02
Mar 18

Sounds of the Bahamas

Thinking about heading to East End Lodge this summer and I started thinking about the sounds I associate with the Bahamas. If you close your eyes you can likely hear these sounds.

Your shirt flapping like a flag in a strong wind. flap flap flap flap flap

The soft sound of water slapping on the side of the skiff.

Wind through the mangroves.

The sound of dominos slapping down on a rickety table.

Potcakes barking as you drive by.

Uncatchable dialogue as one Bahamian speaks to another, which seems a totally foreign language which is simply turned off when the conversation is directed at you.

The sound of line going through the guides.

The soft, urgent tones of the guide pointing at a fish you can’t see.

 

Can you hear it?


28
Feb 18

Fishing Rules

I was told you fish for these fish at high tide. No point in heading out at low tide and low tide here can be very, very low. The channel, at low tide, is constricted down to something you could skip a rock across. Hard to know just how deep the channel is when it is low like this. I’ve never seen a boat use the channel at this tide, but I suppose that is its purpose.

I wanted to fish at least once a month and this was, by all accounting, the last day of the month. I ducked out of work just a little bit early and raced home. There, I got some meat out to thaw and grabbed by gear and then off to the water.

The tide was as far out as it gets. The water was a long way down. But… the 28th… last chance.

I figured I’d fast about for 30 minutes or so and then I’d head back in time to make dinner.

Funny what you see out there at such low tide. In the water were sponge like plants, bright red. I’ve never seen those before.

low low low tide

I set about the job of blind casting for California stripers. Cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve.

Then, a most unexpected thing happened. There was a grab. I missed it. I cast again and there was another grab and I was tight to a fish. Was it a halibut waiting for more water to get back up on the mud flat? Was it one of the jack smelt I sometimes catch?

No.

It was a striper.

low tide striper

I wasn’t supposed to be able to catch stripers at low tide. I probably wasn’t supposed to catch stripers in February, or on the cusp of a cold front. But… I did.

The thing I knew just before that fish was that low tide was not the right tide (and that February was not the right month). Funny… now I know something else, which is probably also wrong in one or more of a hundred ways.

That’s what I love about fishing. Being wrong and finding out that I was wrong by catching a fish.

Trial and error.

Error and fish.

 


27
Feb 18

A return to the Bahamas… on the books in 2018

I’m going back. I’m going back to the Bahamas in 2018… July.

I’m going to spend a few days at the East End Lodge, very close to the waters where I caught my first bonefish. This is the place I’ve spent the most time of any one place in the Caribbean. This is a place I kind of love a bit and want to know better.

I’m excited to be going back. I’m excited to stand in those waters again and look for something moving toward me there in the shimmering shadows of currents and water.

It is going to be a very, very fine year.

Grand Bahama… I’ll see you soon.

A Grand Bahama Bone


25
Feb 18

Always love the fly fishing show

Camille and my daughter at the Fly Fishing Show

I guess they are bigger out in NJ and the one in Atlanta? Maybe others too? We have one out here in Pleasanton, not too far away from where I call home. I have been to that show more often than not over the past decade. I have worked that show a few times… once for BTT, twice for Friends of the River, maybe once for Clearwater, back when it was Clearwater House.

I love the show. I see old friends and seem to have interesting conversations every year. I don’t really go to buy anything and I didn’t eve cast a rod this year (fewer and fewer ron makers seem to be showing up). But there are still lots of people I like at the show, people I generally only see there.

This year I brought my 11 year old daughter and she didn’t want to leave. I heard her on the phone with a friend later say “I spent the day at a fly fishing show… it was actually pretty fun.”

I’m going to put that in the parenting win column.

I got to introduce my daughter to Camille Egdorf, of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures and from the movie Providence. It was funny because my daughter kind of fan-girled her, although I’m not sure she knew who she was. I made her watch Providence when we got home. Now she knows.

 


21
Feb 18

Looking back and forward… Belize

I was recently looking through the blog for something about my trip to Belize last year and I was surprised that I had written so little about my time on Caye Caulker. It was a great trip, although maybe it could have been better from a fly-fishing perspective… I only had one day to really fish and that was the worst weather of the week, but the trip… the trip was fantastic.

It was so good, so perfect, even with all the imperfections, that we are doing it again this year. Indeed, that trip stands every chance of being my first saltwater trip of the year (not counting wading for stripers here in the SF Bay).

