Jonny's recent adventure at The Culvert reminds me that I never did tell the story of the One That Almost Got Away. You remember that one, don't you Jonny?
The Culvert, you see, is just that, a culvert. It runs under a road, and as such, is a veritable bait funnel at the right time of year. What is perhaps most fascinating about The Culvert is the rapidity with which the ebb and flood tides change direction. The idea of "slack tide" simply does not apply.
And so, here we were one late night, fishing The Inside, on the flood, drifting all manner of hair and tinsel, when Jonny gets a take. The fish is clearly large, and starts going farther up current. Jonny is worried that the fish is going to make it 'round the bend, which is bad news, so he steps into the water, right in front of The Culvert. This will give him the proper angle to pressure the fish and hopefully turn it.
Now, had that fish taken the fly an instant earlier or later, what transpired would never have happened. But the ocean is a fickle woman, she is, and it was in that instant that Jonny stepped into the water in front of The Culvert that the tide she did turn. And with that, Jonny's fish, and then Jonny himself, were both sucked into the tube. Luckily, I saw this happen and was immediately upon Jonny's wading boots, holding on for dear life. I tried and tried to pull him back out, but understandably, he was kicking fiercely. Indeed, it was a hard blow to my hand against his metal cleats that released my grip, and to my horror I watched Jonny's feet disappear into the dark swirling water of The Culvert.
But, no sooner had I called his wife to ask if I could have his other fly rods (knowing this is what he would have wanted) than did I hear him hootin' and hollerin' at the far end of The Culvert, and up he comes holding a real cow of a striped bass.
"Jonny!!" I cried. "I was sure you were as good as dead!"
"You damn near cost me that fish, T.J. !!", he shouts at me. "Next time, you let go of my feet, understand!?"