This looks pretty nice. Well done. Cuba remains one of my favorite trips ever.
This looks pretty nice. Well done. Cuba remains one of my favorite trips ever.
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.
(Posted in 2010. Recently it was announced that Captain Perry had passed away. I always wanted to get back to fish with him. He was a great guide and a very decent person. It was an honor to fish with him, even if I only did it once.)
This last January I had a few days of fishing in Grand Bahama, one of those days I got a guide and the others I went on my own. I mostly had my arse handed to me on the self-guided days, but had a great day with the guide I booked, Captain Perry, out of McLeans Town on the East End of Grand Bahama.
I recently called up Captain Perry and asked him to do an interview and he agreed. Because of this know I need to get some sort of recording device, as I missed a couple comments (at least) and didn’t catch some of the local flavor of his remarks.
If I make it back to Grand Bahama, I hope to see Captain Perry again from the bow of his flats boat… wouldn’t mind being there for a day to equal his most memorable from below.
Do you have a favorite place to eat on Grand Bahama?
I go to a place in Port Lucaya, Le Med.
Being out on the water a lot you see odd, interesting or strange things. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen?
The shark eating the bonefish is pretty interesting, the speed of the bonefish is amazing, but the sharks hunt them down.
Do you have a guided trip that stands out in your memory?
Back in 2002, caught 127 bonefish in a day, wading. I’ll never forget that one. It was all to do with the weather. We’d had had some messed up weather before that, but that morning, the weather was nice. We fished for 8 hours and fish were everywhere.
The following year I went out with the same guy about the same time of year and we saw one fish all day.
What do you think makes GBI a destination that bonefish anglers should check out? Give me the top one or two reasons.
You can take almost a direct flight from the East Coast. That’s it right there. There is no need for a charter flight, no need so spend the night anywhere.
What’s your favorite tide to fish, or does it matter?
Around here, the incoming tide is good, but we have two tides, so we can get to find an incoming tide on one side or the other of the island. A low incoming tide is really good.
What’s your favorite month to fish?
You can fish year round as long as there isn’t a cold front.
Do you have any lodging ideas for anglers looking to stay and fish the East End? Freeport is pretty far away.
There’s a place called Ocean Pearl in High Rock, it is half way. That’s a good place.
On my trip with you in January, I landed 12 bonefish… I’m guessing that a more accomplished bonefisher might have had 20. Sound about right?
Yeah, I think that’s about right.
I was impressed with how careful you were in handling the fish, never even taking them out of the water. You certainly are up to speed on the best practices for handing and releasing bonefish. Are you seeing more anglers and guides being conscious of bonefish handling or is there still a lot of ignorance out there?
There is some way to go, for a lot of the guides, a long way to go… a long way to go. I think it will take some real knowledge about what’s going on with the fish. They need to experience it themselves. If you tell them, they don’t get it. They need to get the knowledge themselves. I see two or three guides that really get it, but there are still a lot that have a long way to go.
Thanks Captain Perry.
This post from G&G went up yesterday. Of course, it is a pretty good read and makes the old brain juices start to flow a bit.
I have to say, several of these situations for me have been big zeros in terms of success.
I know, theoretically, that traveling fish or fish who are running can be caught. I have yet to count myself among the people who have caught fish with that mindset.
I used to bomb out hero casts trying to entice those fish, but I don’t do that anymore. For me, I’d prefer to stir things up less. Maybe that long bomb spooks some other fish I haven’t seen yet. Maybe that fish making a B-Line will settle down if I don’t mess with it. Maybe these are theories I hold because I haven’t gotten those fish to eat yet?
I just need to see it happen with my own eyes before I really can take it to heart.
How about you? You find success in those situations?
I want to go to Xmas Island. Christmas is one of those places that has been on my list for a while. I am on the Pacific side of things and I’m supposed to be oriented out that way for my fun in the sun, right? I’ve thought about my 2016 trip being to Christmas. I may just begin the negotiation process here at home to make that happen.
If I go, I’d likely do it through a booking agent and stay at a lodge and go with guides. It is a long way to go to not be on the right flats. However, if you want to do it solo, it would appear that is an option as well.
It sounds to me like things aren’t that expensive once you get there, it is just that the getting there is kind of a hassle with an overnight in Honolulu. Could be worse!
Also… there are GTs. I’d very much like to break some gear on a GT.
I’ve been thinking about the trout fishing I’m not doing right now on my home waters of the Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers. I see the pictures come through on Facebook of friends up there, getting after it, fishing those waters that once so captivated me and still hold a very special place in my heart.
I was remembering a trip over a decade ago I took on the McCloud at the close of the season. I was hiking up the river, fishing solo, and I came to a section where the banks meet high rock walls as the river flowed out of a gorge section. As I hiked up the trail along this section of river I looked into one run far below and saw a massive trout. The thing had to be 10 pounds, almost certainly a brown trout, and it marauded around the pool like it owned the place. I wanted that fish.
To get to the fish I had to scale down a rock cliff, which I did, rod in my mouth to keep two hands free to grab the rocky cliff face. When I got down to the water I got one cast into the pool and one of my flies (an egg pattern) was immediately hit by a good trout. It was a good fish, not 10 pounds good, but a good fish nonetheless. After a couple minutes I landed a beautiful 19″ rainbow. The big brown didn’t like the commotion and had vanished.
