01
Jul 15

Florida and a measure of redemption

Before the Bahamas thing blew up, I was regaling you all with tales of our trip to Florida and how it felt to get absolutely crushed by the fishing. I’ll pick up the story where it left off.

I had gone 5 fishelss days. My best day was three follows. We were in Marathon (and Tav and Islamorada and Big Pine) looking for, and failing to find for the most part, the big ocean-side tarpon. Fishing with Bill Horn the day before I heard that it was possible the run was really over… that they run for about 60 days and we were in 60+ territory.

Beyond the fish not being there, there was the weather. June in the Keys can be beautiful. It isn’t as hot or humid as it will get later and there are certain days that are just clear and calm and wonderful. There are also horrible, horrible days full of grey skies and squalls and roiling seas. Day 5 was pretty rough and that was exactly what day 6 was shaping up to be.

My dad had flown out a couple days before and the plan was to get him on a tarpon, any tarpon. We had lined up Derek Rust and we were looking forward to the trip. Derek told us he would be happy to take us out, but thought it would not go well, that the weather was going to be horrible, the winds very high and it was not going to be the day we were hoping for. It was not the call I wanted to get, but I appreciated Derek telling it like it was and letting us come up with a plan B.

I made several calls and found a plan B at about 9:00 PM. The plan was to head North to meet Martin Carranza and to head into the Everglades to Flamingo.

It was such a good call.

I fished with Martin a couple years ago in Biscayne Bay and enjoyed his company. Martin busted his ass for us, poling us into the wind for hours. He was easy going and quick with a joke. An easy guy to share a skiff with.

It was a different kind of fishing, but I really enjoyed it. Casting under the mangroves and tight to cover was a lot of fun. I threw the fly rod and my dad threw a spinning rod so we could both be fishing. My dad hadn’t done any spin fishing since he picked up a fly rod about 18 years ago, and so it was a bit rough to start off with, but he found his groove by the end of the day and was hitting the banks pretty well.

Martin and my Dad, in the Glades.

Martin and my Dad, in the Glades.

The first fish of the day was a tarpon, a baby, but a tarpon, and acrobatic and handsome and exactly what I needed. It was a tiny bit of redemption. I had come to Florida and I had caught a tarpon, even if in my mind the tarpon was about 10x the size. Later in the day I was casting a gurgler along the mangroves, over the trench found between the mangroves and the grass and a large, adult tarpon came up on the fly. It turned it’s head sideways so it could look at the fly, and then turned off it. I didn’t have a chance to do much, just standing there slack jawed before shouting some expletive. Probably the closest I came to getting an eat from an adult tarpon the whole trip.

Martin tells me they also come in Men's sizes.

Martin tells me they also come in Men’s sizes.

I also caught a few small snook, my first, and a jack, a snapper and a cuda. My dad got a small snook himself and had a few bumps from other fish. We saw some bigger snook, but those guys were thick in their cover and didn’t want to play.

Martin on the platform.

Martin on the platform.

It was a good day. I got to fish with my dad (who has decided he still prefers trout to tarpon and said the next time I book a Florida trip he’ll book a trip for trout somewhere else). I got to see a friend and some of the water he knows. We saw a manatee and on the way out of the park I also saw an alligator.

Ya know… it may not be one of the greatest victories in Florida fly fishing, but it was a victory for me.

Thanks Martin.


30
Jun 15

Bahamas – where things stand now

OK, there was another meeting yesterday. This was a stakeholders meeting specifically about the proposed regulations and from what I hear it went much better than the Bahamas Guide meeting of last week.

There will be another meeting on July 13 for more input and then the proposals will be re-written. From there it goes for debate in the cabinet and then gets a vote. So, some time left and some hope on the horizon.

I’ll get more details out when I can, but here is what it sounds like so far.

  • An objective, easy to obtain license/permit seems to be in the cards. No getting your license from a guide who has no interest in giving you one.
  • Mother-ship operations run by non-Bahamians and not employing Bahamian guides are likely done. Not too many people have an issue with that, I certainly don’t. Seemed a massive abuse of the Bahamians to begin with.
  • Foreign-owned lodges aren’t going anywhere.
  • DIY – Still going to exist, but there may be some restrictions on DIY Exactly what that might look like remains to be seen. There could be some guide-only areas… but there might not be. I don’t think there are clear answers on this one yet.
  • I think second home owners with their own boats may be in the clear, but that isn’t too clear just yet. (Rod Hamilton is reporting that it is sorted)

In general it seems like there was some degree of stepping away from the ledge. I’ll write more about this when I get more details.


