"our Tide" - Fly Fishing Forum
Stripers and Coastal Gamefish Stripers, Blues, Inshore tuna!

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Old 06-03-2002, 06:26 AM
RandyJones RandyJones is offline
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"our Tide"


As I sat enjoying lunch with a group of Orvis Saltwater Fly-Fishing students during our 2 1/2 day school on Cape Cod, I was asked "What was your best day on the water?” After 20 years of guiding in Vermont, on Cape Cod and the Salmon River in New York, many best days flashed across my mind.

Visions of steelhead on the Salmon River catapulting like a rocket ship skyward, somersaulting like a juggler's baton then tail walking all the way to Lake Ontario filled my memories. Or maybe it was the evening, alone, standing in the foam of crashing waves on Nauset Beach. The fog engulfing me, making me feel as if I was not of this earth as my ears would not stop the sound of my drag racing towards the open ocean. When finally at my feet lay a beautiful 40-inch striper on a fly, released to produce more offspring for my children's pleasure. Or was it sight fishing on the flats off Chatham, in 2 1/2 feet of crystal clear water, seeing hundreds of keeper bass in a tide.

I realized that my answer would not come easily or fast and most eyes at the table were on me. As I searched deep for my best fish story, it suddenly hit me. It wasn't my fish, my day or even my story that gave me the most rewarding experience!

The story that began to unfold was one that no one expected to hear. It was a story about guiding two fly fishermen on a raw, windy overcast day on the salt.

On this tide, it was the most enjoyable, challenging and exciting day of my life. I was helping someone rise above the limitations of a progressive, degenerative disease and letting his soul and mind shine through. Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder brought about by a benign paraproteinemia, which has caused muscle weakness, intention tremors and severe wasting in his hands. Without this control, basic tasks involving walking, writing, grasping and handling documents or other items necessary in a work environment have become impossible.

Ray's day started with the expectation of float tubing in the salt, in an area we call the "Tub". There is no heavy surf or fast currents in this area but flat, calm water loaded with stripers and blues. We planned to float the entire length, about two miles with the incoming tide. Ray's disease would not allow him to stand on his own, so the day started with Ray in the tube with an anchor in place to stabilize him. It was difficult for Ray to fly cast into the wind so we started with the spinning rod. It wasn't long before Ray's rod arched back with a snap any angler would equate to "Fish On"!

Soon afterwards, the wind started to blow a good 20-30 knots. The rain fell unnaturally sideways and even sitting in the float tube left Ray drenched with the chop as it breached his tube. This raw northwest wind negated any further advancement down the shoreline as it pushed us back against our tide.

We then both had to work in sync to overcome the turn in the weather. At Ray's suggestion, I held the back of his shirt to provide him with a more solid platform to help him balance.

Again, Ray instinctively rod set and leaned back as this ten pound bluefish searched for freedom while we both laughed together like two little kids sneaking a piece of grandma's chocolate cake before it had 'proper time' to cool.

We had used the "Outermost Shuttle" in Chatham, to reach what seemed to us to be the end of the world. Solitude, beauty and this incredibly pristine environment were ours alone for this tide. We owned that beach.

The shuttle captain showed up later in the day due to his concern about the weather to see if we wanted to come back early. What he witnessed were two grown men laughing uncontrollably with the tip of the rod pulsating up and down as if attached to a ball bouncing down the street. The launch captain said with grin "Well I guess that answers that question", as he sped off back to port, leaving us again, alone to our private world.

At this point and time in the story I might add Ray's friend John Sobolewski was making spectacular 80 foot casts on his back cast due to the wind. John was catching a few but Ray and I both couldn't help ourselves in ribbing John a bit as Ray was way ahead in the number of fish landed.

Any guide will tell you, we are teachers and our true satisfaction comes in a way that any teacher feels when their students do well on a test. When I guide I feel my client is fishing through me. As a partnership striving for the same goal.

Today, more than ever I felt a part of Ray's hopes, desires and dreams. We shared laughter and the excitement in each other's voices. The look of total satisfaction and awe as we revived, released and watched a keeper swim away, savoring its beauty and gracefulness.

As the afternoon progressed on, Ray conveyed to me that his real desire was to land one on a fly rod. John had purchased a Regal Saltwater fly reel from Europe that had a trigger to reel in the line. They made a leather wrist guard to strap the rod to his arm so that the cast could be made without holding directly onto the rod.

Ray's challenging goal then became mine. As a team we positioned ourselves in an area where the wind was to our back and noticed fish breaking the surface feeding on sand lances just out of reach of us. Ray made a fine cast and as he retrieved the line by pulling the trigger, Ray's back arched. His rod bent and we both came close to hurling backwards into the water as his line suddenly snapped tight.

I will never forget that beautiful fish and the victorious look in Ray's eyes as a smile lit his face.

After telling Ray's story and looking at the pensive faces around me, I realized how very lucky I was to have shared a spectacular day on the water with this amazing man.

----------------------------------------------------------------- I wrote this inspirational story as not only a fine memory in my life, but also on behalf of others like Ray who refuse to allow the tides to stop running.

Randy Jones
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Old 06-03-2002, 08:31 AM
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juro juro is offline
Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Steelhead country|striper coast|bonefish belt
Posts: 20,594
Randy -

I take back all the things I said about your writing skills.

Just kidding, that is a beautiful piece and I would like to ask your permission to promote it into a Chronicle piece so it doesn't get lost in a pile of bulletin board messages. I sincerely hope you'll let us keep this gem in our story archives, it's too good to bury in a board.

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Old 06-03-2002, 09:41 AM
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striblue striblue is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Plymouth and Chatham, MA
Posts: 7,518
I agree...great idea and perfect for this...
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Old 06-03-2002, 10:34 AM
RandyJones RandyJones is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 151

I'd be flattered!

Once in a great while I write a keep'a. (he-he)

Best Fish's,

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