25
Aug 17

So… Sudan?

Sounds like a great place to go, right? I’m sure Sudan is on your bucket list.

The Drake had a great podcast on fly fishing in Sudan. It sounds, really, pretty damn awesome.

Map of Sudan

Also, there is this…


02
Aug 17

Mahahual 2017 – The Report Part III – Things that didn’t go as planned

Not everything went awesomely in Mexico. Here are the things that didn’t end up in the plus column.

Donde estan los bonefish?

I fished on the flats for two days without Nick and on those two days I saw one group of 3 bonefish (I saw other fish, but just not many bones). I was on flats that certainly LOOKED like they were going to hold bonefish. The habitat looked right. The depth was right. There were other fish around… saw a lemon shark and a nurse shark and several cudas… a jack… and just almost no bonefish. I know they are there. People see them. People catch them. I am not a novice. I can spot fish. So… what the hell was I doing wrong? To be honest, this was the single biggest disappointment of the trip. I has thought it would be kind of like Belize, which isn’t too far away, and the bones would be, ya know… kind of everywhere. It wasn’t that way, at least not for me in late July.

come out bonefish… where are you?

Hot much?

Dear god it was hot. I needed to hydrate like it was my means of providing roof and sustenance. It was hot. It was center-of-the-sun kind of hot. The heat was a bit of an issue for my dad. The last day he had to stop fishing before most of the fishing was really even started. Keeping my dad from having heat exhaustion was a priority and we certainly came close, or crossed over, that line… fast.

Sargassum

There was a lot of the stuff. It clogged a few flats that should have produced. It seems when there is 30 or 40 feet of the stuff at the shoreline, it heats up and discolors the water near it. I think that might have discouraged fish to hang around. Sargassum is a hit or miss thing. Some flats were free of the stuff. Some were full of it. One flat I went to was so full of sargassum there was a cliff of the stuff, three feet high.

The future is plastics

My god. There is a lot of plastic on the beaches. Washed up from who knows where, it has ended up in Mexico. Tons of it. Roughly a bazillion, gazillion tons of it. A bit depressing. So, when do we start using this stuff to 3-D print houses and stuff?

dude… that’s a lot of plastic

There it is… the getting there, the good and the less good. Mahahual 2017 is in the books and I’m facing a long lay-off until I end up somewhere salty with a fly rod in my hand. It was a good trip. It was a tough trip. It was a memorable trip.

Thanks Mexico.


04
Jun 17

Casterbating is a sin

Casting… work on it.

Casterbating – v – casting a fly line repetitively without shooting the line or adding much/any distance to the cast.

You see the fish, on your own, or with a guide, and you start casting… and you keep casting… you need a little more distance and you are letting out a foot at a time… the line is in the air and things start coming a little undone as the amount of line gets longer and longer… and then it all falls apart. You dump a bunch of unorganized line on the water. You can almost hear the fish scream as they run away. If you are fishing with a guide, you can definitely hear the guide screaming.

Many threats to bonefish come from above. So, in addition to just not really adding much to the actual cast, casterbating runs a good chance of just spooking the fish due to the arial movement.

Maybe you’ve fished with that guy. Maybe you are that guy. Condolences either way. We’ve all been there.

Casterbating is a saltwater sin, punished by the fishing gods with no delay.

How do you know if you are casterbating? Did you do more than three false casts? Yes? Then you are casterbating.

Maybe some day they’ll come up with a patch or some gum to help break you of this habit, but in the meantime, there are a few tips I have to keep you from casterbating, at least in public, in front of the fish.

  1. Starting point – How much line do you have out to begin with? If you don’t have enough line out, you wont’ be able to load the rod. It is pretty hard to load the rod with 5 feet of fly line out. You’ll usually need 15′-20′ feet of line out the tip of your fly rod in order for there to be enough fly line to properly load the rod on your first false cast.
  2. 3 and let fly – By the time you get to your third false cast, you should be shooting your line. Past that number and you hit the point of diminishing returns. It is harder to manage line in the air. The more line you have in the air, in your cast, the harder it is to maintain and control. If you have a good loop going and are properly loading the rod, by the time you get to your third cast you have everything you need to shoot the line.
  3. Don’t let go of the line. It may seem like a good idea to let go of the line with your line-hand when you shoot the line. That is not correct. Keep the line in your hand as you are shooting the line. If you keep the line in your hand you’ll be ready for action when the fly hits the water, instead of grasping (and missing) the line and trying to get everything under control. There are those times when a fish eats AS SOON AS THE FLY lands. Bonefish do this sometimes, as do tarpon. If you have the line in your hand, you are ready for business. This last tip isn’t really a casterbating tip, but it’s a pretty good one anyway.

