Jul 17

Hawaiian Bonefish Exception

Hawaiian bonefish are super, super spooky. But… sometimes, they aren’t.

One fish that fell well outside the norm (the norm here defined by guide Kenny and from my own observations on the day) was a fish that I basically dabbed. (dab. verb. While fly fishing, to present the fly without casting by simply placing the fly in front of a fish)

I had just broken off a fish (something I did twice on strip-strikes) and Kenny was tying on another one of his flies I never would have selected (just totally different from what I cast at bones, not because they weren’t good looking). We were on a narrow little flat, maybe 30 feet wide and a few hundred feet long, connected to a larger flat. The fish were coming up on the flat from the deeper water on both sides and moving down the little flat towards us.

As Kenny was mid-tie, a bonefish of 3-4 pounds came towards us and about 15 feet away, it just stopped and milled around a bit. The wind was blowing pretty hard, so it wasn’t clear if it actually saw us or if it felt us more. Either way, it didn’t spook.

Fly attached, I simply put the fly in front of the fish and the darn thing promptly ate, right there in front of us.

Both Kenny and I laughed pretty hard at that as the fish sped away. What the fish lacked in predator detection it made up for in defensive maneuvering. Off the flat the fish fled and right around some coral, deeper than we could get to. The fish got off, but, it was hard to be upset about that one.

So, you need to lead Hawaiian bones by a country mile, until you find a fish that doesn’t mind at all (there aren’t many of those).

Jun 17

Kids, trying to get to the Bahamas

This story came out a while back. Two kids from Florida went fishing. They tried to make it to the Bahamas. They went missing and months later their boat was found near Bermuda. Their life jackets were in the boat. A phone was even in the boat. The kids were not. They’ve been missing for a long time, too long to still be alive.

Their trip was ill-planned. It was a horrible idea. They paid the price for that under-estimation of the risks. With all of that being true, I still stand a little bit in awe of their spirit of adventure.

As a kid, growing up in a mountain town in a river canyon I had some adventures. I went off trails and played around in the forests, but all those adventured happened within a mile or two of my house. It never occurred to me to think bigger. There are a dozen places I could see from town that I always wondered “what is is like up there?” and I never, ever actually tried to get to any of them.

Maybe, if I had, I would have been attacked by a black bear or a mountain lion or I could have fallen off a cliff, broken a leg far from trails and roads and met the same fate as those two kids. There is a risk/reward calculation here that maybe kept me from seeking out those places, but there is also the “nothing risked, nothing gained” math.

I admire the spirit of those kids, even if the decisions, in the end, were deeply flawed, even fatally so.

Jun 17

What do the new restrictions mean for Cuba fly fishing?

Well… don’t ask me. Ask Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures… because, those guys know.

They put out a detailed piece about the new Trump travel restrictions and what it means to you, the anglers who want to go sample what Cuba has to offer.

Here it is. 

I went with Yellow Dog’s Jim Klug back in 2012 and they had things buttoned down, even back then. Solid operation.

Jim + Cuba + Cameras

Jun 17

Do you podcast?

Did you know The Drake has a podcast?

It is called The Drakecast and it is totally worth a listen.

Here it is.

I really love the format… the story telling… the way you are brought into the stories by the audio. I think you’ll love it.

Jun 17

Father’s Day

I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but I know I said “fishing pole.”

My dad paused and turned to look at me.

“Rod, son. It is called a rod.”

He said it with such seriousness, such utter sincerity. He was not joking around.

That was maybe the most serious I have ever heard my dad.


Happy Father’s Day!

Dad on the Metolius

Jun 17

The tide of life

I was searching for an analogy earlier today for the fast passage of time and it occurred to be that life is, very much, like a tide cycle.

The water comes in and that is your youth. As you grow so do your opportunities. The flat opens up for you. You can explore. You can range fare and wide until the flat itself is full of life. The peak of the tide is middle age, the height of your opportunities and possibilities. Slowly, the tide starts to go out and your opportunities shrink, your world diminishes until, at the bottom of the outgoing tide, you end up where you were in the beginning.

It works, for me, as an analogy for life and I’m not totally fooling myself when I acknowledge that I’m close to slack tide, soon, and maybe already, starting to feel the water flowing back out.

At the start of the outgoing there are still fish to be caught. Those that had used the high water to get up into the mangroves will be coming back out. There are shots to be made yet and with the experience of the incoming tide under my belt, I should have a better idea of where those shots will be.

That’s the hope, right?

That, and maybe for a little off-shore wind to slow down the outgoing tide.

Jun 17

Casterbating is a sin

Casting… work on it.

Casterbating – v – casting a fly line repetitively without shooting the line or adding much/any distance to the cast.

You see the fish, on your own, or with a guide, and you start casting… and you keep casting… you need a little more distance and you are letting out a foot at a time… the line is in the air and things start coming a little undone as the amount of line gets longer and longer… and then it all falls apart. You dump a bunch of unorganized line on the water. You can almost hear the fish scream as they run away. If you are fishing with a guide, you can definitely hear the guide screaming.

Many threats to bonefish come from above. So, in addition to just not really adding much to the actual cast, casterbating runs a good chance of just spooking the fish due to the arial movement.

Maybe you’ve fished with that guy. Maybe you are that guy. Condolences either way. We’ve all been there.

Casterbating is a saltwater sin, punished by the fishing gods with no delay.

How do you know if you are casterbating? Did you do more than three false casts? Yes? Then you are casterbating.

Maybe some day they’ll come up with a patch or some gum to help break you of this habit, but in the meantime, there are a few tips I have to keep you from casterbating, at least in public, in front of the fish.

  1. Starting point – How much line do you have out to begin with? If you don’t have enough line out, you wont’ be able to load the rod. It is pretty hard to load the rod with 5 feet of fly line out. You’ll usually need 15′-20′ feet of line out the tip of your fly rod in order for there to be enough fly line to properly load the rod on your first false cast.
  2. 3 and let fly – By the time you get to your third false cast, you should be shooting your line. Past that number and you hit the point of diminishing returns. It is harder to manage line in the air. The more line you have in the air, in your cast, the harder it is to maintain and control. If you have a good loop going and are properly loading the rod, by the time you get to your third cast you have everything you need to shoot the line.
  3. Don’t let go of the line. It may seem like a good idea to let go of the line with your line-hand when you shoot the line. That is not correct. Keep the line in your hand as you are shooting the line. If you keep the line in your hand you’ll be ready for action when the fly hits the water, instead of grasping (and missing) the line and trying to get everything under control. There are those times when a fish eats AS SOON AS THE FLY lands. Bonefish do this sometimes, as do tarpon. If you have the line in your hand, you are ready for business. This last tip isn’t really a casterbating tip, but it’s a pretty good one anyway.

If you can get away with two false casts, that’s better than three. Four casts is one too many and five is straight out.

You don’t need all those extra casts. They just put a greater chance for user error into the whole enterprise. They may spook the fish. You are unlikely to get a better cast on your 8th false cast than on your third. If you are casting, your fly is not in the water and you are not fishing. So… knock it off with the casterbating.

May 17

A tip for the Trump administration on finding leaks

OK Trump, you want to find leaks? Turn your administration inside out and fill it with water.

(Bannon says they already are)

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.

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?