After my epic skunk-a-thon on the flats in the middle keys, I decided to search the flats the next day for for the elusive bonefish near Key Biscayne. After calling every guide I knew and few I didn’t, to get the skinny, it sounded like there were fish to be had in the area after the water temps warmed. The INTEL was solid and my chances only slightly greater than the day before. (See next post down for full Skunk report, and casting practice/line review)
After a half hour turning coral into fish I had a couple shots at small fish working the perimeter of the flat. They were up shallow, tight to a transition, in warmer water and spooky. The actual fish moved on and my hallucinations continued. However none of the specters left in a cloud of mud like the others, the just sat there like rocks and swayed in the current and with the flat light. Nothing.
As the day moved on the wind pounded the flats and sun warmed things a bit. Nothing more in the sand, so I moved out a bit further to deeper water, a little over junk-deep to be exact, cool and refreshing.
I moved into a wide expanse of turtle grass, pock marked with blue holes. The holes were deeper, and fishy looking.
After a few casts, BANG, hefty tug and solid run — fish on. It’s CUDA-time.
I took a couple pics and released the little toothy hammer handle and tied on some heavier tippet and bigger Clouser. Bang another fish, a bit bigger this time. Bigger fly bigger fish, bigger teeth, bigger fight.
Landed a few more of those and released them one handed while holding my camera to take pics, the bigger they got the more feisty they remained in hand, and the more threatening the teeth became.
I tied on straight 20lb mono and a 3/0 olive and white Clouser. I laid out a cast to the drop-off that was holding fish and a NICE shadow trailed my fly as I stripped. Really even strip, follow, follow — BANG. A nice CUDA on!
So I let this one run a bit to try and wear it out. He took me into the backing a few times and the popped off, cut the line — toothy bastard.
Re-tied, 20lb mono – 3/0 Olive and White Clouser.
Follow, strip, follow, strip, follow, – BANG, another fish on, plaid this one even more cautiously — loosed my drag, really let him run — then horsed him in quick. Unrolled my SmithFly Digi-Pouch with one hand, to get out my D-90 to snap a nice photo. Swung him in close to grab with the other hand. Reached out to grab him and he sped off on another run.
I horsed him back after a short burner, they’re runs are short and fierce but over quickly, then it’s like reeling in a log. Brought him back over to me quickly. When I reached down to grab him with one hand, camera in the other, he slashed in the water away from my hand and moved right for my junk, mouth open with 3/4″ long fangs barreling down on my business which is at fish eye level dangling in the cool water, only a thin layer of 15 year-old quick-dry ExOfficio Nylon and some boxer shorts between me and certain CUDA-sectomy or worse yet, CUDA-stration.
Luckily, a well placed blow to the beak of the beast deflected the critter’s invasion of my privacy, but still it was a close one. I pulled the hook and released the fish, a nice long slender torpedo. A perfect shining silvery predator, swam back across the blue hole and disappeared into the distance.
Lesson learned — when in junk deep water, always put TWO hands on a big CUDA – a picture just ain’t worth it.
Needless to say no pics of the big ones.
One handed operation of the SmithFly Digi-Pouch.
Beautiful flats camo.