Bie's Blog Jam

I’m fried. Fighting butt buried deep in my belly, my left hand bends backwards on the foregrip of a 12-weight while my right hand palms the bottom of a Tibor, trying desperately to slow the spinning. The 80-pound blue shark at the end of my line is heading deep for another run (again), and I saw my backing knot disappear into the depths a long time ago.

I’m fried. Fighting butt buried deep in my belly, my left hand bends backwards on the foregrip of a 12-weight while my right hand palms the bottom of a Tibor, trying desperately to slow the spinning. The 80-pound blue shark at the end of my line is heading deep for another run (again), and I saw my backing knot disappear into the depths a long time ago.

This has been going on for nearly 20 minutes. And while I’m trying to enjoy the ride, my left bicep feels like someone is running razor blades across it and my buddy keeps kicking my Gatorade just out of reach, the bastard.

As I switch hands yet again, the right- or left-hand retrieve question plays out in my head for the hundredth time: (“I can reel faster with my right, but I really want to reef on the rod with that hand”)

Such are the important questions of the day when flyfishing for sharks. This was yesterday, Sunday, the first of July, and I was fishing with Dave Trimble, who makes up 50 percent of the Conway Bowman and Dave Trimble show that has been tearing up the San Diego sharking scene for the past five years. Guide Jeff Stock, one of the managers of the San Diego Fly Shop, has recently joined them.

Funny thing is, I lived just north of here, in San Clemente, for the past three years before moving back to Colorado in April, and I never fished with them then. I’m not sure why, I guess I just sort of figured that the fishing couldn’t possibly measure up to the hype; that we’d be trolling along in deep water and maybe get one shark a day; that it would feel too fake or contrived or party-boaty what with the chumming and teasing and all.

But then the first shark appeared and I learned that if he takes it while swimming toward me I’ll likely hook him in the teeth and lose him. I learned that teasing is itself an art form, every bit as hard as casting. I learned that blue sharks will dive straight down and twist on you while makos will blast away, fly 20 feet out of the water, and occasionally return to attack the boat or the chum bucket. But mostly I learned that the first thing you need to do is find them, and that’s a lot harder than it looks.

Together, my friend Matt and I got over a dozen sharks on Sunday, though only one was a high-flying Mako. My biggest was the 80-pounder that had me sweating and swearing through a 100-degree day. But overall, my flyfishing-for-sharks experience was at least five times better than expected—both harder and easier than I thought—and filled with the enough frustration and celebration to make it one of my greatest days of flyfishing ever.

—Tom Bie

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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