17
Jan 17

Flies (and gear) for Belize

Belize… smallest fish of my 2010 trip.

Belize, 88 days away, means I need to get back at the vice and it means different flies than I’d have in my box otherwise.

On the bonefish front, it means small flies. #6’s and #8’s… yes… #8’s. Not only smaller flies than you are likely to fish in the Bahamas, but also adding a weed-guard is a good idea.

For tarpon… well… I do dig on the bunny flies and I could stand a few more lighter colored tarpon bunnies. I’ll likely ties some #1’s for any tarpon I might come across.

Now… this is a trip with my daughter and while our goal is for her to catch a bonefish on a fly (if we end up at a mud, don’t judge me), it is possible we need to throw some gear for fish as well. I’m never really too sure what spinning gear to bring along for maybe catching a bonefish. That isn’t what I’ve been doing. So, might need to seek out some consultation on that front.

How much fly fishing I get to do is really a great unknown. The #1 priority is to keep the girl happy and have a good vacation. That certainly means I’ll fish less than I would like to fish, but there WILL be some fishing.


15
Jan 17

Let’s look at Florida

I like Florida… but Florida is in trouble. Captains for Clean Water is trying to help.


14
Jan 17

Five things that make Belize Awesome

91 days until Belize (I’ll be on Caye Caulker, if booking through Yellow Dog, ask for Cameron, he knows his stuff)… and I’m sitting here thinking about the appeal of Belize.

Here are five things that make Belize awesome.

Belizean Bone

  1. Bonefish. They have bonefish. They have lots and lots of bonefish. They are not big bonefish, mostly, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. It reminds me of that creek you go to when you want to do a bit of catching. In Belize you can, more or less, count on doing a bit of bonefish catching.
  2. Tarpon. They have them and in greater numbers and more predictably than you would find in many other Caribbean locations. There are babies and adults and the fish in-between.
  3. English. They speak English in Belize which makes it a great option for those of us who are Spanish-challenged.
  4. Ruins. You can check out the Mayan ruins in Belize, and the ruins are often pretty spectacular. Amazing to think what that culture accomplished without steel tools or Home Depot.
  5. Grand Slam. This is a place where it can happen. It happened for me on my first ever tarpon and my first ever permit. The folks at El Pescador seem to rack up Grand Slams on a fairly regular basis, which is pretty amazing as a routine happening.

Now… the thing I’m leaving off the list, mostly, is a fish many anglers go to Belize specifically to find and that is the permit. Why do I not consider the permit one of the top five bits of awesome? Because permit are jerks, that’s why.

The guides who are well known in Belize are the permit guides and they can find them and they know how to fish them and they have brought much joy to that unique group of black tailed seekers, permit anglers. However, that game is just not my game. Maybe it will happen at some point, but for now I’m happy to leave it to you masochists.

I also didn’t mention the national beer, the Belekin, even if I tend to drink a lot of them when I’m in Belize. There is very little weight difference between a full Belekin and an empty one. The beer itself is one of those warm climate lagers that suits its climate perfectly, even if there is less actual beer in one of those thick, heavy bottles than you might wish there was.

One of the best beers I’ve ever had. A Grand Slam Beer.


13
Jan 17

Comments from Yellow Dog on the Bahamian Regulations

Yellow Dog knows a thing or two about the Bahamas and Ian Davis has been going there longer than I’ve been fly fishing. He knows the lodges and the people and he wrote his thoughts up about the regs and what they will mean for the Bahamas going forward.

You can read these thoughts here.

The regulations are in place now and it looks like licenses are being issued. Don’t know how it is working on some of the smaller islands. If you have experiences, please let me know.

Another DIY GBI bonefish

 


09
Jan 17

New Fly Fisher in Belize

Ah, Belize…

In this episode of The New Fly Fisher they are down in Belize at El Pescador with Orvis guru Tom Rosenbauer.

El Pescador has a special place in my heart/soul.

A nice place to be.

