A couple of days before my first solo bonefish I had been on a guided skiff and the guide had found the fish. I never saw a fish before the guide and some fish I didn’t see even when I was making the cast. It was a great day… I landed my first bonefish about 10 minutes into the trip, my dad caught his first bonefish and also caught a big mutton snapper (that was a total highlight even to watch).
At the end of that day I had found myself wading a little flat just out from McLeans Town stalking a small group of not-so-small tailing bonefish as the guide worked with my dad back on the skiff. I hooked the fish, the fish decided not to stick around and started a blistering run… the line wrapped around the rod butt and that was me missing out on my first solo bonefish.
The next day my dad and I waded a big, white sand flat on the East End. I started seeing fish, but I started seeing them when they were 10 feet away, which didn’t really work. I cast at some fish that day, but neither my dad nor I hooked one. Still, I could feel myself getting a tiny bit more in tune with what was happening.
The next day my dad flew out early and I fished until my flight in the afternoon. I returned to the flat from the day before… no dice. I went in search of somewhere else.
I took a turn off the main road and drove down a dirt road toward the Caribbean, taking it as far as I could before the road disappeared. The road narrowed to a path and I followed it until I hit the water. Through a narrow break in the mangroves I stepped out onto a narrow flat hemmed in by a deeper channel on my left and the mangroves on the right.
Turtle Grass… there was turtle grass and with it loads of life… little cuda’s, schools of smaller fish… at least there was more to look at.
I saw fish… bonefish… coming at me along the edge of the mangroves. They weren’t big, but they were certainly bonefish. I made the cast. I saw the lead fish follow the fly, I saw him eat and I refrained from trout setting.
I had hooked my first bonefish using my own eyes. Very soon afterward I landed my first solo bonefish.
It was small. It was beautiful. It was unforgettable.