26
Feb 16

A perfect moment, Abaco style

On our first day of DIY on Big Huge Bonefish Flat the wind was up. Way up. The water off the flats was full of good size swells and the lee we found didn’t have the fish we were looking for. Someone forgot to tell the wind it was supposed to be coming from North East, not East. Silly wind.

We saw fish as soon as we got to the flat. Big fish. Bigger than seemed likely, really. Moving away. Moving 70 feet away in a 20-25 mph blow. This was going to be hard.

We walked up the flat toward the creek system. It was a long, slow walk. There were no targets to cast at.

The flat looked like a place bonefish would be and there were plenty of signs they had been there recently. That was promising, but still, they remained elusive.

In the creek, and close to the end of what would seem like a good college try of finding fish here I actually found some. Two, to be exact. These were nice fish, backs out of the water on the extreme edge of the tide who had not gotten the “fish leave the flat on the outgoing tide.” They were going in and I was following them.

I didn’t think I’d get a shot. They were going in, I was behind them and I never have been a fan of the “over the top and back toward the fish” presentation. Fish, generally, dislike that… a lot.

Then, they turned and were now heading back toward me, backs still out of the water in about 4″ of outgoing tide at about 35-40 feet.

I put the cast in ahead of the fish and waited. I twitched the fly as the fish swam almost on top of it. It pounced, pinning the fly to the mud. I striped slowly, only to feel the fly pull free, gently, of the fish’s grasp. The fish, determined to eat that damn shrimp, spun in circles looking for the prey. I twitched the fly again, but he didn’t see it. The fly was traveling further from the fish at this point and he was unlikely to pick it up again.

I picked up and re-cast closer to the fish. Again, he pounced with a sudden charge and then stillness meaning the fly was being crushed in the mouth of this bone. I strip set and the fish exploded.

Two long runs confirmed this as a 2X backing fish. Aaron actually thought I had lost the first fish and was landing a second, but it was all one fight and one very nice bonefish.

When landed the fish looked huge, although the measurements I got put the fish more toward 7 pounds than the 8 I first thought. It was my second largest bonefish ever, but the way it was hooked, the closeness, the intimacy I had in the whole affair, makes it one of my favorite bones of all time.

Purdy.

Purdy.

It was a perfect moment.

It was the only fish we caught between us all day and it was worth it.


24
Jan 16

The plan is coming together

The destination is Abaco. The dates are February. The quarry is bonefish. My travel companion is Aaron.

We are getting a handle on where we are going to be when and I’m getting excited.

I’m looking forward to getting a little more time at Abaco Lodge, to meeting Oliver White in person, and to exploring more of the Island (which looks more and more interesting the longer I look).

I know which rods I’m bringing and I’m going through my flies, looking at what I might need to tie up for the trip.

Is there anything better than having a trip on the books to look forward to?


16
Jan 16

It is on!

I have a trip on the books and it is right quick.

I’ll be returning to Abaco here in just about a month, spending a couple of days at Abaco Lodge and then trying to find some of my own fish and I’ll be accompanied by friend and political opposite Aaron, who was one of the anglers I brought to Long Island a couple years ago.

I’m looking forward to being back in the Bahamas and to get to know Abaco a little bit more. We had such a fast and busy first meeting, this one should be a little more relaxed.

Now down to business… my fly tying desk has not been unpacked and is still in the garage. That could be a problem. I have a few hundred flies I should be tying right about now!

Tickets purchased and fees paid. I’m going to Abaco.

Tickets purchased. That means it is real.

Tickets purchased. That means it is real.


15
Apr 15

Treasure Cay, Abaco – Family Vacation Spot

I now want a golf cart. I want to drive around Alameda in one. That’s how you get around Treasure Cay on Abaco. It isn’t a big place and maybe you could walk, but why would you when you have one of these?

The local ride for the week.

The local ride for the week.

Treasure Cay is located about 45 minutes or so from Marsh Harbour. It has it’s own airport, but probably you’ll fly into Marsh Harbour as there are more options on flights.

We flew direct from Ft. Lauderdale via Silver Airlines. Silver is, not to be too blunt, but a horrible airline flying out of FLL. They seemed to have no idea what was happening with flights heading anywhere and there were lots of delays. The problem seems to be FLL, as we had no issue heading out of Marsh Harbour at all. I’ve heard some real horror stories about folks headed to Abaco via Silver, so, if you have other carrier options, take them.

Treasure Cay itself is a fairly small settlement, on the East side of Abaco. There aren’t any big resorts there, but there are several smaller hotel operations and many private condos to rent. When we were looking for a family vacation spot we picked Treasure Cay for the following reasons:

  • Three bedroom condo meant everyone had their own room (Wife and I, my daughter and my dad… our son was in a pack and play in the big closet).
  • Nice beach. Didn’t have to drive anywhere to have a nice beach. It was right out in front.
  • Pool + Pool Bar. Drinks available at the pool.
  • Places to eat nearby. There was a little outdoor restaurant AT the pool, so we had that covered.