I first went to El Pescador in 2010 with my buddy Shane. We had some less than ideal weather, but we had a couple good days on the water, culminating with my first ever permit and my first ever tarpon and my first ever grand slam (still my only grand slam).

The permit. Not a big permit, but a permit.

Loved the place so much I conned convinced my wife to head down there for our honeymoon.

Honeymoon Bonefish

We are going to try to get back there somewhere close to our 5th anniversary, but also when our son might be a little easier to deal with (he’s 3). So, thanks Tom and company for getting me a glimpse of that land I enjoy so much.

Spring Break will see me just a short hop from El Pescador and Ambergris over on Caye Caulker. Can’t wait to get back to Belize.

 


08
Jan 17

The Skink Files – Foreign Sand

The US approved a plan to study how eroding US beaches could be made new again by, ya know, robbing other countries of their sand.

I have no doubt Skink would disapprove.

In fact, a foreign sand scheme was in a recent Carl Hiaasen book.

I would say “I can’t imagine a country in the Caribbean that would sell out like that.” but then… the Bahamas recently considered taking Chinese money to pimp their fishery and there was the one time a politician tried to sell off a graveyard in San Pedro… so, ya know… the intersection of soulless-greed and soul-destroying economic opportunity is nothing new and not exactly something confined to the island nations.

I would like to consider how Skink might respond.


07
Jan 17

All the news that’s fit to print, and some that isn’t. Reaction to new regs.

I’m just going to leave this here for y’all to peruse at your leisure. Here are a few of the stories about the new regulations in the Bahamas, set to go into effect on Jan. 9, despite the whole nation being woefully unprepared for the mechanism the law lays out.

Abaco Guides Fear ‘Irreparable Harm’ Via New Regulation

New Regulations a “Slap in the Face” says, Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association

Fly Fishing Penalties ‘Draconian, Hostile’

Bahamas Moves to Protect Fly Fishing Industry

Fly Fishing Rules ‘One Of Most Important Laws Since Majority Rule’

Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association Blasts New Bahamas Flats Fishing Regulations

Just an aside… the Bahamian government websites (like this) where people would actually go to see what the regulations are do not, in fact, have any of that information up yet… and it is supposed to all start on Monday.


06
Jan 17

Getting the double haul down

Belize is about 100 days away at this point and if I achieve one of my life goals and watch my daughter smack a bone on a fly, she’s going to need a double haul. We worked on it a bit last weekend.

 

But since Simon is better at this than I am…


04
Jan 17

The bluster and the long game – Bahamas Regulations Update

The Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association’s (BFFIA) president yesterday hailed imminent regulations to govern the sector as “one of the biggest pieces of legislation to come about since 1967”, as “closing the loopholes” will increase foreign currency earnings for Bahamians. (full story here)

1967 was the year the Bahamas became an independent nation. Yes… Prescott is saying his fly fishing regulation law is one of the most important things since Bahamian home rule. That doesn’t sound like an overstatement at all, does it?

Gone is any pretense that this is about conservation. If you recall the first days of this particular episode of this fight it was shrouded in envrio-speak. It was to protect the fish. But it never was about that. It isn’t even about what the regulations say or do now. There is a long game here and this is just part of it.

Mr Conservation, demonstrating proper handling of a bonefish.

Prescott, as he says himself, has been fighting this battle for 23 years. He’s not done. He’s laying a foundation.

“Most people don’t realise(sic) that because they hear the term ‘fly fishing’, but it’s the first piece of legislation that lays the foundation for building ownership by local Bahamians. It doesn’t matter your economic standing; there is something in this industry for you to lay claim to. That is what the legislation does. This is so huge.”

This is about who owns the lodges and where the money goes. Prescott doesn’t like foreign owned lodges since they are the competition and they are competitors that book more days at higher prices. They have more access to capital. They have nicer boats. They “speak American” in a sense and know how to meet client expectations. A lot of the big lodges are foreign owned, maybe all the big ones, but there are several Bahamian owned lodges as well. Water Cay and Swain’s Cay come to mind.

