FIRST SHOT

Field and Stream - - CONTENTS - —DONNA L. NG

An an­gler sur­vives a freak wave, thanks to her toughas-nails back­pack.

➞ A tip about a spot to surf cast for jacks on Abaco led pho­tog­ra­pher Brian Grossen­bacher, Al­berta fly­fish­ing guide Paula Shearer, and Michi­gan out­fit­ter Mike Schultz to a stretch of eroded lime­stone karst where wa­ter would shoot through blow­holes high into the air. Af­ter 45 min­utes of ob­ser­va­tion, Schultz cast first. “I was the guinea pig,” he says. Then Shearer stepped out, and the big­gest wave yet came in and slammed into her like a wall. She was thrown on her back and dragged across the jagged rocks. Schultz ran in first and lifted her to her feet. “Ev­ery­one’s yelling, Are you O.K.?” Shearer says. “They thought I was in shock. It takes a ton to faze me.” She’d been saved by her back­pack, which took the brunt of the im­pact. Shearer checked out the dam­age: a deep 4-inch gash on her left thigh. “The guys got white­faced. I felt bad be­cause it kind of trau­ma­tized them.” Through it all, Shearer never even lost hold of the rod she was us­ing. She had cuts and bruises and needed eight stitches. But the big­gest bum­mer? “I had re­ally wanted to go shark fish­ing af­ter. In­stead I had to get stitched.”

PHO­TOG­RA­PHER: BRIAN GROSSEN­BACHER LO­CA­TION: ABACO IS­LAND, BA­HAMAS

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