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Monday, February 15, 2010

Between the Sea and the Land

In a couple of weeks I plan to return to Andros Island in the Bahamas for a week of fishing with a few friends, as I try to do every year. We fish in pairs with a guide to help locate our primary prey, the bonefish. The following is something I wrote two years ago on my way home from our annual trip to either the Bahamas, The Turniff Islands off the coast of Belize, or Ascension Bay on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Saltwater flats are neither sea nor land. Life there includes water creatures from sharks to shellfish, plus diving pelicans and other flying predators, who compete with the barracuda and sharks for fish, especially the bonefish. Sting Rays occasionally shake loose the sand covering their bodies, move away from our approaching feet, and again nose into the bottom to hide from the sharks. Seemingly unafraid, a larger Manta Ray drifts slowly by. The rising tide draws dark schools of bonefish from the depths onto the flats in search of crabs no longer protected by the shallow water. Bonefish appear from nowhere pushing a nervous mound of water in front of their advance, or pause, tails in the air, to search for crustaceans in the sand. They sense danger from everywhere and, at the least provocation, disappear as quickly as they appeared. A lone dark fin above the water traveling quickly in a straight line traces the passage of a single permit, the elusive fish’s mirror-like body invisible, except for that fin. A loud splash means death for something and a meal for a barracuda. The ever-present wind, a friend at my back and a foe in my face, conspires with the low angling sun to render my target either invisible or impossible to reach with a weightless fly. With luck, a fly placed in front of the moving fish and retrieved in slow jerks will catch the attention of one in the school. A bump on the line is answered with a solid pull, a slow rising of the rod tip, and line screams from the reel. Sharks gather and the barracuda wait to see how tired the soon to be released fish may be. Time passes quickly, and all too soon the fish follow the falling tide, and I am left alone with the crabs, the setting sun, and the wind, finally at my back.

posted by Custom Blogs @ 6:02 PM 




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