On our first day of DIY on Big Huge Bonefish Flat the wind was up. Way up. The water off the flats was full of good size swells and the lee we found didn’t have the fish we were looking for. Someone forgot to tell the wind it was supposed to be coming from North East, not East. Silly wind.
We saw fish as soon as we got to the flat. Big fish. Bigger than seemed likely, really. Moving away. Moving 70 feet away in a 20-25 mph blow. This was going to be hard.
We walked up the flat toward the creek system. It was a long, slow walk. There were no targets to cast at.
The flat looked like a place bonefish would be and there were plenty of signs they had been there recently. That was promising, but still, they remained elusive.
In the creek, and close to the end of what would seem like a good college try of finding fish here I actually found some. Two, to be exact. These were nice fish, backs out of the water on the extreme edge of the tide who had not gotten the “fish leave the flat on the outgoing tide.” They were going in and I was following them.
I didn’t think I’d get a shot. They were going in, I was behind them and I never have been a fan of the “over the top and back toward the fish” presentation. Fish, generally, dislike that… a lot.
Then, they turned and were now heading back toward me, backs still out of the water in about 4″ of outgoing tide at about 35-40 feet.
I put the cast in ahead of the fish and waited. I twitched the fly as the fish swam almost on top of it. It pounced, pinning the fly to the mud. I striped slowly, only to feel the fly pull free, gently, of the fish’s grasp. The fish, determined to eat that damn shrimp, spun in circles looking for the prey. I twitched the fly again, but he didn’t see it. The fly was traveling further from the fish at this point and he was unlikely to pick it up again.
I picked up and re-cast closer to the fish. Again, he pounced with a sudden charge and then stillness meaning the fly was being crushed in the mouth of this bone. I strip set and the fish exploded.
Two long runs confirmed this as a 2X backing fish. Aaron actually thought I had lost the first fish and was landing a second, but it was all one fight and one very nice bonefish.
When landed the fish looked huge, although the measurements I got put the fish more toward 7 pounds than the 8 I first thought. It was my second largest bonefish ever, but the way it was hooked, the closeness, the intimacy I had in the whole affair, makes it one of my favorite bones of all time.
It was a perfect moment.
It was the only fish we caught between us all day and it was worth it.