18
Sep 17

The Cruel Season

Maybe there have been years as bad as this. I haven’t been paying attention for very long, in the big scheme of things. This hurricane season seems… just cruel.

Harvey was bad. Irma was horrible. Now comes Maria and you just have to hope the oceans cool down and steal the strength from anything yet to form far out in the Eastern Atlantic.

The Keys got clobbered. Rebuilding is going to take a while. Robbies pretty well rolled over, a place so full of fond memories for thousands of Keys-goers.

Photo from Miami Herald

From not too long ago.

Places to give:

Guides Trust Foundation – guides from the Keys
USVI relief – They got hammered and have fewer resources than most of the rest of the US.
Red Cross – Because they are everywhere, working hard.
Greater Houston Community Foundation – Let’s not forget about Harvey.


11
Sep 17

A bullet dodged in the Bahamas, more or less

It appears, from first reports, the overwhelming majority of Bahamian operations were spared direct damage from Hurricane Irma.

Just got pretty damn lucky.

Damage is still being assessed in the Florida Keys and it sure looks like lots of folks there took some major damage.

Now we have to worry about Jose, and while predictions have him largely spinning around in the Atlantic, it keeps nudging over to the west and now it looks like some of the Bahamas may get visited by this Irma-follower.

So, it isn’t over for the Bahamas this hurricane season. There is even another low pressure system in the far east Atlantic that may yet cause more problems as well.

Stay safe everyone.


04
Sep 17

Hurricane Season

First thing I do when I wake up is check the status of Irma. It looks like a bad one and it is headed for a lot of places that have touched my life. Thinking of all of you in the storm’s path.

I can’t ignore that there, right now, appears to be another potential storm in the far Eastern Atlantic and there is another potential storm in the Gulf and while those storms may, or may not organize, I can’t help but worry about even more destruction following in the wake of both the destruction that has already happened from Harvey and that which is about to befall so many from Irma.

Now, I’m pretty sure these storms were not caused because there are gay people, as some would believe, I do believe Climate Change played a role.

Hurricanes have been going on as long as there have been seas on which they could form, but our seas are getting warmer and warmer seas feed hurricanes and, well, just do the math on that.

Let’s not stick our heads in the sand any longer.

We need to do better.

That said… those in the path of Irma, those impacted by Harvey, those to be impacted by whatever else follows… my thoughts are with you.


30
Aug 17

First there was Harvey… and now come Irma

Man… Harvey has been a real sonofabitch. I have read by the time he’s done the storm will have dropped over 20 TRILLION gallons of water. That’s enough to raise Lake Michigan by 3 feet. The flooding is bad, and appears to be getting worse.

Thoughts going out to all those in the path of that beast.

As Harvey starts to lose strength there is another monster brewing in the Atlantic. Irma. She’s looking like she has some real shit-kicking potential, although she’s so far out right now no one can really predict where she’ll end up.

That doesn’t look good.

Maybe it is partly attributed to Global Warming, maybe not, but whatever it is, even if it is just “the fates,” it sucks.

Stay dry out there people.


26
Aug 17

My leverage

I had a plan. It was a great plan.

See… I have two kidneys (you probably do too).

My mother-in-law needed one, just one.

I was going to give my kidney up so she could get one. I was worked up as a donor, entered into a kidney swap program and was waiting for the call.

The way this relates to fishing goes like this.

Is there any fishing trip I couldn’t take if I had donated a kidney so my mother-in-law could have one?

I mean… Christmas Island maybe? “Honey, I really need to get out there and see Christmas Island, ya know, to savor life after my kidney donation. How is your mom doing anyway?”

See? WHAT A PLAN!

Yesterday though, thanks to the really wonderful last act of an anonymous organ donor from New Mexico, my MIL got a new kidney. This is, of course, great news. I will continue to be able to take Advil (you can’t do that on one kidney) and come Thanksgiving or Christmas, I will be able to brine the turkey (salt a no-no for someone on dialysis).

My “I can take any trip I want” plans are in ruins, but, I guess it may be worth it. I’ll just have to negotiate the old fashioned way for trips to come.


25
Aug 17

So… Sudan?

Sounds like a great place to go, right? I’m sure Sudan is on your bucket list.

The Drake had a great podcast on fly fishing in Sudan. It sounds, really, pretty damn awesome.

