01
Sep 13

From the Archives – My -2″ Cuban Grand Slam

(originally published May 9, 2012)

The tarpon was first and that was clearly the pig of the trip.  After we finally released that fish we went looking for some bonefish.

We found them.

Really, I think the guides could likely produce bones pretty much all day, but they like chasing the tarpon when they are in, since they don’t stick around all year and the window is about three months long.

The bones weren’t big, maybe 3 pounds, but they fought well and we even had one little cluster Fuque where I got a knot in my running line that went through the guides.  Jim worked on getting the knot undone and I hand lined the fish, which meant it had PLENTY of slack.  The thing turned around and started swimming leisurely back toward us. The thing came so close to the boat that I just figured I’d wait and pull it’s head out of the water. That’s exactly what happened and we managed to land the bonefish pretty much without the rod.

The next flat we went to was ocean-side and as I got up on deck Jim asked the guide “you ever see any permit here?”

“Sometimes” was the reply, although it should have been “Sure, in about a minute.”

There was Mr. Permit cruising right toward us.  No time to switch rods, the bonefish fly would have to do (a Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp). The fish lit up on the fly, started chasing it down doing a little erratic dance behind it. I SWEAR it ate, as did Jim, but I was tight to the fly and there was never any sort of resistance on the line. Just like that it bugged off and I was left, about 2″ from a Cuban Grand Slam.

Kind of cool to come so close.  I know it is mostly luck and “right time/right place” that gets you those Grand Slams and I was pretty damn close to getting it right.

That’s why we keep fishing.

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

Really… I can’t complain at all.

 

 


28
Dec 12

Obligitory – A look back at 2012

I was reminded by Troutrageous that it was time for me to look back at 2012.

What a year, eh? I had highlights in my personal and fishing lives. It will be a hard year to surpass, really. So many wonderful things happened. I can’t help but feel like a very lucky guy.

Here is what 2012 held for me.

I welcomed 2012 in at the Yaak Tavern in MT where I had the very strong suspicion I had met my future wife.

I got a chance to go to Cuba with Jim Klug and a bunch of writers. Amazing experience that included my magazine worthy Tarpon shot.

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

My divorce got finalized.

I got engaged.

I discovered the joys of pier fishing with my girl who loves sharks and loves being my fishing buddy.

The girl and her shark.

The girl and her shark.

I got married.

A good day.

A good day.

The honeymoon brought me back to El Pescador in Belize.

renee and bjorn El Pescador
I got two saltwater trips in, which for me, being fully employed and having split custody of a 5 year old, is a pretty good trick. Cuba and Belize are kind of choice locations and I feel very fortunate to have been able to visit both in 2012.

It has been a very, very good year.  I’m looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

I have one trip lined up already. This is to Grand Bahama for Spring Break. It will be my intro to the Bahamas for my little girl and my new wife. I’m thinking this could be a good thing.

All the best to you in 2013 and thanks for reading and taking part in the blog.


23
Jun 12

BOTB in the Drake

Well… who knew? I was just at Barnes and Noble and saw an issue of The Drake.

I don’t have a subscription and while I have heard really good things about the magazine, I had not ever purchased one. I had decided that this was the time to do so and as I thumbed through the magazine on the way up to the cashier I saw there was a poster insert.  I took a peak and recognized, instantly, my own hand. Well… that’s kind of awesome.  My tarpon is in The Drake.  Jim Klug took the photo, and a damn fine photo it is.

My poon, photo by Jim Klug


21
May 12

Charlie’s First Bonefish on the Fly

One of the fun things about my last couple trips has been fishing with people really at the start of bonefishing.  Back in Andros, it was with Rebecca Garlock and in Cuba it was with Charlie Levine.  Now, they were both coming from different places.  Rebecca has been fishing the long rod for a while now, but hadn’t really done anything in the salt.  Charlie has spent a good number of days in the salt, but mostly in the deep, dark blue stuff with conventional tackle.  There were some parallels with the two experiences though.  Basically, both were kind of hard on themselves.  They felt the pressure to make it all come together. Of course, it all works better when you slow down and, of course, they both got it to happen.

Here’s Charlie’s story over at BDOutdoors.

Stoked in Cuba


14
May 12

Me, in Cuba

This is me, fishing with Avalon down in Cuba in the Jardines de la Reina.  This is back in the mangroves… deep in the mangroves and Matt Hansen was Johnny on the Spot with the video.  What you’ll see here is me botch two bonefish in about 4 minutes.  It was pretty difficult stuff to fight a fish in, but it was exactly what I wanted to be doing.

Warning… there is some profanity, in case you are worried about your ears bleeding.


13
May 12

Heartbreak

I just got this photo from Cuba taken by Matt Hansen.  I know exactly what happened here and I think this picture pretty much sums it up.

We were pushing through the back country looking for bones and we had just emerged into a little lagoon.  Off to the left flashed an impossibly large bonefish tail. I made the cast right on its nose and it ate almost immediately. It went streaking across the lagoon, pulling off 100 or so feet of line and then it took a slight left detour, brushing up against the clump of mangrove right below where my rod tip is.  The fish came off.  This fish was my immediate reaction to losing the fish.

It probably would have been my biggest bonefish ever.  That tail haunts me.

 

Gone.


