One last epic battle for 2009

There are moments in life that we never forget.  These moments can be moments of days, hours, minutes, or even seconds.  A short day of fishing or even one fish caught that day can sometimes be more memorable then a day filled with catching a boat load of fish.  When time has slowed and you begin to break down one of these moments, the short minutes can feel like an eternity.  Here is a very recent experience I had that would be a memory to last a lifetime.

It was an afternoon of fishing in Biscayne Bay with my buddy Capt. Frank that I assumed would  just be a scouting trip to check water temps on different flats.  The first part of the day started off rough with very limited visibility and a few fish blown out due to the lack of light attention.

Our hope came later towards the end when the sun finally broke away the clouds that were looming over our heads.   Capt. Frank pushed the skiff along while we both scanned the deeper water waiting for a bonefish to materialize.  We finally spotted the sign of a faint mud almost fading away in the strong current.  As we looked further, we gazed upon the sight of a familiar shape that our eyes had been trained to distinguish from the rest.  It was indeed a bonefish; green back glowing in the sun, an unmistakable shadow underneith, and face burried in the short grass digging up it’s prey.  The fish seemed to notice our presence and started to swim off, bringing a partner in crime along with him.  Armed with a 9wt canon, I punched out a long back cast giving the fish a lead and letting my fly sink into the grass where I had hoped to be part of this fish’s path.  As the silver denizen of the shallows approached my crab fly, I gave it a bump to get the fish’s attention.  This would either spook him or turn him into a raging druggy searching out his crack-pipe.  The fish caught sight of the tastey morsel that had just hopped into his path and turned towards it with a mission in mind.  I gave the fly another bump and the fish sped up deploying it’s pec fins like a stealth bomber swooping in for the kill.  A third bump drove the fish nuts and the fish pinned the fly right into the grass.  A long strip and I came tight to the result I was hoping for. 

The fly line streaked sideways across the bow of my Maverick skiff leaving a roostertail in it’s wake.  Capt. Frank and I couldn’t help but watch as this veteran bonefish ran right towards the shoreline and into the thicket of mangroves like a scathed k9.  The fish had plowed his way into the forest of mangroves but was still running fast, without any sign of slowing down.  I thought, “how deep does that forest go?”.  Frank poled the skiff up to the shoreline and thats where I realized that the fish had me wrapped up and tangled on several downed trees, around and under a few mangrove roots, and under big stump, before it had run back out and made a bee line towards Bimini.  I did what I could… took off my hat, glasses, and shirt and I jumped into the chilly water to attempt to unravel this mess.  I completely backed off on the drag and waded through the forest of mangroves and stumps, threading my fly rod through every entanglement this bonefish had run me through.  After 15 minutes of cussing, I had finally threaded my flyrod through all the entanglements and jumped back on the skiff, which Frank had to pole around and through a narrow opening in the mangroves. 

We finally landed this bonefish a few minutes later and found a sigh of relief that a shark or cuda hadn’t gotten to it before we did.  High fives were due and a few photos were shot before we carefully released this hard fighting bonefish back into the deep where he would someday try again to twart another angler’s attempt at catching a big Biscayne Bay bonefish.  This is to be my last bonefish I’d catch in 2009.  We had gained another bit of experience and more respect for Abula Vulpes as we enter 2010 with even higher expectations for a good fishing year. 

Happy Holidays to all.  Wherever we may be tonight when the clock strikes twelve; let us toast to new beginnings, challenges, and triumphs ahead in 2010.  From all of us at Saltyshores, we hope you have a great New Year. 

-Capt. Honson Lau

The hard fought victory