Feb 28, 2012

One For The Highlight Reel

This week, as we draw closer to our 20 year anniversary, we will be posting some humorous anecdotes about GFS Owner, Travis Duddles.  Sorry Travis... But we think that you, too, will appreciate these priceless memories that have somehow gotten "stuck" in the minds of some of your closest friends. 

This particular post comes via your good pal and fellow fly fishing angler, Steve Turner.

Travis on the flats.  Not exactly the shot we were hoping for...

And so the story goes...

The wind was unusually calm for the Yucatan this particular morning, so we decided to take advantage of the situation and fish a totally unprotected flat known by the locals as “Valencia”. This particular flat sits at the mouth of Ascension Bay and is known as THE place to go if you’re looking for large bonefish.

Travis and his guide Manuel had already anchored their panga and were out wading the flat when we arrived. As we shut down the motor and began to pole toward them, a large ray came into view and Charlie, my guide, noticed two permit following closely behind it as they often do, taking advantage of any crab, shrimp or other food-form that might be stirred up by the turbulence created as the ray swam along.

I’ve often tried to visualize the scene from Travis‘ point of view: He sees Charlie, now about 200 yards away, poling hard toward some yet unseen prey. As our boat nears the target, he watches me make a couple of false casts and then launch my fly. Then he watches as I “streeep looong an’ sloooow”, at which point he probably rightfully guesses that I’d thrown a crab pattern at a permit. He then sees the fly line come tight, the strip set followed by my frenzied effort to clear the line as it flies all around me, trying in vain (at least this time) to find something, anything to latch onto in order to short-circuit the obviously epic battle to come.

At this point he sees me raise the rod and hears the whooping and hollering - followed by a short pause - followed by more and louder hollering. He’s whooping it up right along with us, until he suddenly realizes that whatever I’ve hooked is running at breakneck-speed dead straight at him. He finally becomes cognizant of what it is we’re yelling at him - “BIG RAY - GET THE HELL OUTA THERE!!!!”

This wasn’t one of those little “gray” rays that are maybe two or three feet wide, but a much larger “eagle” ray that looked to be about the size of a Mini Cooper - and he was totally pissed at that little crab who had just latched onto his “huevos”.

From our point of view, in a millisecond Travis’ countenance went from jubilation to extreme horror. I can’t say for certain that it was he who screamed like a little girl (could’a been his guide, I guess...) but I can say that I’ve never before or since seen a man standing placidly in waist-deep water, make such an extreme lateral movement while simultaneously transforming himself into a human hydroplane, kicking up what looked to be a twelve-foot rooster tail all the way back to the safety of his panga.

My gut tells me that Travis would probably recount this tale with a slightly less macabre, slightly more macho flair, but hey, “that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it"!! And I have eye-witnesses...

Thanks for sharing Steve.  How to tell the tale!  Sound about right Travis?

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