Picking Up the (Meat) Stick

york tuna
Longtail Tuna - Photo by Daniel Favato

by Scott Sadil

It had been a good long while since I picked up a spinning rod with a big jig tied to the end of the line.  

Even when we were young gear guys—or, as my friend Ed Simpson used to call us, Iron Men—we favored long jigging rods and conventional wind reels, Penn Jigmasters or the then cutting-edge Newells, reels we loaded with twenty-pound Green Maxima and felt we could cover more water with and, more important, fight any fish our one-ounce chrome Krocodiles or Kastmasters might find.

I was known to claim, in fact, that I could feed a family, if it came to it, with my casting gear and a stock of chrome spoons and rubber-tailed Scampis.

Besides, my father was a spin fisherman. I wanted to be better than that.

Albany Island Lodge
Albany Island LodgePhoto by Daniel Favato

But while riding back through the channel to the lodge on Albany Island, just off Cape York, following a day of sight-fishing for blue bastards, a persnickety flats fish as good as they get, we pulled into a maelstrom of birds and who knows what smashing bait—only to discover we had left all of the fly rods on the flats skiff.

I hoisted Plan B out of rack atop the wheelhouse.

My first couple of casts were fairly pathetic: Timing all wrong, the lure slicing off at a weird angle as though an off-speed pitch flared off the handle into the hometeam dugout.

But then I got the rod to load, slowing it down against the weight of the heavy jig, and as the cast arched skyward there was the sensation of having employed a very different set of forces than one grows accustomed to waving a fly rod through the air.