It was a warm and calm morning. Only one cloud was pinned against the far horizon. It was a perfect day to get to More's Island and when the idea was suggested to Patrick, our guide, he smiled and said, "Let's go!"
After an uneventful ride on flat seas to the island, we decided to start fishing at what we called SNAFU Point. Patrick shut down the motor and we laughed about past screw-ups at this spot. Soon we spotted a school of very large bonefish as we drifted closer to the point. As still as rocks, they were waiting for the tide to begin falling. I was graciously offered the first shot and as I began pulling line off my reel, I discovered a nasty knot in my fly line. I tried to untangle the mess but, muttering under my breath, I relinquished the deck and began the process of disassembling the knot. Patrick just laughed at my fumings and mentioned that this was just a normal situation at SNAFU Point. Although this offered me little solace, I tried to keep my perspective while Craig unsuccessfully cast to the big bones. When it was my turn, the bones refused my offerings too. We all just looked at each other, laughed, and decided to move away from SNAFU Point and its bad luck.
Once across the cut, I once again began stacking my line on the deck, Craig stretched the coils out of my line until he reached an unseen nick and snapped my fly line in two. I smiled my best adult smile, stepped off the casting deck yet again, wadded up the now useless line, put my reel away and attached a spare reel to my GLX.
I was now sure we had exhausted all the divine mischief scheduled for our boat that day. With this bad luck behind us, we decided to wade the flats on both sides of a large mangrove bush that had, in the past, provided numerous shots at hefty bones.
Craig immediately hooked a fish and just as quickly lost his fish and fly when his line caught on his reel handle. No problem, it has happened before and it will happen again... unrelenting optimism is a trait common to all diehard anglers. As we lost sight of each other behind the bush, I spotted a two-foot long bonefish making his way uptide. I made an adequate cast, the fish ate my fly and then rocketed off the flat.
"OK... that's better." I thought as my reel made that familiar, yet intoxicating sound. Backing melted off my spool, then came to an abrupt halt when the fish broke off. I just stood there baffled and frustrated. I stared at my reel and began pulling on the backing finding it firmly attached to my reel by a very nicely formed overwrapped knot. I fussed with the knot pulling backing off my reel in big hunks. As I jerked at the backing, the tide carried the braided dacron away from me. After 150 yards, the knot finally cleared. I began rewinding the backing that had I lost to the tidal current.
Just then, and I am not making this up, a cormorant with a broken wing spooked from a mangrove bush. He hit the water with a resounding splat and began crazily flapping his one good wing (no doubt trying to escape my ugly example of angling prowess). Now, with legs and a wing, he veered toward me in one long uncontrolled arc. The cormorant smacked into my leg then ricochetted into my backing. He tangled a good gob of backing before wildly making his exit and leaving me utterly and completely dumbstruck. I looked upward, I smiled, then I laughed - this was obviously some sort of comedic moment concocted by the fishing gods for their own perverted enjoyment.
Almost immediately, something caught my eye. I couldn't tell you what, but I realized I was watching a huge bonefish tailing next to shore. Ah... another test... should I just fling my rod at the monster, thus ending this charade, or should I take the bait and cast to him? If I did take a legitimate shot at this double-digit dream, would my nail knot fail or would my rod break? Perhaps my dog would die or the stock market would crash. I had that feeling that overwhelms you sometimes and whispers nastily in your ear "Man, this just isn't your day."
But, what the hell... I shakily threw my little anemic bundle of feathers and string at the beast. He charged my fly, tailed quickly and then came firm to the end of my strip-strike. Like all really big fish, his exit brought the line onto my reel instantaneously. My backing unwound beautifully once, twice, then three times and, after a few agonizing minutes, a 28" (at the fork) bonefish heeled dutifully at my side. I estimated his weight at 9-10 lbs. I quickly released him. No sharks or barracuda followed him, I had all my fingers and the sky didn't fall. Just then Patrick and Craig waded into view on the other side of the bush. They didn't see any of this - the victory, or thankfully, the defeats. I just stood there awash in embarrassment and joy, the by-product of some celestial practical joke. Maybe it was some idiotic trial by fire (a test of patience, perseverance and sense of humor). I'd like to think I passed, to think otherwise would just make this morning too ridiculous and me too incompetent.