28
Dec 16

2017 – A Preview

2017 should see me back in the salt. Here’s what I have in store (so far as I know).

From Abaco, 2015.

Belize
I’m headed back to Belize, this time with my 10 year old daughter for her Spring Break. We are going to Caye Caulker. There will be fishing and snorkeling and general hanging around and enjoying Belize. I’m hoping to get into a tarpon of some kind and to get the girl into some fish without her getting too bored, cause, ya know… 10 year olds. Should be a great trip though.

Florida
May sees me at a conference in Ft. Lauderdale and I’m going to tack on a few extra days and try, once again, to get one of those big ocean-sided tarpon. Previous trips have not gone well, so maybe I’m due? I know the odds are the odds and it doesn’t work that way, but I’m hopeful. Could be much of the same crew I’ve done the last two trips with will be back. We’ll see.

Hawaii
Location unknown, but the wife, son and I will head, most likely, to Hawaii in the summer and there, again, I’ll try to catch an O’io. I’m 0/3 when it comes to Hawaii and bonefish… so, again, we’ll see.

Louisiana
Five work trips in 2016 seems an indicator that I’ll be going back some in 2017 and if I am, I’ll likely sneak in a day or two of fishing. Had a great time on my last, very short trip. Looking forward to seeing more of the marshes.

The Bay
There are stripers in the Bay. I plan on catching more of them.

The Mountains
I hope to get up North for one or two trips in 2017 to catch some of those beautiful rainbow trout. Not salty, but home.

That looks like 2017 and I’ll be lucky if I get it all in. Life, as it does, gets in the way of a lot of fishing plans and at this point I’m fortunate to get in as much as I do.

Missing, in 2017, is a trip to the Bahamas. I love the Bahamas deeply, but this mess with the regs has me thinking I may just need some space from it all. I may need to explore a bit more, see what else is out there.

I’m already thinking about 2018… maybe that’s when a Christmas Island trip could happen. Maybe I’ll finally make it to Puerto Rico. Maybe finally fish the bonefishy side of Mexico. There are so many places I’ve yet to dip a toe.

 


27
Dec 16

2016 – A Review

Redemption

Ah, another year in the books. This one will be notable for many things, but I’m hear to talk about the fishing, the blog and blog/fishing related happenings.

I started off the year early on with a trip to Abaco with my we-don’t-talk-politics friend Aaron. We stayed at Abaco Lodge for a couple days and then went in search of our own luck. The fishing was of the highly enjoyable kind, even if it got noticeably harder once we left the lodge behind.

The second part of the trip, the DIY part, is something that would be illegal in 2017 with the new regulations. We rented a skiff and used it to get to and from the flats. There are no guides where we were fishing who have their own skiffs, so those waters just won’t get touched going forward.

My most memorable fish of 2016 came from this DIY portion of the trip.

From there I got a trip with the family to Maui where I failed to connect to a Hawaiian O’io, yet again.

The summer was full or promise, as summers tend to be, but the fishing didn’t really happen too much. I did get one trip up with friends to my home waters, but didn’t make it back. Probably the least freshwater fishing I’ve done in a year since I started fly fishing in 1996.

That was looking like all I’d get in 2016, beside a few locally caught stripers in the Bay.

At the very tail end of the year I got a surprise work trip to New Orleans (my fifth of the year) and decided this was the trip I was going to stick a Louisiana Redfish. It happened, with guide Capt. Ron Ratliff. Fun times.

And that pretty much is a wrap for 2016. What an odd year it has been.

The year was also just funky with all the Bahamas stuff going on. To fight hard against a slew of bad ideas only to see it slide by on an inside political fix, and knowing it will do so much damage to the Bahamas… well… it has kind of sucked. The Bahamas has been a really special place for me and now, I’m not sure where I am with it.

Next up… a preview of 2017.


25
Dec 16

Merry Christmas, yo

 

 

Because, bonefish.

Merry Xmas to all. Hope it is a good one for ya.


23
Dec 16

What to read: Body of Water by Chris Dombrowski

As I was flying back to the Bay Area from New Orleans I finished “Body of Water: A Sage, a Seeker, and the World’s Most Alluring Fish” by Chris Dombrowski.

This is the best book about bonefishing I’ve read to date. It isn’t a how-to or a where-are-they kind of book. It is a work of “creative nonfiction,” as the author calls it, and it speaks to so much that is at the heart of bonefishing I doubt I’ll do it justice in the description.

The book centers on David Pinder, guide extraordinaire of Deep Water Cay fame. The book, in language I wish I possessed, takes us through the early days of DWC and the role David Pinder played in the creating of what we know of as bonefishing and his legacy. There is just too much in this book you should read for yourself I don’t want to take anything from that experience.

