IOC*: Day I Retire the 7-Weight
Short Tide, Big fish.
Barjack the Angler Lost Fish Flat Indian Ocean April 2, 2011
Up at oh-six-hundred, eat chow and grab the bike. I’m getting smarter, though. Since the person that has duty goes to the office at 8am in the truck I ask for a ride and down the road we go. When I get to the flat there’s no water; low tide was at oh-seven-forty-something. I hope the tide won’t stay low then the flood in—I have tide times but no graphs. Luckily that doesn’t happen. The water rises slowly and suddenly bonefish are all over. There are no big fellas today, but I get a few then miss the next two. I examine my fly to see the hook tip pinned back. Huh. I’ve been burning through crab flies and neglecting the vise so I’m low on flies. I’m immediately struck by inspiration: the fun part is feeding them, right? For the next half hour giggling like a little kid as I feed bone after bone only to slowly pull it out of their mouth, watch them get pissed off and keep trying to eat it. Finally the tide was right so I tied on a legit crab fly went in search of permit, and… nothing, zip, nada, zilch! WTF!? Last weekend schools were all over the place and now nothing?
I’m frustrated but then I spot tails. In a school of coral munchers are half-dozen white forked tails—the fish I have been chasing all week.
Okay I don’t remember what I’ve mentioned so far about these fish, so I’ll rewind. On Tuesday I was fishing on the ocean right outside my place after work and there were these big white forked-tailed fish that have two black dots on their backs. Chased them for three days and hooked four! Yes Davin, I hooked another one on Thursday on my last Usual! These fish are insanely strong and come in on the low water, all four put me well into the backing and ended the experiences with a coral enema.
So fast forward to today, there a few but they are mixed in with parrotfish, bad news because parrots are really hard to sneak up on and if the fly line or leader lands anywhere near them they spook. I have no idea how much time passed as I was walking and watching them tail but finally the forked-tail got to the head of the school. I make the cast, lead the fish and let the current drift the fly into them. When I think it’s there I pick up the slack, give one small twitch and a fish turns, tips, eats! It takes off for the Persian Gulf and… number five broken off.
Curse, retie, about to find another forked tail when a big bluefin trevally swims up. I cast, he eats, we fight each other and as I’m about to land him the line breaks. At this point I am close to a melt down. I’ve got to land something. I think screw it, I’m going with 20-lb tippet now. By the time that’s done there are no fish anywhere and the tide is getting high—once the breakers top the reef and make it to the shore it’s game over.
Suddenly another trevally glides up all big and blue, I toss the crab fly to him he eats and I miss. Padded room. I pick up, drop, and he eats again! Ok, stick ‘im, stick ‘im, stick ‘im! Moments later I’m deep into the backing I can see my line and backing zigzagging through the water all the way into the waves crashing on the reef. If the trevally gets out there and dives it’s goodbye fly line. I’m out of options so I point the rod at him, clamp down on the reel, and walk slowly backwards.
A million thoughts flash through my head, not the least of which is the realization that a 7-weight is just silly—given the tiny margin for error with this powerful ocean-going fish and only a few yards to the reef. I also realize that anything less than 20-lb tippet is BS and a waste of time. From now on it will be nothing but 9 and 12 weights, heavy flouro, and 3x-strong hooks. Somewhere in there I actually turn the fish and get him pointed back toward shore. This could actually happen! Shutup; don’t jinx it. The fish makes another run but this time merely parallels the reef edge. This is good. Wait! That rock is out of the water… I’m running, plunging through thigh-deep water. Oh, please. I throw the fish some slack and he slows to a stop. I’m now chest deep trying to roll cast my line off the rock and through sheer desperation that works. The line is free again, I come tight and turn its head to the beach and walk it in.
11.5 pounds of bluefin trevally lolls in the wash as I remove my hook. I love my 7-wt, but I think it just got retirement papers as far as oceanside is concerned.
Rigging my 9-weight,
Barjack the Angler