So near and yet….
June 14th: A big permit lost off the Club beach…. A 30-pound tarpon jumped and lost out in the Marls…. Seven bonefish caught on the Club beach in one session…. Over two hundred bonefish boated in five days…. A 35-pound Jack Crevalle lost after a 10 minute fight…. It’s been an eventful week.
The Club was taken over by Michael Brittin’s party for five nights. The group, all experienced bonefishers from Washington DC, headed straight for the beach on arrival last Thursday; while some swam or kayaked, others fished. With the wind in the west and calm seas, it turned out to be the liveliest beach session yet, with more than a dozen fish of various species landed.
The lost permit was big, probably over 30lbs. Hooked by James Martin, it took a huge run and the leader then broke. Several other big permit were seen at the northern and southern ends of the beach by members of the party that day and the next. Michael Brittin lost another huge fish, but modestly declined to acknowledge the possibility that it, too, was a permit. Our ongoing failure to land one of these brutes is a topic I fear I may still be writing about in five years time.
Meanwhile. Per Ramfjord was getting stuck into beachfront bonefish, taking five, and James Martin added two more. This was the first time we have seen so many bonefish taken from the beach in one brief session. Over the four days that followed the group caught almost 200 bonefish between them in the Marls, at Crossing Rocks and at Cherokee Sound. And Preston Burton “jumped” a tarpon (i.e. hooked it but lost it when it jumped); it was only a “baby”, at a mere 30lbs or so, but it was the first one yet hooked by a Club guest.
Being lawyers, the group devised a complex and entertaining set of rules to determine the Victor Ludorum, which recognized both good catches and good character. Penalties were levied on those who fell asleep in the boat, those who smoked flavoured cigars, those who fell overboard and those guilty of “indecorous behavior”. The (substantial) penalty pot was then awarded to the winning guides as a bonus. Appropriately, the top prize went to the senior lawyer present, the Honorable Thomas Francis Hogan, a judge of Irish lineage who, through complete coincidence, was also in charge of dispute resolution as the sole member of the Rules Committee.
The Brittin party was then followed by a diverse collection of anglers. Bonefishing neophyte Michael Woolley, a doctor from England, started his saltwater fishing career in style, hooking 20 bones on his first day, boating 12 of them and losing a 13th to shark attack. He also had a cast at a big permit. Retired US marine general Walt Boomer, together with friend Art Baron, boated 10 bones in a half day out. And Michael Woolley, together with Stoney Petit from Texas, boated another 10 bones today, with Michael also losing a 35lb Jack Crevalle after a 10-minute battle and with Stoney nailing a 6-pound bone, the best fish of the week.
The sun is shining, the breezes are light and all is well in paradise. And surely the big fish can’t always get away. Our day will come….