look at Bob Jenkins' photos
with the two jacks from May 6. We had a terrific trip that day...two
jacks and multiple redfish later in the day. As you might remember it
was Jenkins who got the Grand
Slam just two weeks before.
Bob was riding
high with enthusiasm and confidence as he prepared for our last trip
of his vacation the following
morning on May 7, but things began to unravel when he dropped the six
pack of Dogfish
Head IPA on his tile kitchen floor as he was headed to the
car. He salvaged a couple bottles, but it took him 20
minutes to clean up the mess.
He was a half
hour late and somewhat frazzled when he showed up for the trip.
The morning's events seemed to affect his casting, and
he had trouble all morning getting the fly to the fish. We
were surrounded by redfish for hours and never got one
to take the fly. It was the kind of frustration known to all fly
casters. You know you can do it, but why can't you do it! The harder
you try the worse it gets. We
finally decided to declare victory and leave...at least we hadn't
broken a rod or fallen out of the boat.
The plan was
to have lunch and reboot for the afternoon. I poled us away from the
redfish and out into deeper water on a sandbar,
dropped the anchor, and got out our lunch. The one thing
I didn't do was get out the Line Tamer and load the 10wt and big popper
in case some jacks showed up. It never even crossed my mind even
though it's SOP this
time of year. We had had only a couple bites when the school of
200 big jack crevalle charged the
boat! We made so
much noise leaping to our feet that the school spooked, turned in
direction, and sped away. Bob stowed lunch and prepared the big
tackle as I poled to deeper water, cranked up the motor, and
It didn't take
long to locate the jacks, and we circled around the school, killed
the motor, and Jenkins stripped out
line as he got up on the bow.
fish were coming at us fast and Bob launched the cast in their
direction, but the morning curse
as the fly
and fly line landed in the middle of the hard-charging school.
The fish spooked once again. This time we ran a tenth
of the jacks to give them time to settle down. Once again I
killed the motor, took my position on the poling platform, and
fish had slowed down, and we saw them ambling in our direction
riding high and happy in the water column.
I poled us into range, and this time Jenkins put the fly
in front of
fish... a really big fish. Of course Bob's a pro, and he was armed with a very
stout Hardy 10wt rod and reel combo, 300 yards of backing, a straight
shot of 50# fluoro leader, and the
big popper complete with a barb. The odds appeared to be in
favor, but did I mention that this
was a very big jack?
He had fly line on the reel after 20 minutes, but the fish
kept circling us. We had the anchor in the
boat, the motor trimmed up, and I was diligent to slide the
push pole out of the way with each
revolution around the boat. Twice I had the leader in my hands,
but the fish bolted away. After about 30 revolutions
the fish surged, and the reel fell off of the rod! I
grabbed it and frantically tried to reconnect it as
the handle spun and the drag screamed. Two seconds and the
line broke.... Actually the fly line
broke at the leader connection. Bob was crestfallen, but after
a few minutes we had a good laugh
and popped the tops on the two remaining Dogfish Heads and
toasted to "Payback".
This sport can
be downright humbling...