Sporting Life // 2 min Read


Written by Palmetto Bluff

Jun 11, 2021

It’s the end of the world as we know it… and I don’t feel fine.

December 31, 1999. The world stands on the precipice of the much-hyped Y2K millennial shift. I, however, stand on the bow of a flats skiff staked out on a channel pass in Belize waiting for one of the most elusive fish on the planet. I imagine the intensity to be akin to hunting German U-boats in the Caribbean during World War II. My expectant wife sat in the jump seat eating delicious peanut butter cookies. How we got here is a long and winding story that started in Montana. The guide stands disinterested on the poling platform staring into the azure middle ground. Time inches by painfully slow.

“Feesh . . .
“There . . .”
“Where exactly is there?”
“11 o’clock coming toward you . . .”

(Could we have not just started with the clock hand designation?)

The “feesh” were a pair of large permit cruising through the channel. The sickle rapier of a dorsal fin and an all-knowing eye that resembles the moon. Multiple years, flight transfers, and boat rides had brought us to this moment in time. I held the crab fly between my thumb and forefinger feeling the punch of the hook tip. Some epoxy, deer hair, silly- looking bead eyes, and crazy legs were going to fool this thing into eating? Apparently, the imitation of life. All I had to do was make the cast as they slid into range. So very simple in theory. Like lassoing a submarine.

“Cast, NOW.”

False cast, set up the double haul, feel the rod load, the leader unfurls behind, apply the power, drop the line hand, shoot the line, and . . .

What happened next still remains one of the greater mysteries of my life. I did not see the crab gently touch down as anticipated in 2 feet of clear water 3 feet ahead of the lead permit. I, instead, felt the crab find purchase in the small of my back in my expensive fishing shirt as I completely blew the cast. The “feesh” didn’t care; they glided by in a phantom-like suspension, and I think one rolled his or her eye up at me. I looked at the guide. He looked away and simply said, “beeg feeshes.”

“What now?” I asked.

“Nothing, they leave. Now we leave.”

Blame it on the wind, blame it on a myriad of things. I simply screwed up the cast. And, I am okay with that.

Peanut butter cookie? We caught multiple permit the next day, but not on a fly rod. Not quite the same, and they weren’t big “feeshes” like these behemoths.

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