There certainly was good fishing. I caught bonefish almost at will in the early morning and every night from the dock at Sea Dreams. On my one day of fly fishing I caught my best snook and my first on a popper. That was fun.

What really made the trip special was my companion on the trip… my then 10 year old daughter. This was a daddy-daughter trip. She stays with her mom and hour away about, oh, 63% of the time, so we have to make the most of our time together and this trip was a big part of that last year.

We snorkled, we threw bait for snappers, we hung out around Caye Caulker. Basically, we had a great time. My daughter lost her flip flops on the first day and we didn’t find out until we were leaving because she didn’t need to put shoes on pretty much the entire time. That pretty much summed up the trip.

I’ve had better fishing in Belize. I’ve had much better fishing in lots of places, but fishing wasn’t really the point of that trip. I didn’t fish enough to really have an opinion about the quality of the fishing anyway. I’m positive the fishing is great when you aren’t in a thunderstorm.

I usually hear someone say “Oh, it is just about getting out, I don’t mind if I catch anything” and I think someone is lying through their teeth, but, ya know… it kind of was just about getting out there, with my girl, and not caring about much else.

It was, in so many ways, perfect.

Prime example… the snorkeling. Now… I heard someone say the snorkeling is no good if you are going to the places everyone else goes and we certainly went to the places everyone else goes. I can, 100% tell you that is bullshit. The snorkeling was amazing. We saw a manatee (I had no idea they were in Belize), we saw permit, a moray eel, huge schools of fish, cudas, sharks, rays, bright corals, sea turtles, jacks… I loved it… she loved it too and the day was one I’ll cherish for a long, long time.

I thought she had been snorkeling with her mom, but no, she hadn’t. That meant her first snorkeling trip was with me, in Belize, on a sailboat for a full day. The sail back they let her steer the boat. As the sun was getting low in the horizon she stood there, tiller in her hand, the lighting perfect and I took the picture below, pretty much sure at that moment I was the best parent on the planet… even if just for that moment.

One of the highlights from Spring Break 2017.

I’m looking for more of these kinds of moments this year when we go back.

I can’t wait.

This year I’ll write more about it.


17
Feb 18

Andros, all of it

A really interesting video about Andros… from the crabs to the sponges to the fisheries. Worth a watch, even if PS does make a couple brief appearances.


12
Feb 18

King, Ansil Saunders and Bimini

A cool story, if you haven’t heard it already, about Dr. King’s trip to Bimini, going out with guide Ansil Saunders.

Check it out here.

I had not heard about the bust of Dr. King out there in the mangroves. That’s kind of cool, I think.


07
Feb 18

Guys… come on…

I read this article by Amanda Monthei and cringed.

I’ve interviewed many women here at Bonefish on the Brain over the years and when I do I make a point of not asking the “As a woman…” question. These are not “female anglers,” they are anglers, many/most of more skill and wider traveled than myself. Seems kind of silly to ask the “As a woman…” question, but maybe there is one to ask. Maybe I should be asking “As a woman, how do you deal with all the bullshit from the troglodyte men who participate in this industry?”

Let’s be better people, mkay?


29
Jan 18

#OneCoast and Costa

Well… Costa… good stuff.

I recommend you watch and support their efforts. Looking forward to seeing you again, Keys… looking forward to it.

Go on… book a trip in the Keys.


11
Jan 18

Cliche

The Cliche of Gin

The water, most days, in most of the places I love being is gin clear.

It is as clear as water, but you just can’t say that, right? It’s like you aren’t even trying.

It is as clear as stale 7-Up.

It is as clear as simple arithmetic.

It is as clear as a bag of IV solution

which is usually saline, which makes sense.

It is as clear as the nose on my face.

It is at clear as the rumbling, booming Dolby hi-def deafening audio at the movie theatre.

It is as clear as a clear day.

It is as clear as a dive in the box.

It is clear as clear.

That’s how the water is in the places I love on a good day when the wind isn’t up too much and there’s no churn from a cold front.

It is only the part in the middle that is clear.

The surface has ripples and currents and is seldom still.

The bottom is a jumble of refracted light and swaying grasses which confuse and trick the eye.

But the medium in the middle, the domain of the fish, it is clear as gin.

That is a picture to put a smile on your face, isn’t it? (photo by Peter Viau, originally from this post about South Andros).