Feb 13

Addictive Fishing… bad

Worst bonefish handling ever. This is Addictive Fishing fishing off Key Largo (the bone badness starts at about 8:30).

Worst. Handling. Ever.

A reminder… here is how to handle bonefish.

If you’d like to email Capt. Blair, his email is blair@addictivefishing.com.

This is what I wrote him this morning…

Hi Capt. Blair,
I just watched a video of you, I think, fishing in Key Largo. You caught a bonefish, a really nice one. What happened next really shouldn’t have happened. You put that bone on a Boga grip and had it out of the water for a long, long time.

Odds are fair to good that the fish didn’t survive it’s encounter with you. When handling bonefish you need to do two things… minimize handling and minimize air exposure. You should never, ever put a bonefish on a Boga.

From the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust:


Minimize handling of all fish; slime and scales can be removed or damaged with excessive handling, thereby greatly increasing the risks of infection. In addition, recent research has shown that mechanical lip-gripping devices can cause damage to mouth tissue if the bonefish struggles against the device, so their use is best avoided.

  • If you have to handle a bonefish, use clean, wet hands and gently support the bonefish from beneath the head and belly. Nets, mechanical lip-gripping devices, and wet cloths can cause injury to the bonefish.
  • Use hemostats, pliers, or a hook-removal tool to quickly remove the hook while keeping the fish in the water, and have your pliers ready and available to facilitate a quick release.
  • Avoid exposing bonefish to air, even when taking a photo. If you must remove the bonefish from the water, limit it to a maximum of 15 seconds.
  • Touching the gills can cause damage and impair the ability of a bonefish to breathe.
  • If a lip-gripping device is used, it’s best to use them only to restrain a calm fish in the water while removing the hook. If a fish’s weight is desired, attach a sling to the device, and cradle the bonefish in the sling rather than hanging the fish vertically by the jaw.


As a public figure you need to set a better example. I, myself, will be making an example of this video to show people how not to do it.

I hope the next bonefish you catch has a better shot at survival.


Feb 13

Interview with Captain Paul Fisicaro

I recently asked for some advice on who I should interview for the blog. The interviews have brought some really great stories and insights to the blog and I run out of ideas every once in a while. I’m not tied into any one scene, so I often don’t know the local players or personalities. Paul Fisicaro’s name came up and it turns out he’s a friend of my friend Derek. I got the low-down and the introduction and it made me excited to hear Paul was up for the interview. So, here it is.

Captain Paul Fisicaro:
Fly Fishing Guide, Fly Tier
16 years experience
Thomas and Thomas Fly Rods – Pro Staff.

Paul F tarpon

My friend Derek says you are one hell of a tarpon guide. For me, I feel like my IQ drops by about half when I’m casting to a tarpon. As a guide, seeing people come unglued, what are some of the funny things you’ve seen?

Why thank you, Derek.

I’ve seen a lot of stuff over the past 16 years but nothing too much over the top. I have seen A LOT of rod tossing. I’ve seen anglers throw fly rods distances Joe Montana would be jealous of.  I hear cursing. Lots of cursing. I can tell you, with certainty, I have the most linguistically creative clients ever to step on a flats skiff.

Tarpon fishing can do strange things to people. This past year, one of my clients John Lance, was having trouble casting to Tarpon. For the next four days, after each blown shot (and there were a lot), he decided to yell at each Tarpon in Japanese. A little background on John.  He is from the Midwest. He doesn’t know Japanese, which made this extremely funny. After a while, I started calling out fish in a Japanese accent. It got out of hand very, very quickly. I still chuckle just thinking about it.

But anyway, I personally think that Tarpon are one of the easier species to catch but certainly bring on buck fever the most. I have anglers that cast 80 feet with no fish around and the minute I call out directions to a fish,  they  turn into a poster child for a horse whipping clinic.  

I do see a lot of disappointment but I do my best to rally the troops and keep them in the game. I try to instill confidence when morale is low and try to correct some of the issues they are having. No yelling, no screaming.

Most of them are very good anglers and casters but cannot keep their feelings in check and that is half the battle.

I do, although, have a few clients than I’ve been fishing for a long time and I find it hysterical watching them come unglued. I razz them a bit, well, a tad more than a bit. Let’s just say I’ve had sleepless nights thinking of things to say but, of course, it’s all in fun.

I can understand the pull of tarpon, but tell me what is it about bonefish that you enjoy.

With Bonefish, I think just stalking those fish in shallow water is what makes them fun and they are always willing to eat a well placed fly. And of course, nothing beats the first few runs of a decent sized Bonefish.

Sharks… you likely see a lot of them out there. How do you feel about them?

On most occasions I love sharks. Just add it to the list of species that you target with a fly. If anyone reading this has ever caught a Blacktip Shark on fly, they know how much fun they can be and you would be hard pressed to find a fish that fights harder. Another great thing about sharks is that when you find lots of them in an area, you tend to find lots of fish. I love pulling up to a flat and seeing sharks everywhere. Most of the time, it means something good has happened or something good is going to happened. Hopefully the latter.