If you can get away with two false casts, that’s better than three. Four casts is one too many and five is straight out.

You don’t need all those extra casts. They just put a greater chance for user error into the whole enterprise. They may spook the fish. You are unlikely to get a better cast on your 8th false cast than on your third. If you are casting, your fly is not in the water and you are not fishing. So… knock it off with the casterbating.


08
May 17

What I learned about fishing for Peacocks

Just a fun, fun fish to catch on a fly rod.

Southern Florida has a lot to offer, even to the business traveler on foot. Here’s what I learned about fishing for Peacocks around Ft. Lauderdale and Miami from just 4 short sessions.

  1. When you get to the pond/lake/canal you will see fish boiling out in the middle of wherever you are. Don’t cast at those. That’s not what you are looking for. Most (?) of those are not your targets. It seems VERY intuitive to cast at the boils, but they are false flags.
  2. The peacocks are along the shores. Don’t cast 90 degrees from the shoreline. Cast along the shoreline. Most of these places have drop-offs and shelves. That’s where the fish are.
  3. The strip that worked for me was a fast, fleeing baitfish type strip that slowed or even stopped at the shore-side of the drop-off.
  4. Fly selection is weighted, lead eye, baitfish type pattern. I had both clouser style and double bunny type flies work.
  5. Sometimes, you don’t even need to cast. You can, in essence, dab for peacocks and chiclids. If you spot them, you can just annoy them with your fly until they eat. I caught fish both doing that and casting like I suggest in #2.

Now, this is from just a few days and not that many fish. So, there may be exceptions to this and some of it may be flat-out wrong, but this was my experience and I bet this would work for you.

Bring that rod along.


25
Apr 17

120 Days – Beautiful Short Film about Florida Tarpon

Man… this hurts a little bit, but in a good way. My Florida trip would be starting soon, but my Florida trip isn’t happening now. The fish are going to be showing up… the big migratory fish, the 100+ pound fish. They’ll be taking the same routes they’ve been taking for thousands of years. This is what a lot of guys live for. I wish I was going to be there, but I’m not.

This little short film by YETI and Felt Soul is simply wonderful. You need to see this. If it doesn’t make you ache a little bit for Florida, I’d check your pulse.

 


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.


06
Aug 16

There is a difference

Tosh Brown is a photographer, among other things. A really good one. He just revamped his site and it is kind of fun to poke around.

Check it out here.

There is a huge difference between what he’s doing and what I’m doing when I’m taking a picture of a fish out on the flats. I’ve seen good photographers (Jim Klug, Cameron Miller) out on the flats and they don’t fish, they shoot. They are looking for the picture when I’m looking for fish. It is kind of like how guiding isn’t fishing. Being a fly fishing photographer isn’t fishing either. You can’t really do both at the same time.

Here is his picture of a bonefish, underwater. 

Here is mine.

All is well... not to worry.

Yeah… not the same.

Tosh is kind of better at this whole thing… and that’s as it should be.


26
Jan 16

The 8 Weight Shootout

The Yellowstone Angler put out their 8 Weight Shootout, comparing the 8 weights from around the industry from the pricey Helios 2 to the cheap Echo Base.

fly rods

I think I’ve cast five or six of these rods and my go-to bonefish rod is the Orvis Helios 2. I also own Reddington Predator 10 and 12 weights. I also also have a TFO Clouser 8 wt. and a Rise 8 wt. as well (just to lay down my saltwater rods, I think I have 16 fly rods in all weights).

The good news, I feel safe in proclaiming, is that there are a lot of great options out there.

There are also some bad ones… and this group doesn’t pull punches.

Here is a rod that is slow in action, heavy in swing weight, and performs badly at all distances.

Don’t get that one.

I would have like to see Clutch and Rise in the mix as well, but they have done a good job putting this together.


