11
Sep 18

Chasing GTs with a factory loop

There’s lots of advice out there about how to rig up for GT fishing. There are strong, educated opinions.

I’m told before I go GT fishing I should cut the front loop off my brand-new ~$100 fly line and build my own loop.

It is even talked about in the book “GT, A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Giant Trevally.” In the book, Peter McLeod talks about how he builds his own loops out of 50lb hollow braid.

I can see how, when GTs first became a species chased with a fly rod, fly lines might not have been up for the challenge. What I can’t see is how that’s still the case in 2018.

I mean… is RIO, for example, really selling a fly line that requires you to first cut part of it off and refashion a loop in order for it to be fished effectively? That can’t be the case, right?

What do I know about fishing for GTs? Pretty much nothing. I’ve caught one adult tarpon and lost a few more, but those are my big fish. In those cases I trusted to the manufacturer’s loops. Can’t I just trust the line maker for GTs?

I decided to ask RIO. Here’s what they said:

He shouldn’t be worried about loops. Lots of people use this line successfully for GTs with the factory loop. People do ruin lines, but the majority of those occur when a fish drags the line over something sharp like rocks or coral. That can strip the coating off or even cut through the core.

 

The loops on the GT line are manufactured a little differently than a loop on say a trout line. In addition to welding the coating together, we add a reinforcing PVC sleeve around the weld. As a result the welded loop is typically stronger than the line’s core break strength.

 

The one piece of information I’d add is that the loop knot in the end of the leader may end up being a weak point. A perfection loop, like on a typical trout leader, decreases the break strength of the mono by about 20%. That doesn’t matter if the tippet is significantly weaker than the leader butt, but for a level leader a figure-8 loop is a better option.

So… I’m going to NOT open my GT fly line from the box and cut the tip off. I’m betting the possibility of my operator error is higher than the likelihood of a manufacturing defect.

Yup… I’m going to put my faith in the company.


27
Aug 18

DakeCast Bahamas Pod, Part II – A dead bonefish

Here is Elliott’s second part of the Bahamas trip podcast. In this part you’ll here about conservation efforts in the Bahamas and you’ll learn a bit about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and you’ll also come along with me as we deal with the aftermath of a dead bonefish. Yup… I killed a bonefish. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I did. We’ll explore some of the ethics around that and where I may have, momentarily, fallen down.

It is possible to have a lot of thoughts about where the line is… but sometimes… sometimes is it a little hard to see.

Bonefishing is a blood sport (the picture below isn’t from this trip even… if you fish for bonefish, this is going to happen, sooner or later). Fish will die, even when you do everything right. That’s why it’s so important to get everything right that you CAN control.

Give a listen… let me know what you think.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn’t work out.

 


18
Aug 18

Interview with Elliott Adler – Writer, Podcaster

I had the good fortune to spend a week at East End Lodge on Grand Bahama with Elliott Adler, a writer for The Drake Magazine and the “Podfather” of the DrakeCast. We are separated by about two decades, but the gap narrowed on the bow of a skiff and we got on well. This was Elliott’s first bonefishing trip and he did very well, being a good caster and a generally fishy guy helped him come up to speed quickly. Here’s a short interview with Elliott on his first bonefishing experience.

We got to spend a week fishing in Grand Bahama for bonefish. What stands out from that trip? Are there one or two moments that replay in your head?

 

 

      • Having never really fished a saltwater flat before, this entire experience was pretty novel for me. The first thing that struck me was the layers of the horizon. This hit before I grabbed a rod. We were out on these flats where the water went from navy blue to turquoise until it hit a bright white sand bar, then behind that was a thin band of green mangroves, then the sky, then the cathedral of clouds, until finally directly above us would be blue sky. This is a classic image of the Bahamas which has been featured on the cover of probably every fishing magazine but it was still pretty breath-taking to experience in person.
      • While the focus of the trip was bonefish, I had just as much fun catching every other species out there. Between the two of us we probably landed 3 species of snapper and maybe 5 others that I can’t recall. Each one was new to me and they all put up a better fight than the average trout I encounter.
      • Our guide Cecil really made the trip. I remember him saying something along the lines of “clients don’t come back to these lodges because of the management, they come back because they had a good time with the guide.” I whole heartedly believe this to be true. Without him I would have had a real tough time landing my first bonefish. But much more important than that, he was just really fun to be around. Great attitude, told good stories, and gave really frank on-the-record answers to my questions about environmental damage over the past 30 years and other problems in the Bahamas even though he knows I work for a fly fishing magazine. A lot of lodge owners and guides won’t do that out of fear of harming their livelihood.

