SEA HUNTER November 2011
SEA HUNTER DANCE BAHAMAS 2011
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It seemed appropriate to end the trip at the same spot where it started for me seven days ago. Behind me was a vast, now dry, bight. Endless small white sand mounds corrugated the bight. The fish that were on this huge flat with the flood had now moved out into the bay. They seemed to like the corner where I was standing. Here, the mangroves that marked the boundaries of the bight gave way to an ancient coral strip that jutted out into the bay. It was a good landmark and as such, a good staging spot for the bonefish. On our first afternoon, I had caught 4 or 5 big bones here. I had eventually quit the area when large lemon sharks got wind of my good fortune and came in to collect their share of the profits. Then, as now, the Sea Hunter sat in the shimmering late afternoon sun of Jackfish Channel. It had taken us only a few minutes to reach the boat after our first great day that had eventually led to1so much carnage.
SEA HUNTER November 2011
Now on our last afternoon, I was back in the corner again. After waiting out the usual lack of productivity at slack low tide, I began to see sign as soon as the tide turned. Initially I saw only flashes, but before long there were tails. I hooked a good fish almost immediately and saw a really big tail during the release. This fish was sneaking in toward the bight. When a small shark moved too close to the bone the surface water shuddered almost imperceptibly. This big bone had good reason to want to be in the pimpled area behind me; almost every divot held a small crab. When walking through this area earlier, these tan crabs would stand their ground with claws up like quarter-sized prize fighters. A sharp hook on a crab fly must not seem so bad to a bonefish feeding on these little tough guys. My big tail eventually worked to within casting range. I could tell he was big. In length... in the upper 20’s, in weight... almost, but not quite, double-digits. The fish on South Andros had been impressive on this trip. With a 28.5 and a 29.5 fish already caught and photographed, it was clear the the enforcement of the bonefish no-kill, no-netting policy by the government was 2
having the desired effectI whipped a 40’ cast five feet in front of the chunk. I let the fly settle to the bottom, then made a long slow strip. The fished dashed to tail behind the fly. He did not take it. He hovered slightly tipped down and not moving a scale. Soon, he drifted back inches, I bumped the fly a bit trying to remember exactly how those crabs behind me had fidgeted when confronted by me. The big bone charged. I knew he was now eating my little nickel-sized tan fly. I stripped. He was on. I threw line into my guides hoping to reach my reel soon. I was not disappointed. The fish went thru my fly line and half my backing before I could make a plan. I dropped my rod to the left trying to stop the run. Eventually, it worked. I pulled the fish back to the shallows eventually reaching 15 turns of the sky blue line on the reel. I was anxious to see this fish and didn’t notice the big lemon until he was 20 feet away and throwing water as he shot through the shallows. Damn, somehow I had forgot about the sharks!plan. I dropped my rod to the left trying to stop the run. Eventually, it worked. I pulled the fish back to the shallows eventually reaching 15 turns of the sky blue line on the reel. I was anxious to see this fish and didn’t notice the big lemon until he was 20 feet away and throwing water as he shot through the shallows. Damn, somehow I had forgotten about the sharks!
SEA HUNTER November 2011
I quickly took the tension off my fish. He ran back towards the bay. The shark, was all juiced up. With back humped he turned towards me obviously thinking I was the big bone. He made a straight line towards my feet. I charged the shark kicking scoopfulls of water trying to let him know my size. He turned off, but when I stopped, turned back. He immediately accelerated and rammed my foot. I stomped on his head. He was a solid 5 feet. Doing the scared shitless shuffle, I alternately hopped and stomped. For some reason, the shark wanted no part of
the chicken shit I had become and flashed away. After a few deep breaths, I regained my composure along with a restructuring of my priorities. I hoped there was still a chance to land this fish. I reeled in 200 yards of slack backing before I came tight to my bone. I pulled hard surfing him towards the safety of my now dry perch. I could see the bonefish and he was big. Maybe my best fish of my trip. Just when I thought I might make it, the shark reappeared. Shit! I took off the pressure, but it was too late. The bonefish took off, but soon I saw the
big shark’s tail thrashing in 4 feet of water. I signaled to our guide George to come with the boat. I’m sure he had been watching my histrionics. Suddenly, I wanted no part of this. This was not catch and release. This was catch and feed a shark. Even though I could see more fish flashing, I really didn’t want to kill anymore bonefish, especially another exceptional fish. I hopped in the skiff, muttering to myself. I could see the big bone’s head flashing on the bottom as the shark dined. What a great trip, but I needed a beer.