Oct 15

Getting the Bahamas Back on Their Feet

Let’s get on board with this, OK?


The Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association (AFFGA) is spearheading a RECONSTRUCTION FUND to benefit fly fishing guides and the accommodating establishments that cater to fly fishing anglers that lost their ability to make a living because of the destruction in the Southern Bahamas from Hurricane Joaquin.

AFFGA is working with world-wide industry members and partners to raise funds and has organized a Bahamian Advisory Board to help get the word out to those affected.  The board will help gather relevant data regarding the requirements of those in the affected areas who are in need of assistance to rebuild their fly fishing businesses.

Once an assessment of the specific needs of the individuals affected by the storm are known AFGGA will reach out to our partners who may be able to help fulfill their requirements in order to alleviate some of the pain of the rebuilding process.  Your donations may pay for materials and equipment or be awarded as cash to recipients based on need.

Anglers and Industry partners, we need your help to make this happen!

You may make donations via PayPal at www.affga.org  Please indicate RECONSTRUCTION FUND or HURRICANE RELIEF as the purpose.  Or you can mail checks made payable to Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association to the following address:

Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association

c/o GB Express Exports Inc.

610 SW 34th St. Suite 107

Fort Lauderdale, FL  33315


Your generous donations will be distributed by the Board of Directors of AFFGA based on the needs expressed by those affected with the intent of helping as many people as possible.  A full accounting of donations and expenditures will be made within three months.


AFFGA Board of Directors:

Justin Sands

Cindy Pinder

Buddy Pinder

Patrick Roberts


AFFGA Reconstruction Fund Advisory Board:

Mr. Gregory Bethel, Senior Economist, Department of Marine Resources

Mr. Benjamin Pratt, Senior Manager, Ministry of Tourism

Ms. Cheryl Bastian, Vice President, Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board

Rev. Felton Rolle, Owner, Salina Point Bonefish Lodge, Acklins

Mrs. Arnette Chisholm, Owner, Chester’s Highway Inn Bonefish Lodge, Acklins *

Mr. Nevin Knowles, Owner, Long Island Bonefish Lodge, Long Island *

Shavonne Davrville, Owner, Gems of Paradise, Long Island *                      * still trying to make contact to confirm participation


If you need further information, please contact Cindy Pinder at 561-202-8575 or via email skeeterone@coralwave.com.  LIKE US ON FACE BOOK – ABACO FLY FISHING GUIDES ASSOCIATION to keep up to date on progress.  Please spread the word throughout the fishing world as we need your help to rebuild the fly fishing industry in the Southern Bahamas.  Thank you!


Oct 15

Permit are a-holes. Go chase a-holes with Hatch magazine.

I don’t like permit and I have a feeling it’s a mutual thing.

Permit.  Not a world record, but a frigging permit!

Permit. Not a world record, but a frigging permit!

I caught one in Belize in 2010. It was a small permit, but it was a permit. I almost hooked one in Cuba… but I didn’t. I’ve seen a handful, but I haven’t fished for them too much. I haven’t fished for them because I like fishing to a fish that wants to eat and isn’t such a jerk.

I know people get the permit sickness and those who have it have generally already let the bonefish illness run its course… maybe tarpon too. If you have it, there is no cure. It is a chronic condition that will rob you of your free time and spending money.

Now, if that sounds awesome, you should check out a hosted trip that Hatch Magazine has going on. The trip is in February down in Ascension Bay in Mexico, which is, like Belize, a place you can actually catch those bastards.

There are still some openings and that should be a good time, maybe easing the permit sickness just a tad for a couple of months.

Oct 15

Bahamas Fly Fishing Hurricane Relief Fund

Bahamas Fly Fishing Relief Fund
Joaquin has caused some major damage in the Bahamas as it sat over islands like Long, San Sal, Crooked and Acklins for days. Since it formed locally, many of the precautionary measures normally taken were impossible. Once the immediate food and shelter issues are taken care of there will be a lot of folks who need some help getting their businesses back up and running to support their families. The Bahamas Fly Fishing Hurricane Relief Fund is intended to help members of the fly fishing industry who need help getting their businesses back up and running. This isn’t about giving a man a fish, or teaching a man to fish (they know how to do that already), it is about getting him back out fishing again.