I’ll say this about the book. It is well researched, unflinchingly honest and beautifully written.

I caught my first bonefish in DWC’s backyard. I’ve fished a half-day out of the lodge itself and have driven out to Mclean’s Town many times and after reading this book I know I didn’t know anything about the ground I was walking on.

In action in Grand Bahama in David Pinder’s back yard.

I don’t know what else to say. I can’t MAKE you read the book, but if you love bonefishing and have ever been out with a guide in the Bahamas, or maybe anywhere, you really should.


13
Dec 16

One of my favorite bonefishing pictures

This is one of my favorite bonefishing pictures. It was taken by Matt Hansen in Cuba in 2012 on a trip with Yellow Dog Fly Fishing, moments after I lost a really, really nice bonefish.

Things don’t always work out with you holding the big bonefish in your hands… or the big tarpon or the big permit (almost never the big permit) or the (insert whatever here). But maybe it is because we don’t get it that we value the things we pursue.

This picture is what is often not photographed. It is the aftermath of the loss, of the failure, and there is something really fundamental to the whole experience of fly fishing, of bonefishing in this image.

I value the whole thing, the entire experience… the days of getting blown off the water, the lost fish, the crappy knot fails and short casting and the fish that doesn’t stay buttoned.


15
Nov 16

Interview with Jess McGlothlin – The South Pacific

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If you have picked up a fly fishing anything lately, you probably have seen photos taken through the lens of Jess McGlothlin or you’ve read an article written by her hand. She’s got a keen eye for composition and seems to be just about anywhere where things are happening in the fly fishing world. She has Jess McGlothlin Media and is also part of the Yellow Dog Flyfishing team. I did an interview with Jess to hear about what she did down in the South Pacific. It isn’t a place you think of when it comes to fly fishing, at least not now, but maybe you will.

Jess, I’ve seen some photos you took from a fishing expedition to a location in the South Pacific. Where was it, exactly, that you went and, most importantly, how was the fishing?

I’ve been lucky enough to be on a few South Pacific trips in the past couple years. I did an expeditionary trip to Samoa for YETI and Outside Magazine this spring, but the trip that, to me, epitomizes the South Pacific was exploring Anaa Atoll in French Polynesia with a team from Costa del Mar and the IndiFly Foundation. Anaa is a small atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, about one-and-a-half hours’ flight northeast from Tahiti.

In a word, the fishing was good. Really good. Kind of great, really. Healthy and happy bonefish (some big boys), bluefin trevally, bohar and all manner of reef fish, napoleon wrasse, and other species. I talked recently to a friend who returned to Anaa and he reported some strong GT fishing.

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The South Pacific is just not on the radar screen of most saltwater anglers outside of a few, well known places, like Christmas Island. What do you think the potential is for that region based on your experience?

I think the potential is huge. I’d love to get back in the area and spend an extended amount of time exploring — there are fisheries that are not quite on most people’s maps yet. In the States we hear more about Christmas, Rangiroa or Tetiaroa, but after the traveling I’ve done in the past several years, Anaa is the place I’m trying hard to get back to. A variety of species, friendly locals, and a strong “adventure” element… the South Pacific ticks all those boxes. And give me undeveloped locales over tourist zones any day.

From the trip to Anaa Atoll, what was the highlight?

The final day of the Anaa trip, my photo clients looked at me and said, “You’ve shot all week, now it’s your turn to fish,” and handed me a rod. I couldn’t argue with that. I caught a bonefish and a bluefin trevally and then happy went back to the camera, more than content.

It’s rare to go to a place where there is so much photo fodder. Not so much a plethora of subjects in the traditional sense — you’re on a small island with limited inhabitants — but in terms of the sheer beauty of the place and its people. One day we took a break from fishing to spend some time getting to know the village, and ended up participating in patia fa, the highly competitive local sport of throwing homemade spears at a coconut suspended high on a pole. We just hung out and threw spears and stuff for an afternoon— how awesome is that?

And, yeah, I could have stayed another month just to shoot photos of the fish.

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You shoot some mean photos. I’m wondering what sort of considerations you take when you head somewhere so remote in order to not have the whole trip go sideways on you.

Something always goes sideways; that’s a given. On this trip, I ended up in the little atoll clinic (luckily the rotating, listing French nurse was there at the time) with toe and foot infections from coral cuts. I ended up losing both toenails and by the end of the trip I could barely fit my feet into my flip-flops for the flight home. Part of the game, and there’s no question in my mind the images were worth it.

In planning any shoot, I sit down with the client beforehand and develop a shot list so I know what their “must have” shots are. This list can be as short as a half a page and as long as ten. If logistics allow, I sit down every evening with clients while on location to review shots and ensure they like what they are seeing. Typically we do it the first day or two, then they know they’re comfortable with what we’re shooting and it’s less of a worry. It’s always a good sign when the client starts to bring beer to the photo review.

