‘Where again Jim’? He asked quietly, he was crouching slightly, bent forward at the waist
‘Just there’ I said, pointing, ’about a metre in front and to the right of the black rock’ I said
We were side by side, close, standing in the warm clear water to our bellies. A tidal rip ran 30 metres in front of us right to left surging through and over a rocky reef. The early morning sunlight fell on the calm warm water, broken into a fractured world of myriad patterns on the clean sand at our feet. Sea lettuce, crabs and little shrimps wandered past occasionally in the tide, terns hovered overhead.
He made the cast perfectly, the line unrolled and the fly landed just in the right position, holding the rod slightly high for a moment keeping the line above the grip of the flowing tide.
‘Just wait a second’ I said,
Then a welcome gentle breeze helped a brilliant small up tide mend in the line. My heart was racing a little, a second was an eternity.
I whispered to him to drop the rod tip and the line fell to the water like a long blue strand of weed. Pinching the line with a finger and thumb he began to make short strips. The gurgler spat and slid across the water. Retrieving very little but maintaining contact and control, the fly immediately working, a straight down tide run picking up speed as it passed the black rock, head pointing away from us, bobbing and searching, lost in the grip of the current. Curving towards us now and beginning to cross the narrow channel I knew we had only seconds for the opportunity in this lie– it had to be perfect.
It wasn’t perfect but it was good enough, ‘it’s gunna happen’ I whispered. He kept looking at the fly, stripping, focused, and still crouched. Only moments left, half a metre, and then suddenly there was that unique sound of a big fish hitting a surface fly, an explosion of white water. A sudden moment of fear, of shock and surprise, line stripped reel screamed and then there was silence. I heard a tern.
The fish wasn’t on.
‘Stop for one second’ I said,’ throw some slack’
‘Now short strip it, quick’
And then suddenly the aggression the strength and the ability of the fish to manoeuvre in fast moving water was revealed to us as it turned and hit the fly again, took and swam downtide, its powerful tail driving it, its head shaking furiously from side to side. Stripping line against the drag in the strong current, the rod held low fighting the butt, rod tip dipping rising, dipping rising. The fish stopped, the rod lifted suddenly and then bent again as the fish took another fifteen yards heading towards a rocky hell.
A little less than ten seconds had passed since the angler had made the cast, and in the midst of this experience he turned and smiled at me, happy.
Surely this was the best way to catch these fish.