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Rum, Sun & Flats 101

Started by OldDominionAngler, August 21, 2013, 12:55:48 PM

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OldDominionAngler

August 21, 2013, 12:55:48 PM Last Edit: August 21, 2013, 13:42:10 PM by OldDominionAngler

Got to spend vacation in St. John with my wife and her family last week.  I now see why this has been their destination of choice over the years.  Of course, I made room for the 8-weight in my carry-on.

The island has no shortage of steep roads and amazing views.

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We soaked up plenty of sun, hopping from bay to bay as the week progressed.  It's particularly nice that there are so many free, public beaches on the island.

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We met our rum and beer quotas.

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And the food was good, particularly these conch fritters.

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We enjoyed the flaura...

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...fauna...

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...and fish.

One of my brother-in-laws is a great snorkeler...much better than me. I'd swim with him for a bit then break off and let him do the real adventuring.  Each day, he would come back saying "Dude, you just missed it!"  He'd either seen a huge school of fish, or a big barracuda, or a tarpon, or an octopus, or a green moray, or a spotted eagle ray, or something else really cool.

After our first day on the beach, he came back and said, "Dude!  I just saw THE BIGGEST bonefish of my life!"  My eyebrows rose.  "Check this out; he was right where you were just casting.  He came into some really shallow water."

I'd just been screwing around, blind casting from a rock next to the beach and now all of my gear was packed away.  I watched the video and said, "That's not a bonefish.  That's a big fucking permit.  Permit are like...way better than bonefish."

He gave me a blank stare. I stopped trying to explain because explaining the appeal of a sport fish to a non-fisherman is always much more challenging than it seems.

But that was the last time permit were spoken of as I headed to this flat the next morning.

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I came here almost everyday of the trip and saw bonefish on every occassion. I had plans to try other spots but there was no reason to.

Most days, I fished in the morning. Sometimes as the flat flooded, sometimes as it drained.   Sometimes when it was cloudy, sometimes when it was bright.

It was good to see the same water under different conditions and learn how the fish would feed.

Sometimes the wind gusted, making casting impossible, other times it was dead calm.

Sometimes I fished solo, sometimes with company.  I'm glad my father-in-law "gets" my fishing habit.

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Early on, I mistook ray fins for bonefish tails; or the splash made by a mullet; or the dorsal fins and tails of sharks.

Before long, though, that glint and glare became unmistakable, even from two hundred yards.  The quickness and deliberateness of their movements was also telltale sign.

The sharks, as a comparison, started to look lazy.  The mullet looked scared.  The rays looked lost.

Sometimes it was a school of fish feasting like a pack of wild dogs on the edge of the flat.  Other times it was one, maybe two tails of fish that were quietly stalking their quarry along the mangrove shoreline.

Finding fish?  Check.  Now it was on to the second half of the equation.

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Previous trips had me somewhat prepared to make the cast, but not the approach.  The good thing is that I learn by doing, and I had opportunities to do (or not do) on this trip.

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I learned lessons each day and tried to progressively tweak my approach.  At times I was too relaxed, allowing shots to pass me idly by.  Other times I over-corrected and was too aggressive, disrupting the path of feeding fish.

Then, if everything was just right, I'd bury my fly in the grass.  Or make a bad cast.

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Odd, though, was the timing of these lessons.

On my first day out, I received a gift. I spotted a school of fish and made my way towards them. They moved into a favorable position and I had a good shot.  I lead the school with the fly.  A few strips and a fish broke away from the school and ate.  He crushed it...only a light hook-set was necessary. The reel sung;  I smiled at its tune.

Thirty minutes into the real fishing on this trip, I'd landed one.

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I was so content after releasing the fish that I trudged off the flat, spooking other feeding fish, and headed straight back to the house.  Everyone was still asleep.  I had a cup of coffee with a splash of black rum and thought, how many can I realistically land this week?  Three...five...seven fish?

Cue the aforementioned lessons.  With each passing day, I began to appreciate that first fish more and more.

It wasn't all screw-ups.  I made some good casts.  I made some lucky casts.  I had fish follow the fly.  One time, a good fish followed the fly to about 8' of where I was standing. I crouched and awkwardly angled the rod to keep the fly moving but the fish never committed.