 

How did bonefishing live up to or fail to live up to the hype?

 

      • I had always heard bonefishing was about stalking a fish and then that initial run once you get them on the reel. Almost like a positive reenforcement for putting in the hard work and making the right cast. I had a couple fish that made my reel scream and I’ll definitely remember them, but in both of those cases the guide did most of the work for me, which made the reward less sweet. So in those cases the hype seemed to be a bit overbuilt. What got me the most excited was walking the flats on my own trying to put it all together by myself. I managed to land a couple fish without any assistance. They were both small but those will be the most memorable fish of the trip and that individual aspect will be what makes me come back in the future.

 

What were your impressions of the Bahamas?

 

      • In short: Great people, great food, great fishing. You don’t want me to go into my thoughts on the economics of the place.

 

What’s something you learned from Cecil in our week of being on the water with him?

 

      • I relearn this every time I fish with a guide, but it’s always good to be reminded how well many guides know their water and the time and dedication it took for them to gain that knowledge. Cecil was one of the more dedicated fisherman with whom I’ve had the pleasure to share a boat.

 

Is there a blown shot you’d like to have back? If so, describe it.

 

      • I missed so many shots that its hard to pick a single one, but the first fish I threw at sticks out. Maybe it’s because this was the first bonefish I had a chance at catching, or maybe it’s because 40% of its back was out of the water, but I think that was the biggest fish I saw. Of course I landed the fly right on its back and the thing spooked immediately. On a positive note, that fish really grounded me in the flats fishing mindset which was necessary and probably helped me for the rest of the week.

 

Elliott with a solid East End Lodge bonefish.

Bonefish… great fish, or the greatest fish?

 

    • There’s no doubt that bonefish are a great fish, but calling it the greatest would be premature. There are so many incredible species I haven’t even seen. So the jury is still out. Besides that, steelhead still probably hold the #1 spot in my heart.

It was nice being on the water with you Elliott. I hope our paths cross again. 

You can check out Elliott’s podcast , The DrakeCast, from our week together here.

 


17
Aug 18

DrakeCast – Bonefish on the Brain Edition

When I went to Grand Bahama last month I was joined by Elliott from The Drake, who happens to put out The DrakeCast, a solid podcast you should be listening to.

Here’s the episode he put together about our trip. 

Elliott with a solid East End Lodge bonefish.


15
Aug 18

So long DIYbonefishing.com and thanks for all the fish

Some of you may have noticed that the old DIYbonefishing.com site, which had allllll sorts of information on where to find bonefish, is now this hot wreck:

When was the last time you were bonefishing in a fresh water lake with snow capped mountains in the background?

This is a snapshot of the old website:

Gee… I notice a considerable difference.

Why buy the site and then put up a totally generic and crappy face on it? I mean… who does that?

Rod Hamilton was the guy behind the original DIY website and a couple of DIY bonefishing books, like “Do It Yourself Bonefishing.”

Good Book Rod!

What happened here is not readily apparent. There was no broadcast farewell. There was no message to fans and friends. The site just went down, replaced by that dumpster fire of a website. Rod’s email doesn’t work anymore. I don’t have a way to contact him. He appears to have called it a day, although no one I’ve spoken to really knows what to make of this sudden departure from the scene. I hope he’s well, as I know many of us do.

