The Hitchhiker

One morning I caught a ride on Makani’s boat. He was taking a client out, but was kind enough to drop me off on the flat to look for bonefish. On the ride I noticed a baby gecko struggling in a small puddle on the deck, so I reached down and scooped it up.

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Once the little critter was safely in my fist, I realized that I hadn’t really thought this through. If I released it back onto the boat, it would either wind up back in a puddle, or get blown off when Makani picked up speed in the channel. It didn’t seem likely to survive until we were back on shore, and I certainly couldn’t carry it around in my hand all day. I considered my options and came to the conclusion that if I could release the gecko onto one of the mangrove clusters, it would have a decent chance of survival. There were plenty of flying insects around to eat, as long as it stayed out of the clutches of the crabs on the roots of the trees, and away from the upper branches where passing birds might see.

As we pulled into the shallows, I prepared to slip into the water and help secure the boat, but realized I would need both hands to carry the anchor. I was inspired in the last second by a memory of one of my heroes, Rob Bredl, the ‘Barefoot Bushman’. When collecting freshwater prawns to eat in the bush he would store them by simply dropping them down the front of his shirt where they would sit until he had enough for a meal – “they haven’t pinched me yet” he would add with a grin. I dropped the gecko into my hat, which I quickly and carefully placed back on my head, leaving my hands free for deploying the anchor.

Once Makani and his client were off across the flat, I started wading toward the nearest mangrove island. Once there, I carefully released the tiny lizard onto a branch. I wondered if it were the first gecko with it’s own private Hawaiian island.

The fishing was slow that day. I tried stalking a couple of fish deep in the mangroves. It’s really exciting because the fish are feeding in super shallow water where they are easy to see, but it is extremely hard to get close and make a cast without scaring them. I haven’t managed to hook any of those fish yet, but it’s fun nonetheless.

Once I left the shallows and waded back onto the open flat, I found a few fish. I managed to hook one as I was meandering back towards the boat. In all, it was a pretty successful day of winter time bone fishing.

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