I tried different flies...approaches...I lengthened leaders.  But five days later my count was still one.

On the final morning, only a few hours before our flight home, I decided I could not pass up one more opportunity.

I woke up in the dark and sped to the flat.  Of course, the fish were there.  One in particular made itself known; a big fish, cruising solo, terrorizing crustacean life on that flat.

It was calm out. I got into position, cocked the rod back and punched line out.  The fly plunked and settled in the grass as the fished inched closer and closer.  I twitched the shrimp imitation and the tail disappeared.  I readied as I assumed the fish had gone horizontal in pursuit of the fly.  Striiiip, striiiiiiip, striiip.  I saw the v-wake of the fish tracking the fly and sped the retrieval.  I saw his shoulders.

Then the fish pounced, punishing that fly for being anywhere near him.

And then he punished me for fucking with his breakfast.

As soon as I realized the hook was buried deep I was in my backing and as soon as I was in my backing the line went slack and as soon as my line went slack it was time to reel up and go home.

It only took about three seconds.

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But those are the three seconds I came for. 0:0

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Big J

This was every bit of awesome  bd;0


benben reincarnated

Any words I say will fuck this epic suckage of a report up...so this is all      'c;

I'll go hang my head and keep catching dink trouts.

RiverbumCO

My real name is Chad Farthouse.

Jfey

I've been waiting for this.  Nice work.  Not a bad place to spend a few days/years isn't it?  'c;

Yup, going fishing

wind_knot

Simply amazing TR. Amazing pictures. Amazing story. It had me at the edge the whole time. I am in awe. Simply amazing.


Woolly Bugger

ex - I'm not going to live with you through one more fishing season!

me -There's a season?

Pastor explains icons to my son: you know like the fish symbol on the back of cars.

My son: My dad has two fish on his car and they're both trout!

Dougfish

 {S;  ODA, in a spectacular and epic way!  bd;0


Transylwader

Dayum Chris, you ran the tables bru bd;0

Holy fucking shit BATMAN!!! 8)


tomato can


croaker

-you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.  Robert A. Heinlein.

bullship

It's all shit, piss and bliss.

"This is the low rent district, and much like a trailer park, it doesn't attract the most upstanding citizens.
You can't piss in a mr coffee & get tasters choice."- Grannyknot

snagaluffaguss

You're too good for this place

like that hot girl from the trailer park with the double Ds and Straight As

Take that scholarship and meet a nice boy studying pre-med from a good family

if you hang around here for Billy you'll just wind up pregnant and hooked on meth

your tits will start to sag, your teeth will fall out, your ass will go flat and everyone one will say

"remember ODA back in high school, DAMN what happend?"

Well fucking life happened thats WHAT FUCKING HAPPENED!!!

'c;


wind_knot

Quote from: snagaluffaguss on August 21, 2013, 20:23:31 PM

You're too good for this place

like that hot girl from the trailer park with the double Ds and Straight As

Take that scholarship and meet a nice boy studying pre-med from a good family

if you hang around here for Billy you'll just wind up pregnant and hooked on meth

your tits will start to sag, your teeth will fall out, your ass will go flat and everyone one will say

"remember ODA back in high school, DAMN what happend?"

Well fucking life happened thats WHAT FUCKING HAPPENED!!!

'c;

Snag,

Is there something we should know about your past?!


snagaluffaguss

Quote from: wind_knot on August 21, 2013, 20:45:28 PM

Quote from: snagaluffaguss on August 21, 2013, 20:23:31 PM

You're too good for this place

like that hot girl from the trailer park with the double Ds and Straight As

Take that scholarship and meet a nice boy studying pre-med from a good family

if you hang around here for Billy you'll just wind up pregnant and hooked on meth

your tits will start to sag, your teeth will fall out, your ass will go flat and everyone one will say

"remember ODA back in high school, DAMN what happend?"

Well fucking life happened thats WHAT FUCKING HAPPENED!!!

'c;

Snag,

Is there something we should know about your past?!

Every one else already knows

go read all 178 pages of SOTD and you will too.



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