29
Jun 15

What being helpful looks like

The Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association steps it up and brings some really good recommendations to the table.

I’m re-printing the whole thing. Well done folks. This is gold and I hope it is recognized as such.

 

Department of Marine Resources

Michael T. Braynen, Director

Nassau, Bahamas

 

Dear Director Braynen,

I am writing to you today to advise the Department that Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association (AFFGA) disagrees with the proposed draft legislation.

We would like it to be known that the AFFGA DOES NOT RECOGNIZE the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association as the voice of the fly fishing industry. Additionally, the AFFGA had no input into the proposed regulations.

Our association members are independent guides as well as guides that work for fishing lodges on the island of Abaco.

We thank you for the opportunity to provide our members views for consideration as you either reject or reshape the proposed draft legislation.

  1. Conservation fund – The AFFGA suggests that each island should retain their fishing permit fees and have control of how they are spent for conservation. Or, if all monies are pooled, 100% of the fee should go to the Bahamas Conservation Fund.  Alternatively, 100% fees should pay for wardens to ENFORCE regulations.
  1. Fishing Permits – The AFFGA suggests that fishing permits be sold electronically and be purchased via credit card and that the proposed procedure as described in the legislation be disregarded as it is unnecessarily cumbersome due to the application process and because it can also be exclusionary.
  1. Vessel Permit – The AFFGA suggests that Vessel be defined as it could mean any kind of vessel of any size, with or without a motor.

The AFFGA suggests that a Foreign Registered Vessel fishing in Bahamian waters with a single flats skiff be required to purchase a sportfishing permit for the yacht and for the skiff as well as a flats fishing permit.

The AFFGA suggests that a Foreign Registered Vessel fishing in Bahamian waters with multiple flats skiffs be required to purchase a sportfishing permit for every vessel and a flats fishing permits for each angler and be required to hire a Bahamian fishing guide for each vessel that is flats fishing.

The AFFGA suggests that Bahamian Registered boats owned by second-homeowners be required to purchase a sportfishing permit and a flats fishing permit but should not be required to have a guide aboard the vessel to flats fish.

The AFFGA suggests that there is nothing in the legislation that prohibits nor penalizes non-certified guides from guiding.

The AFFGA suggests that there are airboats carrying wading anglers to the flats and that this needs to be addressed in the legislation.

  1. Certification of Guides – The AFFGA suggests that a fishing guide be a citizen as other immigration statuses have historically been abused by fisherman in other sectors.

The AFFGA suggests that only new guides should be required to take a fly fishing certification course and no refresher courses should be necessary.   A one (1) year apprenticeship program with an experienced guide or lodge would be a more worthy training tool.

  1. Certification of Lodge Operators – The AFFGA suggests that a fishing lodge operator should be open to work permit holders if “operator” refers to a person or persons who manage the day to day lodge operations.  If “operator” refers to “owner” The AFFGA suggests that the laws regarding foreign investment be amended to include consultation with relevant stakeholders to evaluate lodge density in a given area to prevent over fishing and irreparable harm to a fishery.
  1. Concessions to Fishing Lodge Operators – The AFFGA suggest that Guides should also be able to apply to the Minister of Finance for customs duty exemption for items imported for retail sale to anglers.
  1. Commercial Fishing in the Flats Prohibited – The AFFGA suggests that only netting of bonefish be prohibited on flats as prohibiting other Bahamian’s from making a living is prejudicial.
  1. General Offences and Penalties – The AFFGA suggests that the penalties are extremely excessive punishment especially if one considers fines and punishment for other criminal offences in the Bahamas.
  1. Fees – The AFFGA suggests that anglers who hire a guide to fish should not be required to buy a fishing permit.

The AFFGA suggests that fees for fishing permits should be competitive with the industry and that the application fee is excessive and the process of obtaining a license is too complicated.

  1. Certificate for (Flats Fishing Guide) – The AFFGA suggests that fees are prejudicial as there is nothing in the legislation that prohibits unlicensed guides from fishing.

The AFFGA suggests that if a license is required the duration should be multi-year as the procedure is onerous and expensive when compared to unlicensed fishing guides.

  1. Certificate for (Fishing Lodge Operator) – The AFFGA suggests that is prejudicial to require a fishing lodge to pay for certification when Floating Lodges (Motherships) are directly competing with lodges but are not subject to the licensing laws of land based Lodges in the Bahamas.
  1. Custom Duty Exemptions – The AFFGA suggests that Guides should also be eligible for Duty Exemptions as the draft only addresses duty exemptions for lodges which is extremely prejudicial to Independent Guides who do not work for lodges.

