Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bonefish Lessons

A friend has recently picked up the chase of fish with a fly rod and has been dead keen to actually catch something as of late. We took his small boat to an isolated flat and I made it my mission to get him connected.

Pelicans were hitting the water in the channel, which is a sure sign that bonefish will be on the feed. They have to cross the large flat to get to the banquet of fry being served up by the pelican and we would hope to intercept them.

Within 30 minutes of putting boots on the ground we saw our first fish. I had Wayne positioned with his back to the wind to aid in his casting. At the first chance, he had an aggressive charge but no take. As the fish moved off, I dumped a quick cast in its path and had it take. I was into my backing as Wayne looked slightly forlorn for an instant, but took the opportunity as a learning experience. I showed him how to play the fish, when to reel and when to let it run, as well as how to land and handle a bonefish properly. He was also able to train his eyes on the actual fish as it came close and during the release. The hardest part of bonefishing is learning to see the fish, which you can only practice when you've got a fish in close...

Not 10 minutes later, a good fish moved within range. I yelled to Wayne to shoot a cast 25ft at 12 o'clock. He followed orders and placed the fly directly within the fish's path, 15ft ahead of it. I said "Wait.... wait..." and then "strip, strip" and the fish was on. Wayne never saw the fish.

He bashed his knuckled to shreds on the reel handle as the bigger fish took his fly line out of sight. It was awesome to see him so pumped up. He played the fish well and insisted on landing it himself. After a quick pose, the fish was released. Awesome.

Fish had some shoulders on it.

Two hours later, a huge school of bones outmaneuvered me and started to head towards Wayne's position. He picked up on the lead fish and was able to place a cast in the middle of the pack, hooking up with one of the fish bringing up the rear.

He wasn't paying close attention to what he was doing as he got our attention and fumbled with his pack. In a few moments, the fish had popped off, providing yet another valuable lesson. He was gutted when I showed him that his hook has been semi-straightened from his first fish, and that we didn't bother to check it afterwards, allowing this second fish to come unbuttoned.

I said to imagine how he would feel if he had lost a permit due to an error such as that. Lesson cemented.