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Somethin’ About Mutton

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Lutjanus analis
What is it about this pink tailed ghost that drives flats anglers mad?? I believe I found the first clue upon researching the scientific name – Lutjanus analis…..Yes, the word ANAL is in its name…..twice. Could the scientist that classified this fish been a fly fishermen that spooked thousands of these critters in shallow water pitching flies at them? For those that are unfamiliar with this fish, it is probably one of the most challenging fish to target in shallow water, even more so than a permit. I believe the obsession of catching a fish increases exponentially the more difficult it is to hook. I have caught mutton before mostly at night on poppers or while fishing bait. These fish I caught blind casting have always been awesome but trying to get one to eat a fly in skinny water was always maddening. Muttons are extremely spooky fish and have a knack for refusing the most appetizing looking flies. If you are lucky enough to see a mutton feeding on a flat and can get close enough to make a cast, be sure you bring your A game. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing pink tails all over a flat before. Dozens of big mutton snapper face down motor boating the bottom in an incredible food orgy. A delicate cast, the small blip of the fly entering the water, and BOOM, the entire flat erupts and the once amazing scene is now just an image forever burned into the back of my brain. What does it take? Persistence. Just like any pursuit in fly fishing, great things come to those who wait and keep on keeping on. That usually includes a ridiculous sum of money, airfare, time away from home and work…..but yes, it is always worth it! I was lucky enough to finally get my first mutton on a flat near the eastern most tip of Grand Bahama back in January of 2013. I was fishing with one of my best friends and we were after a small school of bonefish along the edge of a rocky flat. I saw a larger single fish coming down the shoreline almost directly at the boat. I made a quick cast with a size 2 gotcha about 1 foot in front of the fish and watched it inhale the fly. When I struck the fish and it turned sideways, I couldn’t believe my eyes! My guide about fell off the poling platform in excitement when we realized it was a mutton. These fish are not only prized as an incredible tasting fish, but it is also one of the strongest fish pound for pound that swims in saltwater. After a hard quick fight the mutton was finally in my hand. The world’s most ‘anal’ fish WAS possible to catch on a fly.