“Poets talk about “spots of time” but it it really fisherman who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell us what a spot of time is until suddenly the while world is a fish and the fish is gone…” Norman Maclean. A River Runs Through it
…deliberately meandering slowly down the soon to be exposed bar eyes squinted scanning for movement. A target. Covering a lot of water without much action, but shortly the tide would be right. The ominous threat from the north east was holding. A blanket of clouds left the sky a pale grey. Pre front. Kevin and I have the advantage.
To pass time we talked about our last trip and how we did not. We had cold bright blue morning skies, high sun, one day post front. I had the hot hand and Kevin let me stay on the bow casting platform and rolled video. A little reminiscing gave us something to do while waiting for the tide to suck out. I like it best when high parts of the bars and grass tips begin peering over the slickend out ripple-less spots on the flats. One can really begin to see how the tide flows and reasons why fish are where if you study it.
Like sometimes in the deep summer when the snook are way out in the deeper water way off the bushes for seemingly no reason. There is probably some kind of little hump redirecting water creating a steady flow of morsels doubling as an ambush point.
For a skinny water skiff the ripples are travel paths.
The tide got right. We began seeing tailing redfish here and there, taking shots and blowing them out. We each had a couple that acted like they were going to eat but stop short. There in lies the fun of sight fishing, however,you better be ok handling repeated rejection.
Then, theres the one the single most addicting part of sight fishing.
Kevin must have observed something out a little deeper he wanted to target. He had claimed the bow casting platform, I was positioned on the platform on front of the helm on my Banshee. The direction of his cast opened a lane for me to cast and run my shadtail parallel to the bar if I turned the bow slowly to the west. I did. I saw movement and reacted with a well placed long cast that landed softly and quietly well past said movement.
As I approached the area the movement came alive in a hump of water torpedoing up behind my go to Shadtail pattern. DOA 415, Black Back Gold rush. The hump erupted into an explosive shallow water take. A frothy swooshing boil of chaos. I’m not real sure if I felt the strike or not. It all seemed to be happening in slow motion and an instant at the same time. I remember getting Kevin’s attention as it began to play out. Moving quickly and swiftly (the fish) pushed a large wake going out and away over the shallow flat. She tried to breach only to expose head and shoulders in an ungraceful surge followed by the typical thrash of the head as she submerged for anther run. Moving clumsily (me) I gained very little, and gave lot. Finally one more burst of energy to get away from the pinching pains of barbed steel and pressure. I knew it was coming and it happened. Got into the backing and popped the knot.
In a half a moment it was over.
I shook it off quickly, it was early and there was more fishing to be done, not the first big fish I botched in my life, won’t be the last.
Humbled, and questioning my fishing prowess, I grabbed another rod and absorbed a couple well deserved verbal jabs from Kevin. Everything I did wrong, shoulda, coulda, woulda. The eat was worth the price of admission for me. He was right though, it was all true. A little seasoning for the next one I guess. Still, I should have gave Kevin the remote and let him keep up with the fish or I could have got out and gave chase on foot or I could have got on the trolling motor and gained back the now valuable wraps of braid around my spool.
I was gonna turn her broad shoulders with 8lb test and a 14 lb leader. My best guess as to what I was thinking at the time.
After a few minutes or casts, unbeliveably Kevin spots my line. As I write this I can still see the thin grey line floating just below the surface. I trolled over, grabbed the line and trolled towards where I though the fish was sitting to get myself some slack.
Kevin quickly gets the video rolling I grab the line and string it down the guides trying hard to not rush. I’m getting another shot at her and don’t want to blow it again by rushing it or not reacting fast enough. It’s a fine line. In the urgency of the moment taking my time seemed a priority and I had plenty of slack to work with. Kevin filmed as I get a quick knot tied only to find the line is tangled in a huge tumbleweed of rolling grass under the boat. I stepped off into the shin deep water pushing the skiff off the line the and clear remaining grass off the line while wading towards the fish to gain some of my braid back. Once I had a few wraps I slowly came tight then I slowly applied pressure. Back in the game! She takes off, I follow behind. I felt like my old Labrador Retriever Mogan was dragging me along on a leash. He hated it. So did this fish but I kept up while gaining line on her. Wading along in the water felt natural to do battle. Ol girl made a couple fleeting attempts to escape but I had her under control my handy work held up and was buried deep in the spool under tightly wound braid. The leader had to be getting chaffed up pretty good. I thought, just play her right give her what she wants. Kevin trolled over to me and I rolled into the skiff as gracefully as a 48 year old can and made my way over to the casting platform while we gained more line using the trolling motor to our advantage. I very gingerly steered the massive snook to the waiting net……
We didn’t measure the fish, we snapped a couple pics revived and released her no worse for the wear.
We guessed around the 40 inch mark. My biggest snook to date on artificial.