31
Dec 14

Wait… is it really New Year’s Eve?

How did that happen?

This year has been a blur and probably the least I’ve blogged since the thing started. There simply hasn’t been time with the new addition (who just turned ONE), the new job (which I’ve now been at a year) and everything else.

It has been a mixed year, in many ways. There have been some high highs and low lows.

One of the bones of 2014

One of the bones of 2014

The Fishing High Points

  • Long Island. I hosted a trip for Angling Destinations to Long Island. It was a great week and my only pure fishing week of the year. I had never been to Long Island before, so it was great to check that out, see a new fishery, get to know new guides and new anglers. I landed maybe my biggest bonefish to date at about 7.5 pounds and I experienced some things for the first time. It was a great week.
  • The Keys. A short trip with only one fishing day, but I got to go out with Capt. Derek Rust and Dan Dow and I stuck my first redfish (after many, many blown shots by yours truly).
  • Montana. Labor Day was an the in-laws on the Yaak River in Montana. My daughter had a 20 fish day on dries on a little creek, a magical experience.
  • The Pier. My daughter and I continued to dunk bait from our local pier and we had one day sans obligations that we fished there for 8 hours and caught too many sharks to count. A highlight for sure.
  • The Upper McCloud. My daughter and I went camping on the Upper McCloud again and she caught her first trout solo on a fly. A proud moment.
  • Fishing with my dad. When my mom passed away this year I went up to be with my dad and we did what came naturally and we fished. I don’t get to fish with my dad too often these days and it did seem to be cathartic. It was a special few days.

With all of that said, this was probably my lowest year in terms of fishing days. I had a fly rod in my hand maybe the fewest days since I picked up a fly rod in 1996.

It was a great year as I watched my boy grow from infant to toddler. It was a hard year with my mom passing away. It was a great year as I watched my wife excel at motherhood and in her career. It was a hard year as my daughter struggled to share time with her new brother and I went from week on/off to a weekend dad. It was a year full of ups and downs.

I’m looking forward to 2015. I’ll likely get fishing, somewhere. I’ll probably catch a bonefish, maybe a tarpon, certainly a trout and a shark. Beyond that, or where those activities will take place… I can’t say just yet. Time will fill in the blanks.

Happy 2015 to you and yours. I hope you it is a year full of personal bests.


24
Dec 14

Twas the day before Christmas

Because, bonefish.

Because, bonefish.

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the bay
Not a creature was stirring, not even a ray.
The rods were all strung up and rigged up with care
In the hopes that a bonefish, soon would be there.

The crabs were all nestled all snug in their holes
And the flat was empty, devoid of other souls.
My girl in her flats shirt and I in my buff
Were searching for fish and finding it tough.

When out of a trough I caught just a faint notion
Of some movement, so subtle, just a little slight motion.
I peered and I gazed and I strained just to see
If it might be a bonefish, coming toward me.

The sun shone brightly way up in the sky
The clouds had moved on, it was perfect, I can’t lie.
The flat was all white, no rubble or grass,
Not a twig was around to snare my back cast.

Sixty feet from the bow I saw, without fail,
The flashing and waving of a bonefish tail.
Then another and another and before I could say,
I noticed at least sixty bones in the bay.

“Sixty feet at eleven” My guide, he did say
And he pivoted the boat, to give me the cast right away.
“Now lead the fish gently and let your fly drop
And don’t let your gotcha land with a plop.”

I let lose the fly I had been holding by hand
And so my casting and hauling began.
Back cast and forward, my line it did zip
And then shooting forward, the fly landed with barely a blip.

The guide pleaded to let the fly sit
And I did, not moving it even a bit.
The fish, they slowly approached toward my fly
And I knew that pandemonium soon would be nigh.

“Strip” said the guide and that’s what I did
And my fly darted from where it was hid
And I saw a bone notice and it started to chase
And my body got tense as I started to brace.

The bone tilted down and I knew that he ate,
He just couldn’t resist that gotcha on his plate.
I strip set without missing a beat
And I looked to make sure I had no line under my feet.

