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

My Hawaiian Bonefish Skunk is Dead

It is a family vacation we are on, but, of course, there is a little fishing in the mix.

We are on Oahu and I managed to convince my wife to part with me one day so I could try and break my Hawaiian bonefish hex. I’ve been to Hawaii a few times and I’ve seen bonefish, but caught none, until yesterday.

I saw my first bonefish ever in Hawaii about 9 years ago. I didn’t catch any.

I spent four days on that same beach a few years later and I got 4 casts in the whole time. I didn’t catch those bonefish.

I went with a guide in Maui last year. There are bones there, but I didn’t catch any.

I had always heard the fish are big, but there are few of them and it isn’t unusual to get blanked. All that was in line with my past experiences.

This year on our family vacation I went out with Kenny from Hawaii on the Fly. He has a modern flats skiff, is from Florida originally and has been guiding out here for several years. He found, almost immediately, one of these elusive Hawaiian bones, known as o’io locally. He then found another, and another and another and… hey, wait a second… these things are all over the place!

He warned me these fish are particular. You have to lead them by 9 feet. Not 6 feet. Not 3 feet. And dear god not on their heads. I can tell you this is almost entirely true. They knew the difference between 9 and 6 feet and were out of there if a cast was anywhere near them. I made a LOT of casts too near the fish. Kenny can tell you.

I caught my first o’io and my second. I ended up hooking 7 and had maybe 40 legit shots out of the 200+ bonefish I saw on the day.

I had no idea you could see so many bones in Hawaii in a day.

While you can find them, you are not likely to catch them. Fly selection was very different from what I’d normally cast. In fact, I doubt a single fly out of my 200+ would have been appropriate. They just act differently. Presentations that would have gotten eats in Abaco or Andros freaked these fish out.

They make me think of the bonefish I saw at Crab’n Bay in Grand Bahama. An easily driven to and waded flat, the flat is full of bones, but they are epic in their toughness and that has everything to do with the same bonefish usually returning to feed on the same flats. These fish are trained. They are weary. They are wise to us all… unless you break out some top level angling.

It was windy, really windy (Hawaii is kind of known for that), but the shots were fairly close (some at redfish distances). The wind ended up being way less of an issue than I thought it would be.

Bonus was seeing about a 40 pound GT and a not-small milkfish, two fish I had not seen before (no casts made at either).

It was a great day on the water. Kenny was easy to spend time with. He’s not a yeller. He’s easy with conversation. He worked hard and he put me on fish after fish after fish (and didn’t complain when I broke off four of his flies on fish).

I have a whole new appreciation for Hawaiian bonefish. Thanks Kenny.

To book go to Hawaii on the Fly. (No promotional exchange for this post, I paid full fair, and would again.)

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

Ugh… Cuba Edition


Trump getting ready to make it harder for Americans to go to Cuba… because that makes sense.

Looks like he won’t get rid of all the gains we’ve made, but Trump is set to make it more difficult for Americans to travel to Cuba and to do anything when they get there.

This is a policy straight out of the cold war that makes as much sense as rompers or vegan soul food. It doesn’t make practical sense.

I mean… come on.

Here are a few things our President has done to screw up fly fishing in his short time in office. 


May 17

Home Waters – Bay Area Style

It wasn’t too long ago I was lamenting the fact there were no fish in the SF Bay Area to throw a fly at. That “fact” turned out to be pretty much wrong. See… there ARE fish to cast a fly at in the Bay (as some of you rightly pointed out).

Stripers are my new trout. The SF Bay is becoming my new Upper Sacramento River. This is my new home water.

I looked on the tide chart and then I came up with a bit of brilliance. I PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR. You know… the Google Calendar that runs my (and maybe your?) life.

At the appointed time I found myself free to leave the house, with my fishing gear, and headed out to fish.

I’m going to have to do that again.

This Bay striper fishing is not full of crashing bait and running down.. well… stripers. You go out and you put in your casts, at the appropriate tide, and you see what happens. It is a little like swinging for steelhead (in this case, most like swinging for half-pounders).

I’m loving having a bit of water that I’m getting to know… a bit of home water. It isn’t full of bonefish and tarpon, but it’s not empty either.

Thanks stripers.

Thanks for playing.

May 17

Speaking of… Guadeloupe!

Seems like they had fun, anyway.

May 17

What happens when an exploratory trip doesn’t work out?

Exploratory trips sound awesome. Wouldn’t you want to be one of those guys who were first to break the story on river tarpon or the first groups to run down the man in Baja? Of course.

But… for every Costa Rican river full of 100 pound tarpon there is probably a baking hot beach totally barren of target species.

That seems to be what played out in this film. A team goes in search of bonefish in the Gulf of Aden, found in the totally pirate free waters between Yemen and Somalia.

The movie makes one long for, well, not being there. It looks hot and the fishing looks slow. The water off the beaches gets deep quickly and while there are a couple of bonefish caught, you have to think we saw both of them in the film (as in, it seems they only caught two bonefish). There was a decent unicorn fish caught and something in a deeper cut, but mostly… mostly it just looked hot. I can feel the ball sweat just watching this.

Reminds me of hearing about an exploratory trip my friend Shane took to a South Pacific atoll. The fishing was fantastic, part of the time. The rest of the time the water was too hot and the bonefish left the lagoon, leaving precious little to go after with a fly rod. It is a long way to go to maybe find fish.

Turns out it isn’t always so bad. Here’s a video from the same waters in 2013 claiming to be the first fly caught bones on the island. Also, check out the fish at 2:13… what is that??

This trip looks way more interesting.

Such is the nature of exploration though, right? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes those same results happen on the same waters on different days.

