Well, so it was for my fly fishing education. I had the hardest time figuring out how that thick line was going to fit through the eye of that tiny hook! And when I noticed other people using some type of monofilament leader, the problem turned to the size of the barrel knot I used to link the two lines together! Live and learn, as they say, although my learning generally comes the hard way, a fact that my wife has thankfully endured for over 30 years.
We were up the creek without a paddle, as the saying goes, on this particular day. Actually it was a matter of not having enough water under the boat to float it because it had all mysteriously disappeared - just ran out from under the boat, leaving us to remember just how low the tide can get on a mid fall day (another learning experience!). My partner, Jim, and I had purposely waited for the outgoing tide, planning to find redfish retreating from their foraging on the grass and mud flats off the Intracoastal Waterway. In all the commotion of catching fish we never realized how low the tide had gone until it was too late!
So here we are, catching fish and unable to move the boat. The outside bends in the creek still held upwards of 6 feet of water, but it quickly shallowed to a foot or less as the creek wound to the next bend. Redfish were everywhere, coming off the flats in droves and dropping into the deeper holes. They weren't really swimming hard, merely staying in line and letting the current take them. Schools of 15 or 20 of them would scurry across the thin water between deep holes, bulging a wake before them. Nosing a little mud here, and flipping an oyster shell there, they occasionally came upon a small crab. You could tell when that happened, because they dropped into a lower gear and spurted for the short chase and ensuing meal. It's easy to get enthralled as you watch something like this happen. Maybe twice before in my life have I been able to witness so many fish in the wild actually doing what the books say they do!
We had actually stopped fishing, and started watching the reds coming off the flat. Four here, then five more, then another four over there - it was beautiful. While all this was taking place, Jim started fiddling around in the rod box and came up with a fly rod. I say fly rod, because that is what it resembled, not because it was in any condition to be used. It was the one I had owned from my pre-teen years, the one I went to school on. I had no idea that it was still around, let alone in the boat. Tells you how often I clean the boat - buts that's another story!
We had been catching reds on jigs and grubs, some tipped with mud minnows, some tipped with shrimp. We went for a long time where literally every cast resulted in a hookup - Jim with a fish, me with an oyster bar! But we soon realized that these fish would hit the grubs without the extra bait tip. This fact is what drove Jim to do what he did and it has become known between the two of us as "the day".
Taking a plain, straight 3/0 hook, Jim simply threaded a chartreuse swim-tail grub on hook, and then tied this on the end of some very old tippet. Several hauls later, the grub landed rather rudely in front of a nice single red coming off the flat. As it drifted with and in front of the fish, it actually looked pretty appealing with the swimming action of the tail. That redfish wasted no time inhaling the grub. I'm not sure who was more surprised, me, the fish, or Jim, who now found himself tied to the business end of a 20 pound redfish.