I have been fly fishing for “hard tales” for a solid 3 years. It seems like I have been through countless hours on lifeless breachways, rock piles, rips, and open ocean, yet my quarry always eluded me. The hard tails are a real prized fish. They only stay busting on bait for so long before they are down below the surface once again. These fish can really get into a fly fisherman’s head. The bonito are one of the toughest breeds of fish out there to find and trick with a fly, which makes it fun for me.This past fly fishing trip was no exception. The Bonito were always just one step ahead of us. Huge winds and giant sea’s made fly fishing almost impossible for a few days. Steady 20 mph winds with gusts of 30-35 mph. Reports of huge numbers of Bonito the day before meant nothing the day after. Winds that were supposed to lay down the ocean only created standing 4 footers and dirty inshore water. Jeremy has a very small and tight lipped network of hard tail addicts. They give us information about what they see on the water and Jeremy reciprocates by sharing information with them. Sharing and getting good information amongst trusted sources is a big part of the hard tail game. We always listen to what Jeremy’s various connections in different regions say and the information is much appreciated and we reciprocate with our information. The one problem is when you get multiple reports of fish being around in different places, you really have to rely on good decision making. You have to be careful you don’t zigg when you should have zagged. If you make the wrong decision or not the best decision, it is very easy to burn up valuable time and tide cycles. On the last night of the trip, we got word that some bonito were around a certain spot. Our connection told us exactly where and when the fish were there. This spot is bonito central. Big current slicks stretch for miles and huge volumes of bait attract fish from the open ocean. The clean sand bottom prevents the water from getting dirty with weeds, and the water is almost always crystal clear. We also had been fishing a certain area for the past couple of days, and everything was beginning to set up nicely. The bait was thick and we were beginning to see more and more fish each day. If we were going to fish, we needed to do it right and choose one of these two areas to fish. It was a tough call, because it was my call. Most times, Jeremy and his tuna buddies call the shots and I am just along for the ride and most times never even get a chance to fish to the Tuna. I work for Simple Solutions during the summer doing web and video work. I really enjoy the work, learn a lot and make some decent money. The summer is winding down and in a week or so; I will be back in school. On the night before the last day of our weekend trip, Jeremy shared what information he had with his Tuna network and then turned off his cell phone and said “Austin, as a bonus for a job well done this summer, tomorrow is your day and you will get to call the shots. You decide where you want to fish, I will drive and position the boat and you will be on the bow the entire day or until you get your first bonito.” I really appreciated this but knew I would not get my bonito unless I made the right call. I chose to go to the first spot I mentioned. I had seen these fish before and the spot had been consistent. We knew how these fish worked as we had been teased by these fish all season. The morning sun lifted above the land and brought the first pods of busting bonito. The ocean was flat calm and the only disturbance was the unmistakable sprays that tuna make when chasing bait. I was on the bow, with all of the line I could cast efficiently laid on the boat deck. I was not going to blow my shot. “There they are!” Jeremy yelled as he pointed off in the distance. Jeremy turned on the boat and quietly drove up to where we saw the fish. We prefer not to “run and gun” to these fish because they are usually gone before we get there and it increases the chance of really spooking and disturbing the pods of fish. Jeremy is an experienced boat driver and knows how to read saltwater well. Jeremy slowed the boat down and killed the engine. I made my first cast when the boat had stopped completely so I would not be stripping back slack line. The bonito blew up to my right when all my sinking line was in the water, making it impossible to throw a cast into the fish. “Typical bonito” I said to myself. Out of nowhere, I saw a dark silhouette in the water, and then saw a solo fish bust on bait straight off the bow. I made a long cast trying to lead the fish. My olive and white surf candy epoxy fly that I tied hit the water and matched the bait perfectly. I used a double hand retrieve to imitate the steady pace of a fleeing silverside or sand eel. BANG! The fish slammed my fly. All of my extra line flew out of my hand without and giant tangles and the fish was peeling line off my reel in no time. After many zigs and zags, and a few hairy moments when the bonito would run at me, Jeremy tailed my first bonito and first hard tail. 3 years of agony and defeat were shattered in an instant, and the moment changed how I would think about fly fishing for ever.