It was the last day of the trip, late in the afternoon and the winds had not stopped howling for the last 4 days. I had lost, no one knows, how many “potential” world records on the fly that week due to craggily sharp coral, bad knots, heavy sets that snapped the class tippet on the take, etc. I admit to have been feeling a bit defeated by the week of lost records, but having learned a ton about fishing, fishing records, tying leaders, what knots work when and where and with what material. It was as if I had spent a week in an intensive work seminar in the prettiest place on the planet, the Seychelles. Optisism I find is what in in the long run makes a fisherman good or not and his/her persistence and hope to catching and landing the “next one”. While tired and a bit frustrated, I was still in awe and in love with the number and variety of fish that I had connected with over the last week on the flats. So on this special afternoon, my guide Kegan Mattheys, leads us across over a mile of exposed flats to get to the Green Mile of the Farquar Atoll. It is the spring tide on a full moon and they were going to rip in fastest yet, giving only a precious hour or two to pursue my predatory species of the Trevally. Armed with my Hardy Proaxis 10wt with 16lbs class tippet for the Bluefin Trevally and my Hardy 11wt with 20lbs class for the hopefully meeting of a Giant Trevally, I was ready and anxious for the push.
After the grueling march across the flats to get to the “outside” and cooler water, Dad, Kegan and I set up each atop a coral head facing deeper water and the unseen fish sure to arrive.
As we awaited the tides to start its push, Kegan bombed a few 300ft shots with the teaser into the dark blue of the ocean. Nothing, then nothing again. Every time, dad and I hoisting our flies that felt like kites in the blustering wind out after the teaser stripping them in furiously fast. Sweat and anticipation were building, prayers were starting to bubble up in my mind. “Come on, dear Lord, this is so gorgeous, so perfect…where are your beautiful creatures that I yearn to catch for a moment then return to the sea? Please give me a shot.” The next teaser went out and bam! Something dark was in hot pursuit…GT? Grouper? As it neared dad and I both cast out, he from Kegan’s right and I from his left covering the path of the teaser. “Strip, Strip” he yells, “he’s coming” and boom, a gorgeous African grouper is on my line. Landed, weighed and released. Things are looking up. The dad in the mean time is still casting in over the dark with his poodle with I hear Kegan yell at dad to strip. I look up and see 2 bluefins in pursuit of his fly, but confused by the instruction, thinking Kegan was talking with me, lift his fly out of the water. Quickly cast over in front of him where the Bluefins had just come in at Mach speed and with in milliseconds of hitting the water, the Bluefin is on!!
Soft set, on!! Really on. Kegan is so elated that he jumps immediately off his coral perch into the depths to go after my fish. Frantically, I call, “Don’t touch the line, don’t touch anything, I have to do this myself.” I had prepped all my guides at the start of the week and each day the rules to the catching IGFA records that include NOT assisting the angler in anyway other than helping to land the fish when done. Even in the heat of the moment, we were all laughing as he was swimming in wading boats and all with his waterproof backpack keeping him afloat like a buoy. Instinct and years of guiding has always taught him to land the fish, no matter how. I had heard stories of South African guides swimming up to 10ft down to grab grouper and other reef fish from their coral homes. Now that is service. Sorry, I digress. Now with Kegan and Dad reminded of the way this catch had to go down, my concentration went back to my prize, my goal, my Bluefin. Luckily, my coral casting platform had a coral free little “pool” in front of it that my Bluefin swam right into that afternoon. I could not have scripting the fight any better. He stayed high in the water column and even though swam at lightning speed manager to keep a reasonably comfortable distance from all the sharp edges. We had a few hold your breath moments, one of which he seemed ready to come in, as he was less than leader length away and slightly leaning like fish do when they are exhausted, but as Kegan went to grab his tail he took off at rocket speed like a sprinter ready to run a fresh race. Luckily it did not last long and it was over before we all knew it. This time coming completely to rest on his side exhausted for Kegan to Boga. Now the crucial part: We knew it was close…was he over 6lbs. Please Lord, let him be, oh let him be. Dad was, I think, praying harder than even me. He had been my cheerleading squad the entire trip; with each fish hooked, played, lost or caught, always upbeat and always confident that his little girl could “get the job done.” So we all took a deep breathe and with all eyes glued to the Boga Scales with saw it drop to over 7lbs. (Check out my face in the picture where Kegan is holding the scale and I am seeing the weight for the first time). Total awe!! So excited. Last day, last fish of the trip. Mission accomplished! Bluefin Trevally Women’s 16lbs Class Record – BROKEN!!!