Because of industry-wide consultation meetings that our members have been a party to since 2009, we are aware that stakeholders are in agreement that the number one issue regarding our fishery resource is lack of enforcement, and without enforcement additional laws are merely suggestions.

Since the inception of the AFFGA our members have been proponents of a fishing license for anglers that is easily obtainable from a centralized source and all of the revenue could be used for wardens and enforcement of our present fishing laws and any new laws that this legislation brings about.

We are very concerned about the response from the fishing world in general and our fishing clients specifically regarding these ill-advised proposed regulations.  Our fear is that the voice of a very few industry stake holders will irreparably harm our robust twenty (20) plus million dollar Abaco bonefishing industry.

Three of our members will be attending the consultation hearing on Monday and we look forward to a productive dialogue that will cumulate in a new version of legislation that includes all stakeholders, promotes the industry, and actually protects the resource rather than just make the fisherman and visitors to our country feel unwelcomed.

Sincerely,

Justin Sands, President

Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association


28
Jun 15

Hope

Bone in GBI - a DIY fish.

Bone in GBI – a DIY fish.

I’m an optimist deep down so I have hope that the Bahamas can reverse course on the proposed regulations before even more damage is done.

Here’s another tidbit to give some hope:

Tribune Business can reveal that the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is uniting with the Grand Bahama and Out Island Promotion Boards, plus the Marina Operators of the Bahamas (MOB), to oppose proposed amendments they fear will hit the tourism industry “like a tsunami”.

Seems like some non-fishing folks are starting to wake up to the dangers. Read the story here.

Orvis also recently weighed in on the controversy and they aren’t happy.

Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures (who have done as much or more than anyone to grow the Bahamas as a fly fishing destination in the last decade) also recently withdrew their support for the BFFIA (Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association), as that group’s leadership is largely responsible for the current fiasco (although not all of them, thanks for fighting the good fight Cheryl Bastian (she owns Swain’s Cay in Andros, a place you should consider booking).

If you are opposed to these regulations and want to avoid the guides and lodges who are driving this process, I’d urge you to ask some serious questions before you book. Ask if they support the regulations, especially if you are going to be booking Stafford Creek or Andros Island Bonefishing Club. If you hear an answer that sounds like political double-speak and doesn’t actually answer any of your questions, or punts responsibility to the government, or gives you an answer that directly contradicts facts you have plainly read with your own eyes, well, what you do with those answers is up to you.

There are a lot of great lodges out there in the Bahamas with good people who realize how damaging these new regulations would be and who seek to avoid the tsunami. Support them.

Dick Brown, author and angler I hold in high regard wrote his letter before the deadline closed on Friday. He’s a man who has also promoted the Bahamas, has shown his love of the place, the people and the resource. Here’s his letter.

To the Bahamas Ministry of Fisheries

As an angler, author, and longtime friend of the Bahamas, I would like to make a few comments on the proposal to change the policies on bonefishing in the Commonwealth. I have been an avid flats angler fishing in the Bahamas most of my adult life. I have written articles about fishing there for many U.S. angling magazines and I have authored two books on bonefishing, which are considered definitive handbooks on the sport and which feature numerous destinations in the Bahamas and many of her fine people, guides, and lodges. I also speak at national fly fishing shows each year about bonefishing techniques and how to be a better flats angler and where the best places are to go bonefishing.
I am, and have long been, a strong believer that the Bahamian people should benefit from the great resource that the bonefish fishery represents, and specifically that Bahamian guides, lodge owners and others involved in delivering the Bahamas fishing venues should benefit economically from the resource and from their efforts.  I also believe, however, that it would be a mistake to prevent non Bahamian tourist anglers–who have spent considerable years, effort, and money in learning to become proficient in flats fishing–from being able to bonefish on their own from time to time, as well as allowing them to fish with a guide. I do both and enjoy both. I would not visit a destination where I could not do both. And I am not alone.
I have had the pleasure of fishing with many great Bahamian guides over the years, some of whom have become legends. And some, like Charlie Neymour and Ricardo Burrows and others, have gone on to build their own lodges. And I have stayed at many Bahamian owned lodges. I have great respect for such enterprising Bahamian entrepreneurs. I helped Nettie Symonette with the launch of her Different of Abaco bonefish lodge at Casuarina Point at its inception and I wrote the story of her great accomplishment in opening up the marls to bonefishing on the west side of Abaco. These are pioneering accomplishments by industrious Bahamians like the great Smith family of Andros. But I also believe that many of the non-Bahamian lodge owners have made significant contributions to the Bahamas bonefish industry as well, bringing knowledge, techniques, and awarenesses from other venues and it would be a grave error to discourage such healthy partnerships with others who bring both good ideas and new guests from far away destinations. I have  fished at both Bahamian-owned and foreign-owned lodges over the years and enjoyed both. I believe the Bahamas is big enough for both and greatly benefits from both. And I hope you can find a way to continue to accommodate both.
One last point. Research and protecting the bonefish fishery has never been more important. The sport depends on it. And it is a joint venture. We have all come a long way in understanding what is needed to protect this great resource thanks to the efforts of pioneers like Don Erdman, Doug Colton, Roy Crabtree, and more recently,the researchers at Bonefish Tarpon Trust and others. This is a time for Bahamian anglers, guides, and lodge owners to grow closer not further apart in their partnership with U.S., British, French, German, and all other foreign anglers, interests, and research partners to the end of all working together to protect what may be the greatest light tackle and fly fishing game fish on the face of the earth. It is a time to work together, not apart.
I hope we will.
Respectfully submitted,
Dick Brown
Author, Fly Fishing for Bonefish