I felt the weight of the fish on the line
And I knew in an instant that this fish was mine.
The bone also had this figured out
But he wanted to put the issue in doubt.

Off it did race, pulling hard and swimming fast
It exploded the water and took off in a blast.
My reel was singing as the fish swam a mile
I stood there so happy, on my face was a smile.

After a first long run the bone made another,
My knuckle hit the handle and I cursed at its mother,
But soon it had used all the gas in its tank
And when I first saw it, the fishing gods I did thank.

He was chubby and plump, a right hefty old bone,
And I laughed when I saw him, as if I were alone;
So black was his eye and so deep there within.
The clearness of the water, it was like my friend, gin.

He slid to the side of the flats boat with ease
And the guide went to work as fast as you please,
Unhooking the bone and holding it with care
Of its beauty and grace I became quite aware.

The silver, so silver and the dark bands of green
And its lines were so sleek, its form was so clean.
There was a blue flash from the edge of its tail
There was a substance about it, against which other fish fail.

Then with a swish the mighty bone sped
Out of the hands of the guide and away the bone fled
And I watched it speed off until if faded away
And I knew at my core, it was a very good day.


06
Oct 14

A Lemon at Last

I’ve cast at a fair number of lemon sharks. Several times I’ve seen them light up on a fly, put on the gas, charge it, then put their nose right on the thing and decide they really aren’t that peckish at the moment. That’s been how it has gone time and time again.

Then, fishing with Derek Rust somewhere between the Everglades and Marathon, it happened. It was the last cast of the day and it was hoped the wake coming at us was a redfish. It wasn’t, it was a 2-3′ lemon shark. As I stopped stripping the thing just casually swam over the fly and ate it. I wasn’t even trying to catch it at that point.

I got him right on the lip and the fight was short. Got him to the side of the boat and got him released. We didn’t think Lemons could be taken out of the water, so you won’t see the typical trophy shots. This is the shot I got.

A starter shark, not a maneater.

A starter shark, not a maneater.

Still, it was a lemon, on a fly, even if it was mostly on accident.

Bonefish on the Brain: 1

Lemon Sharks: 15


30
Aug 14

The Girl Crushes It In Montana

I have fished from an early age. It runs in the family. I started fly fishing when I was 21 and I had my first truly magical day of fly fishing when I was 24. That day I fished the Lower McCloud with Fred Gordon and had 20+ fish for the first time.

Today, my daughter caught, on her own, 20 trout on a little creek near my in-law’s house in Montana. She is 7.5 years old.

The girl with one of many

The girl with one of many

I’m still shocked by it all. I wanted to find a little creek for her that would be easier to get around in than the main Yaak and we found exactly that. Most of the fish were cutties, one rainbow, one brookie. They all succumbed to the same hopper pattern, now battered and bruised. Battle tested.

She was over the moon and so was I. None of the fish were big, but they were her fish. They were caught on her casts, her drifts and her hook sets. She also unhooked a couple of her own fish today for the first time. Milestones galore.

I told her the problem with catching 20 fish is people won’t believe her. It is something that sounds like it could be made up.

This is a girl who caught her first fish by herself earlier in the summer and now, at the close of the summer, she knocks out TWENTY.

What can I say… I’m one proud dad right now.

A very good day

A very good day

 

— the comments appear to be broken right now. I’m trying to figure out what happened.


21
Jul 14

The girl gets a fish

It was a big day… for her, for me… her first fish… on her own. She made the cast, she set the hook, she got the fish in.

The girl, the sass, the trout.

The girl, the sass, the trout.

A gift from the Upper McCloud River, one of many it has given me.

I’m pretty stoked on how that all went down. It felt like a milestone, for both of us.


31
May 14

Super Cuda

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… it’s SUPER CUDA!


27
Mar 14

Dead Calm

Not a sound.

Not a sound. – PS, do you see the school of bonefish?

