Apr 14

This guy should be famous

The setting was beautiful. A lone rock far from anything else out on the ocean-side flats of Long Island. The wind was non-existent. To top it all off, there was a school of bonefish that would not be discouraged. The damn things just hung around.

Not a sound.

Not a sound.

I finally made my way over to cast to the school (maybe 400-600 fish) and quickly hooked up and just as quickly lost it. Lost a couple more before I finally managed to get one that didn’t slip off. The forces keeping the bonefish schooled up happened to be sharks and cudas. My little bone didn’t make it. It was eaten by a cuda, despite my trying to give it line and give it a chance.

About this time another boat motored up. It was odd to have another boat come all this way out there when they had to be able to see us there from more than a mile away. The boat pulled up 200 feet away and the lone angler and his guide set up shop.

As they eyed the school I was fishing to I managed to get another bonefish on the line. This one I pulled out of the school quickly and the sharks and cudas didn’t see it. I landed the fish, the smallest bonefish of the trip, maybe a pound, and I managed to not get my hand taken off, which felt like victory.

Seeing me otherwise occupied with landing the fish, and making a sarcastic comment about the fish’s lack of girth, the boat moved in on the school.

You sirs, are douchebags.

You sirs, are douchebags.

Yup… they came in and poached my school. They moved right in on the fish and pushed them beyond me.

I just had to stand and stare in amazement. The total lack of class was stunning.

So, let’s just all agree not to do this, OK? Let’s not do it ourselves and let’s not let a guide we are paying do it. Just don’t.


Good. I’m glad we had this talk.

Apr 14

The spinning rod and me

I was not born with a fly rod in my hand. I didn’t first hold one until I was 19 or 20. Up to that time I was a spinning rod angler. Mostly, I threw single eggs and worms and the occasional lure for steelhead and jigs for shad. I fished for the odd trout and pan fish as well, but mostly it was bait and steelhead. I think most of us start out with a spinning rod, if not one of those little snoopy rod/reel combos.

A Klamath River Halfpounder

A Klamath River Halfpounder

My first attempt at fly fishing was untutored steelhead fishing with a beast of a fiberglass rod. I caught no fish, but I did bounce a few Silver Hiltons off my head. My second effort, on the McCloud with a guide-who-shall-not-be-named resulted in fish and a spark of interest. I was pretty much hooked and my spinning rods fell into disuse. I have no idea what happened to them or the little Mitchell 308 reels I used to use.

For the next 15 years I didn’t touch a spinning rod. I think I even developed a bit of that fly-only mentality which discounts other methods. I was afflicted with exclusivity.

Then, a funny thing happened. I went to Cuba with a group of anglers/writers. On the trip was Charlie Levine (who works for FishTrack). He was mostly a spinning guy and an occasional fly rodder. I watched him have fun throwing big pencil poppers for big, angry barracuda and I thought “boy, that looks fun.”

Next, there was a camping trip to the coast with my daughter. We stopped by a pier and watched some people fishing. She asked if we could do that, and, of course, I said yes. We went right to a Big 5 and bought a combo outfit and we went fishing. This was the first spinning rig I had bought or owned in 15-17 years.

The following year we moved to Fremont and found a pier very close to the house. We figured out we could catch sharks there (and my daughter loves sharks), so we started making the pier a regular destination. At this point I started routinely fishing with a spinning rod, hanging bait for the little sharks of the South Bay.

This fish brought to you by a spinning rod

This fish brought to you by a spinning rod

Last spring break we had a trip to the Bahamas and I figured a spinning rod might be good to have along for my daughter and wife. I bought one and Charlie, from the Cuba trip, sent me a Penn spinning reel. It turned out to be a great idea and my daughter and wife both caught fish on the spinning rod.

The girl and her Jack.

The girl and her Jack.

That same rod/reel made the trip with me to Long Island and provided some good fun casting to Barracuda. It saved the day a few times, really.

A nice cuda from Long Island.

A nice cuda from Long Island.

I doubt I’ll ever throw a spinning rod for bonefish or tarpon or trout, but there are some things that just make good sense and I’m likely to add to my spin fishing arsenal, both for my kids and myself.

I am a fly fisherman, but I’m also an angler. I’ve dropped a degree of orthodoxy. In the eyes of some this will sully me. I am no longer pure, but I’m OK with that.

Apr 14

Estrada Video with people you may know

Eric Estrada put together this video featuring many of the people he’s fished with over the past year. In the video are a few of the gang from our Florida trip last June.

I didn’t get to fish with Eric myself, but he was there every day we were there and he is plenty dedicated to the fish, the fishery and his art. He was very willing to share it all with us, and for that, I’m thankful.

Apr 14

Not fishing

I’ve been up in my home town a bit lately, trying to spend some time with my mom while there is still time to spend.Odd to be up there and NOT be fishing. This last trip I took my daughter to a pond and a lake and a river and I didn’t make a single cast. I didn’t even have my fishing license until Sunday. Maybe the latest I’ve bought a license in a decade.

The girl and my river
The girl and my river

The Upper Sacramento River looks good. It is in shape now, a little high, but very, very fishable. We saw some of the big stones flying around there river, around downtown, around the house. We saw a big sulpher as well. The bugs are coming out, the river is awakening, things are starting to get moving.

I’ll be back up before long and maybe, just maybe, I’ll put a rod in the car. The little cocoon of peace offered up by the act of casting a fly on an intimate river, it is a welcome refuge.

Apr 14

So… pretty much, I win

This in the “When I Grow Up” book from my daughter’s class… I’m feeling pretty awesome right now.


Apr 14

Things I kind of love… the H2

I’ve managed to take the H2 out on a couple of trips and at the end of each, I’ve been very reluctant to send it back.