Things we found out that we liked about Treasure Cay once we got there:

  • The place came with a golf cart and that is the way most people got around. Made it kind of fun to go and pick up breakfast or go out to dinner or go anywhere. I invented reasons to need to drive that thing around.
  • There were a couple of bonefish flats I could get to in the golf cart.
  • There is a little bakery that had some good fresh bread and cinnamon rolls every morning.
  • There were lots of families and lots of kids around so my daughter pretty consistently had other kids to play with.
  • I caught a few jacks casting from the shore with a spinning rig.
Happy Wife... you know the rest.

Happy Wife… you know the rest.

Things we didn’t too much care for:

  • Airfare. Holy wallet buster. We picked the Bahamas Beach Club in Abaco because it was about $1,500 less than a place in Playa del Carmen in MX, but when we went to book tickets to get there we found the savings in the lodging was destroyed by the cost of air fare. Ours cost about $1,200 a ticket, which was… um… tough to swallow.
  • Cost of food. On the last night we went to a restaurant that was only open Fri-Sun. There we ordered a pizza for my daughter and son. That pizza was $25 and came on the cardboard circle it had been sitting on in the frozen pizza box they pulled it from. Every meal was $100 or more with “Pasta Night” being about $250 for 4 of us. A hamburger was $18, cracked conch $25. It was just pricey. You have to be prepared for that. The food was pretty good at the places we ate, it was just expensive and, after a while, not that varied.

In terms of a family-friendly place for a vacation, I kind of loved it. It wasn’t too built up. It wasn’t the Atlantis. It wasn’t too crowded. We had plenty to do and plenty more we could have done (hard with a 15 month old to really get after seeing the sights when he needs a couple of naps). The beach would have been a lot more enjoyable too if my son hadn’t been intent on trying to drown himself if left unsupervised for more than 5-10 seconds. He’ll grow, though, and by the time we plan our next Caribbean trip he shouldn’t be hellbent on throwing himself in the water.

The girl had a good time.

The girl had a good time.

There were a lot of fishing options too. I took my daughter out for a half-day down to Cherokee Sound and that was fun. It was a bit far though and I’d probably opt for a closer fishing trip if we head back. You can rent a boat in Treasure Cay, with a captain, and go out and soak bait and catch all sorts of stuff. I’d look at doing that in the future. There were a couple of places to soak bait off docks in Treasure Cay as well and there are even a couple/three tarpon living in the Marina.

Heading out in the Marls

Heading out in the Marls

Just a good time.

Just a good time.

My dad went out birding and saw a few “lifers.” We also had a day of bonefishing out of Abaco Lodge, which was fantastic.

From the fishing, to the digs to the vibe of the place, I’m kind of sold on Treasure Cay. I hope to get back. We’ll see.

 

 


13
Apr 15

The threat to Abaco

It is easy to see that a lot of Abaco is for sale. There are enough new developments being dreamed up, one has to hope that half of them (at least) fail or the island is going to lose some real character.

Right at Treasure Cay you can see what some particularly bad development looks like. There is a creek right there, what used to be a good bonefish flat. Someone decided it would be a good place for a bonefishing lodge. So, what did they do? They dredged a path through the bonefish flat to make a way for the bonefish skiffs to get in and out the creek.

Well... isn't that ugly!?

Well… isn’t that ugly!?

From what I heard the dredging was not permitted, but since the company doing the destruction belongs to a Bahamian senator, no one is going to stop it.

Here is some more about what is going on.

This isn’t the only example. Another flat I looked at had a nice paved road and a dredged dock and path for boats to get out into deeper water and the whole things sits abandoned.

It is easier to dream up these sorts of projects than it is to do it well and there seems to be some pretty shoddy development going on in Abaco, which is a shame. Abaco is a fantastic bonefish fishery. It is beautiful, vast and charming. I sure hope things are encouraged to go in a more sustainable direction. It makes little sense to destroy the thing you are trying to showcase.


10
Apr 15

Girl Power in Abaco

On Thursday my daughter (8) and I met up with guide Dana Lowe to go fish for a half-day down in Cherokee Sound.

The girl liked this part.

The girl liked this part.

Dana is the only female guide in all of the Bahamas. She guides for Delphi, Abaco Lodge and independently. Dana is soft spoken and she knows her home waters very well. She picked us up in Marsh Harbour and brought us down to Cherokee where we got on her skiff and were quickly on the water.

Now, this trip was different from any other bonefishing trip I’ve taken in that we used… get ready for it… bait. Yup… in the interests of making this something my daughter could actually do, we used bait, specifically conch. I had never bait fished for bonefish before, so that was a first.

I used to think I’d be a purist. I don’t think that anymore. The right tool for the right job. For the 8 year old in the salt, the right tool was not the 8 weight.

It worked. The girl got to reel in a couple of bonefish, her first and second.

The girl's first bonefish.

The girl’s first bonefish, and my finger.

The half-day was varied and enjoyable. We caught two bones, some mojarra, a nurse shark, a cuda and some snapper. We saw three blue holes, a bunch of eagle rays and my daughter got to hold one of those huge sea stars.

The nurse

The nurse

The zen of it all.

