Friday, September 08, 2006

A Bone is a Bone Wherever It Be...

A fine full moon Friday it was today. The rising sun carved a cornflower blue pocket out of the indigo night sky, providing me with a heavenly bearing as I steered my skiff towards a mangrove-studded beach. Behind me, the moon was dropping down into the horizon, surrendering the very same firmament to the bright yellow adversary it had bested during yesterday's dusk.

This "lune" of a moon was pushing a thick boiling incoming tide around Key Biscayne and into Biscayne Bay. As soon as my depth recorder showed the 15- foot deep channel shallowing where the flat begun, I cut my engine, and eased the anchor overboard. As my skiff pulled tight against the anchor line, I could hear the water rushing by my skiff with a momentum that would demand a bucktail jig of at least 1/2-ounce. In the low light, it was impossible to sight fish the beach flat, so I planned on casting the contoured dropoff until I could see into the water.

I rigged my plug tackle with a 1/2 ounce white Spro bucktail and tipped it with a shrimp tail. I cast the lure upcurrent and fished it along the bottom. The line came tight on the second sweep of the rod and I struck my unseen opponent. After a strong five minute battle, I brought a six-pound green jack alongside my skiff and released it. The next cast produced a five-pound mutton snapper, which I released. Two casts later, I'd caught a three-pound mojarra-this was quite large for this species. The next hour of incoming tide produced this same kind of delightful potluck merry-go-round action.

At this point, the rising sun had given me the visibility into the water I needed. I repositioned the boat farther onto the flat and tossed out a chum tube full of chopped live shrimp about 15 feet "downstream" of my bow. It took about twenty minutes for the scent to do its work, but the wait paid off as two big submarine forms tracked towards the skiff. I made a perfect cast and the lead fish of the pair gobbled my crunchy breakfast offering. The fish fought with the renewed vigor a spring tide current usually bestows on summer's heat-besotted waters. It made three good runs of at least seventy yards, then fifty yards, then twenty yards.

As I brought the fish alongside my skiff, I could see it was between between nine and ten pounds. I reflected that this trophy fish was taken no more that fifteen minutes from the boat ramp and in clear sight of Miami's skyscrapers. I considered the fact that this fish would not have been the slightest bit more exciting if it had been hooked on the atoll flats of the South Pacific or the pancake flats or beaches of Los Roques. Even though travel is one of my greatest passions- even bordering on obsession- ultimately, when I "wet" a line, for me it's always the fish, the fish, the fish!


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