SLOB Bonefish Pirate Abaco Flats as Threatening Storms Approach!
HOG-sized Bonefish raided the flats of SLOB Cay Creek last week in the Abacos. Actual names were changed to protect the innocent. Marauding packs of huge bonefish were seen feeding on the helpless crabs and mantis shrimp as they scurried for cover. The odds were stacked high, worse than sitting at a poker table with Chuck Norris… You know you are going to lose, despite all gross attempts.
Time is critical because the tide is near dead-low, and so much water has dumped off the flats that within a short wade from the boat anchorage you can reach dry sand… where to go from here?
The wind is howling 20 knots steady, and over the course of an hour the wind has shifted from the South, to the West, and now from the North… There is no-way any bonefish in its right mind would still be in the back of the flat! And the meaning of“Bone dry” begins to fill my imagination.
Nonetheless, the hunt continues and a very long stalk begins, taking me miles back into the mangrove creeks that have drained to not more than a trickle in most places. Begging for shelter from the punishing winds I push to the back. Curiosity of what creatures await fill my day dreams as I walk over dry sand bars, past mangrove clusters and through mud up to my kneecaps. Only Garmin knows…
Various places require a swim across several narrow channels where the creeks are deep enough to float your hat. On every turn there is another finger creek to explore. Both eyes are peeled for monsters of any kind. Crabs, shrimps, snakes, sea turtles, big ‘ole piggy bonefish, or even a giant ‘Cuda ready to chomp on a snapper. Luckily, in this area, no sharks were waiting to eat my leg.
Every 15 minutes or so, I turn and look up to see if the sun will ever shine again. But 90% of the time it is obscured by thick clouds, limiting my sight in most places to about a 15 feet radius. Not good I think to myself…
After playing catch with a few baby snappers and a baby barracuda out of nowhere a five-finger creek confluence appears with giant mounds of sand peaking just above the low water level. It is here that I discovered these thug-like SLOB BONEFISH. Heaven and Hell had merged simultaneously. This was SIN CITY for a bonefish!
There were two major holding zones in this 5-way intersection. One, a deep sandy bowl where the water floods into the bowl on one side, makes two thirds of a swirl then dumps out slowly. And the second zone was carpeted with lush green turtle grass and shaped like a bowling lane at the bowling alley, positioned on the far right, back side of the fish bowl separated by a narrow sandbar.
In the fish bowl were eight big ‘ole bones swimming circles along the edges of the bowl like Dale Earnhardt Jr. during a trial run. In the Sleuce was at least three or more bonefish, all lined up like bowling pins. Not to forget, these bonefish had tails bigger than the palm of a man’s hand spread wide. I mean, jaw-dropping, knee-shaking SLOB bonefish!
Gear check: 12 foot leader, check! knots good, check! Untested, never been wet, prototype fly tied on, check! GoPro stuck in the sand 3 inches above the water, CHECK!
I make my first presentation and was slightly off target… Get it together man! You’re on camera! Don’t jack this up!
Next cast and BAM! … BAM! … BAM! … I feel the line go tight and slack again before I could blink… SHI@#! RAT BAST&^#! The grotesque bonefish separated my 11lbs tippet like Moses parted the sea.
Now that the fish bowl is all stirred up, it is obvious that they got the green flag when I tried to stick it to that Hog. So I move to the right, reposition the camera, and setup to present my fly in the Sleuce. Last chance before both holes get blown wide open and time is running out with a 45 minute wade back to the boat, and a 60 minute boat-ride back to the villa, all in choppy seas from the winds.
First cast came up short, good thing it didn’t spook the hole. Second cast and the line goes tight and I suddenly realize too much line is stripped off the reel. Fat chance I had landing this fish as the line wraps around everything in sight. A clown dance begins trying to free the line with another HAM “BONE” ripping around the back-side of a tall dry sandbar, circle a mangrove cluster and then off into the backing in an unknown direction all faster than greased lightning! With line still double wrapped around the butt section of the rod just between the reel and the first stripping guide I then feel the inevitable… slack… a pleading “NOOOOO” fills the silent void but it is too late and I collapse to my knees in desperation but at the same time I know that that was the last cast of the day and the fish put on a SPECTACULAR show!
The long trek back to the boat provided plenty of time for reflection. While trying to avoid a full-on emotional breakdown I learned 3 things from this experience:
1. sometimes leaders/tippets can be too long; 2. sometimes it is worse to be too far away than too close; and 3. I now have a deep & dark obsession with SLOB BONEFISH…
Watch a clip of this adventure:
-Music by Cake and 311
***apologies for the lack of video clarity due to technical difficulties at time of filming***