Jul 14

The tough day

Not a bad fish.

Not a bad fish.

It was 10 years ago I went on a trip with my dad to the Babine River in BC to fish waters my dad and grandfather fished for many years, to fish a hole on the river named after my grandfather and to have a shot at a 20# steelhead.

That was my first trip to a lodge, my first week of lodge fishing. I had high expectations, even though I told myself not to.

The fishing was great. The catching, on some days, was not. I was surprised by that. It doesn’t get much more remote than the Babine and it has one of the best steelhead runs left in the world. I kind of thought it would be 10 fish a day and aches and pains from fighting all those many pounds of ocean trained trout.

There was at least one day I didn’t land a fish despite the routine of cast, drift, retrieve repeated 1,000 times.

There were fish caught… even some big fish (although not my 20 pounder), but there were still many hours of quiet, fishless contemplation.

It can be hard, mentally, to get to your dream destination and have trouble finding the fish. Not everyone can have the “it is great just to be here” mentality, especially on your first big trip. It gets a bit easier to take that mindset on once you have done a few trips and have come to understand even at the great destinations, the fish still don’t just jump on the fly.

Be it the Seychelles, the Bahamas, the Babine… fishing is still fishing and some days are better than others, so you better enjoy just being there.

Have you been surprised to travel across the world to find the fish lock-jawed?

Jul 14

Looking up

The clan in Grand Bahama in 2013

The clan in Grand Bahama in 2013


I was at my mom’s memorial service over the weekend. It went well. Hundreds of people came to pay their respects as the community said goodbye to an amazing woman. You can read my remarks about my mom (I gave to short speeches) here.

It is easy to get a little myopic when you have something like that coming up. I found it wasn’t until I got home from the trip that I realized I had no idea what I needed to do for the very next day (that would be today) as I head to the World Transplant Congress (a work thing). I had not planned on shifting the nanny’s schedule, or planned on meals for my wife or taken care of much of anything else. I had been so focused on the weekend I kind of forgot about everything else.

It occurred to me there is a parallel to how I am when I have a bonefishing trip coming up. I get a bit focused on that, maybe to the exclusion of all else. We know that to plan a trip makes you happy, maybe even happier than actually being on the trip. I get back from the trip and am at a bit of a loss for a few days, as if I never expected to actually have to come back.

A funeral is different, of course… you aren’t really looking forward to something like that and you don’t want to stay there, but it does consume your attentions.

A bit of a ramble here, but, I think I’m entitled. I’m working at the World Transplant Congress here in SF through Wed. So, if you are a transplant doctor, come by the booth (#311). I’ll post when I can.


Jul 14

Patagonia has a fly fishing blog

Did you know Patagonia has a fly fishing blog? I think I saw something like that, but forgot about it just as quickly (I have a 7 month old and I forget LOTS of things rather quickly these days).

I’m a fan of Patagonia. I like the ethic of the company, if not the price of the gear. I know you pay for quality and they certainly stand behind their products to the nth degree. Money plopped down on Patagonia gear is usually worth the investment, but it is still painful.

I’ve long been a fan of Yvon Chouinard and I’ve met a few other Patagonians over the years, good folks all.

Glad to see a little love directed toward fly fishing specifically. I know the roots of the company are in climbing, but sometimes it seems all I see from them is climbing and some form of extreme winter sport. I ski, infrequently and not to an extreme. I don’t climb, except to climb over a rock in a river or down a steep bank. I don’t consider fly fishing extreme, but I’m glad Patagonia is giving it the love it deserves anyway.

I would like to work for Patagonia... just say'n.

I would like to work for Patagonia… just say’n.

Jul 14

A little Long

A video from SWC featuring Long Island.

Long is a pretty laid back and special place, unique due to the old salt flats and catering to the wade angler.

Go, if you haven’t already.

Jul 14

The girl gets a fish

It was a big day… for her, for me… her first fish… on her own. She made the cast, she set the hook, she got the fish in.

The girl, the sass, the trout.

The girl, the sass, the trout.

A gift from the Upper McCloud River, one of many it has given me.

I’m pretty stoked on how that all went down. It felt like a milestone, for both of us.

Jul 14

Nets all around

Photo by Matt Hansen... me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

Photo by Matt Hansen… me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

Well… want to get a little depressed?

Here’s a story about netting in Long Island… that’s bonefish netting. This makes me grumpy. I have to say, I didn’t see any netting there when I was there, but, Courntey did.