I got to take it to Cuba back in 2012 and this year I got to take one to Long Island.

I know I’m on record as saying the reel is really the important thing, and I still agree with that. And yet… I really love this rod. It is light and powerful and accurate and, well… ya know… it is a good rod.

We live in a good age, a golden age of fly rods. There are so many out there and overall, they are of a high quality. So, you are not shy of options, and even with all those options, I’m pretty confident in saying, this would be one of the best.

The H2, mollusks not included.

The H2, mollusks not included.

The rod is just plain goodness.

The H2, at rest

The H2, at rest

So, good folks at Orvis… I’ve got some bad news. The rod got broken/lost/stolen, so, yeah, I can’t send it back. :-(


Apr 14

So… bonefishing isn’t hard

This story came up in my Google alert last week.Bonefishing: Yeah, So, Not That Hard

It is over on Hatch Magazine’s blog. Here’s a taste.

Am I saying that it is untrue that catching some bonefish requires you to be able to drop a 70 or 80 foot cast on a dinner plate? No. I’m saying that catching many a bonefish doesn’t. I’ve caught bonefish at 60 feet while fighting a nasty crosswind but I’ve also caught bonefish with a roll cast at 15 feet.

The point is simple and one I agree with. You don’t need to be an expert to catch a bonefish and you shouldn’t hold off on doing it just because you can’t drop a 70′ cast in a coffee cup in a 20 mph wind.


The piece says you don’t need to perfect your double haul, but then, later, goes on to admit that working on your casting is a pretty good idea. And it is. Don’t travel all the way to catch a bonefish without at least spending a little time on that cast. That just doesn’t make sense.

Can you catch a bonefish with no double haul? Yes. Yes you can. However… the guide will have many, many more shots at fish requiring some form of double haul. You probably don’t want to travel 2,000 miles just to throw into muds all day.

Oh... that's not good.
Oh… that’s not good.

It is OK if you aren’t great with your double haul, but at least try. Sucking at something is the first step in becoming good at it, but you don’t get better without putting in time.

There are certainly some easy bonefish a good guide can find for you. The other side of that is a bad guide might not be able to find you any fish, easy or hard.

Here’s the part of this I really agree with… if you want to catch a bonefish (and you should, it is awesome), go and do it. Book the flight, get the guide, and get after it.

Casting... work on it.
Casting… work on it.

PS – Here’s the thing… a double haul will make you a better trout fisherman, better bass fisherman, better carp fisherman, better angler. You should learn that skill regardless of what you fish for.

Also, while we are at it… learn to spey cast. A spey cast, even a single handed spey cast, will make you a better angler. It isn’t just for steelhead. I’m not saying it is for bonefish, but it is a solid skill to put in your tool box.

Apr 14

Jason Bourne Goes Bonefishing

My name, Bjorn, is a tough one for a lot of people. It is pronounced “bee-orn.” The “j” throws a lot of people. I’ve had that name since birth, however, so I’m used to it.On the recent trip to Long Island the name produced a new funny twist.

Head guide, Dwayne, had trouble with my name, as many do. Dwayne pronounced my name “Born” and I answered to it. You can’t be picky when you are named Bjorn.

Dwayne, calling out a fish to Jason Bourne (photo from Aaron Vanderwall)
Dwayne, calling out a fish to Jason Bourne (photo from Aaron Vanderwall)

In order to remember my name, Dwayne latched on to the Bourne movies, associating my name with Jason Bourne.

On the boat, when fish were spotted and Dwayne wanted to get my attention, the association with the movie character proved too strong and he’d simply call me “Jason.”

He knew it wasn’t right, but he couldn’t stop himself.

“Jason… Bourne… Jason, bonefish, there!”

Soon, even Dwayne’s brother Elvis was calling me Jason.

So, in March of 2014, a character from fiction visited Long Island in the Bahamas in search of bonefish. There were no car chases or explosions, save those by barracuda.

Apr 14

The Big Year – Drake Magazine

I got my copy of the Drake on Friday and saw “The Big Year Contest.”I love this.

Really cool idea.
Really cool idea.

The idea takes a page out of the idea of “The Big Year” in bird watching (there is a movie of the same name with Steve Martin and Jack Black). The Big Year is all about number of species. It isn’t size or numbers, but species.

The Drake is going to track this on their Facebook page starting on April 26th.

I’ve long enjoyed the many different species one can catch on a fly. I’m apt to throw at any fish that might even consider eating a fly, even if it isn’t considered much of a game fish. Blind casting into cuts in the tropics often yields some really interesting fish, always a bonus on any flats trip.

I look forward to seeing some unusual fish show up.

There is gear up for grabs, as you might expect. Sponsors include Redington, Sage, Yeti, William Joseph, Smith Optics and RIO.

Get your copy of the magazine to see all the details.

Apr 14

Carry On – The Safe Passage from Orvis

Rod/Reel Transport in style.

Rod/Reel Transport in style.

On the trip to Long Island I brought along the Safe Passage rod case from Orvis. In it, I had 5 rods, 6 reels and flies (and whatever else I could fit in it).

For all those who question if you can bring rods and reels and flies along on your flight, I can tell you that from the US to the Bahamas and back, you certainly can. If your airline is playing by TSA rules, you should have no problems, so long as you don’t have really, really massive hooks in your bag.

I liked the Safe Passage case and I had no issues about the length of the bag as I put it in the overhead storage on every flight that offered that (Pineapple Air does not offer overhead storage so it sat on my lap).

It is a solid piece of luggage/gear. It is well made and purpose built and way better than my soccer sock + cam strap rod carrying contraption I used previously.

Thanks Orvis.