I’m lucky to travel frequently enough to have developed a “gear list” with items I know I’ll need. It varies location by location and job by job, of course, but the basics stay the same. I take meticulous care of cameras on location — in saltwater locations they get swiped down with a damp cloth then dried each night, lenses and filters carefully cleaned, batteries charged, and memory cards backed up three times then cleared. If I don’t have time to do all that and sleep, then I don’t get sleep. It’s pretty simple.

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The trip you took was associated with IndiFly. What is that program and where are they working?

IndiFly is one of the better ideas I’ve seen come into the fly-fishing community. As a photographer and writer, to me it’s the ideal combination of what really got me into photography — humanitarian work — and fly-fishing. The organization’s website perhaps sums it up best:

“Indifly is a 501(c)(3) organization protecting the world’s greatest fisheries while providing sustainable livelihoods for indigenous peoples. Indifly’s mission is focused on the conservation of natural resources, food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable livelihoods in these communities.

We accomplish our mission by assisting indigenous communities around the world transition from non-sustainable practices. Most often, through the development of sustainable* community owned fly fishing ecotourism operations. *economically/environmentally/culturally.”

Add in an accomplished, intelligent group of leaders and it becomes something special.

American anglers seem to want a good adventure that ends with a great meal and a comfortable, bug-free bed. How do you think the South Pacific meets, exceeded or falls short of that?

It depends where you are going. Where we were on Anaa, the lodging and food were excellent. We slept in well-furnished huts with real beds, hot water, electricity and all the comforts of home — really, I was quite impressed. There was even a small TV in one corner (I never turned it on to see if it actually worked). The food was very local (raw fish in coconut milk, various stir-fries, all manner of seafood, etc.) and extremely good. We even had French vanillas creamer for our coffee, and fresh eggs and homemade chocolate croissants every morning. So Anaa “exceeded,” big time. I lived nicer there than I do when I’m back in Montana.

Other places, it depends on how you set yourself up. I’ve slept on the beach and been chewed up by bugs, stung in the neck by a scorpion in my sleep, and returned from trips with my fair share of various tropical fevers. It depends of what kind of care you take of yourself, and if staying in fancy resorts is your thing, typically the lodging and food meets most American standards. Personally, I prefer to stay, eat, and work with locals as much as possible — I think it’s the only real way to get the true feel of a place and you meet some of the best people.

It feels like everything that can be discovered, every fishery that can be know, is known already. Do you think there are places still left to be explored?

I like to think so. Maybe it’s romantic or naive or silly, but I like to think there are still some kick-ass fisheries out there waiting to be explored. I can only hope I’m lucky enough to be on the teams that pioneer them.

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Do you find it hard to be behind the camera when the fishing is good? How do you deal?

“How do you deal?” — I love that. I’m getting better at it. If I’m on a big commercial shoot, I may not ever pick up a rod. The job has to come first. But it’s hard sometimes. Being out on a flats boat all day can be nice, because when the light is really awful on a bright, hot day, I can usually use that time to shoot underwater work and maybe pick up a rod.

Several weeks ago I was an instructor at a Belize On-the-Water Fly-Fishing Photography Workshop for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures. On the first day, I was in the boat with a student and he wanted to shoot, so I fished. It was a treat! One permit to hand and I was a happy camper for the rest of the week… it’s amazing what just a short stint on the rod can do to improve morale. It’s hard to be in these places and not fish, but part of the gig. And it makes those times when I can all the better.

And when the fishing is good, it means I have a lot to shoot, usually in a short space of time! My brain gets clicking and busy… and there’s something just as satisfying sharing the moment with the camera in hand. I know those moments will be documented for some time to come — and that’s what makes it all work.

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Awesome Jess. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Hope to share the water with you in the future (always good to share a boat with a photographer… way more bow time!). 


02
Nov 16

Master Guide of Biscayne Bay passes at 91

Bill Curtis was a guide and pivotal figure in bonefishing and the development of salt water fly fishing. He passed at 91. Here’s a story about his passing from the Miami paper.

“Man was born to hunt, fight and make love. Anything else is just a complication,” he once said.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/obituaries/article112149762.html#storylink=cpy


15
Oct 16

Where I’m at – Season 42

If Louis CK fished and if he had a few million dollars less in his bank account, he and I might be the same person.

He doesn’t fish though, which I hold as his biggest shortcoming.

Still… sometimes he says things that could come straight from my brain.

Here’s a bit about his experience turning 40 (even if I’m 42 now).

This hits me right where I live for a couple reasons.

