Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bahamas...Day 5

If day 4 is the day you hope doesn't repeat itself, then day 5 is the one of daydreams.  Day 5 is the one that defines the trip, skews reality and validates all the airline hassles, hours at the vice and fish that ignored your cast yesterday.

The morning broke with sunshine and only a few clouds.  The wind was still present but it was just a reminder to keep your loops tight...not the ominous bitch that makes those loops impossible.

The tide was just starting to come in when Ezra untied the skiff and turned the bow to the east and set out for my favorite water.   I start each day cleaning my polarized glasses to give me every edge while out searching fish.  Most days they are salt sprayed within 10 minutes of leaving the dock.  Today was no exception. 

No matter.  

We were heading to light bottom on a sunny day with an incoming tide.   After 30 minutes of running Ezra killed the engine and started poling.  The creek flat we were entering was bright and vast.

Ezra asked me to jump out and start wading as the skiff was still 200 yards off the mangroves and the water was too shallow to take it in any further.  I reached for my pack and my 8 wt and commenced hiking.  I had one shot at 3 fish moving fast but then came up blank for the remaining distance.   Meanwhile, Ezra had poled CA around a shallow point in the flat and motioned to me to make my way to them.

When I got there he explained that a few fish had already made it onto the flat and directed me to wade quickly up the mangrove edge until I either saw or spooked my first bonefish...and then he instructed me to slow down and keep my eyes open.

The water was just a little past ankle deep and it felt like I was going to spook everything with my splashing steps.  It was about 150 yards into my sloshing that I picked up a glint 200 feet away.  I stopped and stared and saw the unmistakable shimmer of a tailing bone.   It's during moments like these that I start talking to myself.   "I seeeee you...just keep eating.  I'll be right there."

I moved slower now, trying to set my feet down softly.  At 85' I began to false cast to judge the distance.  The fish turned and started feeding away from me.  Dropping the cast short, I stripped in line and continued my foot pursuit.  In the minutes that followed I put 8-10 casts in close but the fish never picked up the fly.  Finally in a stroke of luck, the bonefish turned and headed toward me.  Its tail and dorsal fin glinting and winking as it searched for shrimp and crabs in the shallow water, with its back partly exposed to the morning sun.  With the fish at 70' (and closing) I dropped the fly at 65' and waited...for just a second.  I took the slack out of the line and twitched the fly.  The bonefish lit up with it's tail wagging and shot forward.  Another twitch and it buried it's face in the bottom, a long slow strip to get the hook set...nothing.  Another short strip and the fish lit up again in chase.  We repeated this game of cat and mouse for twenty feet until, on the last long slow strip, the fly stuck and the fish erupted.  With the fish released, I looked around.  Ezra and CA were walking up the the far side of the narrowing flat and CA was casting.   There were fish here.

Another bonefish betrayed itself with a tail wag 200' away.  I started moving in but a cloud covered the sun and I lost the light to find it.  In seconds the sun poked back through and I got radar lock.  I stalked, cast and the second bonefish of the morning ate without hesitation.

Ezra motioned me back.  He explained the new plan.  He and CA would head back to the boat and pole around to the west where there was another bay to this flat.  He told me to keep walking in the direction I had been heading and follow the narrowing channel to the right.  He said the channel would widen and then pinch back down.  I would meet them on the bay on the other side where a mangrove creek connected all of this tidal water.

This was a great plan.  I like fishing on my own.   I like wading and spotting fish without help.  This is not to say that a great guide like Ezra isn't important.  Because they are... critical even.  Today, however, I was going to run the program solo.  The water was shallow, the sun was bright and the bottom was light.

They reached the boat and poled away, leaving me to my own devices.  Moving slow, I scanned and waded.  Around the right corner and into the widening that Ezra desribed, the water deepened to about 12" and the color of the bottom changed from yellow to light blue.  The bonefish were there, in groups of 2's and 3's and 12's and they were hungry.

It was to be the best day of bonefishing I have ever experienced.

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