Things That Matter on the Flats

locked and loaded, despite

 You motherf&*$&*rs got no creep,” -Kima Greggs, “The Wire” Season 2

The bonefish started moving away from me the second I raised my rod to throw and I had no accounting for it. But Ellie, my guide, gave me a look that made it clear this was all my fault.

“What’s in your bag, Pete?” he asked, and I felt embarrassed for overlooking such a small thing that could dampen my prospects.

I get to go flats fishing for bonefish, on average, about once every two years, so I am no authority on the subject. But in my brief travels I’ve picked up things that have stuck. Besides the general obvious ones–false casting sucks, poise counts and so on–it sometimes seems to be the tiniest of details. Such as…

THE SHIT IN YOUR BAG: Sound travels 4.3 times faster through water than air. Ellie, one of the guides from Andros South*, had detected a rattle coming from my pack when I loaded my back cast. The culprit: Those little plastic containers you throw your desired flies into at the fly shop. I’d left one loose in there with three crabs I’d purchased and forgotten about.  And it cost me shots.

THE SHIT ON YOUR LINE: Scene two, I was walking along a shallow flat, floating line stripped and trailing at the ready. Except it kept sinking. Every ten feet or so I’d snag a rock or shell or coral bit and get otherwise hung up. This again, entirely my fault. Despite my known preferences for ditch fishing in sandy, muddy and potentially toxic areas, the number of times I had cleaned my line added up to never. All that grit, and all the times I’d stepped on it added up to FUBAR. Thankfully, I’d left my spare reel sitting safely in my luggage at the lodge.

The guide wound up serving as my personal line caddy for the session, walking side by side and holding my line free from snags until I was ready to throw. Mighty cool of him.

The fish I did catch were, thankfully, blind to my inadequacies.

*(From FIBFest 1)

9 thoughts on “Things That Matter on the Flats”

  1. You forgot to mention the empty Kalik bottles rattling in the bag, or the fact that you used that line to secure your duffle after TSA destroyed it while confiscating your poker chips.

  2. Probably an SA line. Not your fault, bro. Clean or dirty, they all sink… hey, that should be their next T-Shirt.

    As for shit in your bag rattling loud enough to scare bones. Not unless it was like 10 or 12 Bahamian carnival bells… and you threw them at the bonefish. Sound above water (mostly) bounces off the surface and precious little from above penetrates, or vice-versa. The sound has to have a way to enter the water, like the way you voice vibrates through your bones (it’s true) and out into the surrounding flat. I’ve tested it (not extensively, I’ll hasten to add) w/ an underwater camera and a person standing on shore and talking (no sound) and standing in the water and talking (yup, you can hear em).

    Anyways, my thoughts: eh, it’s just bonefish, man.

    1. Sound traveling through bone. There’s a short story in that concept.

      A few years ago one of my colleagues did a study where he dragged a tape recorder in a waterproof case in the trolling spread of a sportfisherman. He recorded the sounds of audible conversation and things like hatches slamming 100 feet behind the boat. Maybe the boat itself was the conduit but you think it would be more extreme on the flats than the bluewater.

      Either way nothing to take too seriously. Like you said, it’s just fishing.

      1. True, Pete. I think the boat was the conduit, just like your legs would be standing in the water and going, “Hey, there’s a bonefish!” in anything over a whisper. 😉

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