Night Fishing: A Report (Pt. II)
August 5, 2005
The next fish is altogether different. I’ve switched to a little bunny number that almost suspends and I’m systematically tossing it out into the shadows and twitching it slowly back. Somewhere out there the line stops cold and a split second later a fish is in the air. At night, the sound of a tarpon jumping is almost musical, the gill-rattling head-shakes like castanets as the fish dances across the water.
This tarpon won’t stay down; jump after end-swapping jump punches holes in the glassy harbor. This is fine by me—the more they jump the easier they are to land. It’s a smaller fish this time and as soon as the jumping stops I pile on the pressure and try to turn its head. After a high, end-over-end jump a tarpon often ends up facing back toward you. Coming tight at this point means that you stand an even chance of keeping it pointed at you and greatly increases the odds you’ll at least gain a few yards of line.
Not that we planned to actually land any. Dragging a fish up the side of the seawall or onto the rocks below is cruelty no matter how you cut it. We just use barbless, galvanized hooks and once we get the flyline back we simply pop them off. Sometimes the hook opens, which is better.
No, the strikes and the jumps are what bring us here to stand in the heat of an August night and cast until the sweat stings our eyes. Sometimes that’s all we get—sweat and the taste of salt as we throw long lines at almost invisible shadows—but some nights the fish bite our flies and we watch them jump as the town sleeps behind us.
And after a while we join them, but I’m still casting in my dreams.
Casting at Shadows,
August 5th, 2005
George Town, Grand Cayman