Written by: Greg Vincent
Our head guide, Ishmael, and I were out spending a day on the water taking advantage of the great weather. We had just swapped positions from pole to bow, as Ishmael had just released a fish, and in doing we both heard a splashy commotion almost 200 yards away somewhere near the point of a small cay where the flat ended. We could see the wakes created by this commotion but could not identify what it was.
Neither of us paid it too much attention, as it was too far away to require immediate attention and it could have been just about anything. What we did know was that something had just had a noisy meal.
As we approached the end of the flat I saw what might have been the culprit making all the commotion we had both heard five minutes earlier. There on a small rocky outcrop on the corner of the cay was a large, single bonefish crawling over the rocks hunting crabs. I turned around to look at Ishmael, who casually nodded back to confirm things.
A quick angler-and-guide consultation had me immediately changing from a shrimp pattern to a medium-size crab pattern. It was quite calm, so we needed to be as quiet as we could, and Ishmael maneuvered the boat into position with the slight wind now off my left shoulder. The opportunity was skillfully created, and this was now my shot.
The stars aligned, and I managed to place the fly two feet or so in front of this unwary bonefish. I only wish we had had the video camera running because this bonefish—which was in just inches of water with its tail, dorsal fin, and back totally exposed—exploded onto the fly, spraying water 3 feet in the air as it clambered for traction in such shallow water. It hunched its back as it pounced on the fly and just inhaled it as if it had not eaten in a week. At first the fish just sat there with half its body now completely exposed as it had almost beached itself. Even though I had come tight with a solid thump, the fish initially gave no signs of alarm and casually and almost comically wriggled its way into a more suitable depth of water. Even that was only 12 inches. It was still oblivious to the fact it now had a size 2 hook firmly imbedded in its lips.
I am not sure exactly why, but it suddenly seemed to have regained its bearings, felt the hook , and was now off the races. Fortunately for me, this unusual delay gave me all the time I needed to clear my lines, and I was well prepared for the inevitable. Once we had stopped laughing at what we had just witnessed, Ishmael and I poled after and chased this fish for a hundred yards or so out into the bay, where it turned again for the shallows. We managed to finally land it after three blistering runs up to 100 yards at a time. We snapped a few pictures, and then the bone went back to its life normal like. I am not sure mine will be so normal, however.
The bonefishing this winter has been nothing short of spectacular. 2010 and 2011 had some much cooler temps than normal, so it’s been great having things back on track. The bright blue sky days of winter here on Grand Bahama have their benefits for us, and long may they continue.
Greg Vincent is co-owner of H2O Bonefishing, located on Grand Bahama Island.