By Capt. Jon Bull
“1000 shades of blue, 10 trillion grains of sand, and one sun to light it all up (Jamie Howard Films, 2007).” This was the backdrop of a scene beginning to unfold in front of me.
As breathtaking as this tropical scene was, my vision was tunneled into a window about a foot long. Within that window, I was intense and focused, waiting for a jolt of adrenaline, preceded by a flash of silver and an explosion.
My hands were alert, but loose. Each of my fingers on my left hand was shaped in a way that I would not miss the line in each strip I took. My right hand felt the cork with an assertive grasp as my middle and index finger felt every inch of my strip cadence. My wrist twisted back and forth in a seductive manner, imparting a breathing, undulating dance to the marabou fifty feet away from me.
My eyes never met my hands. They maintained their focus through the green, blue, and purple lenses that reflected the chaos that was about to ensue. They remained focused on the five and a half foot long black line slinking toward me. This line, now forty five feet away, looked to be only five inches long from my vantage point. It moved like a snake; its spine bending to and fro, stalking its prey like a kitten getting ready to pounce.
Closer. Strip, strip.
My mouth was dry as I was breathing out of it by now. The hot June air was leaving a stale taste in my mouth. None of it mattered as my focus remained on the narrow column of vision before me: the end of the rod and the yellow line laying in a wavy line before going taught during every strip.
Closer. Strip. Thirty feet now. Strip. STRIP, STRIP!!
In the blink of an eye, the black line turned into a black hole, then, it disappeared. For a split second its eye looked into my soul, focused of my very being with yellowish and black intensity as if to say, “It is on!” Then, the scales! Five and a half feet of silver dollars reflected the sunlight into my eyes triggering adrenaline through my body.
Set!! Hit it!! Hit it!!!
Every muscle in my arm tensed up, my wrist locked, my right hand and fingers, once loose, pegged the line to cork while pulling back with everything I had repeatedly in attempt to drive home the chemically sharpened steel. My left hand was locked in a grip onto the line, ready to release at a moment’s notice once the first run began.
My legs and feet braced my body atop my perch in readiness of the sudden pull 150 pounds would bring.
Then, it happened! The jump!
This creature came out of the water, as if to ascend Heaven, for heaven is the only place from which it could have come. The violence it brought forth from the depths made me freeze. It shook its head with a voracity that would render any human unconscious, if struck. Its’ gill plates flared, exposing the blood red organs which sustains its’ strength and might.
The black line, that seconds ago, was moving with ease below the water, was now blueish-green, bending to and fro high above the surface of the water. Every scale reflected the sun with blinding intensity, though my stare remained unbroken.
I blinked only when it landed back in the water. I blinked only when I felt the pop. I blinked only when the nine feel of graphite in my hand, that had a glorious bend in it, went straight. I blinked only when its’ eye broke my stare. I blinked only when it disappeared in an explosive splash. I blinked only when it returned to the Heaven on Earth, known as the flats.
The longest twelve seconds of my life. Twelve seconds that will haunt me forever and become the fibers of my obsession.
Tarpon – 1, me – 0.
Capt. Jon Bull can be contacted via email at email@example.com, 863-860-7250, and on the many online forums under the handle “Shadowcast.”