First, I got to go to the ER on Thursday for a soccer injury. Nothing serious, but I don’t think I would have even thought about needing to go if I were 30. Plus, I have things that just hurt now. I have some arthritis in my hands, which sucks, and my left knee has been bugging me for about 3 months now. I’m just wearing out… it just gets this way now.

Second, at 42, no one is really impressed with anything you do. It is just your job. I make dinner every night, which would be amazing if I were 25, but less so at 42. I have a Director level job, which amazes no one, because, ya know, I’m 42 and maybe I should be Senior Director or Vice President at this age. No one would be blown away if I went to the Seychelles, they’d just think… yeah, he’s 42… that could happen at 42. No one would be totally amazed if I caught a 12 pound bonefish, they’d just think at this point, maybe I had it coming. Accomplishments are just a little less sparkly at 42.

I don’t say any of this for pity, I just find it funny how life changes and evolves and I’ll have to stop typing here soon because my fingers hurt.

 

I still want to catch a 12 pound bonefish, and if I did that in the Seychelles, all the better. Just say’n.


15
Sep 16

Interview with Captain Perry, Grand Bahama

(Posted in 2010. Recently it was announced that Captain Perry had passed away. I always wanted to get back to fish with him. He was a great guide and a very decent person. It was an honor to fish with him, even if I only did it once.)

This last January I had a few days of fishing in Grand Bahama, one of those days I got a guide and the others I went on my own.  I mostly had my arse handed to me on the  self-guided days, but had a great day with the guide I booked, Captain Perry, out  of McLeans Town on the East End of Grand Bahama.

I recently called up Captain Perry and asked him to do an interview and he agreed.  Because of this know I need to get some sort of recording device, as I missed a couple comments (at least) and didn’t catch some of the local flavor of his remarks.

If I make it back to Grand Bahama, I hope to see Captain Perry again from the bow of his flats boat… wouldn’t mind being there for a day to equal his most memorable from below.

Captain Perry, Grand Bahama Guide and Good Guy.

Do you have a favorite place to eat on Grand Bahama?

I go to a place in Port Lucaya, Le Med.

Being out on the water a lot you see odd, interesting or strange things.  What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen?

The shark eating the bonefish is pretty interesting, the speed of the bonefish is amazing, but the sharks hunt them down.

Do you have a guided trip that stands out in your memory?

Back in 2002, caught 127 bonefish in a day, wading. I’ll never forget that one.  It was all to do with the weather.  We’d had had some messed up weather before that, but that morning, the weather was nice.  We fished for 8 hours and fish were everywhere.

The following year I went out with the same guy about the same time of year and we saw one fish all day.

What do you think makes GBI a destination that bonefish anglers should check out?  Give me the top one or two reasons.

You can take almost a direct flight from the East Coast.  That’s it right there.  There is no need for a charter flight, no need so spend the night anywhere.

What’s your favorite tide to fish, or does it matter?

Around here, the incoming tide is good, but we have two tides, so we can get to find an incoming tide on one side or the other of the island.  A low incoming tide is really good.

What’s your favorite month to fish?

You can fish year round as long as there isn’t a cold front.

Do you have any lodging ideas for anglers looking to stay and fish the East End?  Freeport is pretty far away.

There’s a place called Ocean Pearl in High Rock, it is half way. That’s a good place.

On my trip with you in January, I landed 12 bonefish… I’m guessing that a more accomplished bonefisher might have had 20.  Sound about right?

Yeah, I think that’s about right.

I was impressed with how careful you were in handling the fish, never even taking them out of the water. You certainly are up to speed on the best practices for handing and releasing bonefish.  Are you seeing more anglers and guides being conscious of bonefish handling or is there still a lot of ignorance out there?

There is some way to go, for a lot of the guides, a long way to go…   a long way to go.  I think it will take some real knowledge about what’s going on with the fish.  They need to experience it themselves. If you tell them, they don’t get it. They need to get the knowledge themselves.  I see two or three guides that really get it, but there are still a lot that have a long way to go.

Drop the Grip and Grin and the fish will live to fight another day.

Thanks Captain Perry.


23
Aug 16

Grab Bag from 30K Feet

I’m in the air right now on my way to New Orleans, where I’ll primarily be sweating, as well as doing some work. Fishing is not on the agenda, sadly.

So, a few things I’ve seen bouncing around to share with you good (I’m guessing here) people.

First. The Double Haul. Here’s a video about doing it. If you are at the beginning of your bonefishing journey, you really, really need to pick up this skill. It is key. I’ve seen otherwise great anglers fall apart in a boat with bonefish in front of them, the will to make it happen, but lacking the casting ability to cast into a 15 mph wind. Don’t let that be you.

Here’s a story about tarpon fishing in the Washington Post. I love to see our sport go mainstream.

That’s all for now.