I'm the one who caught the big bone and I wish I had a picture too! Here's the story . .
Arrived last Tuesday with the cold front that blew threw the east coast. Rain and windy. We had friends who were already there and were happy that the guides still put them on fish in spite of the conditions.
Our first fishing day opened bright and breezy, about 20 mph. Garth put us on the morning flat with the sun and wind behind us. Our 8 wt rods threw the gotchas and Angie’s Bunny Bitters just fine. We landed several to four pounds and lost a couple. Later in the afternoon, Garth took us to a new flat up north the guides are developing. It is beautiful. I waded the edge and saw the biggest bone ever, including the Florida Keys. Made one cast which he took lighting up the reel. Fly line was gone in a heartbeat; backing was disappearing fast. I had a 20# flouro tippet testing the effect of leader size on the bones, which never seem to matter. Problem was, if I break him off which goes first, the leader or the backing. I sure didn’t want to lose my brand new fly line! With the backing down to a few dozen feet I palmed the Bauer to a stop and he was gone. I began reeling in and all the backing came back. Then the fly line, leader and fly! Upon examination, it was apparent that the #4 Mustad had opened up and let this bone go. Still, it took me a long time for my hands to quit shaking. What a rush! At the end of the day, our friend Steve, on his first Bahamas bonefish trip, landed twelve with his guide JJ, but who’s counting.
Second day was a little calmer but the wind had clocked to the west and up on the southwest flats spoiling our plan to wade for big bones. The water never left the flats allowing the fish to spread out escaping our ambush spots. Still, we landed plenty of fish in the 4-5 pound range. Steve fished with Garth and landed 13, including an 8 pounder, but who’s counting!
Third day found me fishing with Reno while JJ fished Angie and Steve. They went to probably one of the prettiest spots in the Bahamas, White Bay. It was a thrilling day. Broad expanses of bright white flats and small pods of tailing bones up to five pounds. Steve quit counting; he was always hooked up.
Reno and I were on a mission for the big one. Scudding clouds made sighting conditions tough in the creeks. We saw two bruisers too close to the boat. They spooked before I could cast. We gave up on plan A and headed for a westerly flat hoping to intersect a big one skipping across an edge.
Out in the open the wind was still a steady 15. Not a problem when the fish is spotted in the 90 degree arc in front of you. Just make a solid back cast to set up the shot. The flat Reno chose wasn’t drying out because of the wind. It kept the water up on the flat giving the fish more opportunity to spread out. Reno sensed that my football knees couldn’t keep up and decided to walk alone back to the skiff and move it around to the downwind edge of the flat saving me the slog back upwind. Before leaving, he pointed me to a small hump in the flat about 200 hundred yards away. “Be sure to check that spot,” he said before heading off into the sun and wind behind me.
Fly hook clutched between my left thumb and forefinger, sixty feet of fly line trailing behind me, I head off on my own. My ‘bonefish eyes’ are pretty good, especially after a day of tuning up with a guide. Still I saw nothing. I kept moving toward Reno’s shallow spot trying to concentrate on spotting fish. Problem was, the tan-white bottom covered with a foot of spring clear salt water under a dome of blue mesmerized me until I was lost in a euphoric trance. There is no telling how many fish I spooked. Then on the right edge of my peripheral vision, a shadow moved. I slowly crouched to reduce my silhouette and froze. Yes! It was a big bone. This was my fish. All I had to do was make a perfect 50 foot backhand cast into a quartering 15 MPH wind.
It didn’t happen. I didn’t turn the tippet over and the wind blew it off. The fish sensed me and moved to the left, but still not spooked. Now in forecast range I picked up and threw a perfect cast a few feet in front of this big fish. He ignored it!
He then turned left to swim up my left side in less than a foot of water just a short cast away. Still not spooked, he seemed to just have detoured around me. Now upwind, I tried one last low punch shot, which landed just short, but still within his view. In an instant he turned and inhaled the gotcha. A long strip, raise the rod and the fish exploded away toward the edge of the flat. The Bauer handled him easily and he turned back almost 200 yards away. After two more classic bonefish runs, he was at my side and in my hands. He was big; so big my hand couldn’t reach completely around his tail. The hook came out easily and he measured 32 inches to the fork on my rod. After a few seconds of CPR he swam slowly away and off the flat near where Reno was waiting.
My hands are nine inches between thumb and little finger when spread wide. Both hands couldn’t close around the fish’s girth so I didn’t get an accurate measurement. But using a very conservative 18 inches, the fish weight formula gives a 13 pound fish. Who said Bahaman bones are small?!