As the bonefish bulleted away with my line, my heartbeat seemed to lurch into fast-forward. Here in the Marls, a 300-square-mile expanse of tropical flats off the west coast of the Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island, the fish must’ve sensed that it could run forever. I let the reel whir until the line slackened slightly, then I cranked like mad to haul it back.
The fight went back and forth like this for two marvelous minutes before my rig suddenly slackened altogether. Looking at a straight rod, I realized I’d lost my fish. I felt cheated enough to howl.
“Nothin’ you coulda done about that,” said Travis Sands, who was poling me around the shallows beyond Abaco Lodge. Living in Colorado, I’ve lost my fair share of trout for reasons both obvious and inscrutable, and I know that breakoffs are just part of the game. But apparently, I’d hoped angling’s laws might work differently down here in the Bahamas. And we’d seen so few fish that day that I worried I might’ve flubbed my only chance to bring a bonefish to the boat.
Grey Ghost Paradise
This was my first trip to the Bahamas, and I expected warm temperatures—or at least sunshine and those blue-opal waters found nowhere else. But as luck would have it, the same weather system that was dumping January’s “bomb cyclone” on the mid-Atlantic coast was also roiling the water here at Abaco Lodge, situated on the labyrinth of mangroves and mud flats known as the Marls.