Day 5 starts with a drive to new waters. After staring at the maps for hours, I've convinced myself we can access a creek I visited years ago via an inflatable kayak. We hike. And hike. And hike some more. After a few false turns, we reach the flats. And hike some more. I'm buzzing from memories of fish past. I spot something near the edge of the peninsula we are walking. My spirits plummet. A gillnet. Profanities fly as I realize I don't have a knife. I stash my gear and bundle the indiscriminate killing tool into my arms. I sink into the soft sand as I walk back to the jungle.
We stalk to the edge of the mangroves. We spy a lone bonefish feeding in the shrimp mounds. The quick sand like bottom keeps us on the dry bank. Matt perfectly tiptoes the tricky line of casting close enough but not so close that it spooks the fish whose back is out of the water. On cast 12 or 15 the fish turns and charges right at us. Set! Set! We're off to the races. Roars of delight fill the universe. Pure euphoria.
This chunker was another highlight from Day 5. Cruising with a friend, this fish was milling about in the back of a cove at high tide and took a few tries to convince. 15 minutes after letting this one go, I spied the largest Cuda of my life. A five foot killing machine. Talk about a hostile work environment. Makes me love those fat, old bonefish even more
Day 5 culminates with a spectacular catch and some serious type 2 fun. Remember how I said I stared at the map for hours? Well after the successful hike in, I'm feeling confident and keep looking at the map until I'm convinced there's another route out that will allow us to fish with the setting sun at our back the entire way. I present the boys with three options. Hike back out on the proven route, wade (& possibly swim) across the lagoon channel and walk back a few miles on the road, or fish our way out on this new route. I present the final choice with a big smile so they can know my vote.
We walk the mangrove edge, weaving around roots, eyes trained on the water ahead. Sporadic bonefish are spotted but no luck. I'm crossing a creek mouth and Pete calls out “Tarpon!” Drama but no bites ensue.
We push into a flat. There's enough water but no fish. We veer back out to the edge. Nothing. The sun is dropping. Back to the back end of the flat. A commotion. I’ve spooked a bonefish. I freeze. The fish swims towards Pete & Cope. They swap rods so Pete can cast a bonefish fly. Chaos! Utter Chaos in the mangroves. The fish comes to hand. Spectacular.
The hike continues. Jungle creeps into the path that looks clear on satellite images. Were sliding across muck lagoons and crawling over roots. I reach a root wall. The boys catch up and I share the news. We're going to swim the lagoon. Dry bags are secured under muffled profanities. At first we can walk, then kick across the bottom and then nothing. Ink black water with an unknown depth and the ready knowledge that if we don't beat the sun, the hordes of mosquitoes will make us wish we did.