One can argue if it was a good idea to “hotspot” in such a public and readily accessible manner. I fall into the camp of “if you tell everyone where all the spots are, you spread out the pressure.” It may be a crap opinion. I don’t know that there is a scientific study here to fall back on.

I liked having all the info out there. Knowing where to go doesn’t mean you are going to find fish, or that you’ll be able to catch them if you can find them. DIY fishing is, simply, harder than doing it with a guide who knows the ins and outs of their particular bit of water.

If you have additional information on what happened here, please share here. And Rod… if you are out there, I hope you are well.

 


31
Jul 18

Christmas – 2019

It is happening. I’m going to Christmas Island at the end of January, 2019. I’m going with my friend Shane, who I haven’t fished the salt with since 2010.

I’m somehow not tying flies yet, but I will be.

Christmas… so… tell me your bits of Christmas advice.


26
Jul 18

East End Lodge 2018

Man… what a week that was at East End Lodge. It’s been a while since I’ve had 6 straight days of fishing and it was glorious. I don’t think I’ve had 6 days of such good weather in all my flats fishing life (only a decade of doing this, so others certainly have a longer time-span to compare).

The fishing was solid. We had days that were better than others, but overall there were plenty of fish around.

I was accompanied on this trip by Elliott Adler, a guy I had never met before. That’s a risk, fishing with a guy who you don’t know. It worked out well and we fished together well. He’s a good caster and easy to share a skiff with, and I’m not saying that just because he let me catch the first fish, although that helps.

We really got to explore the East End on this trip and I remain impressed with the size of the fishery. There really are a lot of options out there and Cecil, our guide for the week, had enough room to enable him to dodge the squalls and thunderheads that would loom, threateningly off in the distance, conjured from the afternoon heat.

A few memorable moments…

  • The permit shot – wasn’t expecting one. I had it… I missed it, but when you don’t permit fish often every shot is a memory.
  • Elliott’s first bonefish – always nice to be there for someone’s first bonefish. It is sometimes the start of obsession.
  • Paddling crabs – we found a bunch of crabs hitching rides and paddling on mangrove leaves. I had heard about that once before, but had never seen it. They were using tools! Somehow we didn’t get a picture of those.
  • Late nights with Rob – Rob was a great host and we spent many hours at the bar late into the night talking about everything from Rob’s childhood (which was very different from my own) to politics to Bahamian flats fishing regulations to life on the East End.
  • Some memorable fish – the cruisers along the shoreline the last day, the fish in the mangroves, the shark munched bone that was hit by both a cuda and a shark.

It was a wonderful time and I miss it.


21
Jul 18

The permit shot – Grand Bahama Edition

We were running along a sand/rock shoreline when Cecil spun the boat around and killed the engine.

“Permit, on the beach.”

Permit, by Juan Bosco. Click the pic to go to the art site.

My reaction to the news was not joy, but more a sense of dread. Permit shots are things to screw up. Permit shots become moments of second-guessing and regret. Permit shots almost never end well.

Elliott, a day after catching his first bonefish, gave me the bow and I got up to throw at the thing. I could see it, silver-bodied and black-tailed against the white bottom. The first and greatest hurdle had been cleared… finding the fish. Here was the fish. He was in range. He wasn’t running. I had no wind. The set-up was good.

I was worried about the fly. Was it heavy enough? I put on a tan shrimp with barbell eyes. It would get down to the fish, although the fish was maybe in 5-6 feet of water and it would take time.

In the back of my mind I had two thoughts about the fly. First… it wasn’t a crab. Aren’t you supposed to throw crabs at permit? Isn’t that how you are supposed to do it? Secondly, why don’t I have more good looking crabs? I don’t fish crabs often at all, but why is that? Has my avoidance of crabs handicapped every permit encounter I’m going to have for the rest of my flats fishing life?

