Bonefish are known for their fighting ability. I have heard them described as “pound for pound, the hardest fighting fish” and I think that very well may be accurate. They aren’t just strong however, they are also incredibly fast. One common trait I have seen bonefish display when fighting is to do a blistering run straight away from you, followed by an equally as fast run directly back at you. I have had this happen multiple times where I cannot keep up on the reel and find myself desperately trying to strip line in to stay tight to the fish.
These famous runs from bonefish can make even the most experienced angler look silly out there. It is almost like the bonefish know what they are trying to do in generating slack by running straight at you. A few years ago I was in Christmas Island with one of my buddies Jeff Feczko. We were walking one of the many endless pancake flats the world’s largest coral atoll boasts when the guide spotted a single cruising bonefish. We were targeting trigger fish but couldn’t cannot pass up a shot at a large bone. The circumstances that followed were textbook bonefishing. The fish followed, ate, then took off at lighting fast speed.
Soon Jeff was into his backing and we were all laughing. That is when the bonefish did the classic big bonefish move and spun 180 degrees before racing directly at us. Jeff was reeling as fast as he could but when a bonefish is traveling at mach 10 there is not much anyone can do. The slack started to form and Jeff continued to reel. Neither of us notice the slack line wrap itself around the reel. Soon Jeff switched to large, aggressive strips of the line, desperately trying to stay tight on the fish. That is when we saw the fly line wrapped and knotted around the reel. Jeff was controlling the fish fine by stripping in line but if he decided to take another run we would of been in trouble and quickly broken off. Feeling like I wanted to help, I decided to unscrew Jeff’s reel and pop the spool off to work on the knot. Once the spool was freed, the knot came undone right before the fish took off on a second run. Luckily he was able to swim freely on a final run before Jeff hand lined him in.
When saltwater fly fishing, I have learned to expect the unexpected. Some of the time you may need to make a spur of the moment decision. I just of easily could of messed up Jeff’s fish but I am a firm believer in if you spend enough time on the water, things start to go your way. Nothing wrong with getting a little lucky everyone once in awhile. Has anyone else experienced something crazy when fighting a large bonefish?
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