One of Mr Knowles’s recent guests, Courtney-Marie Martin, writing in the Internet-based fishing blog, skinnywaterculture.com, said of her Long Island experience: “I witnessed first-hand one of the major conservation issues currently going on in the area, with gill netters present not far from the flat we just fished.

“My heart broke. If we don’t preserve what little we have left, this will all be gone, and there will be no future generation to follow in our footsteps. This is apparently an on-going, don’t ask don’t tell, problem on the island. With a heavy heart, and the thought of bonefish being gill netted, along with other innocents by catch, we headed in.”

If that’s not enough, there are some who think the decline in bonefish in the Keys may have something to do with commercial netting in Cuba. That’s what this article puts forward.

We do not know the exact correlation between the bonefish in the Keys and the fish in Cuba, but we do know that about fifteen years ago, there was massive netting projects going on in the north part of Cuba, gill nets that stretched miles across the flats and channels.  From  reports the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has heard, thousands and thousand of bonefish, along with countless other species were netted and sold at market.  At about this same time, the bonefish population suddenly plummeted in the Florida Keys.  

And why do I keep bringing stuff like this up?

“We have reached the time in the life of the planet and humanities demands upon it when every fisherman will have to be a river keeper, a steward of marine shallows and a watchman on the high seas. We are beyond having to put back what we have taken out. We must put back more than we take out. We must make holy war on the enemies of aquatic life as we have gillnetters, polluters and drainers of wetlands. Otherwise, as you have already learned, these creatures will continue to disappear at an alarming rate. We will lose as much as we have already lost already and there will be next to nothing, remnant populations, put-and-take, dim bulbs following the tank truck.”  -Tom McGuane writing in the Some Remarks section of his outstanding book The Longest Silence.

Jul 14

To the Keys in October

Well, the wife starts a new job in October and has a week off in-between gigs. I convinced her (it wasn’t hard) that she needed a little R&R between one gig and the next and that we should go somewhere warm with sand and saltwater.

Going to head to the Keys, specifically Hawk’s Cay Resort, in the first week of October. I’m looking forward to the trip. Maybe I’ll bump into Derek Rust, who guides out of Hawk’s Cay for Saltwater Experience.

I’m sure there will be some fishing, but I also know that is the second reason for the trip, the first is to get my wife some down time.

Should be beautiful, so long as there isn’t a hurricane.

Jul 14

The youth are the future

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust went looking for baby bonefish. This follows up on an effort to find baby bones in 2013 that didn’t find any.  This year, they did. Babies grow and become adults and the adults become legends.

OK... those are adorable.

OK… those are adorable.

After revising our search strategy based on the previous year’s results and new information from the Bahamas, BTT set out for the week long Baby Bonefish Blitz in June. We are happy to announce that this year we were successful in locating juvenile bonefish in one location of the Upper Keys where BTT staff and volunteers seined a shoreline that had been identified as likely juvenile bonefish habitat. The juveniles were found with a couple hundred mojarras, something we’ve come to expect based on the previous BTT research conducted in The Bahamas. We are currently awaiting genetic analysis to confirm that these were juvenile Albula vulpes, and not one of the other species of bonefish that aren’t caught in the recreational fishery.

I found one, smallish, bonefish when I was there in 2013. The youth movement appears to be going well in the Keys. Here’s to hoping it continues.

My one Florida Bonefish

My one Florida Bonefish


If you find juvenile bonefish like the ones in the photo, please let us know the location and date (email: info@bonefishtarpontrust.org). Please do not collect the juvenile bonefish; a research permit is required to collect.

Jul 14

Bahamas Bonefish and BTT

(Press release from the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust)


The Bahamas have some of the best bonefish fishing in the world, thanks to many miles of shallow flats, and to a community of fishing guides that act as stewards of the fishery and its habitats. In a study conducted in 2009, during the height of the Great Recession, the recreational fishery for bonefish in the Bahamas had an annual economic impact exceeding $141 million (USD). With more recreational fishermen traveling today as the economy recovers, that number is certainly higher. The fishery not only supports jobs, but also allows a culture that relies on the sea to continue.
Despite its economic and cultural importance, the fishery faces trouble. The trouble comes in the form of gillnets, resource extraction, and coastal development.