Cecil told me to shoot at the fish and I did. The cast wasn’t bad. I was in the zone, but again, doubts crept into my mind. I went back to my first (only) permit from Belize, a small fish to be sure, which behaved in most ways like a jack, chasing down a fly stripped quickly and eating an inch below the surface. I also thought back to my one permit shot in Cuba where I again stripped the fly in quickly and the permit followed, putting his frigging nose on the fly without eating it before becoming board and blithely giving up on the chase. There was also the permit shot in Mexico where the fish lit up on the fly when stripped, but then gave up. But… aren’t permit supposed to eat only crabs cast 10 feet in front of the fish when the fly never moves an inch and the fish simply intuits the fly’s presence?

So… strip or not to strip?

In the end I managed to pick the middle road the satisfied neither type of permit.

The fly landed about 5 feet from the fish and the permit saw it and moved toward it, looking interested. At this point I simply gave it a slight twitch and that was enough for the permit. It moved away and started ambling leisurely away from us.

We followed, waiting to see if it would turn. I asked some follow-up questions of Cecil like “WHAT SHOULD I DO!?” He was in the “leave the fly alone” camp. Noted.

Mostly, the fish showed us his back. I made a couple more casts when he turned slightly, but to no avail. The last cast was too close and it moved away, disappearing over a darker bottom.

The shot had passed.

As friend Nick Denbow told me, “The permit you catch is easy, it is all the other ones that are hard.”


20
Jul 18

The last cast of the trip – East End Lodge

The day had been pretty good and this our sixth and final day fishing out of East End Lodge on Grand Bahama.. We had waded a couple of lakes you couldn’t get a boat into, although there is no way I could point you to them on a map. Cecil knows where they are.

I had caught a few fish, the winds were low, the sun was high and the clouds were few and far-between. Basically, it was a great day for bonefishing.

The third to last spot we were fishing from the skiff and found a small school of really picky fish. The lead fish would spook easily and the rest of the school took their cues from those spooky fish. Eventually, I got the cast in well ahead of the fish, waited for the jittery fish to pass over and then gave a couple slight twitches and got an eat.

I lost that fish.

Next spot and it was the kind of bottom you have to have bionic eyes to see the fish on. Cecil had me casting at fish and often I only had the vaguest notion of where they were. Still, I got eats. Three, to be exact, and every single one of them came unbuttoned.

Last spot and it was a nice looking flat with a small island in the center. As we drifted I told Cecil to give it 20 more minutes and then we’d get back. It was the end-of-season party at three and we’d be getting in close to that time. I didn’t see any fish and my mind was starting to go through what I needed to get packed up and how long it might take to get to the airport. After ten minutes I told Cecil that we should pack it up.

He said “Just wait. Let me pole you for a couple minutes here.”

About a minute later he had me casting to a bonefish. One strip and I was tight. I landed the fish.

Last cast of the six days of fishing was a fish. Hard to argue with that.


19
Jul 18

My favorite fish from Grand Bahama

It was the second to last day and we were on the skiff with Cecil. The tide was coming in, the fish heading up into the mangroves, some hanging around the edges. I was up on the bow and Cecil called out two fish cruising in and out of the mangroves, just 40 feet away. It seemed they might move further in and the shot would be gone.

I had a window to make a cast. There were two mangroves about five feet apart and a dinner table sized area of white sand. The fish were cruising left to right. I made the cast, didn’t hang up in the bushes and the fly (a tan shrimp) landed well.

In cases like this I figure you hook the fish and then see where things go from there.

The fish jumped on the fly, I managed not to trout set or pull the fly out of the fish’s mouth and the game was on.

The fish ran back into the mangroves, line screaming off the reel and I tried to lighten the drag to give the fish less to pull against.

We could see the fish thirty feet from the mangroves, back over the sand, unable to move any further. We tried to find the leader or line, but couldn’t see either, so we went back to where the line went into the jumble of roots and twigs. I put on my boots and jumped out of the boat to trace the bonefish’s route back to open water.

It worked. I followed the backing back to the line and then back to the open water. The fish still had some gas, but not much. He came to hand moments later, a nice fish, about 5.5 pounds (maybe 5).

The cast, the fight through the mangroves, landing the fish, the good release… that was my favorite fish of the trip.