On the island hop to Long Island this time I had a remarkable stroke of luck. On boarding we were told that there was no seat allocation and could everyone sit near the back in order to ‘balance the plane’? This had us wondering about the size of the pilots – perhaps they’re worked so hard these days that they’re trapped in the cockpit and told to fly for their food, being fed cookies and donuts posted through the slot in the door? Anyway, we picked random seats and settled down for the flight. When served a drink, midway through, I unclipped the tray table in front of me to be surprised when something fell into my lap. It was a pack of biscuits, not any old biscuits but an unopened pack of none other than the king of all biscuits – the custard cream. To me this was clearly a message from the fishing gods that great things were going to drop into my lap on this trip.
Once we got into our accommodation Tracy went for a shower and I ate all the biscuits. This angered Tracy but I explained that this is how the fishing gods wanted it, and sharing them would risk their ire. She gave me a knowing nod and a hand gesture to inquire whether I would like a coffee.
Our first day’s fishing was to a spot we hadn’t fished thoroughly before. We tackled up on the beach by a creek outlet and whilst Tracy was sorting out her boots I decided to have a couple of casts into the sea. I could see a large rock sat on otherwise clear sandy bottom that had fish around it, so I was fairly confident of catching something and second cast I was rewarded with a beautiful pompano. The next cast resulted in a bump that every flats angler is aware of – I knew instantly that my fly would be gone, the leader severed instantly by a small barracuda. After attaching a replacement I risked another cast and immediately caught a mangrove snapper.
Our original plan was to fish the ocean side, but first we had to enter the creek itself in order to cross it (we didn’t want to start the day with a swim, especially given the rate at which the water was flowing out). We changed our plan though as we started catching fish in the backwater, Tracy was soon off the mark with some hard fighting jacks (probably juvenile horse-eye jacks, but I’m not certain). I then added some jacks of my own along with a mutton snapper – this was a lucky fish as it was just on the limit of being considered as an evening meal, but it was returned.
A short while after Tracy experienced the dreaded ‘bump’ which prompted a leader change to a wire and a Clouser pattern. A number of small barracuda were quickly added to our catch list along with a surprise yellow jack, taking our species count to 6 – surely some sort of super, duper grand slam!
And then a big cuda dropped into my lap, just as foretold by the custard cream loving fishing gods. It just idled up the creek and held station no more than 20ft from me. I always carry two rods, one a #10wt set up with a wire for such encounters, so I was good to go. I’ve written previously about how tough big cudas can be to get on a fly, and this one was no exception. What followed was well over a hundred short range casts, a lot of them PULDs in order to try and annoy the fish and some normal stripped retrieves. The fish would often follow but not commit to taking, however I always felt I was in with a chance as it never swam off completely. I persevered where others would have given up and eventually it became so angry that it powered at the fly – that actual take happening so fast to be a blur.
I’d like to finish this with a grip and grin (not that I do much grinning) picture of me and the cuda, but unfortunately I lost it when it spat the hook. The fishing gods can only do so much and the rest is down to me.
I hope you all have a great weekend wherever you are fishing,
P.S. As predicted it was my year to win the first bonefish competition. It was a tight run thing though.