3/26 Abaco repport
3/25/2002 – I called Buddy Pinder and confirmed we were on for tomorrow. He said we were good to go. I retired back to the room at 9:30 after the huge beach dinner at the resort. We were having dinner with some couples we met, but I begged off the serious partying due to my fishing commitment. I could drink any time but not tonight. I stayed in the room reading Randall Kaufmann’s book, “Bonefishing” which a friend of mine had lent to me. It was like I was cramming for a test the next morning focusing on the chapters of habitat, types of flats, spotting, stalking, presentation and retrieve. I finally decided that I had better hit the sack at 11:30 because I had a wake up call for 4:30 AM to catch the ride from the resort to the airport at 5:00. I then realized sleep would be futile as I tossed and turned the remaining hours.
3/26/2002 - I did catch a catnap but still awoke before the alarm and wake up call. I got dressed quickly then shot over to the all night restaurant and grabbed some pastry for food to pack for the day since I forgot to pack a sandwich. Went back to the room grabbed my gear and was off to the main desk for my ride to the airport. When I got there that clerk seemed to have no knowledge of me booking the ride I reserved just yesterday. Oh Oh! “No problem Mon”, “ I’ll go start up a car to get you there”. We talked on the ride and he stated he didn’t drop many guests off on the domestic side of the airport. Well that side of the airport was an eye-opener. It was plain and kind of dirty but I didn’t really care as this is where the real people were without all the glitz.
I get to the baggage check in and check my rods and bag with all the flies and take a seat by gate K where I’m supposed to leave. I make a quick trip to the restroom and comeback to the gate and I hear them making a boarding call for flight Bahamasair 3-5 at gate K. So I get inline hand them my ticket and board the plane. The plane is getting ready to taxi out and the flight attendant announces we are going to a flight to Freeport. WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! “Hey lady I’m going to Marsh Harbor lemme off the plane”! I grab my bag walk up the front of the plane, open the door and walk back to the terminal. People aren’t very happy with me when I walk in. This big woman meets me at the door and says, “Watchyou tinking about getting on the wrong plane Mon”! I looked at her and thought about saying, “Why the Hell did you let me board the wrong plane in the first place”, then I noticed the guy who took my ticket walking away sheepishly in the background and reassessed my situation and replied, “ Sorry Miss. It was an honest mistake” and shrugged my shoulders. Her sour expression immediately changed and she laughed, “That excuse is as good as any”. Whew, that was too close !!! The reason I screwed up was the first flight was #325 and mine was #335.
Ok I made it on the right plane, landed in Marsh Harbor and Buddy Pinder met me at the airport. We then went to his house picked up his brand new Hells Bay Boatworks skiff, fueled it up, picked up a sandwich at a local store and were off to the launch.
We headed out onto the Marls and he started giving me explicit instructions on what he expected from me as a sport. He then accessed my casting ability and thought I would be fine. Man can he cast a flyrod 60’ into the wind no problem. He pointed out spots where the fish had been feeding on the bottom that morning as we headed out. Also I gave him my fly boxes and asked him what I should use. He immediately pulled out and tied on one of the Borski Sliders I had tied. He particularly liked the small bead chain eyes on that fly and said that the ones I had on the bone crusher flies were too big and didn’t care for the Varivas hooks. He also was very impressed with the Temple Forks rod. He said it was built on a Loomis blank. The reel I was using is a Redington AL 7/8 with a SA Mastery WF-8-F Bonefish line.
About a ½ hour later he spotted a single fish, which I couldn’t see for the life of me. I just followed his directions and tried to make the cast. Nada spooked fish. A few minutes later he spotted some tailing fish in tight to the banking. The wind was blowing approx. 20 MPH and they were into the sun. He said, “Can you see them”? Meanwhile I was trying to undo a windknot in my leader. “Can you make that cast into the wind”? I said screw the knot and told him I could and made the cast, two false casts and I put one about 10” in front of a tailer. Then he yelled for me to “Strip, strip, strip”. I felt the fish on the third strip and set the hook on the next strip and I was onto my first bonefish. Five minutes and a picture later I gave Buddy a “high five” for removing my bonefish virginity. It was about two pounds. Neither he no I could see the fish take as conditions were difficult with high wind the sun in our faces and cloud cover. Never the less I was smiling ear to ear. Then he read me RULE #1. “Always be ready to cast to a fish”. “We’re out here to fish not untie knots”.
The next opportunity I blew with a very bad cast that spooked about 30 fish. I planted the fly right in the middle of them. I could tell he wasn’t happy. My next chance though was at a few fish tailing with the wind the wind to my back. We were in tight to the bank and he warned me to be aware of my back cast catching in the mangroves and him. I put a perfect cast about 16” to the right and in front of the biggest fish and stripped like hell as I watched him and two other smaller fish charge and fight for the fly. The bigger fish pounced on the fly and pinned it into the ground then turned and I stripped hard to set the hook and he was off to the races and I was watching the line disappear off of my reel. About 8-10 minutes later the fish weighed in at exactly four pounds on a Boca. I was in heaven!
After restoring my credibility we repeated this scene quite a few times with me making some decent casts to one fish in a school and not panicking the others. I did line a few schools though trying to put too much line in the air.
Around noontime he put me on to a huge school of tailing fish. “Can you see that big one at one ‘o’ clock off to the right”? “Put the cast off to the right of him about a foot”. “Nice cast Sully”! strip, strip, strip BANG! SCREAMING RUN!!! I had on a beauty and had a birdsnest shooting through my guides at the same time. BOINK! Fish off! I’m read Rule #2, “Make sure you always have control of the line”. Geez how many rules are there with this guy anyway? Well I tied on a tiny another fly but was too frazzled to make a decent cast at the next couple of schools. I think at this point I was too tired and hungry to concentrate and he agreed we should take a break for lunch. He recommended that I use a Bonefish Bitters fly I had tied and then immediately put a nice cast on a solitary cruising fish and landed him. We then moved into area that had HUNDREDS of bones blowing by. We slid into a creek and immediately spooked a couple of bones that ran outside. One of the cruisers shot back into the channel much to his dismay. I said screw it and popped a nice cast in front the fish which picked up but spit it out. Rule #3 “Fish don’t’ spit hooks. either you set the hook or you don’t” Hmmm…Oh really I thought. I didn’t want to argue the point that I have seen stripers inhale an 8” lure and exhale it within a nanosecond.
Buddy spotted a tailer and a couple of other fish, which I cast to but not good enough. I then landed a great cast in front of the tailer as it began to cruise and hooked up instantly. This fish then hit warp speed and shot back up into the stream and wrapped around a twig. Buddy said that one was gone but I hung in there and brought it to the boat much to his surprise. Not bad for a rookie eh?
We moved to another spot and he immediately shut the boat down grabbed a spinning rod and was on the front casting a big bomber. CUDA! Rule#4 “The guide gets a chance to fish for dinner”. OK no problem here. First cast was short. The next cast resulted in the most violent surface strike I have ever seen! Fish ON! Fish OFF! Buddy reeled in the limp line and couldn’t believe it. He said,” Damn! Who would have thought that with three treble hooks I would have lost that fish”? I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “ I think that fish just spit the hook”. We both had a very good laugh on that one!
Anyway I had a couple of more chances on cruising fish but blew them which I’ll attribute to fatigue more than anything else.
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