07
May 12

Cuba, after I left

I had to go home.  I didn’t have that much vacation time or idle money and I needed to get back to my girls. However, the trip wasn’t over and the gang that I left added some members and kept going strong.

Luckily, Jim Klug was still there with a camera and he kept on putting it all in pixels (here’s the gallery of that second week).

Here’s one of the folks that joined just as I left.  Miles Nolte is a name you might recognize.  He’s an author and the new voice of angling at Gray’s Journal.

Nice fish Miles.

I got to talk to Miles a little in the lobby of the hotel before I headed back.  He was excited about the week ahead.  I can understand why.  Wish I had been able to stay and head to the Island of Youth with Avalon, but, life was calling.  I feel pretty fortunate to have been there for the week I was.  It was a very special trip and one I’ll hold close for a long, long time.


18
Apr 12

My half bonefish from Cuba

I had something happen in Cuba that I’ve never had happen before. I know it happens and it has happened plenty of times to plenty of people.  I had a bonefish bit in half on the line by a barracuda.

I didn’t see the cuda around before I hooked the fish. I didn’t think the bonefish was acting weird or wild before the fish hit. I had the bone on and then, all of a sudden, the cuda was there, chewing on the bonefish.  When I pulled in the fish, I was left with the front 1/3 or so of the bonefish.

I got to hold it him my hand and look it in the eye.

It was a weird moment. It underscored that this is a blood sport, even when we don’t intend it to be.

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


17
Apr 12

What I got right about gear for Cuba

While I got a few things wrong, I did make some good decisions and had some of the right stuff with me.

Flies:

  • Having some of the super hair chartreuse flies for cudas was a really good call.
  • I had enough Gotchas in different sizes that I could have fished for bones for another three weeks.
  • The tarpon bunnies were good patterns and if I had them in a 3/0 I would likely have been feeding tarpon with them.

Leaders:

  • The leaders I tied were effective and worked for bonefish and for tarpon.  The 80 pound shock tippet was perfect on even the big fish and the bimini twists I tied didn’t fail.  I didn’t have a single leader fail or a single knot fail.

Reels:

  • The reels I primarily used were the Ross F1 for the 8 wt, the Orvis Mirage for the 10 wt and the Redington Delta for the 11. I had along a Ross CLA and a Ross Momentum, but they had on specific lines that didn’t get selected by the guides.

Lines:

  • The textured saltwater line for the 8 was a great line.
  • The Orvis line was different… it sounded like a textured line and it cast very well.
  • I cast a Rio clear sink tip for the 11 and the guides liked it, preferring it to the full floating line each time.

Rods:

  • Both of the 8 weights were lovely rods. The Sage One is light and responsive and did all I asked of it. The prototype was just as lovely and I’d be glad to have either one as my go-to 8.
  • The 10, the Orvis Helios was a great rod. I’ve had that one before and I really like it.  It might have been a little heavy for Permit, but it would have worked well for that and it was a good rod to have rigged for barracuda.
  • The 11 Redington… it was heavy, but when it came time to do the business it got it done. That feels like a pretty important thing to judge by.

Something right got me that fish.


15
Apr 12

Some thoughts on Cuba

I didn’t see much of Cuba. On the way out to Jardines de la Reina it was dark and I was passed out. On the boat, we just saw the staff and the boat and the miles and miles of pristine habitat. On the way back to Havana at the end of the trip I got to see Cuba in the daylight. I wanted to share some of my thoughts from this very brief glimpse at a country most of us haven’t been to.

  • At night the city of Havana is about 1/20th as bright as other big cities. They just don’t have the power or light bulbs to sparkle.
  • Cuba must have the most rocking chairs per capita of any country out there. It seemed every little house in the little towns had a rocking chair on the front patio, usually with someone in it.
  • It is a good thing Cuba is built on the land, else it might fall into the sea. There is a sense of general disrepair. The highways are rough and sometimes way too narrow. You have to slow down for bikes and horse-drawn carts and this is done within inches.
  • You will see a lot of people walking around to get to point B.
  • There are the old American cars like you’ve heard, but there are also newer cars. I saw an Audi A4 and a Benz suv, to name a couple.
  • Some of the shacks out in the countryside are simply that. Tiny, wooden and lived in.
  • In Havana there are places that are just waiting to fall over or fall in. It is like certain floors or buildings passed through some very selective apocalypse.
  • Everyone seems to have something to sell or some racket to pitch.
  • The colors of the buildings is pretty cool.
  • The old American cars spew black exhaust. This is not a place for asthmatics.
  • The architecture of Havana is really cool, but it all looks at risk.
  • Everyone seems to smoke, even the well dressed women at the nice place for dinner.
  • There isn’t as much propaganda as I thought there would be.
  • No one wants to talk politics.
  • Things in Havana are way more expensive than it seems like they should. You can have a $50 dinner, while the average official salary for a Cuban is something like $20/month.
  • The economy seems to be mostly black-market. Everything has a cost and everyone is selling. It seems to be the way they make things work .
  • Going through the country side you really get a sense of a very agricultural economy at work. Horses and cows seemed to be everywhere outside the towns (and in some cases in them).
  • Saw a little boy on a horse that looked straight out of Montana or Wyoming or old-time Mexico.

Cuba seems to be coming to a crossroads. What I saw looked pretty unsustainable. The buildings are old, the roads are old, the railroad is old and nothing seems to be getting fixed or built. It seems to be a slow burn to some finality.