30
Apr 17

At 75

My dad turns 75 today. He’s my longest-time fishing companion.

As a very small boy we’d fish Hall Creek near his childhood home in Corning. Later we’d fish the Klamath River together for steelhead. We plugged away at our local Upper Sacramento River a bit, but didn’t really fish it until I hit about 21.

We fished the Lower Sacramento for shad on Memorial Day weekend every year of my childhood (minus flood years) and the Klamath for half-pounders every Labor Day weekend (minus one year due to fires).

We fished the coastal rivers of Southern Oregon for steelhead with me freezing my feet to blocks of ice in my plastic waders.

All of that was without a fly, mostly worms and eggs and gear. I started fly fishing when I was 21 and my dad started the year after. Since that time we’ve fly fished 10x more than before.

We’ve fished the Umpqua and the Babine together. We’ve fished our home trout waters like the Upper Sacramento, McCloud, Fall River, Hat Creek and more. We’ve fished the Lower Sacramento and the Trinity. We’ve fished ponds and lakes. We’ve fished Montana and Yellowstone.

The Babine

Dad lands a Madison Brown

A Lower Sac Rainbow

We started saltwater fly fishing together in Hawaii and then caught our first bonefish in Grand Bahama. We’ve fished Abaco together and the Everglades.

 

Our first flat in Kauai

My dad’s best Bahamas fish

Heading out in Abaco

We’ll fish Mexico together in July. One more memory to make and I hope many more to come.

Thanks for providing the spark dad.


13
Apr 17

The Drakecast

Um… did you know The Drake has a podcast? They do… singular. I hope there are more. The first one was kind of awesome.

Who knew?


06
Apr 17

Trip Implosion – May in the Keys

May 6, 7, 8… Plan A was fishing with Davin in the Upper Keys. We’d just stake off, for three days, and wait for the fish to come to us. We’d be ultra patient and just let it happen. Davin has a friend with a boat, a good, broad, steady ocean-side tarpon boat. It was going to be three days of just that. Nothing else. Just staking off in Tavernier and waiting for the migrating tarpon to intersect with our stationary skiffness.

And then… I get a message. He’s out. Family thing. Nothing to be done.

Well… crap.

 

Me, realizing my trip was tanked.

So… what to do? Without a fishing partner, someone to split the house with, no boat and no guide… there wasn’t much of a trip left to be had. So… I pulled the plug. My every-two-year Florida trip just went away like it was never on the books at all.

I was really looking forward to that trip, but I am slightly consoled by the fact my wife readily accepted that this aborted trip would need to be replaced by some new trip. The balance sheet will be evened out.

The task before me is clear. I have to figure out where to fish. I have specifications, as we all do, although mine are maybe a bit more constrained than those of you without the present encumbrance of steady employment and young children. The trip needs to be something I can do in about 5 days, six in a pinch. I need it to be reasonably priced, which means there is almost certainly an element of DIY to it, although not necessarily. It needs to be on a week I don’t have custody of my daughter. It needs to not conflict with anything my wife has down on the calendar.

Easy, right?

I’m open to suggestions.

A few possibilities I’m currently eyeballing:

  • Grand Cayman to visit Davin’s island and have him show me where to find fish.
  • Punta Allen for a mostly DIY walk-around, maybe points further south, maybe a lodge if the price is right.
  • Back to Belize.
  • I’ve always wanted to go fish Puerto Rico.
  • Something like Acklins or Crooked.

Maybe July? August is probably out. September is a possibility, as could be early October.

Let the games begin. We’ll see where I end up.


01
Apr 17

Permit to be demoted from Grand Slam pedestal.

Well, the IGFA looks set to demote Permit from its Grand Slam place of preeminence. Impending rule changes would put permit along side any fish from the Jack family. Permit would still count, but so would a Horse Eyed Jack, Jack Crevalle, Bluefin Trevally or a Lookdown.

An unnamed IGFA source said “Look, permit are assholes. Why have we elevated this moody and uncooperative fish to a place of honor? They are like cats. They turn on and off their affection at will, totally ignoring the efforts of the angler. Is a cat even a real pet? We’ve had it with permit. We are going to include some fish that actually eat for a change. We think this rule will help preserve the sanity of many an angler and at the end of the day, let’s face it… permit are jerks.”

Total jerk of a fish

Total jerk of a fish

This certainly is going to change the record books.

The rule looks set to take effect on April 1st 2017.


20
Mar 17

The Flip Flop Fly – One of my favorites

This makes me happy.

This may be a second favorite…

Andros South from a few years back. Hammerhead chasing a little lemon shark.


05
Mar 17

The right mentality

My trips are almost within sight. April. May. June. Only one of these trips is straight up fishing and I figure there will be 5 days of saltwater fishing in the mix.

Still, I can see myself trying to set the tone for each trip even now.

Belize… a trip with my daughter. I know I won’t get to fish as much or as hard as I’d like. I need to make the trip more about her, keeping her happy, making it a good experience for her and getting her into some fish.

Florida… three days of trying to find an intersection of my physical presence and the migratory tarpon run. There will likely be weather… hard, driving rains, wind, cloudy water. Florida can throw a lot at you when you are trying to find the fish. So, I’m going in with low expectations to match my actual experiences up to now.

Hawaii… I don’t know exactly what day I’ll be fishing on this family trip, but I’m going to grab a day. Still… it is Hawaii and if my previous Hawaii experiences have taught me anything it is that Hawaii doesn’t give up its fish to easily… so… setting expectations accordingly.

I could end up after these three trips not having caught very much of anything. But that’s how it goes and having that knowledge ahead of time could help cushion the blow of getting some skunk on me.

Belize… smallest fish of my 2010 trip.


25
Feb 17

The show goes on

I always like going to one of the Fly Fishing Shows. Today I managed to steal a couple hours to hit the show in Pleasanton, which I think is the last of the US shows. It is a chance to see some old friends and have some good conversations. I also managed to cast a few new rods.

Not Lefty.

Yellow Dog was there and it’s nice to see those guys out there at these shows. Had some good conversations about the Bahamas with East End Lodge and saw lots of grip-and-grin shots all over the floor from Cuba and Belize and Christmas Island.

Gear makers were there including Redington, Sage, Rio, Galvan, Thomas & Thomas, Hardy, TFO and Patagonia. I grabbed a few new stickers for the car.

I stopped by the Cal Trout booth and renewed my lapsed membership. They do good work.

I got to cast the re-cast Predator rod from Redington, and I have to say… it was pretty sweet. I also cast the X from Sage in a 10 weight and it made me wish I was on a panga with rolling tarpon to cast at. I also cast the new T&T and was surprised to see they were the only rod maker (it seemed) who weren’t cheating a bit by up-lining their demo rods. You over-line and you make novice casters feel like they are 10 feet better than they likely are. Sneaky.

A couple hours of talking fly fishing and drooling over gear… what’s not to love?


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.


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


06
Jan 17

Getting the double haul down

Belize is about 100 days away at this point and if I achieve one of my life goals and watch my daughter smack a bone on a fly, she’s going to need a double haul. We worked on it a bit last weekend.

 

But since Simon is better at this than I am…