Shit, snorkel fishing in general is cool.

Fishing Fury said...


Matt said...

Matt- Don a snorkel the next time you're in some musky territory!

Clive - Any plans to visit the bvi in your future?