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by Walt Bailey
Heart of Winter Catalog 2007

Splash. Okay now I’m smiling. The stress of the last busy month is washed away. We jump off the panga into the clear Pacific water and paddle to the reefbreak with plenty of chest-high rights.

I’m the first back to the boat. I’m tired and hungry, but also curious what lurks underneath the water. I string up my 8-weight fly rod and make some tentative casts ... nothing. Slowly, the remaining crew paddles back to the boat with big smiles and limp arms. I ask the pangero to give me a shot at any fish we see on the way back.

Birds and the telltale sight of explosions in the water visible from over a mile away spark my excitement. I urge the pangero to go faster. Tuna? No, jacks and big ones, too. With an 8-weight and 30- to 60-pound fish, I’m undergunned but it’s all I’ve got.

About the Author
Walt Bailey is the Eastern wholesale sales manager for Patagonia. He’s still working on living down this story and thinking of teaching remedial fly-rod holding skills.