01
Nov 17

Bahamas Regs – FFS Edition

And it just never stops.

So… Fly Fishing Chief says the sky is falling and those “special interests” are behind it. Something like that comes from this story about the possibility that the fly fishing regs put in place earlier this year could be tanked.

I mean… am I the only one who thinks the guy has something in common with Trump? He says “Watch out for special interests!” only because, ya know, he’s got his own special interests he’s interested in peddling?

He proclaims the ecology of the flats as under-threat and a sacred thing and then he bulldozes a bunch of mangroves to put in a fuel station.

He decries the poor handling of bonefish by the unwashed DIY anglers, literally saying poor handling was decimating bonefish stocks, and then does crap like this?

Mr Conservation, demonstrating proper handling of a bonefish.

The fly fishing regs were brought about purely through PLP channels, excluding and ridiculing all other voices. The legislation was brought in through back channels, not through a vote in the Parliament, where it never would have succeeded.

Then, this weird thing happened. The PLP got their asses handed to them in the recent elections. The FNM won. With such changes there were bound to be changes in the fishing regs, maybe keeping the one or two good ideas in the regs and getting rid of the protectionist tripe that comprised the rest of it. I mean… did anyone think anything else was going to happen? I’m just wondering what took so long.

Let the Emperor of Bad Ideas complain. He’s like a walking sermon of contradictions and hypocrisy. How anyone is still listening to that guy is beyond me. He can’t be the guy to carry the flag for the Bahamian fly fishing industry and I can’t wait until more Bahamians actually catch on to that.


07
Oct 17

A little round up of stuff floating around out there

First, congrats to Yellow Dog’s Jim Klug who recently landed the 2017 Izaak Walton Award given by the The American Museum of Fly Fishing. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with Jim. He’s solid. Last year’s award winner was super-talented artist and author James Prosek.

Jim + Cuba + Cameras

Second, hope you like that water taxi ride to Caye Caulker, cuz, you aren’t going to be flying there for a while. They are reconstructing the runway on Caye Caulker, ruling that out as a “by air” option for a while. My daughter and I took the ferry/taxi from Belize City last year. It was pretty easy. One of my bags went missing for a couple hours but they assured me they don’t lose bags and they didn’t. Got everything back with only a minor delay. We’ll be heading back in April and we’ll do it by boat again.

Third, and last, more stirrings from the Bahamas as Bahamian guides and lodge owners are complaining about a substantial drop in business, blaming outfitters/booking agents. Talking to some American lodge owners out there over the past year they tell me business is good, but they are working hard for that business. Lots of dollars put into marketing. I’ve seen the uptick in social media presence that would back that up. There is something like a “it takes money (and time) to make money” thing here. There are also some economic headwinds with Bahamian tourists spending 28% less now than they did in 2000. Add to that a season full of hurricanes that likely scared off some tourists and, ya know… people aren’t just going to come on their own. Licenses are still needed and still not available on-line. A lot of angler resentment still exists due to the push by the BFFIA. Add all that up and, yeah, business would be down.


21
Jul 17

The cost of getting there

There was a recent story that caught my eye talking about how the Bahamian tourism industry is losing out due to the high cost of getting to the Islands.

This has been my experience.

From Abaco, 2015.

A few years back I brought the whole family to Abaco for Spring Break. We found a great place and booked it and then looked at flights. WOW. Ended up costing us $1,400 a person to get to Abaco on the days we wanted at the times we wanted. $1,400 a person. That’s too high. This year I took my daughter to Belize and airfare was about $600 (and would have been $450 if I had booked earlier).

It costs too much to get to the Bahamas. I won’t take a family trip there if it costs me $5,600 just to plant my feet on the ground with my family of 4.

A quick look right now shows if I wanted to get to Abaco in September from the SF Bay Area it would cost $800-900.

With the same dates a trip to Cancun is just over $400.

Havana – $452
Honolulu – $504
Miami – $330
Puerto Rico – $691
Belize City – $630
Seychelles – $1,400
Cayman Islands – $616

Oddly… Congo Town (South Andros) from $493… but up to $700 when you want only one stop.

The travel costs are a barrier. I don’t know what has to be done about it, but I’d agree with the article. It doesn’t help and it doesn’t capitalize on the close proximity of the Bahamas to the US. Hoping to get back to the Bahamas in 2018… and hoping not to break the bank on airfare when I do.


12
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.

 


12
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.


10
May 17

Great news for the Bahamas… the PLP is out!

mmmmm

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!


24
Mar 17

Flashback to a perfect moment in Grand Bahama from a few years back

It was a slow day. The guide my dad and I went out with had an old boat, a bit worse for wear, and his eyes appeared to be going. He was having a heck of a time finding fish. I got out of the boat to wade across a point, I think because the boat was scrapping bottom and it was easier to pole if I got out.

Then… as I was wading, I saw a couple fish moving along the shore-line.


18
Mar 17

Ghost Stories Trailer – one to watch

Looking forward to seeing this.


13
Mar 17

Getting that license and DIY in the Bahamas

Reports coming out of the Bahamas have been mostly good when it comes to getting your fishing license. You show up on a Monday morning, you’ll likely get your license with a minimum of fuss. Saturday or Sunday, when the office is closed, are another matter. I have read some reports about self-important administrators making anglers wait, but there are more reports of things just running smoothly. That’s good news.

Guides and lodges have been able to pre-purchase your license, if you are fishing with them. That helps your Saturday/Sunday arrivals.

Still, there are problems. Recently heard a report out if Inagua that Ezzard Cartwright (one of two guides on that island) was telling people it was illegal to wade fish. That’s not true, of course, but he stood by the claim, basically saying DIY was illegal.

DIY is NOT illegal. There is no location in the Bahamas where you cannot DIY, so long as you don’t take a motorized craft to that spot with more than one angler (this part is a little fuzzy, but, that’s what I believe to be true at this point).


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.