How it works
Funds will be collected by the Abaco Fly Fishing Guide’s Association. To apply for help applicants need to be a member of one of the fly fishing associations (AFFGA or BFFIA). Applicants just need to say what they need the money for and how it will help them get their business back up and running (a more flushed out application will be made available once we get a sense of how much money has been raised). Funds will be administered by the AFFGA. Amounts given will be determined based on the total amount raised, the need stated and the principal of widest possible impact (helping as many people in a meaningful way as possible).

The total amount of money raised and the total amount of money given out, for what and in what amounts, will be posted within 3 months.

How to give
You can give to the fund through the AFFGA’s PayPal account (the link is on the left side, just click on the PayPay icon). Simply include “FLY FISHING HURRICANE RELIEF FUND” in the purpose.

First, we need to raise some money, then we can see how much support we can actually give so we can let the guides know how much help they can get. So, if you know some industry folks or a few hedge fund guys who love bonefishing, let’s get some money into the AFFGA so we can get some help to those guides impacted by that rat bastard Joaquin.

The Bahamas is a special place. These are good, hard working people. These are people we like and people we generally spend some of our best days with. Let’s do what we can to keep them in business.

Oct 15

Joaquin Recovery – How You Can Help

Joaquin was kind of a bastard for the Bahamas. Since it formed locally it was difficult to complete preparations. Then, the storm nearly stalled over Long, Crooked, Acklins, Rum Cay and San Sal and dumped buckets of rain (up to 25″) and unleashed raging winds of over 100 mph. There is a lot of devastation.

These people are going to need some help. These are people you likely have stayed with, fished with or eaten with if you visited these islands.

Here are some funds set up to help.

Hurricane Joaquin Relief – a Crowdrise site.

Elbow Cay Community Association Hurricane Relief Fund – from Indiegogo.

I’m looking at setting something up to help the guide/lodge community get their businesses back up, but the immediate need is food, water, shelter.

A list of efforts from The Tribune.

Oct 15

The Drake’s Take

A great satirical look at the Bahamas situation came out in The Drake’s on-line incarnation. I feel honored to have been mentioned for the small role I’ve helped play in keeping people informed.

One of the humorous items on the list was:

6) DIY angling still allowed, but only in two Designated DIY Zones: Swimming Pig Beach on Great Exuma, and Stingray Lagoon at the Atlantis Resort. DIY anglers must fish standing on one foot, wearing only a banana hammock, while singing “March on, Bahamaland.”

See, that’s funny because it sounds a lot like the Unguided Angler areas proposed by our pals over at the BFFIA.

It seems on the surface of things that they are not going to get their way with their long list of power-grabbing proposals. At least, ya know… on the surface.

So... is this it?

So… is this it?

Recently, a Department of Marine Resouces spokesperson had this to say:

“It was also noted that there are persons and companies that offer accommodations throughout the Bahamas who cater specifically to DIY fishers. Given the significance of the DIY portion of the sector, the management measures being contemplated now will require these fishers to obtain a personal license to engage in flats fishing, provide access by these fishers to all fishing flats except those under special management, and also ensure that DIY fishers have the latest information with regard to catch and release methods and fishing etiquette in the Bahamas.”

See… that sounded pretty good at first glance, but I wasn’t the only one to wonder “So, what are these special management areas?”

Is that pre-spawn aggregation points or is that every easily accessible flat on Long Island, Acklins, Crooked, Eluthera and Cat? Basically, is this the Unguided Angler areas in different packaging? Maybe this is everywhere but good ole Singray Lagoon, more or less.

The warm cozy feelings are being replaced by the paranoid questionings as I’m starting to really want to see a map of what they are talking about.

What do you think? Am I being paranoid here?



Sep 15

Interview with Justin Lewis from BTT

As hard as it is to believe, I actually asked these questions of Justin Lewis from Bonefish & Tarpon Trust before all this Bahamas regulation stuff came up.

Justin works for BTT. He’s a Bahamian working in the Bahamas for BTT. Shows BTT’s commitment to protecting bonefish where bonefish live. I applaud that up and down and am only sorry I have but two hands to applaud with. See… BTT is awesome.

Justin Lewis in the Bahamas

Justin Lewis in the Bahamas


You are working with BTT out in the Bahamas. Can you give me an overview of what that work entails?

