The flat was loaded with fish. Wave after wave. It was the most fish any boat out of Abaco Lodge would see that day and likely more fish than we saw for the next 4 days on our own.
The problem, as is often the case, was the wind. The wind was blowing the water off the flat and not even the skinny riding Hell’s Bay could get us any further after the fish. Luckily, the fish were frequently coming to us.
Fishing in a 25 mile an hour wind is a challenge. Maybe it is a cinch for Lefty, but most of us mortals have a hard time casting into 25. Things go really wrong. Every shortcoming is magnified and your cast becomes defined by that shortcoming. In a 10 mph wind you can get away with a lot. In 25, you can get away with very, very little.
This day was the opposite of my first day. That day I saw the fish early. Every cast I needed, I had. It felt like almost every fish I threw at ate.
This day, however, I never saw the fish first. There were some I didn’t see at all. Casts asked for often didn’t pan out as asked for or envisioned.
They say when you feel like you need to speed up, that is exactly when you need to slow down and while I know that, deep down, in my gut somewhere, my animal brain was calling the shots, extolling me for blowing shots and telling me what I really needed was just a little more pepper in the cast. The animal brain is an idiot and a liar and a fool and its casts were “poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
As the tide kept falling, water kept getting pushed off the flat, the fish became even more spooky. From 60′ one fish spooked when the guide pointed at it. Fish seemed to be able to tell when we were looking at them and they’d run, panicked, darting this way and that until they were out from under our gaze.
Amazingly, we caught fish. Against the odds and in spite of the wind, we actually won a few of those contests.
One of my most rewarding fish followed about 20 minutes of fish spooking at every motion. Motion of the boat, the fly line, the fly itself, everything seemed to sew terror. And then there was a string of fish just getting up on the flat and they weren’t bothered and the first fish in that string to see my fly charged it down and ate it with relish.
Nice to be vindicated. Nice to do it in the face of a 25 mph wind too.