Friday, March 18, 2011

Off the Grid: Saturday

I slept on and off during the night. Intermittently woken up by howling winds and cold rains. Sunrise was at 6:30, but I didn't unzip the bug net, stepping out into a cloud of no-see-ums, until 7:15.

I ate leftover cold pizza that kept me company in the hammock as I readied my pack with gear and 'lunch.' (energy bars, peanut butter) I walked the bike to the road and starting pumping it to the flats. My destination was 30 minutes away, East.

I walked the bike through the rubble towards the flats and parked it in some mangroves. The only footprints were those of cattle and I wasn't too worried about them making off with my bike.
I then hoofed it as far east as I could penetrate along the shoreline before stopping to rig up and get into the water. I had planned to walk West, overtaking the placement of my bike and thus having a shorter walk back at the end of the day.

One of the most frustrating things that happens while flats fishing is when you encounter something that you are not prepared to throw at. This happens often enough to make you decide to change your rig. Of course, once you change, you stop seeing what you're now rigged for and see only what you used to be rigged for.

I hoped to remedy that problem by creating a rod holder out of PVC that would connect to my backpack. It would hold a 10wt fully rigged with a monstrous foam gurgler and 10" of wire for the big 'cudas and sharks that I knew I'd see. I'd planned to strap it to the right side of my backpack, as I cast with my left.

I stepped into the water and within 15 minutes had spotted, cast to and hooked my first bonefish of the trip. The reel screamed and the fly line scorched the surface of the water as the fish tried to leave the flat and I smiled to myself. They're so damn fast.

Within an hour, I had landed two more fish and two become unbuttoned. I wasn't laughing anymore. I don't even remember what I was thinking. I was just shaking my head back and forth in disbelief. This was better than anyone would dare hope for.

By 11:00am, I had landed 6 bonefish. The smallest of which was probably 5 pounds. I am not going to attempt to quantify that experience with superlatives and hyperbole, for once.

This ended up being what I think is the biggest fish of the trip, although 4 others came pretty close to matching it. I spotted her tailing from 70 meters off. The water was so shallow and she was so tall that her back was above the surface. 9lbs? Brutally powerful runs from this one.

All of these pictures are video stills. I am going to create a short video of the trip soon.

No one can hope to see their backing so many times in such a short time period.

The release.

Twice on this day, I had landed fish, released them, washed my hands of bonefish slime, picked up my rod from the water and, without moving my feet, was able to cast to another fish as it cruised within range, resulting in another landed fish.

The fish came in singles and doubles. I had to change flies only once after cutting my line but I think they'd have eaten anything if it was presented carefully.

The fishing cooled down between 11am and 4pm. I had hit the flats at Magic Hour. The million variables that you try to analyze when figuring out the perfect time to fish somehow lined up for me on that morning.

The fish returned in the late afternoon and I brought to hand a few more. By the end of the day I probably caught 9 or 10 bones. I lost count.

Pedaling home in the setting sunlight I decided to skip the tarpon for the night. I was pretty satisfied, and tired. I was dead asleep by 8pm, rocking in the hammock as the wind whispered through the pines I was hanging between.


Bjornorama said...

Man... what a day. DIY, all on your own... those are the best fish. I haven't had a DIY day like that yet. That's for the future at some point. Can't wait.

cliftz said...

perfect sense there...
as long as it's presented carefully.

@Bjornorama - the future is the next toss of the line. You don't have to wait. :)

Unknown said...

looking forward to your video.