On the trip to Long Island to fish with Bonefish Paradise at Greenwich Creek Lodge we got lucky when it came to the weather. There were no whitecaps on the water (which I learned are formed when relative wind speeds reach 14 mph). We might have seen a few minutes of 12 mph wind, but we had many more minutes of dead, flat calm.

It turns out dead calm can make for really tough fishing.

One of the mornings Elvis, Tandy (who was called “Candy” for most of the day) and I went far out on the Ocean-Side flats to a little rock way out all on its own. Once the motor was off and we were out of the boat I experiences near sensory-deprivation level quiet. There just were no sounds, save for the occasional shad or bonefish tailing.

It was spooky quiet.

When there is such an absence of sound every sound that is generated seems like an explosion. Each step sounded like a careless water buffalo walking through a rice paddy. And, as it turned out, every cast with the textured line on the Orvis H2 sounded like a million zippers being zipped all at once.

For the first time I saw bonefish, 50 and 60 feet away, visibly spook at the sound of a false cast. I saw them spook at the sound of a single strip of the fly. I’ve heard this criticism of textured lines before, but I had not experienced it myself. Now, I have.

It was simply too quiet. Too still. The weather too good.

When there is a light wind the fish can’t see you as well. They can’t hear you as well. They don’t bolt at the slightest provocation because those slight offenses are masked and obscured and forgiven by the wind.

So, I will no longer wish for windless days… although, if I can dial it up, I’d say a nice 8 mph wind might just be perfect.


14
Jan 14

High Spirits

(This is a piece I submitted for publication. It, eventually, didn’t make the cut, but I still like it, so, I’m sharing it with you good people.)

Typical

Typical

They call Florida “The Sunshine State.” It’s marketing. At 44.82″ of rain annually, Islamorada gets more precipitation each year than Seattle. When the rains come, it comes in biblical torrents. When heading to Florida it is hard to get the vision of sunshine out of your head, but you are a fool if you don’t pack your rain jacket.

Our trip held out hope for sunshine, as all tarpon tourists do, but that was not the card we got played. Each day the sky was dark at noon and the rains followed. Every day we watched it bear down on us, starting from out there and then arriving. We never dodged it. There was a dark inevitability about it.

As Matt and I were wading one flat he turned to me. “Do you hear that? You can hear the sound of the wind on the water!”

I was near the shore and Matt was further out as we searched, in vain, for bonefish. We couldn’t see anything beyond the odd shark which was large enough or careless enough to push some water and let us know where they were. We cast at them. They didn’t eat.

What Matt couldn’t see as he turned toward me was what was coming up behind him. There was a wall of rain, a visible sheet of water advancing at his back. The sound was the rain.

It rained when I fished with Adrienne and Martin. It rained when I fished with Davin and Derek. It rained when Matt and I fished on our own and it rained when I fished with Adrienne and Bill.

We had traveled hundreds, in some cases thousands, of miles to be here, in Florida for Tarpon. This is where and when it was supposed to all happen. We had come together as a group specifically for this place and this time, never having met in person, eager to share the Florida experience.

When we got to Florida the lights were off, the flats were dark. The fish were there, but invisible. Our opportunities literally swam by us unseen.

Every one of us was disappointed with the weather, but despite that we all tried to stay positive.  Maybe it was because we were new to one another. We were making first impressions. No one wanted to be the bummer. No one wanted to be the one crushed by the rain and darkness. You are supposed to power through, and so that’s what we did.

We fished. We fished hard. We got some shots. We missed some shots. We missed most of our shots, truth be told. We didn’t get a chance to settle into a groove or ditch the jitters which naturally present themselves when you see 140 pounds of tarpon within casting range.

At the end of every day we found ourselves back at home base talking about how wet we got, the fish we missed and our hopes for a drier, brighter tomorrow. We went to bed late after a few six packs and we got up early and we fished. We fished relentlessly in the rain every day until we had to go back home.

Maybe, if we knew each other better, someone would have had a tantrum. Maybe someone would have sulked. Maybe it was for the best we had not settled into being comfortable where we could have complained and bitched a bit. It would have been easy to let the weather get under your skin and blow the trip apart.

