I try not to get too attached to my plugs and flies. If you aren’t willing to lose something, you shouldn’t be fishing it. Because, if you are afraid, you will be unwilling to put it into the nooks and crannies where the fish live. To throw it out into the roughest conditions. To drift it across the gnarliest terrain.
However, I’ve had this one yellow-over-white Super Strike Zig-Zag Darter for a long, long time. I can’t definitively say how long, but it’s approaching 10 years. This is an eternity for any lure in my collection; I lose EVERYTHING. I use lures up. Looking at my plug wall, I’m not sure there is a single other plug that remains in my regular rotation that is as old as this darter. Everything else is gone. Lost and forgotten.
Yet, she goes into my plug bag every night. Every. Single. Night.
I don’t care if I’m fishing sandy beaches, or shallow back waters; places you normally wouldn’t fish a darter. She comes with me, always. The only exception are those couple of days in the fall when the surf is gigantic, and bucktails and bottles are the only thing that will hold in the massive waves. Hurricanes and Nor’Easters.
Last night, I lost her. She hung up, and I fought to free her for a full 20 minutes. My stomach was in my throat; I couldn’t believe how upset I was about potentially losing this meager piece of plastic! Yet, I was upset. Borderline distraught.
But intentions and desires can’t keep line from parting, and she was sacrificed to the sea.
I retied, and kept fishing. What else could I do?
The next plug out of the bag was another Zig-Zag, a Blurple one this time. The only other one I had with me. Perhaps six casts later…I hung again, in the exact same spot.
I couldn’t believe it. I freaked out.
I locked my drag and went “Beast Mode” on the hung-up plug. I had no intention of keeping it. $40 gone, in less than a half hour. I cupped the spool, and started to back up, rod tip pointed straight at the water.
But, suddenly, I felt movement.
I stopped, eased up, and lifted the rod tip. I gingerly applied some pressure. Nothing. Then some more. Nothing. Then I really leaned into the rod and I felt a slight slip again.
Rope. Had to be Rope.
Yet, over the next five minutes- which were exhausting- I realized I was dragging a crab or lobster pot across the bottom. Or some version of this same idea. I was pulling a large object through the water against a strong tidal rip.
Eventually, it got close enough it hung up again in the boulders I was standing on. I stepped off my perch, and suddenly realized something was floating in the air in front of me.
It was my blurple darter!
My darter, floating in mid air? I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. I flipped on my light, and realized the darter wasn’t floating- obviously, of course- but instead it was wrapped in someone else’s braided line, which was clearly caught on some kind of debris a few yards away.
I jumped into the churning water, careful not to get wrapped up in the line, while keeping the pressure tight.
I waded out to the darter and grabbed it.
It was then, and only then, that I realized my blurple darter was attached to my previously lost yellow-over-white.
I couldn’t believe it.
She came back to me!
I quickly cut the line with my dive knife, put the darters in my surf top pocket, and pulled as much of the other line out as I could. Cheap, shitty, no-name braided line. At least 65-pound test, I have no idea what it was doing at this spot.
I got back to shore, and pulled out my beloved yellow-over-white and actually threw my arms up in triumph.
I stripped off all the kelp and old line from the two tangled plugs, and put the blurple back in my bag.
The other? The beloved yellow-over-white?
She went right back on the line, and I fished her the rest of the tide.
She’ll leave me one day.
But not yet.