My Most Memorable Bonefish

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The release shot of the most memorable bonefish of my life. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Isn’t it funny, how certain fish we catch during our fly fishing trips can end up providing us with ten times the satisfaction over all the others.

Sometimes, the size of our catch has little at all to do with the amount of reward it brings. I love catching big fish just as much as the next guy, but for me at least, it’s often more about overcoming the challenges along the way that’s what really makes one catch end up standing out amongst all the rest.

For example, my most memorable bonefish to date, only weighed around four pounds. I’ve landed much larger bones over the years, but what made this particular bonefish so special to me, were the extremely difficult fly fishing conditions I had to work through to hook and land it. Before it all unfolded, and I found myself feeling that special fish tugging on the end of my line, I was holding onto the last remaining tidbits of hope I had left inside me for dear life. I thought success was just about impossible. Never give up when you’re out fly fishing. For when you succeed when everything is stacked up against you, it will provide you the feeling of complete bliss.

I’ll never forget that day of fly fishing in the Bahamas. It started off beautiful. The water was calm as can be, and there was barely a cloud in the sky. Louis and I were both confident it was going to be our best day of bonefishing for the week. Forty-five minutes later though, that all changed. That’s when it looked like we had a perfect storm developing on the horizon, and it was threatening to swallow us up. Our guide tried his best to out run it with the boat, but no matter what direction he headed, the storm system found a way to encircle us. Then the sun vanished, as the dark mat of clouds choked it out. We went from being able to spot bonefish eighty feet out, to barely being able to see them fifteen feet off the bow.

Louis had first dibs that morning. He gave it his all, as he always does. He managed to pull off some superman casts directly into the wind, and even hooked a couple bones, but he wasn’t able to land either of them. There were quite a few inflamatory words shouted on the bow that day, by all of us, and they were all well justified. That day of fishing was down right some of the most brutal saltwater fly fishing conditions I’ve ever experienced. Louis kept telling me to get on the bow–that it was my turn, but I kept saying, “Give it a few more minutes”. When fishing is tough, Louis always seems to be able to get something going for us. If Louis can find a way to catch a fish when we’re in the dumps, it always provides us the momentum we feed on for the rest of the day. That day, however, for some reason or another, he wasn’t able to get the job done. Worn out, and drained from his valiant efforts, he finally gave in, and told me, “if we were going to catch a bonefish, it was going to be up to me.” His tank was empty and I respected his request to bow out.

I stepped up onto the bow stripping line off my reel, and got into my ready position. Moments later, a gust of wind hit me broadside, nearly blowing me off the bow. As I struggled to recover my balance and composer, our guide Freddie, shouted, “bonefish 55 feet, 12 o’clock.” Somehow, despite all the water churned up from the waves, a bonefish had managed to swim across the only tiny patch of clear water we had, and for a welcome change we could actually see the target we were aiming for. I made what I thought was a perfect presentation, but the 35 mph wind blew it off the mark by twenty-five feet. I had no chance of catching that bonefish with that cast, and the bonefish vanished. It was by far, the best shot we had been blessed with the entire day and it was heartbreaking. Even our guide Freddie, who’s always giddy, had the wind blown out of his sails on the missed opportunity. He was being such a trooper that day, doing his best to not let the horrible fishing conditions ruin his positive attitude. As we all let our our frustrations out from the previous failed attempt, Freddie told us we had time to fish one more spot before we had no choice, but to head back to the docks (our safety was in jeopardy). Freddie poled hard towards the spot, doing his best to keep us from running the skiff aground and in position. All three of us scanned the water with as much focus as we could, but none of us really had much hope left at this point we were going to see anything. All we really cared about is giving it our all to the very end, that way we could head with our heads high. We were literally down to the last twenty or thirty feet of this tiny island shelf when I spotted a bonefish a couple feet of shore seventy-five feet away. I immediately presented my fly to the bonefish as quickly as I could and began my strip. With the skiff drifting so fast, I had only a couple seconds to get the attention of the bonefish. Thankfully, that bonefish spotted my fly in all that choppy water and aggressively tracked it down and chomped on it. I set the hook and we battled that bonefish to the boat and hand with all of us cheering. We all felt like we had pulled off a miracle, and we drowned that skunk. I’ll never forget the reward that bonefish provided us. Freddie felt like the guide of the year, and I felt like a hero. Somehow we had pulled of a 1 and a 100 shot and I bet I’ll never forget it until the day I die.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “My Most Memorable Bonefish

  1. Great read Kent! On a similar note, I’ve also noticed through the years that it’s often not the largest fish that gives the best fight.

  2. Great story, Kent.

    My most memorable bone was one cruising away from me just about to reach the limit of my ability to cast. I threw a Hail Mary and the fly plopped to the right front of the fish, which did a 90 degree right turn and ate the fly. My guide said it was not unheard of, but really rare, for a bonefish to respond in that manner. The fly was my own variation of a Gotcha with a relatively long, wavy dog hair wing, which added to my elation over that fish..

  3. Just back from Exuma, BAH. Difficult conditions because
    of lemon sharks everywhere, following the bones and us
    in an undefined order. My best fish of the trip, not a monster bur a respectable bones, stalked and picked
    by myself after a spirited set of runs was cut in half by a LS
    on dry land between the mangroves… Scary and unforgettable!
    *i have an image of the poor victim, if you want to see
    it Aldo

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