Picture of the Day: A Utahn on the Bonefish Flats

Jason Danley Bone

Jason Danley had to fight the wind and a marauding shark to
land this Florida Keys bonefish.

photo by Capt. Duane Baker

The day after Falcon’s Ledge was named 2012 Orvis Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year at an event in Key Largo, Florida, last month, Capt. Duane Baker took Falcon’s Ledge operations manager Jason Danley out to chase some bonefish. Although the extremely windy conditions were less than ideal for casting and spotting fish on the flats, they did make the action exciting and very fast. After missing on the first couple of decent shots at cruising bonefish, Jason recalls the events which unfolded like this:

Captain Duane Baker, despite the wind and chop on the water, was spotting bonefish I never even saw. His eyes seemed perfectly trained for the conditions, and he always seemed to have the boat in just the right position despite the hard tailwind. After about a 20 minute drought of not seeing any fish, Duane called out for me to cast about 40 feet at 12 o’clock.

Because I had the wind at my back, my cast probably sailed more like 50 feet, and I could hear Duane telling me to strip as soon as the fly hit water. After a handful of short strips, I felt the sudden resistance of the bonefish taking the fly and did my best to strip-set. For a trout fishermen, it was a huge relief to feel the hook set properly and know the fight was about to really begin. Duane encouraged me to clear the line and quickly get the fish on the reel. All of this happened in slow motion, as the fish was confused and not quite sure yet what direction he wanted to run. My adrenaline pumping, I knew the fish would bolt at any moment.

Thankfully, this gave me time to clear the line, get him on the reel, and then—like he was shot from a gun—he bolted for deep water. At what seemed like 100 mph, he ripped line off my reel and into my backing. Soon he had out at least a 100 yards of backing.

All of a sudden, I heard Duane say that a shark was after my fish, not an uncommon sight, apparently. I could not believe he could see this from such a distance, but I guess a 4- to 5-foot lemon shark is not too hard to spot on a flat, even at 100+ yards. With a quick start of the engine and a little travel in the general direction of my fish, the shark was frightened off and I was left to finish the fight.

After two more minor runs, the fish came to the edge of the boat and was quickly netted by Capt. Baker. I was overjoyed and enjoyed a moment relishing in the beauty of the fish before we slipped it back into the water to fight another day.

Not bad for a guy who lives thousands of miles from salt water, eh?

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