Lost in Self-Discovery

The heavy vibration in the floor boards began at my feet and pumped through to my chest as the prop turned on our Harbin Y12. Moments later we were wheels up and bound for an adventure of epic proportions. We were headed toward a dot in the South Pacific some 150 miles north of the equator. With no running water, electrical grid, or nearby hospital we were naturally and almost literally on edge but as excited as kids in a candy store. Lord knows we were headed into some excellent fishing. Good thing we had the right gear on hand. With only six SMITH shades to choose from, I chose the Guides Choice Green Mirror Techlite Glass and Bronze Mirror Chromapop Plus as my weapons of choice. To win over a beast with fins I wasn’t about to bring a knife to a gunfight.

Shortly after landing on a lonely, coral-filled runway we were in the bed of a truck and headed for the other side of the lagoon. The thought of casting to potentially world record bonefish, trevally of varying species, napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, and god knows what sub or spin-off species of the like had us anxious as we stepped through the palm trees and into the sandy bathtub with rods in tow. 

For years this atoll has been subject to heavy gill netting pressure from the locals, causing the local fish populations, simply, to not re-generate fast enough. Ultimately, making finding abundant schools of fish challenging to come by. Our team of 6 met with the 6 local village guides to assemble the boats and discuss plans for the coming days. The plan as a result was to depart for the wilderness zone on the northeast corner of the island, an area relatively untouched in contrast to the rest of the island. 

Bonefish of 10+ lbs. were spotted by all throughout the trip and giant trevally of 20-60 lbs were spotted crushing 15-inch mullet in 3 feet of water after moving in with the tide. Bumphead Parrotfish and Wrasse, some north of 100 lbs, were spotted in the waves outside the lagoon entrance and numerous other species of grouper and snapper were caught in and around the coral heads scattered throughout the flats. We camped on a western, sunset facing, footprint-less beach, grilled fresh grouper and trevally over an open fire, slept amidst hundreds of land crabs under the brightest, star filled sky, and quickly became a part of the castaway landscape that time truly has forgotten.

The days spent were some of the wildest of our fishing careers and walking side by side with the kindest island folks made it that much sweeter. The 24/7 smell of salty air mixed with the guides poorly lit, hand-rolled cigarettes will be everlasting. It’s these days of adventure and unknown that serve as a reminder of why we fish. Go get lost from time to time. Lost in the activity, the people, and the place, and it’s amazing the self-discovery that waits on the other side. Everyone has their thrill and we pursued ours to the near point of collapse. I will forever be chasing more.

-ROSS KINGLSEY