Weird Moments in Fishing #5
We left our mothership, the Sea Hunter, on a dawn patrol. While swilling coffee out of a flimsy go-cup, we skimmed over a molten surface that hid the jade waters of South Andros. After a quick run through Jackfish Channel, we bailed out of the skiff grabbing backpacks and from the cooler, water bottles. We headed in different directions based on intuition or whim. I headed to the right for no specific reason, but as if pulled on a chain, soon veered left towards more shallow water. l postholed across a soft, mucky bay eventually reaching a delectable channel with a firm, if not flat, bottom. In the channel, half a dozen small lemon sharks were moving seemingly with purpose. These little assassins were riding a swift tidal current towards their "happy hunting grounds". I saw a few small bones, but declined to engage these "banana" bones thinking this was a great spot for a fat boy. Soon I saw a dark shape. It was moving quickly with the strong flow. I thought it might be a shark, but I had seen enough sharks morph into big bones on this trip that as I watched, I prepared to cast.
When the dark form had moved closer, I could see it was indeed a bone. I cast further than I thought necessary hoping to get ahead of the fish and the tide. The fish snarfed up my fly on the run, and before my line could come tight, I was broken off. All I got was the subtle exasperating “tink” of a connection not made. The fish probably never felt it. After selecting a few colorful phrases that included "me" and "it", I reeled-in to see I had broken off at the tippet’s knot. I should have inspected my knots after my last fish the night before. I had failed at one of the basic tests anglers must pass to be successful. From your backing to your fly, it must hold firm. For failing this essential linkage, I had no one to blame, but the hour of the day, the strength of our coffee and the guy holding the rod.
I not only lost my fish, but the superb crab fly I was using. I had developed confidence in this fly and I had only one left. With no hesitation, I tied it on determined to do better if I got a second chance. An hour later, I was on the other side of the cay and at least a mile away from the channel where I had popped off what was probably my best fish of the day. I hadn't seen much for the last half hour and was at risk of losing my edge when I saw another large bone. This fish was as big as the one I had lost this morning. This could be my redemption... my second chance... my salvation for the fish I cheddared in the channel.
I made a good cast, linked my line to the monster and somehow managed to land the guy. I measured him at 27 inches at the fork. I took a few photos and when I reached down to take out the hook, I saw some tan rubber legs sticking out of both sides of the fish’s mouth. This seemed odd! My fly wasn't that big... and when I opened the bone's mouth to remove the fly, there were two matching flies, one on each side of the bone's mouth. One fly had fifteen inches of tippet attached, the other fly was trailing a leader all the way to my fly line. I pulled out both flies. It now dawned on me what had happened. This Big Lebowski really liked my crab pattern and was kind enough to eat it twice in a little over an hour's time. Soon, I sent the bad boy on his way, but not before a stern lecture on gluttony and the importance of making good choices in life.
I had counted coup on a real "dude" and now had two crab flies once again... life was good and it was still morning!