I love mornings in a fish camp. Groggy anticipation, the smell of bacon, and cup after cup of coffee to help clear the cobwebs from one too many rum and Cokes the night before. I make my lunch and grab my gear before meeting David at the dock. The sound of the breeze through the palm fronds as the sun rises over Cargill Creek remind me of how lucky I am to be in this place at this moment. Thankfully, the wind has slowed to a manageable level for the first time this week. This could change at any moment. But for right now, we’re confident. David guides the flats boat out of the mouth of the creek towards the middle bight while I slather on sunscreen. We’re heading towards the famed West side and have a good ride ahead of us so I settle in and watch as the crystal clear water glides by. After nearly an hour, David slows the boat down and climbs up on the polling tower. Immediately we’re on fish. As soon as I have a fish in the boat David is calling out the next group. “Big school. 200 feet. 11 o’clock!” It goes on like this for what seems like an hour and in no time I’ve landed nine Bones. Laughing at our good fortune, we watch as school after school continue to come down the shoreline. It always takes a couple of days for my eyes to adjust so that I can spot a Bonefish. Their coloration allows them to blend in perfectly with their surroundings and more often than not, what you’re seeing is their shadow. Called “The Ghost of The Flats”, they can be tough to see, especially on windy or cloudy days. But today there isn’t a cloud in the sky, the wind is down, and nearly every cast results in a take. Nothing gets the heart racing like watching a big fish turn towards your fly and then coming tight! The fact that Bonefish are one of the fastest fish in the world adds to the excitement with screaming runs into the backing. After a few more fish and a break for lunch, I’m back on the bow of the boat stripping line when David calls, “Lone fish, 250 feet at 10 o’clock. He’s a big one. Get ready!” I locate the fish and get ready to cast when David says, “This is a big fish. Make sure your cast is dead on!” Great. No pressure. On David’s command, I make one false cast and shoot my line. The shrimp pattern lands slightly to the right of where I wanted it, but the fish turns and takes it on the first strip! Immediately, it tears across the flats as I try and clear the line. In the blink of an eye, I’m in the backing and trying desperately to turn (and not lose) the fish. Just when I think I’m gaining ground, the fish sees the boat and is gone again. My reel is screaming and my backing is quickly running out, so I tell David he might want to start polling before my reel is empty. Just then, the fish turns and runs towards the boat and I’m reeling as fast as I can so as not to lose him! Having retrieved all of my line, I lift the rod tip and feel the weight of the big fish is still there…whew!! One more trip into the backing and the fish is getting tired. As I bring him alongside the boat I get my first glimpse at the size of this monster! David is as excited as I am as we lift the fish out of the water. A few hero pictures and we release this 11 pound beast to fight another day. High fives and smiles all around as I step back on the bow to get ready to cast to number thirteen of the day, but it wasn’t to be. I hooked and lost three more fish before we called it a day and made the long trek to the lodge.
I quietly sipped a cold Kalik and munched on a few conch fritters while everyone told their tales of the day. Enjoying the laughter, stories, and the warm Bahamian breezes while recalling all the excitement of the day. When Eric finally asked, “How was your day? Got any pics?” David and I just smiled and replied, “Yeah, we got a few.” Needless to say it was a great evening.