Ben Richardson, London

Ben Richardson, London /

On Wednesday the 10th of May, the penultimate day of our “Castaway” guided fishing trip to Los Roques, the most extraordinary event occurred whilst out on the flats stalking bonefish with the head guide Guareke and one other of the party, an American fellow called Mike.

We were wading on fairy loose sandy coral with Mangroves to our left. The flat was probably no more than 60 yards wide but possibly up to a mile long. I was on the far left hand side towards the edge of the flat trying to avoid the frequent attacks from mosquitoes and Mike was in the middle stalking with the aid of Guareke.

Every now and then Guareke would attract my attention and whisper excitedly, 40yds straight ahead. I would cast and he’d say “strip, strip, Stop Strip ahhhh”. This happened a lot and usually I would not be able to see what I was casting at, and was pleasantly surprised after landing my fly to learn that the fish was still interested and that I must therefore be somewhere near where I am supposed to have cast. So on this occasion I cast my fly, Guareke starts with his instruction “stop strip YOU GODDIT BIG FISH”.

The fish started to run and immediately I knew I was in trouble. Earlier when we got out of the boat I had slackened off the clutch on my reel to strip line off as I cast and I had forgotten to turn it up again. The fish ran with a pace that I had not experienced before. I looked down at my reel and in a split second the line had gone and I was into the backing. I knew the reel was spinning too fast and as I looked into my helpless hands at the reel the fish stopped running but the spool kept spinning and the thin luminescent backing was tangling up everywhere…. One millisecond later the fish pulled again and PING…… the line snapped and the backing recoiled back at me through the rod eyes.

I stood shell shocked and looked at the water expecting to see the line trailing off through the water, but it had already disappeared. I looked over at Mike and Guareke and was puzzled to see Guareke squat down, obviously concentrating on something ahead of him, then suddenly he launched himself off after the line in the most extraordinary sprint which involved lifting each foot out of the thigh high water.

After a short distance he grabbed hold of the line, the fish started pulling again and he was forced to continue running after the fish whilst yelling instructions to me to re-thread the backing through the rod eyes and get the backing end to him to be re-attached to the line. So now we are both pelting through the water after this fish for what seems like minutes while Guareke is trying to tie the backing back onto the line. During this time Mike was stupified, unable to believe what was unfolding before his eyes.

Eventually, the knot was completed and I fought the fish for a further quarter of an hour or so before Mike helped me bring it in. According to Guareke the fish probably weighed five or six kilos, which made it the largest bonefish caught by a member of our group that week.

Los Roques, Venezuela