I’m glad it worked out as it did. We managed to tell ourselves we were having a good time so often I think we actually did. We were there for Tarpon, but we found friendship instead. I’d take fishing with people I like and having crap weather over nailing the fish with people I can’t stand. So, there’s that and in a certain light, that looks a lot like victory.

Shooting the shit... and learning.

Shooting the shit… and learning.


06
Jan 14

Grand Slam – Bucs and Bones

I watched the “Grand Slam” episode of Buccaneers and Bones last night. It was great to see the show back for another season and it was great to see the familiar cast of characters at El Pescador in Belize.

I’ve been to EP twice, once in 2010 with my friend Shane and in 2012 with my wife for our honeymoon. What can I say? I love that place.

Honeymooners

Honeymooners

The show itself was fun to watch. Yvon Chouinard gets a grand slam, but gets the finish (the bonefish) out of a mud, something he says he was not very proud of. His permit was a thing of beauty, caught after three casts and complete with the spool falling off his reel. Pretty classic awesomeness.

The permit. Not a big permit, but a permit.

My El Pescador Grand Slam permit. Not a big permit, but a permit.

El Pescador continues to be the best place to get a Grand Slam of any place I’ve heard of. That’s where I got mine, featuring my first ever tarpon and first ever permit. Hard to beat.

There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to flyfishing shows, so it is especially nice to have a show like Buccaneers and Bones featuring people I respect in places I hold dear.

The show is intended to raise awareness of conservation issues and supports the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, which I am very much in favor of.


31
Dec 13

2013 Year in Review

Well… what a year that was, eh?I had two trips this last year and a bunch of other life events making for a rather entertaining rollercoaster from start to finish.

Bahamas for Spring Break – This was a trip I wanted to do for a long time. I got my wife and daughter (along with my folks and brother) out to Grand Bahama and got to show them what I love out there. I also got to fish out of Deep Water Cay and Water Cay Lodges and got to see the sharks get fed at Pier One Restaurant. It was great.

Fish on at Deep Water Cay

Fish on at Deep Water Cay

Florida for Tarpon and Rain – I got to go fishing in Florida with a whole cast of characters. The fishing was tough due to rain, rain and more rain, but I got an introduction to a place I plan on coming back to periodically over the remaining decades of my life. I got to fish Biscayne Bay, an important point that features later.

Shooting the shit... and learning.

Pregnancy – I didn’t so much get pregnant as my wife did, but still, there was that. She dealt really well with it all, it has to be said.

Work ups and downs – I got laid off from my high-tech sales job (might have had something to do with there not being a product to actually sell… hard to sell if the product is never in a state it can be sold, right?). That was stressful, but was also an opportunity. I started doing some work for Angling Destinations and eventually, I landed a fantastic job as Director of Client Services for Machaon Diagnostics, a clinical reference lab in Oakland specialized in coagulation testing. I’ve landed well.

Oliver Biscayne – Just as the year was drawing to a close we added a new family member in Oliver Biscayne Stromsness. He’s doing great and after a bit of a false start, his sister eventually rated having a brother at “a gazillion” on a 1-10 scale. I’m a happy man.

Welcome, Oliver.

Looking Forward

2014 will most likely have a fishing trip in it. It looks like the Ragged Island Trip is suffering from cancellations and it is very likely we’ll shift to another island at a lower price point for the March trip. Beyond that, we will have burned up my wife’s PTO with maternity leave, so we likely won’t be back in the Caribbean this year, but I have high hopes of getting the family either to the Bahamas or the Keys in 2015 once again.

I’m going to keep on posting on the blog, although I’ve had some difficulty getting posts up these last few weeks. I intended to write this post last night, but my son was asleep on my chest for about 2.5 hours and I figured that was more important. I’ll find a balance in there somewhere and I continue to look for and share interesting stories about bonefish and the people and places related to them.

All the best to you in 2014!