“Mon! You’re F-U-C-K-I-N-G falling apart!” yells Julian across the wind whipped flats. “What the fuck is happening to you!?”
Yesterday I was getting high praise for hitting my targets. Many casts were deliciously downwind and spot on to several fish that either wouldn’t eat, spooked or just do what permit do and move on. Now I’m wondering why in the hell I traveled all this way to get yelled at.
The tails glisten briefly in the sunlight before disappearing farther down the flat. We walk swiftly in pursuit. These damned fish just won’t sit tight to give me a chance to get in a favorable position for a more downwind cast. The tide is running out and the sun is setting. The door is closing. My casts continually fold into the stiff northeast breeze, falling well short of a small school of permit. I trudge forth, thigh deep trying to give myself enough time to breathe and set up before the school moves on again, 80-foot casts headfirst into this crazy wind aren’t my thing. Days of sun, wind, and heat have exhausted me both mentally and physically. My own coup de grâce seems at hand. I’m a mess.
In a moment of frustration I hand the rod to Julian, just so he can know how tough it is at this angle. “Here, let’s see you try this.” He fires a razor tight loop into the wind, landing squarely on target. Shit. I’ve lost my rhythm. Five days on the flats has left me empty. It’s late afternoon. My last day out here. I’m tired. My hands are blistered from previous days of casting and saltwater soakings. I’m ready to hang it up, I got what I came for. I can just walk away from all this now and still call it a success.
One last time, a deep breath, and the cast somehow pierces the wind, falling along the edge of the school. A short strip and the line comes taught on a fish. I’m running down the flat now, rod held high, weaving this fish through coral heads along the way. These fish, even these smaller school fish are incredibly hot, going deep into the backing before you can catch up and hope for the best. Finally, after a long mad dash, the fish comes back on to the flats where I can tire it quickly and bring it to hand. Game over.