Map of Sudan

Also, there is this…


21
Aug 17

Winning the dad game with trout

I try to get camping at least once a year. Twice is ideal, once is sometimes all I can pull off. This year my wife and son came along (staying at my dad’s) to accompany my daughter, my brother, me and a few friends.

This was my first chance to catch a trout with my son (beyond him being in a backpack). It was pretty damn awesome.

As soon as he had a taste, he told me he wanted to do it himself. We aren’t there yet.

The girl got in on the action as well. She stuck a few trout, most without my direct involvement, which makes me prouder than is reasonable.

What a great weekend.


15
Aug 17

The Nadir

Bonefish are awesome.

My last trip is in the books for 2017. It is done for the year. I won’t have another chance to wade, mid-calf deep, across a broad flat, of sand or turtle grass or broken coral, looking for bonefish silhouettes slipping silently through wind and tide disturbed water.

That’s a little bleak.

Damn.

It got me thinking about what I like about it, about bonefishing. I got to thinking about what stirs my soul about these fish.

I love being there.

I love the gear. The flies I’ve tied. The leaders I’ve put together. The knots I’ve tied.

I love the act of searching, not as much as the instant of recognition, but I love the looking.

I love that moment when you realize it is all going to come together. You are going to get a shot. You can’t think about it. You have to act. You have to make it happen.

You get to see the eat. You get to see the fish light up. You can tell, from 50′ that the fish is going to eat you fly.

That little capsule of preparation and skill and luck and action… that is why I love bonefishing.

I’ll see you again, bonefish. Here’s to fishing trips to come.


09
Aug 17

Interview with Nick Denbow of Mahahual

Nick with my trigger

Nick Denbow is a really interesting guy. He’s a Brit, supports Chealski Football Club and guides for permit, tarpon, bonefish and trigger fish in Mahahual Mexico. It all seems terribly implausible, but Nick is perfecting suited to Mahahual (minus his skin tone’s lack of innate cancer fighting properties). I got to fish with Nick for a couple of interesting days down around Mahahual. He showed himself to be extremely knowledgable, personable and thoughtful. We even stopped to help a stranded family from England with a flat tire. When you live in a place as remote as Mahahual, everyone has to look out for everyone.

Nick contributed to the book Fly Fishing the Yucatan and if you are headed that way, you should pick it up.

Nick answered a few questions about himself and his fishery. Enjoy.

Nick, how did an Englishmen end up in Mahahual, Mexico?

My first taste of Salt Water fly fishing was when I was sent (by my fishing store Sportfish Farlows of London) to Jardines de la Reina, Cuba in 1999. I think I knew from that trip on that i HAD to spend more time with a fly rod in the salt if I was to further my fly fishing career and quench a new personal thirst. The chance came after a spell as manager of Boss and Co Shotguns in 2001. The company was sold, I had some money in my pocket and was faced with going back to the fly shop. It was Feb 1st 2002 when I sold all i had, left my favorite Trout rod and a few clothes with my folks and jumped on a flight to Cancun. I didn’t go home for the next 5 years. I now call Mexico home.

You have a great quote about permit. Share with the group.

I get laughed at when I say it but to me it makes sense. People always say how hard Permit are to catch. I disagree. The ones you catch are some of the easiest fish you will ever catch. Its all the ones you didn’t catch that were hard. My point is simply that it is a numbers game. You need to get shots, lots of shots. The more fish you cast at you will eventually pull your fly across in front of a fish who will just swim up and eat it… theres nothing hard about that fish at all. I would also like to add some small print. The better at casting and presenting your fly you are, the more “easy” Permit you will find.

One thing I managed when I was down there was my first trigger fish. I wasn’t expecting that. What is it about triggers that you enjoy?

Trigger fish are rarely seen on the flats. Most people fishing here fish the flats. For these reasons they are largely unfished for. I am the only guide fishing 78 miles of coast here and Triggers are from top to bottom. They tail happily, are easy to see in the shallow clear water, they are fly friendly and can fight really well. Thats a great combination for fly fishermen. In the Pacific they are highly prized and targeted by fly fishermen, it seems strange to me that these fish are not getting more attention but they have helped me grow my business so I am actually glad nobody else is chasing them. Oops… how many people read this?

 

trigger

What do you think the biggest misconception about your fishery?

