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.


05
Dec 17

Number 1 thing on my Christmas Wishlist

It is the critical element.

Every trip I’ve ever had, or ever will, will start with this vital component.

It gets harder and harder to find these days.

Work is humming and there are a thousand little things poking up that demand my attention.

There are the kids. They need their watering and care as well if they are to grow big and strong.

There is my wife, who has her own deficit of this magical element,

Who also needs some of my focus,

And the marriage itself also requires maintenance and nurturing.

And friendships and family and things around the house,

My garage could use a good bit of straightening up.

The thing I need,

The prerequisite for any bit of walking flats and finding fish

is

Time.

So precious

Because scarcity creates value,

Basic economics.

Time.

I need a week, or at least five days,

Without commitments already made,

And without anything too vital on either end,

When it works for the kids and the wife and work.

I check the calendar like a racetrack junkie checking the race results.

The square peg of my need to walk in shin deep water looking for contrary shadows

Is confronted by the round holes of modern life.

I need to make this happen.


07
Oct 17

A little round up of stuff floating around out there

First, congrats to Yellow Dog’s Jim Klug who recently landed the 2017 Izaak Walton Award given by the The American Museum of Fly Fishing. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with Jim. He’s solid. Last year’s award winner was super-talented artist and author James Prosek.

Jim + Cuba + Cameras

Second, hope you like that water taxi ride to Caye Caulker, cuz, you aren’t going to be flying there for a while. They are reconstructing the runway on Caye Caulker, ruling that out as a “by air” option for a while. My daughter and I took the ferry/taxi from Belize City last year. It was pretty easy. One of my bags went missing for a couple hours but they assured me they don’t lose bags and they didn’t. Got everything back with only a minor delay. We’ll be heading back in April and we’ll do it by boat again.

Third, and last, more stirrings from the Bahamas as Bahamian guides and lodge owners are complaining about a substantial drop in business, blaming outfitters/booking agents. Talking to some American lodge owners out there over the past year they tell me business is good, but they are working hard for that business. Lots of dollars put into marketing. I’ve seen the uptick in social media presence that would back that up. There is something like a “it takes money (and time) to make money” thing here. There are also some economic headwinds with Bahamian tourists spending 28% less now than they did in 2000. Add to that a season full of hurricanes that likely scared off some tourists and, ya know… people aren’t just going to come on their own. Licenses are still needed and still not available on-line. A lot of angler resentment still exists due to the push by the BFFIA. Add all that up and, yeah, business would be down.