had limited visibility.
For one moment the fish and I just held positions. It was apparently as surprised as I was.
“I don’t know what the hell it is, BUT IT SURE IS BIG!”
Then, with Riega screaming “WHAT IS IT, WHAT IS IT?” both fish swapped directions throwing water and mud and screamed back down the channel. I thought I saw a sickle fin.
“I think it’s a big jack!”
“LET IT GO......LET IT GO!” Riega yelled, as he always did whenever we set up on a fish, thinking perhaps we might naively try and stop a bonefish or whatever.
“I am letting it go! I’m happy to let it go”, I said as the line twanged tight and my reel hit a frequency I had never heard before. Backing streamed out in the first three seconds. The fish were clearly running for deep water, not like all the Cuban bonefish that seemingly never ran for deep water and had wrapped us around every mangrove bush in a 50 yard circumference from where they had been hooked.
Go, get out of this mangrove nightmare, I thought. Go for deep water with my blessing. I let off the drag on the reel. Riega had the boat moving fast now, pushing it running in the water like a bobsled start.
Both fish screamed down the channel, the hooked fish behind. 100 yards, my reel emptying fast. Deep water and a sense of security 50 yards further. It would be close.
The lead fish turned left with the channel and disappeared aound the mangrove. I was prepared to ease off all drag if the hooked fish went left until we could clear the tree, but in panic the hooked fish went straight and tried to cross the grass bar. It ran out of water, skidded flat onto it’s side, glistening white, tangled in the eelgrass and proceeded to throw water, grass and mud in a ten foot diameter dome in all directions.
Good, get stuck and stay there. Fight with the grass.
Riega had the boat really moving now, and I began gaining line on the reel.
“It is a jack?”, Riega asked, skeptical now.
But there was no pressure. I reeled in as we approached the exploded grass bar where the fish had beached. I hoped the fish was just mired in the grass, but my line retreived to the leader and the Bitters rose from the water.
“Let me see the fly,” Riega commanded. He looked at the small crab pattern, held up the straightened hook. The Cuban wheels turned.
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