“Is it always this windy?”… thats my favorite misconception. Many people have come here once and go back with the understanding that its always really windy here! We have all weathers. An average wind speed here compared to that on a Trout pond or stream can be humbling and frustrating to an average caster. Firstly I encourage practicing casting into the wind before you get here. Once you are here and the wind picks up I advise anglers to look for areas where they can wade out on to one of the many shallow reefs, turn your back on the wind and cast across it. There are so many different habitat types here that if the waves are too big or the water to deep in one spot then you need to move to a different area instead of making it hard on yourself. It is not supposed to be an ordeal. Everyone seems to be here hoping for super flat and calm conditions however when this does happen (September and October between the storms) there is little flow and current on the reef and the water is often too warm and oxygen poor for the fish to come in and feed. In short, no waves generally equals no fish. Learn to deal with the cards you have been handed on that day and don’t waste time in an area where you cant cast or present a fly.

We caught one sabalito that had a line through it as some fisherman had figured he’d take the tarpon home to eat. Is consumption of gamefish impacting the fishery?

Currently Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit and Snook have no size limit, closed season or protection from the Mexican government. People here are allowed to harvest them. Its how they feed themselves and for some its how they make a living. This has been going on since there were people on this coastline. Hopefully soon this will be changed under the fisheries more protected under the new act that is passing through right now called “The Mexican Caribbean Reef Park”. This act will protect valuable sport fish species and restrict fishing activities for the whole coast from Isla Hotbox to Xcalak. Locally I have a problem with people leaving out gill nets unattended and spear gunning in the lagoons. Both of these activities are illegal. Its not so much for the fish but more as this is the last stronghold for Morelets Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) but the fish benefit from being in the same waters. This said I have not been checked in 15 years fishing the lagoons here by any authority. President Pena Nieto banned gill nets from the sea of Cortez 3 years ago. He desperately needs to do the same on this coast in my mind.

You have tarpon filled lakes connected to the sea by cenotes. What is the oddest thing you’ve seen in one of those lakes?

The oddest thing i ever saw i cant identify so Im going to have to assume it was an alien. At the risk of losing readers at this point I will move on to the oddest thing Ive seen that I could identify was a Bigmouth Sleeper (Gobiomorus dormitor) caught on a Gurgler. I had never seen one before and as it looked vaguely Catfish like I made the mistake of lipping it… I wont do that again as they have a zillion needle like teeth.

You are a guide working in a place without many other guides. How have you seen the fishery develop over your time in Mahahual?

Last two years we have had a drought (until TS Franklin arrived last night) and the lakes were the lowest and clearest I have ever seen them. This negatively affected catch results on Tarpon. This is a natural phenomenon and nothing I can do about it except harass the fish less, try to fight them harder and get them unhooked as quickly as possible. In general I think that I am finding more Permit on the beaches now than I was years ago but this I attribute to knowing them better not necessarily as there are more fish out there. Each year I see more and more fishermen on the coast. Most I know and are probably fishing with me a day or two during their stay. I always try to stay in touch with them almost daily to see where they have been and plan to go so that we can avoid fishing the same area or for fish that have already seen an angler that day. This way we get better catch results.

 

come out bonefish… where are you?

Is there a type of angler who should NOT come to Mahahual?

You know, I have had anglers with zero balance, anglers who are hard of hearing or vision impaired. I even fished with a gentleman who was born with no legs. If I am prepared I will try to make anything happen. I encourage guests to let me know so its not a surprise when I find out game time that they cant wade on anything but flat sand. One negative aspect of being a guide here is that Ive had people follow my car down the beach road and then run out in front of me and my guests and cut me off on the flat. Those guys should stay at home!

Dad’s First Sabalito

Best place to eat in town?

Nohoch Kay for Seafood is hard to beat. Try the whole Hogfish.

 

Thanks Nick. Hope to fish with you again at some point!


08
Aug 17

Franklin plows into Mexico & Belize

I JUST left there and Tropical Storm Franklin comes barging on through. By the time this gets posted we’ll know how things are looking, but a named storm is right on top of Mahahual and Punta Allen as I write this. It looks like the brunt of the storm is likely passing north of San Pedro, but the eye is going to go right over Espiritu Santo Bay.

The area has needed rain, so this storm might be a good thing for them, assuming it doesn’t do too much damage. It isn’t expected to be a full hurricane until it passes through Yucatan and emerges into the Gulf to strengthen.

Wishing everyone well down there.