23
Feb 17

Unfulfilled Promises

The Bahamas are full of unfulfilled, if not outright broken, promises. An arial view of almost any island will confirm as much. So many folks have blown through and made grand promises of economic security and revolution. Every paved road in a fantasy real estate development tells the tale.

Exuma

Andros

I have to wonder if the International Development Bank sees something similar when it looks at its own investments in the fly fishing community in the Bahamas.

Turns out they invested in a program, to be led by the BFFIA, to “Support the economic empowerment of fly fishing guides.” The project was approved in December of 2014, although very little, if any, of the project seems to have been carried out.

Oddly, this BFFIA project was focused only on Andros, coincidentally the home of BFFIA President and Head Bahamian Snake-Oil Salesman.

Goal:
The general objective of the project is to enhance the skill sets and business acumen of the Andros fly fishing guides and their families while sustaining the island’s natural ecosystem.

There was about $140,000 available for the project and only about $34,500 was reported to be spent.

This project was supposed to include a market survey… ya know… like BTT did, and it appears the BFFIA at least made a go of it, as they inflated the value of the industry from 2x-4x to suit their politics, but the report is not available on the website.

Maybe some of the projects milestones were met, but it sure doesn’t look like it. I don’t have a crystal ball that reveals such details, just the project page, but it sure looks like the IDB’s 2014 investment produced some shite returns in 2017, the year their project was supposed to be wrapped up.

Go to the Bahamas though… just go to one of the places that fought for all anglers.


21
Feb 17

Silver Kings, Season 3, Episode 8, because… Florida.

For your viewing pleasure.

I’d be OK with this.

One of the anglers is Mark Richens. I got to meet him and stayed at his place back on my first FL tarpon trip. His home on Upper Matecumbe Key was once owned by Ted Williams. It is on the market and can be yours for only $4.2M.


20
Feb 17

More on Bill Curtis

The Jackson Hole News and Guide came out with a really great story about long-time/monumental guide Bill Curtis, who passed away last year. Good read.

I never met Bill Curtis. Wish I did. Sounds like he was a really interesting guy.

And… because Florida… someone stole Bill Curtis’s ashes from a pick-up truck.

Oh Florida… you work hard to earn your reputation.

 

 


14
Feb 17

A love note to bonefishing

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett

Dearest bonefishing,

It has been too long. I know it. On this Valentine’s Day I wanted to pen my heartfelt affection for you and to do so out in the open.

It is true you were not my first love. As a kid I had a crush on panfish and steelhead, although they were immature loves. Later, just as I was leaving college I fell in love with fly fishing for trout and I fell hard. First loves are like that. There was one year I was on the water 200 days. It was a feverish thing, frenzied.

Later, a decade on, that is when I met you and despite the fact we came from different worlds, I knew it was going to be special. Since that first day there is hardly a day that goes by I don’t think about you. Our infrequent reunions are full of anticipation and the memories are savored, sustenance for the long stretches I am forced to endure without you.

Today, I love you more than other pursuits. I love you more than trout, which are reasonably near. I love you more than sharks, which are, even now, likely swimming by within a couple hundred feet of me. I love you more than permit, because, let’s face it, permit are assholes. I love you more than steelhead, despite their deep roots of my branching family tree.

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but that isn’t true because there is no lessening of my love for bonefishing when I’m there. Indeed, there are few joys, few experiences I’d rather wrap myself up in than when I’m calf-deep on a sandy flat, scanning the water for silent, silver shapes gliding through the thousand shades and shifting lights of the flats.

Bonefishing, know that you are loved. You are forever in my thoughts.

Bonefish Bjorn


13
Feb 17

A firehose of fishing advice

Over at EpicWinderness they put together a bazillion bits of fly fishing advice. Yes… even a few nuggets from yours truly in there.

Check it out.

Soooo many folks dishing on the advice. Could take you a while to get through it all.

Me, casting, in Belize.

 


31
Jan 17

What to do about the Bahamas

stormy times for the Bahamas

I’m conflicted. I love the Bahamas, but the government of the Bahamas doesn’t love me back and some of its people are downright hostile to how I want to vacation and spend my time and money. So… what am I to do?

The new law has been rolled out and it has been a bit bumpy from what I’ve heard. Have not heard about people being denied, just that some folks who are supposed to issue the licenses don’t seem to have a firm grip on what is going on and you may have to wait a full day or two to actually get the license. I have not heard about enforcement issues yet, but then, I don’t hear everything so I wouldn’t rule it out.

What I do know is the trip I took last February is a trip I can’t take in 2017. I rented a boat and a friend and I fished together, without a guide, for the last three days of the trip. That would be illegal to do now. This fact bums me out.

I’d still be able to go around on foot, or use a kayak or canoe to get around, but that boat is no longer an option. I’d still be able to go and use a guide, either through a lodge or on my own, which does change the price dynamics a bit, but, you still get the Bahamas that way, but I won’t spend a dime on those who fought against us.

There are plenty of operations who have fought the good fight, on behalf of all anglers and for the Bahamian people, and they stand to lose if we just all stay away. Folks like Abaco Lodge, Bairs Lodge, Delphi, East End Lodge, Swain’s Cay and Black Fly, just to name a very few, all fought hard for us and I don’t want them to be hurt for doing what was right.

If you want to go to the Bahamas, there are two places to check out:

  • Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures – They aren’t booking the anti lodges. They’ve been in the game for a long time. They know Prescott, have known him for years, and they were very involved in the fight. If they have a destination in the Bahamas, you can feel better knowing they are on the right side of this thing.
  • Abaco Fly Fishing Guide’s Association – If you want to know if a guide or lodge is pro-angler, ask if they support the AFFGA or the BFFIA. If they support the former, you are golden. If they support the later, well… I won’t fish with them, I know that much.

It isn’t good in the Bahamas right now. I was just reading one lodge owner saying his business was off 70%. People are hurting.

So, don’t stay away if you are going on a lodge trip. But please, spend your dollars wisely.


24
Jan 17

Tutorial on how to ruin a good thing – Belize edition

Honeymooners, Belize, 2012.

Belize is not a big country. It’s 330,000 people, plus or minus, makes it smaller in population than the city I work in, Oakland, which has some 400,000 residents. In terms of economics, the city of Oakland has an income per capita of about $32K, give or take, while the income per capita for the whole nation of Belize is just over $7,000.

So, it is easy to guess some of the things Belize does not have. There are some things Belize has in spades, however. Belize has in Mayan ruins what it lacks in Walmarts. The one big, big thing Belize has is a barrier reef. In fact, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It is massive. It is a treasure. It is probably the lifeblood of the Belizian economy, accounting for about 12% of GDP.

If you were to make of list of activities which could really mess up a barrier reef system, you might put offshore oil drilling high on that list. Cynics would be unsurprised to hear the government of Belize has moved in that direction,  giving the green light to start oil exploration off the coast of Belize.

I mean… why would you do that? That’s not a real question. We all know why. It is money and greed and the power someone(s) might be able to accumulate in a country with a population smaller than the city of Oakland.

Belize… I hope you don’t do it. I hope you build on your assets and don’t lose them under a slick of oily greed and shortsightedness.

Belize… I need you to be Belize.

 


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.