The zen of it all.

A cuda, trolled, the only fly caught fish of the trip.

A cuda, trolled, the only fly caught fish of the trip.

It was a great time. Thanks for a good day Dana!


01
Apr 15

Abaco Vice

It seems in years past, earlier years, as a slightly younger man, my trips would loom like mountains in front of me casting long shadows and dominating the landscape. I’d feel their pull like black holes, like the clink, clink, clink of the roller-coaster as you approach the top and are about to dive off the other side.

Now, a bit later in life, with one and sometimes two kids and a physician wife and my own pretty interesting job, my trips are almost like a surprise party, or a mugging, but a good mugging, one where your assailant gives you a hug and a crisp five dollar bill and then moves along. I don’t see them coming until they are right there, right next to me. I’m almost shocked to see them, a little confused, happy, for sure, but wondering if I have enough clean underwear for the trip.

So it is with Abaco. I leave in TWO DAYS. I have no idea what my leader situation is. I haven’t unpacked my rod from the last trip, so I’ll just leave it like it is. And flies… I have almost no idea what I need, except I’m sure I need something and I had better get to work.

That means I busted out the vice and finally unpacked my fly tying supplies and had to sit down and get after it a bit.

I like tying. It is just about the only creative thing I do, beyond maybe cooking dinner every night. I like it, but when I need to tie a bunch of flies, I still find myself procrastinating a bit.

I’m out of diamond braid… so, that’s not ideal, as just about every fly I tie uses some. I got around that by just using crystal flash, which looks good, but isn’t as durable. Still… when in a pinch, it works. I never have the exact size of bead eye I want. They are either a bit too big or a bit too small. What works on a #6 is a little dinky for the #4, but what works on the #2 is a little too big for the #4. Doesn’t help that I’ve found a wide variation in what some suppliers call a small, medium or large. I can’t seem to get it right, but I’ll make due.

So, I have been tying. It does come back, but I find I have to relearn a couple of mistakes at the beginning before I settle into a groove.

Abaco is coming. I’m not sure if I’ll be totally ready, but I’ll be mostly ready and I’ll enjoy the bejezus out of the trip because I’ll be in the Bahamas and bonefish will be nearby, even if I don’t get to fish every day.

Can’t wait.

That should work.

That should work.

And one more.

Yup. That'll do.

Yup. That’ll do.


18
Mar 15

A day at Abaco Lodge

Part of the general “looking forward to things” is a day of fishing out of Abaco Lodge. I remember seeing Abaco Lodge back on the early episodes of Pirates of the Flats, before they had to switch networks and names to Buccaneers and Bones.

Always has had my imagination. And soon, I’ll see for myself.

I’ll be in Treasure Cay April 3-11. I’ll be the tall, handsome guy with the adorable children and beautiful wife with a grin on my face and as little skin showing to the tropical sun as possible.


15
Mar 15

Upon Realizing I’ll be in the Bahamas in Three Weeks

I just counted it up and realized I’ll be in Abaco in three weeks. This has gotten me a little riled up as I have much to do before we depart. Here are some of the various tasks which I will be hoping to check off over the next three weeks.

  • Find all the chargers for all the cameras. That’s my DSLR, the GoPro, the Nikon waterproof camera, my daughter’s waterproof camera and the Countour camera, which I also have to find.
  • Sunscreen… lots of sun screen.
  • Flies… I have sadly neglected my tying desk since the move. I’m guessing I have the right hooks… do I have the right chain eyes? I need about a dozen spawning shrimp and maybe 20 or 30 other patterns.
  • Get my daughter’s passport from her mom… yeah, shared custody.
  • Figure out the rental car sitch.
  • Try to arrange a day on the water for my dad and I and maybe a visit out to Abaco Lodge.

I’ve never been to Abaco and I’m looking forward to it. It is a family trip, not a fishing trip, although there will be fishing, of course. There will also be sand castles and snorkling and some cracked conch, reading and relaxing.

The countdown has begun.


25
Feb 15

Things that are happening

I’ve shared before the research that shows you are actually happiest when planning a trip. So, I’m pretty happy right now. No, I’m not talking about my there-and-back trip to Dallas next week, or my trip to San Antonio in May… no, I’m talking about fishing trips.

I just booked tickets to Florida in June. I know what I’m doing exactly one day of the week I’ll be there. I’m fishing with my dad and Derek Rust on a Saturday to try and get my dad into a tarpon. Beyond that… I’m just going and I’ll see what I can line up in terms of fishing days.

Coming to see the #skinnywaterculture

Coming to see the #skinnywaterculture

I’m also in possession of some crazy expensive tickets for Abaco. That’s Spring Break with the whole fam. I’m hoping to grab a day or two to fish, but I’ll also have an 8 year old and 1 year old along. I plan to get the girl fishing too, maybe over at the Abaco Lodge off the dock.

The girl loved this part of the day.

In short, I have stuff to look forward to and I kind of love that. Now I need to open up the fly tying desk again and put some thread and sparkles on some sharp and pointy hooks.

Hope you have something to look forward to as well!