26
Jun 15

Bahamas – Bad Math

It is looking more and more likely that the regulations proposed to restrict flats fishing are aimed at DIY anglers and foreign lodges. The provisions allowing the denial of a permit to an angler and the nebulous requirements that lodges might have to fulfill in order to operate may not have been unintentionally vague, but may have been written in a way so that decision on who gets to fish, who gets to guide and who gets to operate lodges is given to those who would use those powers to limit competition, restrict DIY anglers and try to direct more business to themselves.

So, all those things that would be easy to fix to get something more reasonable on the table seem to be mechanisms with malicious intent purposefully crafted to do the very things they look like they could do in a worst case scenario.

This idea that if you get rid of DIY angling and foreign lodges the Bahamas somehow flourishes is just bad math. It is the economic equivalent to children playing with matches in a bone dry field. Bad things are going to happen and people are going to get hurt.

Not every guide in the Bahamas is in favor of this, not by a long way, but there are some folks in positions of influence and power who seem hellbent on doing something, even after the mounting evidence that it will go badly. This could become a case study on what happens when you alienate your key customers.

Here’s a story from the Nassau Guardian voicing just one lodge owner’s (Bahamian at that) concern over what is happening.


25
Jun 15

Bahamas Regulations

Here’s the ongoing list of folks who voice concern about the proposed regulations. It’s a good list. It’s a list of people and organizations who love and care for the Bahamas.

A few thoughts.

  • No other permitting system I’m aware of allows the issuer to deny a permit to fish. You have the cash and your information and you get the permit. In the proposed rules you can simply be denied a permit. You could fly from Seattle to Long Island, a trip you might have spent months planning, only to find the person you need to get a license from says “no.” An impartial on-line system would be the best solution. That would seem easy.
  • I’ve heard over and over again foreign lodges are not being targeted. I would ask why there was language specifically in the proposed regulations about foreign owned lodges if they were not being targeted. Those who say foreign lodges are not to be targeted seem to be standing under a full, blue sky and insisting the sky is green. The lodge owners seem to think they are being targeted, and they are the ones on the ground, so I’m going to say they are at risk.
  • While the beach walking DIY angler may, or may not have a hard time getting their permit to fish, the second-home owner who brought over his boat is just flat SOL in this proposal. Now, I’m not one of the lucky SOBs who is in that camp, but I’d be pretty sore if I’d spend all that money and then had the rug yanked out from under me. I have a friend who rents a house that comes with use of a little boat. It is not a flats boat, but a more pedestrian boat with a small outboard. He uses the boat to motor out 10 or 15 minutes to a flat near where he stays to wade another flat. Sounds like he’d be SOL too. Seems wrong to me to make those activities criminal.
  • There is an argument along the lines of “It is their country, let them do what they want.” I’m going to say that’s a silly argument. The people who are up in arms love the Bahamas and think the proposed regulations will be bad for the Bahamas. They (me included) fear for the Bahamas, for the people there, if this thing (or anything much resembling it) comes to pass. Business is going to drop, maybe dramatically in the Family Islands, and that will mean a people who often make due with very little will have even less to live on. It could be an artificially created economic recession that will cost jobs and bring hardship.

