Column - The Breakfast Club by seth L. Fields

The phone call ends. Plans are set.

Things are in motion now.

I spend the next few weeks tying the appropriate flies: 14 Gotchas, 6 Crazy Charlie variations, 12 experimental shrimp flies that just might do the trick, and a few Tarpon Toads, because you never know.

Like a never-ending highlight reel, or a movie marathon set to repeat, my mind begins to play out all the possible scenarios I might encounter on this trip. All of them ending in bonefish glory.

Double-digit fish, deep into the backing.

Perfect casts.

Perfect retrieves.

Beautiful flats.

Sunny weather.

The mind is a funny thing.

“Flight attendants, prepare for landing.”

Arrival. It’s cloudy. But, it’s an island, and afternoon thunderstorms are normal.

The rain begins.

We’re sure it will pass. It has to, after all we’ve got fishing to do.

The mind is a funny thing.

Morning comes. It’s cold, and the rain falls at a 45-degree angle. The wind is steady.

The look on our guide’s face says it all. This might not happen today. Optimism is the only recourse at this point. Maybe it will clear.

We agree to reconvene in an hour. Rods in hand, we make our way to a local café.

There, a group of older anglers sit, sipping coffee at a table underneath a covered porch. They see us approaching. A few blatant nudges and inaudible comments get passed around, and as we wipe away the cold bitter rain from our faces, the comments begin.

“You fellas won’t be needing those (pointing at our rods).”

“It’s only gonna get worse from here.”

We smile and nod. What do they know anyway?

The mind is a funny thing.

Suddenly, reports of better weather to the north quicken our pace, and we pack into a truck with a trailer and skiff in tow.

Half the day is lost already, but the itch has set in and we want to fish, so, why not?

More of the same in the north.

We launch the boat and make our way into the chop.

Wind-chapped flats, dark skies, and intermittent rain make spotting bonefish near impossible, even on the leeward side of things. We see a few, cast at them, and even manage to prick one or two, but it just doesn’t come together in the end.

Tomorrow will be better. The weatherman even said so.

The mind is a funny thing.

The next day is worse, sort of. Skies are darker, rain is heavier, but the wind is down.

The café is empty in the morning, and we’re relieved to see that “the Breakfast Club” isn’t there to further dampen the mood. After a bite, we trudge out into the storm, determined. We bear the watery onslaught beneath water-logged jackets and let the rain have its way with us.

Halfway to the meeting point, we see them making their way toward us, umbrellas in hand. As we pass, there’s a collective ambush of advice and disparagement.

“I don’t think so!”

“A good day for drinking, not fishing!”

“Not today, fellas.”

Maybe they’re right, but maybe we’ll find fish.

Back to the north.

The water is glass, but the skies are unnerving. Gray clouds are punctuated by dark veins in the sky, and in the distance we can see patches of visible rain walls that pass and seem to blot out nearby islands.

All the while, the northwest flats of Abaco exude beauty in even the worst conditions. Our first stop brings us past an incredible array of undercut corral cliffs and islands that line the western shores of Cooper’s Town. The flat we arrive at is unlike any I have seen before, and its white, sandy bottom is Joe’s idea of a foolproof way of spotting bonefish in these less-than-favorable conditions.

This will surely give us an advantage.

The mind is a funny thing.

That’s when I see them.

There, in the deepest recesses of the flat is a school of bonefish, tails pointing toward the sky and mouths clouding the clear waters around them. The only catch is the water is calm. Too calm, and too skinny. The skiff won’t get us there.

Without hesitation I slip off the bow and into the water. I step slow and quietly, but I’m afraid I’m making too much noise and I may miss my shot, so I do what I otherwise would think impossible; a 75-foot cast with a glass fly rod, a weighted fly, and in calm water.

I almost can’t believe it when it lands. A perfect cast. I might just pull this off.

Tails twitch, turn, and close the distance.

That’s when I feel it; the tightening of line, muscle, and restrained chaos.

I can hear the guys behind me yelling in approval and equal disbelief.

We have persevered through days of soggy, unrelentingly dismal conditions for this one moment. It seems that even the clouds have opened up to shed light on the effort.

It truly is the perfect moment. Followed by the worst. . . . A hook set too shallow and an angler wound too tight.

Them’s the breaks.

You thought this story would have a happy ending? Every cloud has a silver lining, right?

The mind is a funny thing.

We did go on to catch fish that day. Some small, some big, some not even bonefish, but it didn’t matter. We stuck it out.

Do you know how many bonefish the Breakfast Club caught that day?

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