Gillnets: Despite regulations that prohibit the capture of bonefish with nets, the use of nets to target bonefish is increasing. The most troubling case is on Long Island, where gillnetting on the flats has already negatively impacted the bonefish population, and is threatening the future of the fishery. Despite these illegal acts being reported by fishing guides and others, enforcement has been lacking. Whether the bonefish are being used for bait or are illegally sold at market, their capture brings significantly less economic value than if those fish remained alive and part of the recreational fishery. Nevin Knowles, head of Long Island Bonefishing Lodge, said, “If this keeps up for five years, our bonefish population in Long Island will be gone. They’re using, at the last estimate, a $58,000 bonefish to catch a 90 cent snapper, and they’re killing our industry”, referring to the estimated value of a single caught and released bonefish given the overall value of the fishery. He continued, “The tourists go to the Out Islands for the fishing. That’s the only thing that attracts tourists to Long Island. They’re killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.” In the recent past, similar episodes have been reported on Grand Bahama Island and South Andros.

Dr. David Philipp, Chair of the Fisheries Conservation Foundation, sums it up well: “Bonefish are very susceptible to capture by netting, and removal of those fish could crush the Long Island bonefish population for years to come. This would destroy an extremely valuable industry that benefits the entire community. Everyone in those communities should act to prevent those irresponsible persons from stealing the Bahamas’ natural resources for their own purposes.”

Resource Extraction: The flats of Grand Bahama Island are world-renown for their large and plentiful bonefish. One of the first bonefish lodges in the Bahamas was located on the east end of the island, adjacent to the expansive sand flats that extend for miles to the southeast. This area has been proposed as a National Park to provide protections to the bonefish fishery and other fisheries important to residents. These sand flats are being proposed as a site for sand mining, with sand dredged to a depth of 16 feet. Of particular concern is the area near Bursus Cay. After a public meeting in McLean’s Town in May 2014, Eric Carey, Bahamas National Trust’s Executive Director noted, “The East End Communities, especially the fishermen, have made a strong case for this proposed national park. Noting the importance of Bursus Cay as to the sustainability of their fishery, and the threat that the proposed dredging represents, they have asked Bahamas National Trust to expand the original proposal, to include this important area.” In a story about a similar meeting concerning the proposed park and possible dredging project as reported in BahamasIslandsInfo.com, local fisherman Cecil Leathern said, “We all know what will happen if this dredging is allowed; how it could destroy not only the bonefish flats and our lobster grounds, but also affect them down in Abaco. We need it all protected.”

Coastal Development: After years of research and working with fishing guides, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust researchers have identified a bonefish spawning location on Abaco. Early data suggest that this may be the only spawning location for bonefish that inhabit the world famous Abaco Marls. Bonefish that live in the Marls for most of the year migrate to the spawning location each winter, and return to the Marls after spawning. A proposed resort development along the migration pathway and near the spawning site would disrupt spawning, with inevitable impacts to the bonefish population and the fishery.
Bonefish Conservation: Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has been working with collaborators to address these threats to the bonefish fishery in the Bahamas for the past 8 years. BTT is working with science partners, fishing guides, and lodges to conduct tag-recapture research to identify the home ranges of bonefish. We’re also working to identify the migration pathways to spawning sites, and to identify spawning sites. This information is then used to develop habitat and fish conservation plans to ensure a healthy bonefish fishery. We’re hopeful that information gained in recent years on Grand Bahama Island and Abaco is being used to enact protections for the bonefish fishery and habitats on those islands. We are now applying efforts to other islands, including Long Island, Andros, Great Exuma, Acklins, and others.
How You Can Help: While the information from the work of BTT and collaborators is essential to enacting conservation strategies for bonefish and their habitats, it is not enough. Your help is needed to ensure a healthy future for the fishery. Visit www.btt.org and Contribute to BTT to help fund the Bahamas Initiative. Write a letter expressing your concerns about the threats to the bonefish fishery. Email the letters to us, we’ll compile them and present them in the Bahamas.
Photo: Harold Brewer, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Board Member and Managing Director of the Bahamas, with Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie during a meeting about conservation of the bonefish fishery at Deep Water Cay in 2013.

Jul 14

Courtney goes to Long Island… and crushes it.

A nice story on the Skinny Water Culture Blog from Courtney.

She went to Long Island, fishing the same waters I fished just a few months ago.

She did well.

I saw a few very large dark shadows swimming slowly, for a split second I thought they were juvenile tarpon they were so big. Then I realized…, “tarpon don’t live here”. They were bonefish, and not just any bonefish, at least 10lb and up. 

Well done.