May 17

There is a lot of water out there – 9 degrees south

Yeah… this looks pretty frigging awesome.

May 17

Those that don’t get it will likely continue not to get it

Thanks Geneva… you continue to illustrate so many points so effectively.

This is the sort of crap that gets spouted back when you make a case against the fly fishing regs put forward by the PLP and BFFIA (Gray and Smith). Let’s delve in, shall we?

  • you can see firsthand, them attempting to have reversed the flyfishing legislation that was currently passed” – The regulations never went for a vote in the full Parliament and it is easy to see why. They would have lost. So, they cut some inside deals to get it through the Cabinet without it having to get a full airing… so, no, it wasn’t passed, it was weaseled through in the least transparent way possible.
  • afforded Bahamians rights and control of an industry in their best interest and enjoyment for Locals and Foreigners – No, the regulations intended to give control of the industry only to a few Bahamian, cut out large swaths of Bahamians and directly attacked the interests and wishes of foreign anglers (also known as the folks who, with their tourist dollars are responsible for their being a fly fishing tourist economy).
  • DO WE HAVE A SAY IN THEIR FLYFISHING LAWS? CAN WE GO IN ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY AND DO AS WE WANT? – If our laws were enacted specifically to punish Bahamian tourists, I’d expect you to have a say. If the fly fishing economy was dependent on Bahamian tourists you’d be damn sure we’d listen to input from Bahamian tourists. Also… you can come to Florida or California or Montana and, with a license, you can fish any bit of public water you want according to the regulations, which are generally set on scientific grounds. There are very, very few restrictions and no rules about training or licensing by non-governmental entities like the BFFIA.
  • That being said we must fight to ensure that the Flyfishing Legislation remains. Let your Members of Parliament, their Generals and others know that “Hell NO! It’s the People Time and the legislation is in our best interest and NOT to be touched!” – This is funny because this whole thing was rammed through PLP channels to the exclusion of pretty much any other viewpoint and it was a disaster. It alienated fly fishing tourists. It split the Bahamian fly fishing community down the middle. It was a disaster of the first order… in premise and in execution. It was also so totally partisan that you’d have to expect it to get dropped immediately with a change in leadership. Every time Gray sat in a meeting he made an enemy.

And so here are the lessons for the FNM when it comes to regulating the fly fishing industry.

  • Listen – Listen to everyone, even folks like good ole’ Prescott and his lady friend Geneva. It never felt like Gray and Prescott listened to anyone. They didn’t adopt any of the good ideas brought forward by the guides from Abaco, or the conservation leaders at the BTT or folks like Perk Perkins at Orvis. They paid lip service to listening and to collaboration and the end product was, most people would agree, a steaming pile of crap.
  • Execute in a non-partisan way – If you want regulations to last, they need to pass the smell test and be seen as not FNM or PLP regulations. Make it work. You have 5 years to make it work. Get the training done through Tourism, if you need it. Get guide licensing done, if you need it, through an independent and non-partisan entity.
  • Be clear about your aims and don’t deceive – A huge problem with the BFFIA’s approach was that there were a LOT of contradictory messages put out there. The first draft directly attacked foreign owned lodges and there were many elements of drafts that went after DIY anglers, all while being denied despite being there in black and white and being mentioned in side conversations all over the Bahamas. It all led to a real feeling that these guys couldn’t be trusted. At one point it was allll about conservation, except it never really was ever about conservation. It was always about power and economics and about control and also always in the most dodgy of ways. So… be trustworthy. Be better than what we witnessed over the past couple years.
  • There are some good ideas – Very, very few people are opposed to a license fee. It just needs to be easy to get. A guy coming in on a Friday into Marsh Harbor has a hard time getting a license when the Administrator’s office closes at 1:00 and won’t be open until Monday. Is that guy supposed to not fish over the weekend? Of course not. So, take the good parts and make them work. A fund for conservation? Great. Just don’t have the money go to Prescott’s sham of a nonprofit. Limits on mother-ship operations? 95% of anglers would get behind that, but don’t make it illegal for a guy to take out his buddy when he’s paid to get his boat in the country, bought a home and put tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Bahamian economy.

I look forward to seeing where things go. I’m optimistic, which is something I haven’t been able to say about the Bahamas for a couple years.


May 17

And just like that… it’s gone.

Photo by Cameron Miller down at Andros South.

Man… after all that BS, it looks like the new regulations will just go away. Poof. Like Keyser Soze.

I am the Chairman of the Central & South Abaco branch of the Free National Movement. During the campaign, our candidate (and now Member of Parliament) James Albury made it clear that one of our first priorities would be to remove these wretched regulations. If there need to be regulations, they will be put into place after proper consultations with all members of the Bonefishing industry and not in any great haste. But we will not accept the new government waiting to remove the existing ones. With Gray gone, we will be having early conversations with the new Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Of that you can be most assured.

What a crazy turn of events. Prescott Smith comes to power in the BFFIA with some PLP help/money, makes this crazy scheme his number one priority, sews discord all over the fly fishing community, alienates thousands of anglers from around the world and then the PLP get absolutely trounced in elections and the new govt will just scrap the whole thing.

This is certainly a good turn of events for the Bahamas. Just have to hope that the anglers return and the animosity gets paved over (just not in a “Indian burial ground” kind of way).

I don’t know when things will officially be rescinded, but it seems like it will happen soon.

I think almost all of us were in favor of a license fee so long as it actually went towards preserving the resources and not into some political account or back pocket. So, I hope the license is revived in a way that is a positive for the fishery.

It seems like there is an opening here to do some positive things, for anglers, for Bahamians and for the fishery.

I’m optimistic.