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.

 


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.

 


17
Jun 18

The lessons of Dad

It was an off-hand remark… “fishing pole” I said.
My dad, mild-mannered and rarely stern, went still. He turned and looked at me and in an even voice said “Rod, son. It is a rod.”

I’ve called it a “rod” since then and have made a point of sharing his wisdom.

Happy Father’s Day to the man who first put a fishing rod in my hand, told me where to cast, explained why and told me to keep the tip up and to keep tension on the fish. All good life lessons.

Dad’s First Sabalito

My dad’s best Bahamas fish

The Babine

Heading out in Abaco

Dad and Fred and a nice Lower Sac trout

Here’s to you dad.

Dad and Sam on the flats of Grand Bahama

Dad on the Metolius

Swing Time

Our first flat in Kauai

Celebrating getting there with a beer.


28
Feb 18

Fishing Rules

I was told you fish for these fish at high tide. No point in heading out at low tide and low tide here can be very, very low. The channel, at low tide, is constricted down to something you could skip a rock across. Hard to know just how deep the channel is when it is low like this. I’ve never seen a boat use the channel at this tide, but I suppose that is its purpose.

I wanted to fish at least once a month and this was, by all accounting, the last day of the month. I ducked out of work just a little bit early and raced home. There, I got some meat out to thaw and grabbed by gear and then off to the water.

The tide was as far out as it gets. The water was a long way down. But… the 28th… last chance.

I figured I’d fast about for 30 minutes or so and then I’d head back in time to make dinner.

Funny what you see out there at such low tide. In the water were sponge like plants, bright red. I’ve never seen those before.

low low low tide

I set about the job of blind casting for California stripers. Cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve.

Then, a most unexpected thing happened. There was a grab. I missed it. I cast again and there was another grab and I was tight to a fish. Was it a halibut waiting for more water to get back up on the mud flat? Was it one of the jack smelt I sometimes catch?

No.

It was a striper.

low tide striper

I wasn’t supposed to be able to catch stripers at low tide. I probably wasn’t supposed to catch stripers in February, or on the cusp of a cold front. But… I did.

The thing I knew just before that fish was that low tide was not the right tide (and that February was not the right month). Funny… now I know something else, which is probably also wrong in one or more of a hundred ways.

That’s what I love about fishing. Being wrong and finding out that I was wrong by catching a fish.

Trial and error.

Error and fish.

 


25
Feb 18

Always love the fly fishing show

Camille and my daughter at the Fly Fishing Show

I guess they are bigger out in NJ and the one in Atlanta? Maybe others too? We have one out here in Pleasanton, not too far away from where I call home. I have been to that show more often than not over the past decade. I have worked that show a few times… once for BTT, twice for Friends of the River, maybe once for Clearwater, back when it was Clearwater House.

I love the show. I see old friends and seem to have interesting conversations every year. I don’t really go to buy anything and I didn’t eve cast a rod this year (fewer and fewer ron makers seem to be showing up). But there are still lots of people I like at the show, people I generally only see there.

This year I brought my 11 year old daughter and she didn’t want to leave. I heard her on the phone with a friend later say “I spent the day at a fly fishing show… it was actually pretty fun.”

I’m going to put that in the parenting win column.

I got to introduce my daughter to Camille Egdorf, of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures and from the movie Providence. It was funny because my daughter kind of fan-girled her, although I’m not sure she knew who she was. I made her watch Providence when we got home. Now she knows.

 


12
Feb 18

King, Ansil Saunders and Bimini

A cool story, if you haven’t heard it already, about Dr. King’s trip to Bimini, going out with guide Ansil Saunders.

Check it out here.

I had not heard about the bust of Dr. King out there in the mangroves. That’s kind of cool, I think.


07
Feb 18

Guys… come on…

I read this article by Amanda Monthei and cringed.

I’ve interviewed many women here at Bonefish on the Brain over the years and when I do I make a point of not asking the “As a woman…” question. These are not “female anglers,” they are anglers, many/most of more skill and wider traveled than myself. Seems kind of silly to ask the “As a woman…” question, but maybe there is one to ask. Maybe I should be asking “As a woman, how do you deal with all the bullshit from the troglodyte men who participate in this industry?”

Let’s be better people, mkay?


01
Jan 18

Your 2018

So… where are you headed this year? Leave your plans in the comments!


16
Dec 17

2017 – A review

What an odd year it’s been.

I got out, I went some new places, I had some different experiences, I caught some new species, I met some new people.