The bad about sharks – The only situation I can say that I despise sharks in when that 400 lb bull shark or that 12 foot Hammerhead looking to score a quick meal during a tarpon fight. But you really can’t blame the shark, can you? They have to eat too.

When the fishing is tough… like, really tough, do you stick with it, or do you turn to other species maybe a little lower on the pecking order?

Generally, I will leave this up to the client. I usually give the options and let them decide. I have a lot of hardcore fly anglers that just want to catch the “Big 3” so the majority of the time, we stick with what we set out to catch. But on the contrary, the greatest thing about the Florida Keys is its versatility and diversity of species. There are so many different types of fish that you can target. You really can’t say that for too many places.

A FL Permit

A FL Permit

What’s your go-to rod/reel for bonefish? How about for tarpon?

My go to Bonefish set up is a Thomas and Thomas TNT 8 weight with a Tibor Everglades. For Tarpon, I use a Thomas and Thomas TNT 11 weight with a Tibor Gulfstream for big tarpon and a Thomas and Thomas Horizon 9 weight with a Tibor Everglades for smaller Tarpon. Yes. I love T & T. Who doesn’t?

People seem to have strong feelings about class tippet vs. straight leaders. Where do you come down on that?

I’ve never used straight leaders. I actually have my own formula for making them, although it has evolved over the years. Until recently, I used the familiar 3-2-1 formula with Bimini twist and the whole ball of wax. For those who don’t know, the 3-2-1 is 3 feet of 50lb, 2 feet of 40lb and 1 foot of 30lb, 2 to 3 feet of class tippet and finish it off with 16inches of 60lb. shock. This would be the formula for targeting large tarpon or a leader for an 11 weight.  I never used IGFA standards unless someone specifically asks for it. Over the last few years, I’ve simplified my leaders. I now tie a 6 foot piece of 50lb for the butt section, 3 foot piece of 20lb Hard Mason mono for class tippet and a 2 foot section of 50 or 60lb shock.

I’m not concerned about breaking world records, I just want my clients to land fish.  With this template, there is less knots to worry about and with only a few blood knot connections I can tie leaders much faster and on the fly, customizing them quickly for changing wind conditions.

What is one thing about the Keys that people might find surprising?

Surprising? I think people envision drunk people walking around the Keys in flip flops and tank tops singing Jimmy Buffett songs, sort of like “The Walking Dead” Not so.

When you look back on your saltwater fly fishing, is there someone that stands out as being particularly helpful, someone who showed you the ropes and made it click for you?

I learned how to fly cast by myself when I was 16 years old. It took me a long time to learn to cast correctly. I did have help from a now very good friend, John Knight when I was first starting out. Lou Tabory was another, although I never met him, helped me through the reading of his books. And of course, Lefty Kreh, who has inspired fly fisherman and woman all over the globe.  Just an amazing caster, angler and human being.

People can have really high expectations when they get a guide. How do you try to set expectations for your clients?

I’ve always handled this aspect by just telling the truth. I always tell my clients what the best options are and most of the time they are all for it. If someone wants to catch a bonefish and bonefishing hasn’t been very good, I’ll tell them. If they still want to try, I’m game. I will do my very best to find fish for them.

 In some cases, we would only spend a few hours looking for bonefish and if it didn’t work out we head for the Permit grounds or hit the mangroves for some baby tarpon action. (Who doesn’t like baby poons?) Every situation is different. Every angler is different. I’ve been blessed with some of the most amazing clients. No fuss, “Yes, Cap. Whatever you think is best” kind of guys. These kind of anglers are the norm, at least for me they are.



Thanks Paul. Great read and appreciate you sharing some stories and thoughts.

Jan 13

Smell you later

I almost forgot about Science Wednesday.  By that, I mean to say I totally forgot about Science Wednesday, but I figure slightly delayed is still pretty good.

So… let’s talk about what happens to those C&R bonefish. It turns out they stink. They stink no so you or I would notice, but if you were say, a Negaprion brevirostris, you would likely take notice. That’s a lemon shark and while you might like lemon with your fish, it turns out that the lemon has a bit of a taste for fish as well. In this case, it is stinky bonefish they are partial to.

You catch a fish, the fish gets stressed and it releases some chemicals. I had thought that chemical was cortisol, but it turns out that particular chemical is too weak to detect. The ammonia and urea, on the other hand are put out there in quantities that scream “Here I am, come eat me!”

This is why bonefish handling is so important. You need to minimize the fight time and air exposure so that fish is capable of doing what it needs to do when it gets release, which is going really fast to get away from young lemon sharks who are attracted to the chemical neon sign that fish is putting out reading “Bonefish, all you can eat (supplies limited).”

One of the authors of this study is Andy Danylchuk.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn't work out.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn’t work out.

Jan 13

No Expert

Fishing is good.

Fishing is good.

I was reflecting recently on the label I sometimes am given… that of “expert.” I’m not. I try to be pretty clear about that. I am just profoundly interested in the subject, which does not make me an expert anymore than being a die-hard fan of American Idol would make someone a singer. I thought I’d list the reasons why I’m not an expert, just so everyone is on the same page.

