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Along Twin Ponds Road

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By Ray Willis

Another summer is winding down, and I still haven’t gone fishing.  How I long to be sitting in a rowboat on some quiet lake at dusk with my spinning gear and old Jitterbug.  To listen to the “glub,” “glub," “glub” of that surface lure waiting for a largemouth bass to break the otherwise stillness of the lake when he charged it.

It was the morning after Bobby Kennedy’s assassination when my brother Ken and I went fishing for the last time.  We fished at Lake Mashapaug in northeastern Connecticut that morning.

One of the few luxuries I had had as a teenager was my father allowing me to subscribe to Sports Afield magazine.  I’ll never forget an article I had read by Jason Lucas, the magazine’s fishing editor, about the fine art of catching bonefish. 

The way Lucas described the event was like it would be impossible for the average fisherman to catch bonefish.  I remember that he wrote one should be in shallower water, have use of a step ladder and a flashlight.  Of course, you had to be around warm, ocean water.

Toshi, a Japanese friend from Hawaii, was an FAA cook on Wake Island while I was there.  One morning just after I had gotten off a midnight watch from my search and rescue duties we crossed each other’s paths.  He was armed with rod and reel and asked me if I’d like to join him fishing.

“When, right now?” I asked.

“Yeah, bruddah, right now.  I have extra pole for you.”

I shared that I had not fished in some time and asked what were we fishing for.

“No worry, bruddah, we goin’ catch bonefish.”

At the mere mention of “bonefish” my mind skirted back to the article I had just shared with you.

We headed for the dump on Wake.  Upon arrival Toshi began to sort through the trash.  I did not dare question him.

He finally picked up an old high work shoe and happily waved it in the air.  Then he started to cut off small pieces of leather from the boot and handed me a few.

“Are you nuts?” I asked.

“Heck no, bruddah; these suckas will bite at anything.”

We walked out onto a reef where the water was quite shallow.  I walked out a few more feet away from Toshi and cast my line with the shoe leather attached to the hook for bait.

That leather no sooner hit the water when I felt a sudden yank upon it! It felt like a six pound bass had hit it.  The fish tugged violently some more and broke the surface a few times.

My arms were beginning to tire, and only a minute had passed.  I finally reeled the fish to within ten feet of me when it again broke the surface and was still moving in all directions.  I was about to lift it from the water when the thing swam behind me.  I became encircled with fishing line.

After what seemed fifteen minutes I had reeled the monster to my feet. When I finally lifted this savage, fighting bonefish from the water I marveled in a state of disbelief, at the 9-inch wonder!

It was a fishing adventure I’ll never forget.  Toshi and I caught several more, each fish putting up the same unbelievable battle.

Jason Lucas has passed on, but if he were alive, would I have a thing or two to tell him about the fine art of catching bonefish!

God bless you, and I hope you haven’t waited as long as I have to enjoy some fishing.