Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fishing for Bones

A man stood in a white patch of sand. Around him was a vast and desolate looking wilderness. Distant in vision was a small white boat. A slowly melting silt cloud painted a fading, wandering line in that direction. Nothing moved but a few birds. There was something else in the distance, black strips with undulating outlines. Islands. Further off was the mainland. The man hated these places. There were to many things to look at. There were people and sounds everywhere, animals making sounds, vehicles, horns shouting smoking growling... it was all too distracting. He couldn't handle it. His hard drive was almost full, and he needed to go out here to delete some things.

Here, oh, here, he could think. The man could focus. The air was clean. The water was clear. It sparkled gently in the sun, and spread in every direction. It joined the sky in an invisible margin, both blue and clear and silent, wrapping around entirely but distantly. Even when the weather was not so clear it was pristine and beautiful out here. The storms brought grays, blacks, greens, and purples. Sometimes a waterspout or two blundered across the ocean in the distance. The man always stayed to watch when the weather got rough. It closed in, and the rain and wind buffeted him, cleaning him and replenishing him. He loved everything about the flat.

The man was out here to focus, and his focus was on bonefish. This spot was a secret, passed down through his family for four generations. He was the final person to learn the secrets of this spot. Without all of the distractions of land and people, he could put all of his being into casting a fly to big bone fish. He knew these fish well, and he loved them more than anything else in the world. He only fished to the big ones now. He had caught so many in his life he was used to it, and didn't need need to catch the smaller ones. When he got lucky and saw a fish he felt compelled to catch, he landed it precisely and could sit for minutes staring at it without being distracted by things he deemed less important. If he didn't see a fish we felt was right, he just stood or sat and watched the feeding bones, the occasional nurse shark, and rarely, a big tarpon.

On this day the bones were taking their time. The man focused on the area they almost always came in from. He waited. Then he waited some more. Then he saw it. An enormous, scarred tail. His heart stopped. It was the tail of a fish he knew, a fish caught by his grandfather, then his father, both in there last days of life. When his grandfather had caught it he had to sit in the boat. He died three days later. His father hooked it the day he was hit by a bus and died in the hospital ten hours after lifting the big fish from the water. It was even bigger now. He watched it move it's way into a gravel patch, it's tail forming whirlpools as it went.

The next thing the man saw was his backing knot clicking through the guides. As the backing melted away he began to give chase. The fish had gone three hundred yards and the man had gone fifty when it turned back around. At first it came slowly, then it turned full force and came straight at the fisherman, who was now in a frenzy of action, trying desperately to catch up. When he did the fish was still coming. It went in a wide ark around the man, then turned once more and went through his legs. A flurry of water, legs, arm, and rod ended with the fish going for another run and he travelling along behind. The weather had started to change, and the going was getting tough. A strong, steady wind blew the waters surface into a foamy, choppy slurry. It through spray into the man's face as he traversed the flat on the tail of his bonefish.

But it was bound to end the way it did. The man reached down to touch the enormous fish at his waist. It was huge. Had he cared to know, he would have known this was well over the world record. But it was still special. It was a once in a lifetime catch for two other skilled fly fisherman. It's green back reflected brilliantly between bouts of froth and spray. The silver flashes on the flanks, the segmented stripes, the light hints of pink on the fins, everything about this fish mesmerized the man, and he stood admiring it for a long time. Then he pushed the hook out and watched it swim away.

His goal was complete. He stood in the now pounding waves and drank in the moment. He looked back to where he anchored his skiff. It was gone.


  1. Awesome work! It's apparent that you have other amazing talents outside of the realm fly fishing. Truly well done and a great fishing tale. I personally connected with the story because much like the man fishes the sand flat for solitude, I fish small streams for the same reason. Just curious...what species is your favorite to catch on the fly rod in terms of overall experience?

    1. Thank you. I really just enjoy writing.

      I can't say I have a favorite.
      I love native Brook Trout for their habitats and their stunning color.
      I love big Browns for their affinity for big meat flies.
      I love Carp for there great size and difficulty of capture.
      I love Pickerel for the viscous top water strike .
      The list just goes on and on, and I haven't fished for many species. But really the brookies are what brought me into fly fishing and in the end I am far happier for having spent time with them in there environs.

  2. Very well written! Yes, clearing one's hard drive is a good reason to be on the water. I have enjoyed water since I was old enough to walk and am drawn to it by a natural force.
    You really captured our attention. Thank you for these great words!
    Write, tie and fish on...

  3. You've created very strong imagery, which is the mark of good writing for me. I also liked your reply to "RI brook trout's" question regarding your favorite species. Great work....or for you great fun!!