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Reef Err Madness

by Don Roberts
Late Summer 2009

It was suspended motionless in the cleft of a coral reef, a slot where the citrine shallows deepened to a bruised blue. All barracuda give the onlooker pause, but this particular specimen – a great silver cylinder of muscle that looked to go 50, maybe 60 pounds, cusped with a frowning jaw held agape by a cram of X-Acto Blade teeth – made my neck hairs tingle.

Earlier, back at the dock in Duncan Town, Alvin Munroe, my ad hoc guide for the day, had cradled my shiny new “big game” fly rod and reel in his thick, spatulate hands, gently rocking it up and down to gauge its heft and sinew. He’d pursed his lips and shrugged – a barely disguised skepticism followed by a big “whatever” grin, one gold tooth glinting. “You de boss, mon … Don’t know nuthin’ ’bout no fly poles, mon. But I does know where dem fishes be.” No wonder. As a fifth generation lobster diver, Munroe had been plying the waters off Ragged Island – the farthest out of the “out-islands” in the Bahamian archipelago – since growing tall enough to reach the tiller on an outboard.

About the Author

Don Roberts is the Oregon/Washington field editor for Northwest Fly Fishing and an outdoor journalist at large for numerous other periodicals. As a conservationist and sportsman, he strongly subscribes to Thoreau’s notion that “we cannot see anything unless we are possessed with the idea of it.” Although Roberts makes his home base on the sage steppes of the Columbia Plateau, he admits to being irredeemably possessed by the idea of water, all water – rushing, still and salty – and its multifarious inhabitants.