02
Mar 17

And… speaking of Belize

Check out this bit of awesome… the folks from Silver Kings join The Fieldworkers Club down at El Pescador (my first Belizian love).

Oh Belize… soon… soon.

The final piece, the tarpon.

 


01
Mar 17

Thinking about Belize

What is Cay Caulker like? Well… here’s an idea of what it is like.

Now, I won’t be doing a ton of fishing on this trip (April), but I’ll have my 10 year old with me for some primo daddy-daughter time, so it will be a good/important trip. Not too expensive to get to and not too expensive when you are there. Hard to beat.

Sea Dreams, which they show in this short video, is where we’ll be staying. You can book this through Yellow Dog.


27
Feb 17

Indifly and Anaa Atoll

I’ve taken a liking to Indifly after hearing about them from a couple different folks. The idea is… well… I’ll leave it up to them to tell you…

Indifly was founded to protect fisheries and provide sustainable livelihoods for indigenous peoples. Our mission is accomplished through the development of community owned fly fishing ecotourism operations that directly benefit from local resource conservation. Once developed, these lodges and guiding operations create environmentally friendly fly fishing destinations that quickly become part of any fly angler’s bucket list. Ultimately, Indifly helps develop a sustainable economy while empowering local inhabitants to conserve the often-imperiled natural resources of many emerging nations.

That sounds… well… awesome. The destination you have probably seen a bit of is Rewa Eco-Lodge in Guyana. You can even book a trip there with Yellow Dog.

While Guyana looks pretty amazing, what caught my eye was work they are doing on Anaa Atoll in French Polynesia.

The projects are not as simple as just finding a place with great fishing and setting up shop. There’s a lot more to it than that… like trying to convince a local population that loves to eat bonefish that maybe bonefish could be a way to bring children back home, to create jobs and chart a sustainable future for the people of Anaa Atoll.

This is a worthwhile project and a nonprofit that hits on all my high points. I’m going to be talking more about them over the coming months.

In the meantime… you can contribute to their success by donating here.

I worked in the nonprofit world for about a decade and it is hard work. You have to recapitalize every year. One of my favorite saying is this… “Ideas are the currency of the nonprofit world… but cash is oxygen.” So… give.

 


23
Feb 17

Unfulfilled Promises

The Bahamas are full of unfulfilled, if not outright broken, promises. An arial view of almost any island will confirm as much. So many folks have blown through and made grand promises of economic security and revolution. Every paved road in a fantasy real estate development tells the tale.

Exuma

Andros

I have to wonder if the International Development Bank sees something similar when it looks at its own investments in the fly fishing community in the Bahamas.

Turns out they invested in a program, to be led by the BFFIA, to “Support the economic empowerment of fly fishing guides.” The project was approved in December of 2014, although very little, if any, of the project seems to have been carried out.

Oddly, this BFFIA project was focused only on Andros, coincidentally the home of BFFIA President and Head Bahamian Snake-Oil Salesman.

Goal:
The general objective of the project is to enhance the skill sets and business acumen of the Andros fly fishing guides and their families while sustaining the island’s natural ecosystem.

There was about $140,000 available for the project and only about $34,500 was reported to be spent.

This project was supposed to include a market survey… ya know… like BTT did, and it appears the BFFIA at least made a go of it, as they inflated the value of the industry from 2x-4x to suit their politics, but the report is not available on the website.

Maybe some of the projects milestones were met, but it sure doesn’t look like it. I don’t have a crystal ball that reveals such details, just the project page, but it sure looks like the IDB’s 2014 investment produced some shite returns in 2017, the year their project was supposed to be wrapped up.

Go to the Bahamas though… just go to one of the places that fought for all anglers.


21
Feb 17

Silver Kings, Season 3, Episode 8, because… Florida.

For your viewing pleasure.

I’d be OK with this.

One of the anglers is Mark Richens. I got to meet him and stayed at his place back on my first FL tarpon trip. His home on Upper Matecumbe Key was once owned by Ted Williams. It is on the market and can be yours for only $4.2M.


31
Jan 17

What to do about the Bahamas

stormy times for the Bahamas

I’m conflicted. I love the Bahamas, but the government of the Bahamas doesn’t love me back and some of its people are downright hostile to how I want to vacation and spend my time and money. So… what am I to do?

The new law has been rolled out and it has been a bit bumpy from what I’ve heard. Have not heard about people being denied, just that some folks who are supposed to issue the licenses don’t seem to have a firm grip on what is going on and you may have to wait a full day or two to actually get the license. I have not heard about enforcement issues yet, but then, I don’t hear everything so I wouldn’t rule it out.

What I do know is the trip I took last February is a trip I can’t take in 2017. I rented a boat and a friend and I fished together, without a guide, for the last three days of the trip. That would be illegal to do now. This fact bums me out.

I’d still be able to go around on foot, or use a kayak or canoe to get around, but that boat is no longer an option. I’d still be able to go and use a guide, either through a lodge or on my own, which does change the price dynamics a bit, but, you still get the Bahamas that way, but I won’t spend a dime on those who fought against us.

There are plenty of operations who have fought the good fight, on behalf of all anglers and for the Bahamian people, and they stand to lose if we just all stay away. Folks like Abaco Lodge, Bairs Lodge, Delphi, East End Lodge, Swain’s Cay and Black Fly, just to name a very few, all fought hard for us and I don’t want them to be hurt for doing what was right.