The way Prescott sees it, every dollar spent in the Bahamas that doesn’t go to a Bahamian is a kind of national crime, a continuation of economic colonialism. The first draft of the legislation we saw took aim at foreign owned lodges, despite there being ample legislation on the books about how investments in the Bahamas could be made. The aim, the long game, really is about getting rid of foreign owned lodges.

In the legislation snuck through there is little that impacts most DIY fishing, unless you had your own skiff or rented one while there. There is a license you need to purchase (the actual mechanics for that seem to be mostly FUBAR, but that’s another post). However, think of the long game here. Prescott seems to see any anglers fishing Bahamian flats without paying a Bahamian guide as stealing directly from the guide community and it is very much in his long term plan to change that.

Now, you can claim I’m doomsaying and you can say the regulations don’t limit DIY fishing, but let’s see how the regulations are enforced, how the licensing mechanisms work and let’s see what comes next. I’m gazing into the future here a bit, but I also have talked to a lot of people who have known Prescott for years and they all say this is where he has long said he wants to go. I just think I see the path he’s taking.

Prescott, and his supporters in the guide community and in the government, have been sold on the idea you can convert every second-home owner into a fly fishing guide client and every DIY angler can and will pay for a guide to fish the Bahamas. They also believe foreign lodge owners can be pushed out, and maybe the booking agents as well and that when it is all in Bahamian hands it will be an economic boon.

They believe, when all is said and done, this legislation will result in more days booked with Bahamian guides at Bahamian lodges and more money will be spent and will stay in the Bahamas.

Those of us opposed to this legislation disagree with that math. There will be fewer guide days booked in 2017 than in 2016, especially for independent guides. Bahamian lodges that struggled before will continue to struggle. Second home prices will drop and the economic boost construction and remodeling gave will disappear. Places like Ragged may never get fished (legally) while the legislation stands (a place with 67 inhabitants is unlikely to be able to support a licensed guide). Businesses which rent lodging or cars or boats or provide meals to DIY anglers will suffer. In short, we believe you can’t dictate too much to your consumers, your clients without it coming back to bite you in the arse.

Beyond just what it does to anglers, how about the fact that under this legislation a local Bahamian going out and catching a mutton snapper in 5 feet of water will need a license and could be fined if he doesn’t have one. A license fee or fine is a big deal in a place with a minimum wage of $4.00/hour and unemployment over 14%. The birthright of every Bahamian to go catch their dinner in the sea was just voted away behind closed doors. No one even seems to know it has happened.

The wounds will be self-inflicted and they will be deep and I honestly think we’ve only seen a glimpse of what gets built on this foundation.

Was this my last Bahamian bonefish?


01
Jan 17

How to be great at fly fishing

Davin, taking a shot.

I am not sure which coach said it, might have been at a basketball camp when I was in high school, but the coach said “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

That resonated with me a bit.

A second concept that has stuck with me is the idea that outcomes are not coincidental. That means if you want to improve a particular thing, you have to work on that particular thing with the goal of improving it… your main goal should not be a coincidental outcome, it should be an intentional outcome.

These sorts of things float around in my head, popping up from time to time and even sometimes getting applied to my life.

I was recently listening to the Freakonomics podcast and they talked about “How to Become Great at Just About Anything” where this idea of deliberate practice was discussed. This is where the 10,000 hour rule comes from, meaning to become elite at anything you need to devote a considerable amount of time, you need to put that time in with the goal of improving and you need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

The application to fly fishing is pretty clear. Your casting won’t improve if you only pick up a fly rod 5 or 6 times a year and it won’t improve if you practice in the best conditions only and only at distances you feel comfortable with. Your casting also won’t improve if you don’t have a mechanism to elicit feedback. If you come to understand what you are doing wrong, you can’t fix it.

That same sort of thing goes for writing and for singing and for parenting (probably, right?) and for surgery and for selling and for… everything you want to be good at.

Take a listen to the podcast and thing about what aspects of fly fishing you could apply this to… and what areas of your own life might stand to benefit as well.