1. Any bonefishing guide knows 100x more than what I know. When you are on the water a lot, and I mean daily/weekly, you have an understanding  of a species, a place, a mindset that cannot be replicated by those who are not there. I saw this even on my own rivers in Nor Cal. I only guided a single season on the trout streams of Northern California, but for that season I had the pulse of my rivers. I knew what was happening and what was about to happen. I had fish that I knew I could count on.

I don’t have the pulse of any flat. I don’t have a handle on the tides anywhere. I don’t know where the fish are going to be. Simple as that.

2. I’m not a FFF certified casting instructor. I have not won a shootout of any kind or even entered a distance casting competition. I have personally fished with several people who could out cast me pretty much any day of the week and twice on Sunday. My casting has improved a lot since I started chasing bonefish. A lot. I still have some rough edges.

3. I’m not an outfitter. I have heard about a lot of places and almost every single one of those places is a place I have not been myself. People ask me about flats in Abaco or Exuma or Honolulu or Placencia or wherever and every single one of those places I could find on a map and tell you there are fish there and the conversation would pretty much stop there. I have no experiences to share from those places because I have not fished them. I know of them. I do not know them.

There are a lot of experts out there. I know some of them and I look to learn from others. Every trip has something to teach, most anglers have something to share. That’s why I like this whole blog thing.

Nov 12

That time of year

The tree is out and the ornaments are up.

Of course.

Nov 12

Science Wednesday – Tagging in Abaco

Well… this is cool. A blog called “The Abaco Scientist.” Ruling.

They are tagging fish to track their movements and pinpoint spawning locations. If we know where they spawn, we can protect those places.

From the blog:

Today brought less-than-ideal weather for catching bonefish to tag – 25 mph winds and rain showers.  Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Buddy and Cindy Pinder, Justin Sands, and Paul Pinder of the Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association, we were able to find large schools of bonefish on the move in The Marls.  By the end of the day, we had surgically implanted tags into 12 bonefish (6 males and 6 females).  All 12 fish were sexually mature and “running ripe”


Tagging fish in Abaco.

Good stuff. Keep up the good work!

Nov 12

Trouble in Paradise

Islamorada is the Bonefishing Capital of the US. That makes the story I found by Sue Cocking about diminishing numbers of bonefish around Islamorada even more troubling.

“A lot of places where we used to find them, they’ve left,” Brewer said. “They’re just not around anymore. I lost a lot of days because of that. The ‘sportfishing capital of the world’ is not here as far as bonefish are concerned.”

A study published early this year by University of Miami bonefish researcher Mike Larkin and colleagues found the bonefish stock from Biscayne Bay through Key West is “bordering on an overfished status.” The last bonefish census in the region conducted in the fall of 2010 by UM and the non-profit Bonefish Tarpon Trust found a “substantial decrease” since guides and anglers began the annual count in 2003.

Well… this is not good.

The story goes on to talk about how researchers are going about trying to figure out what is happening so corrective action can be taken. It all starts with Science.  An interesting player, beyond the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (who are involved, as you might expect) is Audubon.

An interesting read if you fish there now, or plan to in the future.

Support BTT



Nov 12

Bonefish by Dan Sharley

I dig on bonefish art. I have some art up in my house. Really, my new wife had no idea that I would want to put so much fish-related art up and she’s been a very good sport about it all.

I have no found artistic abilities and maybe that is why I gravitate toward the artistic. There is some school of psychology that says we are drawn toward those traits we lack in ourselves. I tend to subscribe to that idea and I can see how that may have played out in my own life.

I saw the art of Dan Sharley over at Midcurrent and I got in touch with Dan to see if I could post up one of his paintings.  He responded and consented, which was very nice of him.  One of these might make a very nice Christmas gift, don’t you think?

I’d like to drop a gotcha right in there.

I asked Dan what he used as a model for these bonefish and here is what he said:

The Bonefish painting, like most of my work, is based on an imagined scene or composition. It’s probably a result of watching way too many fishing shows and reading way too many fishing magazines. Basically, I suffer from fish on the brain. I’ll use photos simply for reference (i.e., fins in the right places, scale shapes, eye color, etc.). The rest is pretty much my imagination at work. 

Great stuff Dan.

Oct 12

Hand Feeding Bonefish

OK, the overall show might not be my thing, but how cool would it be to hand feed some bonefish?  Fast forward to about 13:15 for that. This is in Exuma (bonus is the swimming pigs).



Oct 12

The Tying Season

Once the skies turn grey and the temps start to fall, many anglers start to think about re-stocking their fly boxes. Tis the season for fly tying (or steelheading, but let’s focus on fly tying).

Do you have a number in mind of flies you’d like to tie this winter?  What is on your list?

I need to restock the following:

  • #6-#4 Peterson Spawning Shrimp
  • #6-#4 Tan Gotcha
  • #2-#6 Glass Back Reverse Gotcha
  • #3/0 Cuda Flies
  • #2/0 light/tan Bunny Tarpon Flies

What do you need to resupply?

The desk.