Working as the Bahamas Initiative Manager for the BTT, I travel around the Bahamas visiting lodges and working with local guides which has helped us identify bonefish home ranges, juvenile habitat, bonefish spawning sites, and bonefish spawning migration pathways. The Bahamas Initiative is a collaborative, multi-year program to conserve and protect the bonefish fishery and their habits in The Bahamas.


The work I do when I travel to the different islands ranges from giving presentations to guides, anglers and schools, to tagging, to snorkeling with thousands of bonefish in pre-spawning aggregations. The scientific information we collect is then applied to habitat conservation plans in conjunction with fishing guides, lodge owners, collaborating NGO’s, and the Bahamas Government.


Nice fish from Justin.

Nice fish from Justin.

What is one thing you wish anglers knew about conservation.

The one thing I wish anglers knew about conservation is how much they are capable and welcome of getting involved in conservation efforts. For the work we do at BTT, angler and guide participation is key to the success of many of our projects. For example, our tag-recapture study in the Bahamas involved a lot of angler and guide participation. From anglers and guides tagging bonefish and reporting recaptures we were able to figure out that bonefish have very small home ranges (<1km), and also travel long distances (>30km) for spawning purposes. By anglers participating in research like the tagging program, the information they help collect is vital to conservation efforts and planning for bonefish and their habitats. It is also a great way to give back to the resource we have such a passion for.


The BTT in collaboration with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has initiated a new genetics study looking at the connectivity of bonefish and tarpon populations in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Western Atlantic. We collect fin clips from bonefish and scales from tarpon that are used for genetic analysis, and can help us determine whether different populations are related to one another. If anglers or guides who target bonefish or tarpon in those areas are interested in participating in this study, they can request a fin clip or scale sample kit by contacting us at info@bonefishtarpontrust.org.

A baby poon, Bahamas style.

A baby poon, Bahamas style.

What’s one unexpected thing you’ve see out there on the flats?

On a flat in Eleuthera, I saw a very large porcupine fish. I’ve seen them countless times out on the reef, but never thought I’d ever see one on the flats.

What do you think is the biggest threat to Bahamian bonefish?

We have identified habitat loss and degradation to be the greatest threat to bonefish populations in the Bahamas. Lots of areas that are prime feeding and spawning habitat for bonefish are also sought after by developers for sand mining or hotel and marina developments. Removing or altering habitat could negatively affect a local bonefish population that depends on habitats like mangroves and seagrass beds for food and cover.

How good is the Bahamian rugby team? And please explain how to play rugby. (I admit I asked this question to be funny, but Justin just went ahead and answered it anyway)

We are a good team and have a lot of talent, but we still have things we need to improve on. We had a good international season this year, beating both Bermuda and Turks & Caicos.
Rugby is a continuous game whereby two teams carry, pass, kick and ground the ball in order to score. In rugby there are 15 people playing at a time per side. The key to playing rugby is that you always have to pass the ball backwards, and to be in support of the man with ball in order to receive a pass or ruck in order to secure the ball. The purpose of the ruck or maul is so that the game can continue without any stoppage in play. The line-out and scrum are two key distinguishing factors to the game of Rugby Union. A scrum occurs when there is an accidental infringement and a line-out occurs when the ball goes out of bounds. A try is scored when a player places the ball in the opposition’s in-goal area, and is worth 5 points followed by a conversion kick which is worth 2.

On an average day of bonefishing, average conditions, what fly are you pulling out for your first cast?

Well that all depends on the area I am fishing. My go-to fly for most situations is a simple crab pattern, most of the time a merkin or bastard crab that will match the bottom I am fishing. The two keys to choosing the right crab pattern is weight and color. Match the weight of the fly to the depth of water you are fishing, and as I already mentioned match the color of the crab fly to the bottom. Most of the time crabs will take on the color of the bottom they are on. Crabs have a very high caloric value which bonefish love, so to heighten your chances of getting one to look and hopefully eat, I’d recommend a crab fly.

If you were writing the laws in the Bahamas and could enact one law to help the fishery stay healthy, what law would you enact?

If there was one law I could enact, it would be the protection of key bonefish habitat from unsustainable development. From the research BTT and our collaborators have done over the years on bonefish, we have come to the conclusion that degradation, blockage, and removal of bonefish habitat is the greatest threat to the species.


