Year of the ‘Cuda

We paddled out to look for bonefish on a nice day in January. I couldn’t get any bonefish to eat, but on the walk back to where the SUP boards were anchored I spotted a barracuda, lurking hungrily on the reef.

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The barracudas that we find inshore here are not very big, but they can be fun to cast at. Actually catching them on a bonefish rig is unusual because they will usually cut the leader. Most times, I just strip my fly past and try to get them to follow it, but on this day, perhaps because I hadn’t had any luck with the bonefish, I decided to see if I could get a bite.

I cast well past the fish, but it spooked when my fly hit the water and I lost sight of it. Sometimes spooked fish disappear for good. Other times they are just startled and will return to investigate. In case this fish was curious and circled back, I made two fast strips, pulling my little mantis shrimp fly through the water like a baitfish. Sure enough, there was a silver flash and my line went tight. Miraculously, the fish stayed on. It was a bit bigger than I thought and put up a splashy fight!

When I pulled the ‘cuda to hand, I saw that I had gotten lucky and hooked it just in the corner of the mouth. My leader was a bit nicked-up but otherwise intact. My fly, on the other hand, had not fared well. The razor sharp teeth had stripped the hook almost totally bare! The vinyl ribbing, tail and bucktail wing were gone. Only the lead eye remained, hanging on by a bit of monofilament thread. Retrieving my hook reminded me why I always carry a pair of pliers or forceps – you never know what you might catch!

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