The way I fish for trout on my home waters and how my home waters fish best is by aggressively covering the water. You get in and walk up the river, climbing over rocks and logs and whatever else is in the way. It is a tight-line, short-line nymphing technique using two flies and one more split shot than you might otherwise consider wise. You pound the pockets and the runs and you strike on everything. Sometimes there is a fish when you strike. That’s why you do it.
I was thinking about that episode on the McCloud recently from my perspective today. I realized I wouldn’t have climbed down there now. I’m more cautious. I have two kids and a wife who depend on me and I can’t do foolish things. My body also doesn’t respond as well to challenges as it once did.
While I wouldn’t have made it down to the bottom of the gorge, I know if I did the cast I would have made would have been better than the one I made all those years ago. I’ve lost some of my aggressiveness, but I’ve gained some skill.
When out on the flats there isn’t much of a place for aggressiveness, but skill gets you everywhere.
I wonder if that’s one of the things I like about bonefishing, that shift in focus, that shift in what ends up being important.
I can still wade semi-irresponsibly and cover the water, but I find myself on my rivers much, much less often and the call I hear is usually from the flats in places too far away and too expensive to visit frequently.
Fly fishing is still a huge part of my life and I imagine it will be until I can’t fish anymore. Maybe the trout will come back around for me in terms of importance and maybe one day again I’ll get to know a river’s pulse and hatches and moods like I used to. Maybe I’ll come to appreciate different aspects of the trout game in the future that don’t rely on the aggressiveness so much.
Maybe I’ll seek out spring creeks or take up lake fishing. Maybe I won’t and I’ll still pine for bonefish and skinny water flats and the need for long and pretty casts. We’ll find out.
On Thursday my daughter (8) and I met up with guide Dana Lowe to go fish for a half-day down in Cherokee Sound.
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 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.
It was a great time. Thanks for a good day Dana!
I got to fish a day out of Abaco Lodge (located, you guessed it, in Abaco) with my dad and guide Tom Albury.
See, that has all the ingredients for a pretty good day to begin with. Great operation, good guide and my dad.
I’m 40, my dad is right at 73, we don’t even get to fish for trout that often, so getting my dad out bonefishing in the Bahamas is a real treat. Bonus – he gets tired after standing up for too long so I get more bow time! Yay!
My dad’s first two bones were over in Grand Bahama, same day I got my first, and BOTH of his fish were quasi unintentional. Happy to say our day of fishing got my dad two legit bonefish. He made the casts, set the hook and didn’t lose either. So, job well done on all front for Pops.
Abaco Lodge has been around for a few years (2009?) and is owned by Oliver White, a good guy who I did not name my son after. The lodge is just well done with a great stable of guides, good boats (all Hell’s Bay Waterman) and a great location, right on the edge of the Marls. I’ll write more about their operation and the dinner we had there in another post.
Our guide on the day was Tom Albury, who, it turns out, I had previously interviewed. Tom was good fun, never got worked up about anything and kept finding us fish. He put my dad in great positions and got him fish. It was a good day on the water.
For me, the day started out a little slow. We found fish (and by “we” I mean Tom). However, my awesome fly was pissing off the locals and after about 7 legit shots (I flubbed two of those casts, but made the other 5) set the bonefish fleeing in panic, we decided to change flies and that made the difference.
(I’ll just add that this goes against my “the right presentation trumps the right fly” line of thinking rather directly, but I still believe that, even if it goes against the evidence.)
We were waiting for the sun to poke back out and just as it did I spotted a dark shape and quickly realized it was moving. I love that moment. In that moment the world is full of potential and magic. I called out the fish and made the cast and was rewarded with that kind of aggressive charging-of-the-fly you get when you’ve done the thing well and have a happy fish in front of you. One long run and he came in, was admired and (poorly) photographed and sent on his way.
That one episode was the reason I wanted to come to the Bahamas. I can’t say it enough… I love bonefishing.
I caught a few more, got a small cuda on the spinning rig, cast at some sharks, saw a blue hole and pretty much enjoyed the day with Tom, my dad and the Marls.
I highly recommend both Abaco Lodge and guide Tom Albury. I want to come back.
There is a new-to-me on-line fly fishing magazine called Tail that I got turned onto to see an article by Michael Larkin (yeah, he’s a Ph.D.). The article is all about bringing statistics to break down the elements that influence if you are going to catch a bonefish or not.
It is an interesting read, looking at data from Keys fishing tournaments over a number of years. This may, or may not apply to your average day on the water, but it does provide some food for thought.
What are the elements that matter the most? Experience of your guide? Your own experience? Wind? Cloud cover? Moon phase? It all gets put into the mix.
Check it out. (I think you have to register to see it, but you can do so for free)
“I think that bonefishing combines hunting, it combines calculation of where the fish could be, what the tides are, what the moon is, time of day,” Nicklaus said. “It forces you to figure out what’s going on.”
Turns out, Jack Nicklaus loves bonefish too… and for many of the same reasons I do.
I’m not a golfer… in fact, I tend to think along these lines:
“I am not against golf, since I cannot suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout.” – Paul O’Neil
Maybe I’m just a hater, but it really isn’t my thing… and then there’s the runoff and the way people have of taking some bit of natural beauty and thinking they can improve upon it by putting in 18 holes and a clubhouse.
Maybe you fear what you don’t know and I don’t know golf, but I do know fishing and have fallen in love with bonefish over these last few years… OK, and tarpon a bit too.
Jack seems like a good guy… like for this –
Earlier this month, the foundation pledged $60 million to support the growth of the Miami Children’s Health System. In recognition of the grand gesture, Miami Children’s Hospital will now be known as the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
Good on ya Jack… go get some bones.