Dedicated to the relentless pursuit of fish on the fly. Welcome to the obsession, I hope you enjoy the pics and ramblings. If you like what you see (or really don't), feel free to drop me an email at And when you're done, get your waders on and get out there, cause the only way to catch 'em is with your bug in the water.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Light My Fire

With Christmas just around the corner and practically no time to fish at the moment, I thought I'd share an old story. I'm sitting here watching the snow fall in frozen Wyoming and thinking back to adventures long past. Every year about this time this one creeps back into the forefront of my memory and lingers through the winter months, a constant companion to keep the fires going. Merry Christmas everyone and remember, the best things are most often those we never expect. I hope you enjoy...

I stared in disbelief. No more than ten feet from me, a huge dark shadow slid through the water. As it passed by the light from the dock glinted off its side just before it slipped back into the darkness. I sat and stared at the water for what felt like forever, hoping to see it again. Another flash caught my eye, a different one, maybe larger. Or was it the shadows playing with me? Hard to tell. I sat and waited. Then I saw it, another shape emerging from the dark. It was close, close enough to see a huge greenish gold eye catch the light just below the surface. It was December 18th, and I was in trouble.

As a kid, the holidays always meant drunk relatives watching football, way too much food, and most importantly, the much anticipated week off from school for Christmas. I wasn’t particularly fond of sitting in class and the annual holiday break was about the best gift I could get. This usually meant more time sitting in a duck blind in misery, but that beat math or history hands down. This particular year however, my parents surprised my brother and I with a family trip to the Caribbean. It was to be a week spent on the beach, snorkeling, bumming around, and generally wasting time. At 15 years old, this was a far better option than sitting frozen in a duck blind. Visions of beach babes and mischief danced through my hormone addled brain. This was going to be awesome.

I made it exactly one day before my plans of finding the babe of my dreams were abandoned. Heading back from the beach long after dark, the rhythm of a steel drum band still echoing across the water, I passed by the small marina. A splash drew my attention to the water. Funny, I didn’t see anyone there, and whatever it was couldn’t have been a fish. It was too loud for that. I walked down the gas dock to the end, where a single light shone on the water. It was there that I first saw them, mirrored scales along sleek sides slinking in and out of the shadows. I didn’t know what they were or how I was going to do it, but they were here, they were huge, and I was going to catch one no matter what it took.

For some reason I figured it would be easy, just walk up, cast, and reel in fish. Apparently I forgot about the fact that I’d more or less given up on fishing a few years prior and had certainly never fished for anything like these. With no experience and no guidance I set out to catch one of the beasts with a beat up old rig I managed to scrounge up. I quickly found out I was wrong. I somehow hooked one up before too long, and immediately realized how poorly prepared I was. I lost every ounce of cockiness I had that first night. By the time it was over I was exhausted and humbled. I was certainly glad that nobody else was there to witness the beating I had taken. Over the next several nights I kept at it, always hopeful for that one fish to cooperate. Sometimes I’d get takes, but usually that big bucket mouth would stay sealed shut as the fish swam up to, then past my offerings. If it did open, I’d miss the hookset, break it off, or have the hook fly back in my face on the first jump. My little sideshow on the dock held the rest of my family’s interest for a few nights, but eventually they gave up on seeing something exciting. I kept at it though, trying this and that, changing the retrieve and presentation, watching for the fish’s reaction. Maybe I wasn’t missing school after all.

It all came down to the last night. It was now or never. They were there, I knew now that they came in for the baitfish that were attracted to the light. I’d cast, retrieve, nothing. The shadows went about their business as usual, glinting here and there when the light touched their scales just right. It got later and later with nothing happening. I stopped looking for specific fish and started blind casting into the dark, beyond the light’s reach. Suddenly, my line came tight. There was an unbelievable pull and the reel was singing before I knew what happened. Through the darkness I could see the fish launch out of the water and crash back down. It ran back towards, then past me and I knew I was in trouble. It was big, bigger than anything I’d ever hooked. There was no way this was going to happen. I was reeling like mad, breathing hard, and sweating profusely in the humid tropical air. I’d catch up on the slack line just in time to have it ripped back out. One way, now the other the fish ran. Forever went by and still it fought, every leap and tug threatening to snap my ratty leader. My fingers wrapped white knuckle around the rod grip, the butt digging into my stomach, I started to laugh. Somewhere in the distance the steel drum band was still playing, their rendition of Feliz Navidad echoing across the beach. It was Christmas Eve and I was getting the best gift I could ask for.

Whether I landed it or not doesn’t really matter at this point, but I’d like to thank you, Mr. Megalops, for that gift. Better than missing school, better than anything wrapped up in paper under a tree, better even than beach babes, you gave me an education and rekindled the fire.
Quit reading this now and go fishing