A massive swirl behind the fly made me literally sh1t myself. The fish was huge – especially for the 10lb tippet I had on. I lifted my rod hard and tried to lift the fly out the water to change up the tippet. Fail. The fly merely created a beautiful fleeing baitfish just sub surface. The surface where the fly was appeared to be effected by some underwater upheaval as it was inhaled by the fish below.
Oh crap! No choice now but to nurse the thin tippet.
The reel screamed as soon as I set the hook. 20m down the lagoon a tarpon did a backflip. My heart sank. How would I ever land it?
But somehow the tippet managed to sustain the first few jumps. My heart was roaring as I actually managed to turn the fish. (I think he actually turned around!) Working him slowly back towards me I tried my very best to protect the tippet. The next run he made was into the water lilies. I could feel the tippet being abused – the normally thin and easily broken stems suddenly seemed in my mind to be rough, sharp-edged tippet cutting rasps. I was sweating!
Out! He was tired and I could feel it. Now just to get him through the lillies in front of me.
He was on the surface in his silver magnificence. Wanting to end it as soon as possible I mistook his his lying there as him being beaten. I wanted him landed and I lent in too early to grab his gaping mouth. A final last effort lurch on his part parted the tippet like it was tying floss. I stared helplessly as he sank back into the brakish water.
The next morning I was bank on the bank. Hoping. I could see a tarpon rolling every 5 or so minutes about 80m up the lagoon. The problem was that I couldn´t get within casting range thanks to the overgrown banks. I could a sight clearing on the left bank about a hundred meters from where I stood. I had to get there. Dodging big spiders, climbing through a barb-wire fence and climbing through thick undergrowth I found myself knee on a muddy bank uptream from the rolling tarpon. The cast was almost makeable!
Slowly stripping line from the reel I noticed a different movement of water out the corner of my eye. I knew it immediately. I´d seen the same on the Zambezi and other other east bound rivers of Southern Africa. My blood went cold. Cruising about 8m from me was a solid, toothy reptile.
¨It´s a f&%$#?g croc!!!¨ my mind screamed at me.
Somehow I kept my head and slowly moved backwards towards the bank. The amount of water the reptile moved as it saw me sent birds on the far bank flying. For a second I thought I was going to be breakfast! However I think it got a bigger fright than me. When I looked again I was 5m off the bank and about 2m off the ground in a tree!
My heart eventually stopped beating twenty minutes later. The tarpon kept rolling in the distance and I simply admitted defeat!