If you want to go to the Bahamas, there are two places to check out:

  • Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures – They aren’t booking the anti lodges. They’ve been in the game for a long time. They know Prescott, have known him for years, and they were very involved in the fight. If they have a destination in the Bahamas, you can feel better knowing they are on the right side of this thing.
  • Abaco Fly Fishing Guide’s Association – If you want to know if a guide or lodge is pro-angler, ask if they support the AFFGA or the BFFIA. If they support the former, you are golden. If they support the later, well… I won’t fish with them, I know that much.

It isn’t good in the Bahamas right now. I was just reading one lodge owner saying his business was off 70%. People are hurting.

So, don’t stay away if you are going on a lodge trip. But please, spend your dollars wisely.


24
Jan 17

Tutorial on how to ruin a good thing – Belize edition

Honeymooners, Belize, 2012.

Belize is not a big country. It’s 330,000 people, plus or minus, makes it smaller in population than the city I work in, Oakland, which has some 400,000 residents. In terms of economics, the city of Oakland has an income per capita of about $32K, give or take, while the income per capita for the whole nation of Belize is just over $7,000.

So, it is easy to guess some of the things Belize does not have. There are some things Belize has in spades, however. Belize has in Mayan ruins what it lacks in Walmarts. The one big, big thing Belize has is a barrier reef. In fact, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It is massive. It is a treasure. It is probably the lifeblood of the Belizian economy, accounting for about 12% of GDP.

If you were to make of list of activities which could really mess up a barrier reef system, you might put offshore oil drilling high on that list. Cynics would be unsurprised to hear the government of Belize has moved in that direction,  giving the green light to start oil exploration off the coast of Belize.

I mean… why would you do that? That’s not a real question. We all know why. It is money and greed and the power someone(s) might be able to accumulate in a country with a population smaller than the city of Oakland.

Belize… I hope you don’t do it. I hope you build on your assets and don’t lose them under a slick of oily greed and shortsightedness.

Belize… I need you to be Belize.

 


17
Jan 17

Flies (and gear) for Belize

Belize… smallest fish of my 2010 trip.

Belize, 88 days away, means I need to get back at the vice and it means different flies than I’d have in my box otherwise.

On the bonefish front, it means small flies. #6’s and #8’s… yes… #8’s. Not only smaller flies than you are likely to fish in the Bahamas, but also adding a weed-guard is a good idea.

For tarpon… well… I do dig on the bunny flies and I could stand a few more lighter colored tarpon bunnies. I’ll likely ties some #1’s for any tarpon I might come across.

Now… this is a trip with my daughter and while our goal is for her to catch a bonefish on a fly (if we end up at a mud, don’t judge me), it is possible we need to throw some gear for fish as well. I’m never really too sure what spinning gear to bring along for maybe catching a bonefish. That isn’t what I’ve been doing. So, might need to seek out some consultation on that front.

How much fly fishing I get to do is really a great unknown. The #1 priority is to keep the girl happy and have a good vacation. That certainly means I’ll fish less than I would like to fish, but there WILL be some fishing.


14
Jan 17

Five things that make Belize Awesome

91 days until Belize (I’ll be on Caye Caulker, if booking through Yellow Dog, ask for Cameron, he knows his stuff)… and I’m sitting here thinking about the appeal of Belize.

Here are five things that make Belize awesome.

Belizean Bone

  1. Bonefish. They have bonefish. They have lots and lots of bonefish. They are not big bonefish, mostly, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. It reminds me of that creek you go to when you want to do a bit of catching. In Belize you can, more or less, count on doing a bit of bonefish catching.
  2. Tarpon. They have them and in greater numbers and more predictably than you would find in many other Caribbean locations. There are babies and adults and the fish in-between.
  3. English. They speak English in Belize which makes it a great option for those of us who are Spanish-challenged.
  4. Ruins. You can check out the Mayan ruins in Belize, and the ruins are often pretty spectacular. Amazing to think what that culture accomplished without steel tools or Home Depot.
  5. Grand Slam. This is a place where it can happen. It happened for me on my first ever tarpon and my first ever permit. The folks at El Pescador seem to rack up Grand Slams on a fairly regular basis, which is pretty amazing as a routine happening.

Now… the thing I’m leaving off the list, mostly, is a fish many anglers go to Belize specifically to find and that is the permit. Why do I not consider the permit one of the top five bits of awesome? Because permit are jerks, that’s why.

The guides who are well known in Belize are the permit guides and they can find them and they know how to fish them and they have brought much joy to that unique group of black tailed seekers, permit anglers. However, that game is just not my game. Maybe it will happen at some point, but for now I’m happy to leave it to you masochists.

I also didn’t mention the national beer, the Belekin, even if I tend to drink a lot of them when I’m in Belize. There is very little weight difference between a full Belekin and an empty one. The beer itself is one of those warm climate lagers that suits its climate perfectly, even if there is less actual beer in one of those thick, heavy bottles than you might wish there was.

One of the best beers I’ve ever had. A Grand Slam Beer.


13
Jan 17

Comments from Yellow Dog on the Bahamian Regulations

Yellow Dog knows a thing or two about the Bahamas and Ian Davis has been going there longer than I’ve been fly fishing. He knows the lodges and the people and he wrote his thoughts up about the regs and what they will mean for the Bahamas going forward.

You can read these thoughts here.

The regulations are in place now and it looks like licenses are being issued. Don’t know how it is working on some of the smaller islands. If you have experiences, please let me know.

Another DIY GBI bonefish