“Boy am I going to miss that fly!” I thought to myself seconds after that big boy jack crevalle finally found the rock that would part the 20-lb leader. This came after a 10 minute dog fight where the brute nailed the red/white fly on the swing and instantly headed for the bottom of the channel. Into the backing, but only barely. I cant imagine who doesn’t love the stopping power of a Hatch Reel.
Fish pumping hard against the Beulah Bluewater 11wt rod, I cleared fly line and then suddenly watched the splice between fly line and backing smoothly exit the rod guides but the fish stopped short by the infamous 9+ Pulse Reel. Its no wonder though, all 9 of it’s bad-ass discs were working perfectly in unison and applied maximum force against the beast.
Back and forth, from one side of the jetty to another, down deep. I wasn’t worried about the fish finding that one rock that sticks out further than all the others until I saw my leader and some flashy white coffee table sized fish below it. Hues of green, blue and silver radiated up from 6 feet below the water’s glistening surface, and then, just as I felt the line begin to scrape against that invisible rock, the drag was backed off and very little pressure was applied to the rod in an attempt to let Max Jack swim out but the fish was straight down, tail still thumping. Trying different angles, and reaching out over the water failed to free the line from it’s snare, suddenly I felt a little pop just as the line went slack. Raising my rod tip I found a keenly abraded tag end to the leader, roughed up but severed in two.
Goodbye Mr. Crevalle. I shall call you Max Jack from now on.
As the excitement subsided, I realized that fly worked like magic, but I had just lost my only one in that pattern. So, I headed to the truck and drove home to fashion two more while the tying recipe was still fresh in my mind.
Within an hour, a turkey sandwich fell victim along with a few handfuls of Fritos corn chips, I was back on the rocks with two new freshly tied red/white flies in my shirt pocket.
As I walked along the stony path, the sea conditions were not as favorable as I had hoped for but as I continued, I decided that the exercise was worth the walk even if I didn’t make a cast. Then sure enough, I noticed cleaner water on one side of the jetty than the other. Taking plenty of time to study the wave patterns, the easterly swell proved that while the waves sets looked small, the sea retained its powerful rhythms. So, I found a familiar perch, and stripped out a lot of line onto the rock, then fed it back into my stripping basket to prepare for the first cast.
One cast… a little short based on my idea of the where is the strike zone.
Strip off a bit more line… recast for #2… Agh, but the wind caught the line as it descended on the water and put a big bend in the belly.
Recast again, looks good, and fly is in the zone… letting the line and fly sink a bit I worked the fly within a depth where the fly remained barely visible… Waves continue crushing the line of rocks as I setup for cast #3…
Good distance made here, the line zipped out of the casting basket during a brief lull in the wind and laid out nicely in front of me. Counting to 5 (one 1 thousand, two 1 thousand, three 1 thousand ect…) I began the retrieve…
Then it struck like lightning! 50 feet of line in the water, and 30 feet of line in the stripping basket, I pulled tight to set the hook with Airflo’s low stretch Tropical Intermediate line and on the second strip-set the fish’s adrenaline demanded even more line clearing all slack in the basket in half a heartbeat. I cheered for my fluorocarbon leader, as if encouraging the 30-lb tippet to hold fast, I checked the drag and found it nice and tight yet smooth as butter on Texas Toast.
She headed for the end, where I knew my odds of even seeing the fish were minus five to one, I jumped from my perch to the next, gaining as much line as possible and recovering the 30 feet of backing as well as some fly line that it had taken before the fly reel forced the fish to turn on its initial run. It turned sharply, and ran to the right, parallel to the rocks but still 40 feet out of sight. Jumping between perches, constantly changing angles and pulling low and hard to the sides, the fish finally succumbed to the relentless pressure that this fly gear was meant to serve to its opponents.
And then, as if time was standing still, the waves sets calmed and aligned with my attempts to land the fish in a safety zone. One the second wave, I coerced the fish up onto a kind rock relatively safe from escape. This fish weighed in on certified scales at 21.8lbs and measured 50″ total length. 30-lb leader was used with 50-lb bite tippet.
Reflect on a few things here with me if you will…
Your equipment must be in perfect working condition. Inspecting your setup frequently helps identify flaws in the system. Your rod should match the quarry you seek. Your reel must have super smooth drags and your leaders tied with properly formed knots.
Your level of preparedness dictates your success. And… the best way to gain confidence in a fly pattern is to fish the hell out of it.
IT IS ON FOLKS! Sharpen your skills as well as your hooks. Practice makes perfect. That’s why I fish in even the terrible conditions. Even if I don’t catch something I will have at least practiced the art of fly fishing. And that my friends, is what makes it all worthwhile. Train yourself in tough conditions, and you’ll be more than ready in excellent conditions. Every athlete knows this routine all too well.
Custom jetty trips can be arranged and dates in June on the flats for redfish are filling fast.
-Kenjo (361) 500-2552