It was another year where my days fishing for trout diminished. I think I fished for trout exactly three days… all with my daughter and a bit with my son (who landed his first trout), and for fewer combined hours than I’d normally fish in a single day. It just gets harder and harder to get away and make the drive North or East to find trout water. Kids. Work. Wife. It just isn’t fitting into an increasingly full life. I can’t really even complain about that, it’s just an observation.

I continued to find some time around the edges to get to the Bay and fish for stripers. I didn’t do this as much as I would have liked to, but I caught some, even the odd halibut. I saw plenty of seals and pelicans and very few other anglers.

My first trip of the year was to Ft. Lauderdale/Miami. It is a trip I’ll look back on with sadness, given the later actions of my fishing partner, but the fishing itself was pretty interesting. I caught my first Peacock Bass, which was pretty fun, as well as my first Mayan. I went night tarpon fishing in Biscayne Bay (remember, my son’s middle name is Biscayne) on a night of high winds and low expectations. We didn’t catch anything more than a single jack, but we did have tarpon rolling on the shadow line of the bridge and it is something I really want to do again. I got to fish with David as well, who showed me one of his spots.

Just a fun, fun fish to catch on a fly rod.

A Mayan on David’s water

My second trip of the year was to Belize for Spring Break with my girl. We went to Caye Caulker and stayed at Sea Dreams. It was a pretty awesome trip, full of bonefish caught from the dock and very little time wearing shoes of any kind. The day of fly fishing resulted in one nice snook and a really good soaking from the rain. Lots of great memories from that trip.

My Belize Snook

One of the highlights from Spring Break 2017.

Awesome

Nice cuda.

My third trip of the year was to Oahu for a family vacation. I had a day to fish and I managed to break my O’io curse, landing three, hooking seven and seeing my first adult Giant Trevally and my first ever milkfish. It was a pretty good day on the water… opened my eyes a bit to the Hawaii bonefish game.

My fourth trip was to Mexico, Mahahual, with my dad in July. I think it was maybe a bit too late in the year as it was HOT. This was, in retrospect, not the best trip for my dad. The heat and unsteady footing were not his friends. Still, he caught his first tarpon (baby) and had his first grabs from adult tarpon. I caught some babies, had more than one eat from the big guys and caught my first trigger fish. It was a good trip that would have been made better by maybe 8 degrees less heat.

Nick with my trigger

Dad’s First Sabalito

My fifth trip was down to the marshes of Louisiana, DIY kayaking for redfish with a group largely from Alabama. This was a great experience. I had never fished out of a kayak like that and was a bit shaky, but managed to catch three reds and my first speckled trout. I met James, another blog reader, and enjoyed our day on the water.

My first DIY redfish

Don’t you love the hazey GoPro pictures?

That rounded out my fishing for the year. It is now approaching mid-December and I might, might get another day or two of throwing for stripers in the Bay, but beyond that, my fishing is pretty much wrapped up for 2017.

New species: Peacock Bass, Trigger Fish, Speckled Trout
New guides fished with:
New fishing friends made:

 


06
Dec 17

In praise of the woman angler

It has been a bit hard to see so many icons fall these last few months. Some were folks that have been important to me (oh Louis…), but my discomfort is more than made up for by women maybe getting out from some of the absolute horse shite they’ve been dealing with for just about forever.

I’ve interviewed many female anglers here on the blog and I very much try to stay away from the “As a woman angler…” questions because they are anglers, not female anglers, they are anglers, most better than me, all more widely traveled, all with more interesting stories. Kind of ridiculous for me to try and put them in some side bucket, as if to say they are the best of that subset, when they are at the top of THE game, not just THEIR game. Ya know?

I was a guide for a very short time many, many years ago. I think I took away more that season than I gave, although I got to put more than a few anglers on their first trout, which is a pretty awesome thing to facilitate.

What I did learn from that one season on the water is that I’d prefer a woman angler over a guy, even if she was a first-timer. The reason for that is simple and known to all guides the world over.

Women listen.

It’s that simple. They listen to the guide. Their ego is set aside so they can learn and they take it in and they internalize it and they use it.

Men are often less easy to inform. They know already, they think. Or, they want to impress the guide with their prowess. It is an odd thing to hire a guide and then try to show off instead of learn, but it is something that happens again and again and again, on waters all over the world.

One thing I said back those years ago and still say, when explaining the right amount of power to put into a cast goes something like this…

I could likely out wrestle Joan Wulff and I could take her in feat of strength, but she can out cast me. It has less to do with power and more to do with technique and applying the right amount of power in the right place.

I think there is something there we can all learn from, although I’m still learning myself.

In this moment, when, hopefully, women get to cast off some of the crap they’ve had to deal with for way too long, I want to say, I see you and value you and hope to meet you on the water.