One other law I would enact is total ban of gill nets. They are a non-selective and extremely destructive type of fishing, and if they get lost and float at sea or get stuck in mangroves, they can cause even more destruction by entangling any marine organism that gets near it.

Thanks Justin!

Sep 15

Light on the Horizon in the Bahamas

Andros South in the morning.

Andros South in the morning.

Well… this certainly looks like good news.

The Department of Marine Resources has come out and alleviated a lot of the fear around what these regulations might look like. It indicates a lot of wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes to scrub the most offensive parts of this thing.

DIY is safe.

You’ll need a license.

Guides will be licensed.

Mother ships will continue to be regulated by other laws (even though most people were fine with that going away).

None of that “Unguided Angler Permitted Area” stuff.

No power consolidation in the BFFIA.

Can you hear the collective sigh of relief? I can hear it from all the way in California.

So, don’t cancel that trip. Don’t boycott the Bahamas. No need to get any more worked up over what some of those guys wanted to do. They aren’t going to be able to do any of it.

It appears right now, that the Bahamas might just be saved.

Sep 15

Thar be monsters!

This was posted up by Jean Baptiste Vidal over on Facebook. That is a truly large bonefish, a 14 pounder.

This fish was caught in New Caledonia, which has been one of those “big fish” locations people talk about. From what I hear it is a low numbers, big size place, as all big fish locations seem to be.

What a fish.

I mean... wow.

I mean… wow.

One hell of a fish there Jean! Congrats!

Sep 15


As I look out at the life and work commitments through the end of 2015 I see no daylight for the long rod.

Fall used to be just about my favorite time to fish. The fish seemed hungry, the rivers were emptying of people as either college football or the NFL took up weekends for people less interested in trout than I was.


The McCloud. Closing. Where I am not.

The threat of cold fronts or hurricanes has mostly kept me from looking to the flats, although I know the fish are still there, still eating and maybe seeing less pressure now than in April or May.

Now, however, now I see no possibilities. I’m back to mostly weekends with my daughter during the school year, so I can’t go wander around my rivers whenever I want. There is also the wife and the boy to think about as well.

Later in November and December it is conference time in my world. Nephrology in San Diego and Hematology in Orlando (let me know if you are going to be there). There is prep for those conferences and then follow-up and the Holidays.

The fishing? I don’t know where it fits in. Not like I live in Miami. Not like I can really just go fishing without preparation and airfare and hotels and gathering of gear and intel.

It seems like there a couple of sweet spots both younger than I am now and older than I am now where the fishing prospects are bright. Now… now I just get to look at the pictures and read the stories and think about where I’m going to go in 2016 when I’ll get back out on the water again.

Sep 15

A float on the Kootenai

My dad and I (my dad came along on the trip as we are forging some new traditions these days) had a trip with Linehan Outfitting Company over on the Kootenai, of which the Yaak is a tributary. We met Sean and headed to the dam on the Kootenai. First stop was to look at the fish just out of range, above the bridge that designates the fishable water. Sitting there were a few Bull Trout well above 25″, as well as several rainbows ranging from 6″ to 24″. So… there were fish in the river, of size.

A big river

A big river

We had a choice. Cover a lot of water and rack up some numbers. The “bread and butter” fish here is about 12″ and you can put a lot of them on the scorecard if you want to do that. We went another route. We put me on the streamer rig (about 7″ long and heavily weighted) and went after the big fish.

Shortly after starting our drift we went right over a rainbow that had to be over 30″.

I didn’t catch it.

I didn’t catch much of anything on the streamer, as it turned out, but I knew that was a risk going in. Sean had nice things to say about my casting and about my sticking with things. I managed to catch one pike minnow and hooked and lost a bull trout. The water was so clear you could see at least 30 feet in the water and I saw the bull chomping on the fly. He came unbuttoned and that was the only bull I had eat.

I switched over to dry/dropper and nymphs and picked up a few fish in the last mile or so of the drift. My dad ended up as top rod, but not by much.



The Kootenai is a cool river, a big, broad river, a river without much traffic on it and a river that stayed cool throughout the hot, parched Montana summer.

I’ll be back next year, and I’ll be rigged for the big boys (and girls). Those fish are stuck in my head.

Reminds me a bit of tarpon fishing. You see the fish, you know they are there, sometimes they eat, and sometimes they don’t.