Saturday, November 19, 2011

East Side Magic, part 3.

I'm going flyfishing tomorrow, so I will let you know how the fishing is. Meanwhile, here is Part 3 of "East Side Magic."

Autumn is perhaps the best time for this action. In summer, the game fish will leave the sand by midmorning in response to the warming conditions, but the cool water of October and November will keep the reds feeding on the sand all day, especially if the sky is overcast. Normally, one wants a cloudless sky for fishing the sand, but on calm days when the fish are feeding in seven to 10 inches of water, they can't help but show themselves. Under such ideal conditions, clouds keep the sunlight and temperatures low enough to satisfy the prowling fish.
On that November day, we had a mixture of clouds and sun, but the cool water and available food sources offset any warming effect of the subtropical sun. I sensed immediately that the action would be good as long as the wind remained below 10 mph.
Spotting two tailing reds moving toward us, I poled the Stilt within position to intercept them. As we drew closer, I imagined that I could hear Dave breathing roughly. It's not an easy thing to succeed in such clear and shallow conditions where every false cast can alert the fish to our presence, and every imperfect presentation may be the last one before the fish explodes and flees in indignation. Failure comes easily when every sound and every movement seems to offend the stillness. I found myself holding my breath and freezing in place as Dave began false casting to the reds, which had already sensed our presence, and turned slowly away. They could still be caught, I realized, so I coached him on the placement of successive casts. Alas, the increasingly annoyed fish swam beyond the range of his best cast. Dave apologized profusely, blaming himself for the miss. I reassured him, knowing that success was imminent under these conditions.
The second opportunity was a single large red approaching head-on from out of the pewter-like sheen to the east. Dave tracked the redfish's snake-like signature through the skinny water until it was about 40 feet from the boat, and closing. He made a couple of quick false casts to get enough line aerialized, and then dropped the size 6 Clouser three feet to the side of the approaching fish. The red swirled and rushed to the fly, and went head down on it before Dave could even strip. "Get ready, get ready," I said in a hushed voice just before the big fish sensed his predicament and sped past the boat at a blistering pace. The line ripped audibly through the water, and the drag screamed. Dave stood silent and intent on the deck of Stilt, holding his rod high and knowing full well that if the fish was going to break off, it was going to happen right away. I said, "Let him go, let him go. Just stay tight. He's stop eventually."

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