Heartbreaker. That’s the name I’ve given to Albula vulpes, commonly known as the Bonefish. I came to this name while strolling the sunburned flats, having been rejected yet again by a shadow whose only prominent feature I could make out was a small middle finger pointed in my direction as its owner headed away from me with alarming speed. “Hmm. Did I put the fly too close- maybe too far to the left? Hell, I don’t even think it saw my fly. Of course it did- it’s swimming away you idiot!”
I have never encountered another fish (save the Permit, but folks seeking them know what they’re getting into) so good at making grown men question themselves and their fishing abilities; just flat out zapping them of any self esteem they may have had. Yet at the same time, just when all hope is lost, these fish can (and do) make you feel like a hero, inhaling a fly and running out a hundred plus yards of line from a buzzing reel in seconds. Not surprisingly, self esteem suddenly rebounds, and for a minute or two you think that if you were to die this very second, it would be okay, even noble.
The 20 hour journey back to the Wyoming tundra gave me quite a bit of time to reflect on Bonefish and the obsession that spurs us on in pursuit of them, all while risking financial and marital ruins. After spending two weeks in the tropics pursuing these cold, heartless creatures, I’d like to think I learned a few things, but overall, I’m left with more questions than answers; Why does that big, single, cruising fish veer slightly to left of where my fly has been patiently waiting? Heartbreaking, just heartbreaking I tell ya.
In the end, I guess the only way to deal with such a fickle creature is to come clean with yourself, admitting that even though they break your heart, you love it and will happily sign up for it again and again!