It is my hope the crisis can be averted. I’d even go so far as to say it is likely. Don’t go changing your travel plans just yet. The odds of you being able to walk the flats next year is high. The odds are good because folks like you have let their voices be heard, shared their concerns and their love of the Bahamas. Thank you to all who have written in to the Bahamas government on this. I’ll try to keep folks as in the loop as I can.

 


23
Jun 15

Some more thoughts about the proposed Bahamas flats regulations

Long Island BS

A few day have passed now and there have been a lot more voices added to the hue and cry about the potential Bahamian flats fishing regulations. Below are a few to pay attention to.

I can only hope it is enough. The more I hear, the more I read, the worse I feel about what may be coming down the pike. I have become more convinced the regulations are being brought forward with malice. As bad as they are now, I’m afraid of what might happen when the doors close.

Now, the maybe good news I’ve heard from one Bahamian guide is that this stuff doesn’t have a good chance of passing. Let’s hope that is true.

Since people love lists. Some of the key points.

  1. A permit for a modest fee. You bet. Sign me up. However, make it easy,  make it objective and make it modest in cost. Don’t make criminals out of the dad who goes and throws a spinner in the ocean for 20 minutes.
  2. Bahamian Guides for Bahamian Waters. There should not be Florida guides (or Texas guides or California guides) making money polling the flats of the Bahamas. Easy. I don’t know anyone who is opposed to that. However, if you rent a house and it comes with use of a boat and you use that boat to motor out to a flat 5 minutes away to fish, it seems like you should be able to do that without having to hire a guide. The guide may not like that, but the people who rented out the house like it and the people who feed and transport those guests benefit from their trip. To outlaw DIY, which, I fear, is really where this thing is headed, is to do injury to the Bahamian economy that will create distrust and animosity and will take years to heal.

The damage is being done right now. Americans and Europeans are changing travel plans NOW, as they are unsure where things are headed.

No one wants Bahamian guides to go away. I love doing a little DIY, but I love going with Bahamian guides, the good ones who know their waters so well. If the Bahamas makes me feel unwelcome, if it becomes hard, if it becomes a hassle, I’ll simply go somewhere else and I won’t be the only one and that Bahamian guide, the smooth casting, eagle eyed Bahamian guides I’ve enjoyed fishing with so much will simply go away.

I’ve seen the proposed regulations pitched as a way to preserve Bahamian heritage. I think the missing point is that there is no Bahamian heritage of poling the flats without clients and if you drive off the clients by making them feel unwelcome it will lay to waste the sustainable jobs build by the guiding industry. If that happens, the options for the Bahamians living on those islands will be narrowed down to the exploitation (and selling off of) their natural resources, and the national heritage of the Bahamas.

Read the posts linked to above and let your voice be heard.


22
Jun 15

Your thoughts are needed for the Bahamas

Read Gink & Gasoline’s take on the proposed flats fishing regulations. Read it.

I have thoughts about this as well and you can read them here.

The time-frame for getting your comments in ENDS ON FRIDAY!

Please take action if you love the Bahamas.

Looking forward to the next trip.

Looking forward to the next trip.

 


21
Jun 15

How to destroy the Bahamas, a Guide

There is some really frightening proposed legislation floating around the Bahamas and they’ve given us about a week to let our opinions be known. I’ve looked at it and it does not make me happy, and except for a few people, I wouldn’t think most Bahamians would be too happy with it either.

Let me just say plainly I think the proposed regulations are a misguided money-grab by a few Bahamians. I think if these regulations are adopted it would be a very bad move for the Bahamian economy, especially with the possibilities of increased competition for flats fishing anglers from Cuba on the horizon.

The stated aims:

The aim of this initiative is to prepare legislation that will regulate this part of the fishing industry providing rules to govern those who participate in it, whether as fisherman, guide or lodge operator, and to ensure that the marine environments upon which the fishery is based, are protected. It is further expected that changes will result in the further development of the sector and of its contribution to the economy of The Bahamas.

The proposed regulations would eliminate foreign guides in Bahamian waters, but more than that, it also seeks to eliminate foreign owned flats fishing lodges.

(4) A person eligible to apply for certification as a fishing lodge operator under paragraph (1) must —

(a) be a citizen or permanent resident of The Bahamas; and

(b) satisfy all criteria established and published by the Department of Marine Resources.

I’m all for Bahamian guides for Bahamian waters. That seems to make sense and is generally the way it goes from what I understand, with a few exceptions. Permanent residents, folks who live there all year, they would be eligible to guide, from what I understand. That makes sense to me as well. But by attacking foreign owned lodges the proposed regulations go from “let’s get a handle on things” to “let me figure out how to reduce competition so I can make more money.”

