May 17

Joan Wulff honored by BTT

When I’m trying to explain casting in the salt to someone I often end up mentioning Joan Wulff. Most folks who are new to the salt want to muscle their cast into the wind. All they need is more brute strength, right? More cowbell.

But casting in the salt, in a 15 mile an hour wind, isn’t about muscle, it is about the proper application of power. I mention Joan Wulff, who, for all her badassery, I could surely take in an arm wrestling match. I’m stronger than she is, but she can out-cast me. Why is that?

It is about mechanics.

Joan Wulff has been an inspirational figure in the world of fly fishing. Now 90 years old, she’s been a teacher, an author or a conservationist for more years than I’ve been alive.

She was recently honored at the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s annual New York dinner. Pretty awesome. 

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.

May 17

Great news for the Bahamas… the PLP is out!


Ah… politics. Bahamian politics, to be exact.

National elections were held in the Bahamas on Wednesday and the results are in. It was a landslide for the FNM. That means the PLP is out, and with them will be Minister Gray and the influence of Prescott Smith. The people of the Bahamas have spoken and it turns out, they don’t much care for those guys either.

Fantastic news.

Now… what will this mean for the Bahamian fishing regulations? I don’t rightly know. One thing I’d guess at would be the Abaco Fly Fishing Guide Association would, at the very least, get equal footing to the BFFIA and the special status of Prescott Smith will come to an end, as he was a PLP flunky from start to finish anyway. Prescott recently got a marina deal in Andros, so maybe he is done trying to ruin the entire Bahamian fly fishing economy and will, instead, run that little marina into the ground.

The license, in and of itself, isn’t a bad idea. So maybe an administration who would be interested in making it work might get an on-line system set up.

I might also expect the provisions of the legislation which were so punitive for second home-owners and non-Bahamian boat owners might also be ditched.

Regulations forcing a Bahamian to buy a license to bonefish are something I’d expect to go away.

But… who knows? We’ll have to watch this new administration and see what their plans are. With unemployment reported at 17% or so, and Baha Mar billions in the hole, they have some bigger fish to fry. When we get indications on which way things are going, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Hooray for Democracy!

May 17


Interesting, fun, looking project coming out of Guadeloupe. Here’s the trailer.

May 17

What I learned about fishing for Peacocks

Just a fun, fun fish to catch on a fly rod.

Southern Florida has a lot to offer, even to the business traveler on foot. Here’s what I learned about fishing for Peacocks around Ft. Lauderdale and Miami from just 4 short sessions.

  1. When you get to the pond/lake/canal you will see fish boiling out in the middle of wherever you are. Don’t cast at those. That’s not what you are looking for. Most (?) of those are not your targets. It seems VERY intuitive to cast at the boils, but they are false flags.
  2. The peacocks are along the shores. Don’t cast 90 degrees from the shoreline. Cast along the shoreline. Most of these places have drop-offs and shelves. That’s where the fish are.
  3. The strip that worked for me was a fast, fleeing baitfish type strip that slowed or even stopped at the shore-side of the drop-off.
  4. Fly selection is weighted, lead eye, baitfish type pattern. I had both clouser style and double bunny type flies work.
  5. Sometimes, you don’t even need to cast. You can, in essence, dab for peacocks and chiclids. If you spot them, you can just annoy them with your fly until they eat. I caught fish both doing that and casting like I suggest in #2.

Now, this is from just a few days and not that many fish. So, there may be exceptions to this and some of it may be flat-out wrong, but this was my experience and I bet this would work for you.

Bring that rod along.

May 17

Southern Florida… pretty darn fun

I had a conference to work in Ft. Lauderdale this last week and I packed just about as much fishing in as possible.

I got in late on Tuesday, set up my booth on Wednesday morning and then went fishing. I fished with Dr. John, a doc I have known for a couple years now who was also at the conference. We went out that Wed., looking for water, finding some, but more “No Fishing” signs than we really cared for.

I worked Wed. evening, manning the booth for a couple hours, talking specialized genetic testing for aHUS and ADAMTS-13 activity testing because that’s what I do in my job for the most part.

Thursday morning I fished with Dr. John again. That produced my first peacock bass. I went 1/2 and felt like I was starting to figure out where the fish were and how to present the fly (because the first few attempts were, basically, totally wrong).

On the board

After a couple hours of fishing I manned my booth from 10 AM to 8 PM and then, I went fishing. That was unproductive.

Friday morning I went out solo and managed two peacocks and one Mayan Chiclid (my first of that species), which was pretty. I worked from 10 to 4:30 in the booth and then took it down and got it sent back home.

My third Peacock of the trip.

Friday night Dr. John and I headed down to Biscayne Bay to fish with Capt. Patrick, trying to find some tarpon at night. We did see tarpon, we just didn’t catch any. I picked up one small jack, one of the many busting bait all around us when we pulled up. We had one good tarpon rolling just down current of the skiff which kept us on the water, throwing casts in vain until about 1:00 AM.

The weather had been rough that day and Patrick even suggested maybe we skip the trip, but Dr. John and I didn’t have anything better to do, so we went out anyway. We managed to hide a bit from the wind and it eventually calmed down to reasonable levels. We had fish to throw at and we were very well positioned. As I know all too well, Tarpon fishing in Florida is never a certainty. We were both very happy to be out on the water and glad we connected with Capt. Patrick. It was a good way to spend the evening. If I’m out there again, I’ll try to connect with him again.

Back up to Ft. Lauderdale. Got into bed about 2 with a 5:30 AM alarm set. Made the drive back down to Miami to fish with David, a fairly recent transplant, who showed me some of his water. That water produced a peacock and a chiclid and then I was off to the airport, on my way back West.

A Mayan on David’s water

Last fish of the trip.

What a trip.

This WASN’T a fishing trip. This was a work trip. I have been traveling more, but not fishing on almost any of those trips. This one provided some opportunities and I took full advantage. Just hoping to see more conferences in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale!

Thanks to Thomas Albury for some tips, and David for showing me some water and to Capt. Patrick for putting us in fish catching position.

Southern Florida, you get my blood pumping a little faster with your fishing. Thanks for being you.