Imagine the Bahamas with no Deep Water Cay, no Abaco Lodge, no Andros South, no Bair’s Lodge. These are foreign owned operations and they are some of the best in all the Islands. They invest heavily in their lodges, they market, they hire well, they manage well and they are the types of places we think about when we think about fly fishing the Bahamas. There are a number of great Bahamian operations as well, don’t get me wrong, but they are as good as they are because they are competing with the foreign operations.

Fly fishing brings something like $141M to the economy of the Bahamas each year (probably more now, as those numbers are 2010 numbers). It seems, with these regulations, someone wants more of that pie. It is a short-sighted path to destruction.

Those foreign owned lodges buy a lot of goods. They employ a lot of people. They contribute a lot to their local economies. Take them out of the picture and sure, some lodge may get a few dozen more bookings a year, but the net impact will be negative. It will mean fewer visitors, fewer anglers and less income for Bahamians.

Also, while I’m at it, let’s talk about what these proposed regulations will NOT do. They will not “ensure that the marine environments upon which the fishery is based, are protected.

I’ll remind you… the photo below is of a new lodge going in near Treasure Cay. This is a Bahamian owned operation and, from what I hear, they used local political connections to skirt environmental regulations prohibiting the type of dredging seen in the photo. Mangroves ripped out, the flat dredged and by Bahamians, not by some villainous foreign owner.

Well... isn't that ugly!?

Well… isn’t that ugly!?

If the flats are going to be preserved it will be done by addressing over-development and over-exploitation. How does limiting who can own a lodge address this? How does making it harder for a guide to guide address this? It doesn’t.

I’d think if they wanted to preserve the flats it would be more about limiting development in critical places, especially around nursery areas and those places bonefish aggregate before spawning. You might throw in rod/angler/boat limits for certain sectors as well, if you want to reduce pressure, and there certainly are some places that need a bit less pressure. However, a newly dredged marina and a couple acres of ripped out mangroves probably has more of an impact on the health of the ecosystem than who owns a particular lodge.

One other aspect of the proposed regulations I don’t much care for is the vagueness surrounding exactly why an angler or guide could be turned down for a permit to fish or guide. It seems very subjective and in a place a small as the Bahamas, I would worry the authority to deny someone the ability to fish or to make a living could be abused. This might not lead to FIFA levels of corruption, but if you recall the photo just above of the new lodge with the ugly newly dredged channel, corruption and abuse already occur in broad daylight.

So… what to do about it all? Write. Let them know what you think of these proposed regulations. (you can find the regulations here)

From Cindy Pinder:

Interest persons and organizations are urged to review the Draft and provide their comments thereon to the Department of Marine Resources. This would be best done through email to fisheries@bahamas.gov.bs and should be received before Friday 26th June 2015.

 


21
Jun 15

Day 5 of Tarponless Tarpon Fishing with Bill and Dan

Day 5 was ugly. The wind was up in a big way and ruled out most of what we would have wanted to do. I was fishing with Bill Horn, the guy who wrote the (or at least a) book about the Keys. He’s also on the Board for the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. Also in the boat was Dan Dow, who works at BTT.

It is always good to be in the boat with Bill. He has his home waters dialed and managed a couple of wizard-like moments in conditions that were beyond rough. We were taking green rollers over the bow. The bottom was stirred up and visibility was sketchy. Bill still managed to put us in the path of some tarpon. How he did that… I can only suspect witchcraft of some kind.

Not great conditions

Not great conditions

We actually got a couple of shots, but the fish were so close to the boat by the time we could see them the shots were not high quality.

We were watching the weather form out beyond us and when it was clear we were in its way we made a run back toward Vaca Cut. The first squall line had moved beyond us by the time we got there and as we tried to make our way to his slip we ran smack into the second squall line. Pretty impressive weather to get stuck in. We hid under the bridge and when the storm passed we even got to try for some of the smaller tarpon rolling in the inexplicably placid waters before the wind came back up.

Yeah... that's some weather.

Yeah… that’s some weather.

That's Dan and Bill, under the rain drop.

That’s Dan and Bill, under the rain drop.

The day was over and I was fish-less again on Day 5. It was a good day though and it was great to share the water with Bill and Dan. I learned a lot from Bill, as I do every time I get on the water with him. Dan… I didn’t learn anything from Dan (kidding), but it was fun to fish with him anyway.