21
Jun 15

How to destroy the Bahamas, a Guide

There is some really frightening proposed legislation floating around the Bahamas and they’ve given us about a week to let our opinions be known. I’ve looked at it and it does not make me happy, and except for a few people, I wouldn’t think most Bahamians would be too happy with it either.

Let me just say plainly I think the proposed regulations are a misguided money-grab by a few Bahamians. I think if these regulations are adopted it would be a very bad move for the Bahamian economy, especially with the possibilities of increased competition for flats fishing anglers from Cuba on the horizon.

The stated aims:

The aim of this initiative is to prepare legislation that will regulate this part of the fishing industry providing rules to govern those who participate in it, whether as fisherman, guide or lodge operator, and to ensure that the marine environments upon which the fishery is based, are protected. It is further expected that changes will result in the further development of the sector and of its contribution to the economy of The Bahamas.

The proposed regulations would eliminate foreign guides in Bahamian waters, but more than that, it also seeks to eliminate foreign owned flats fishing lodges.

(4) A person eligible to apply for certification as a fishing lodge operator under paragraph (1) must —

(a) be a citizen or permanent resident of The Bahamas; and

(b) satisfy all criteria established and published by the Department of Marine Resources.

I’m all for Bahamian guides for Bahamian waters. That seems to make sense and is generally the way it goes from what I understand, with a few exceptions. Permanent residents, folks who live there all year, they would be eligible to guide, from what I understand. That makes sense to me as well. But by attacking foreign owned lodges the proposed regulations go from “let’s get a handle on things” to “let me figure out how to reduce competition so I can make more money.”

Imagine the Bahamas with no Deep Water Cay, no Abaco Lodge, no Andros South, no Bair’s Lodge. These are foreign owned operations and they are some of the best in all the Islands. They invest heavily in their lodges, they market, they hire well, they manage well and they are the types of places we think about when we think about fly fishing the Bahamas. There are a number of great Bahamian operations as well, don’t get me wrong, but they are as good as they are because they are competing with the foreign operations.

Fly fishing brings something like $141M to the economy of the Bahamas each year (probably more now, as those numbers are 2010 numbers). It seems, with these regulations, someone wants more of that pie. It is a short-sighted path to destruction.

Those foreign owned lodges buy a lot of goods. They employ a lot of people. They contribute a lot to their local economies. Take them out of the picture and sure, some lodge may get a few dozen more bookings a year, but the net impact will be negative. It will mean fewer visitors, fewer anglers and less income for Bahamians.

Also, while I’m at it, let’s talk about what these proposed regulations will NOT do. They will not “ensure that the marine environments upon which the fishery is based, are protected.

I’ll remind you… the photo below is of a new lodge going in near Treasure Cay. This is a Bahamian owned operation and, from what I hear, they used local political connections to skirt environmental regulations prohibiting the type of dredging seen in the photo. Mangroves ripped out, the flat dredged and by Bahamians, not by some villainous foreign owner.

Well... isn't that ugly!?

Well… isn’t that ugly!?

If the flats are going to be preserved it will be done by addressing over-development and over-exploitation. How does limiting who can own a lodge address this? How does making it harder for a guide to guide address this? It doesn’t.

I’d think if they wanted to preserve the flats it would be more about limiting development in critical places, especially around nursery areas and those places bonefish aggregate before spawning. You might throw in rod/angler/boat limits for certain sectors as well, if you want to reduce pressure, and there certainly are some places that need a bit less pressure. However, a newly dredged marina and a couple acres of ripped out mangroves probably has more of an impact on the health of the ecosystem than who owns a particular lodge.

One other aspect of the proposed regulations I don’t much care for is the vagueness surrounding exactly why an angler or guide could be turned down for a permit to fish or guide. It seems very subjective and in a place a small as the Bahamas, I would worry the authority to deny someone the ability to fish or to make a living could be abused. This might not lead to FIFA levels of corruption, but if you recall the photo just above of the new lodge with the ugly newly dredged channel, corruption and abuse already occur in broad daylight.

So… what to do about it all? Write. Let them know what you think of these proposed regulations. (you can find the regulations here)

From Cindy Pinder:

Interest persons and organizations are urged to review the Draft and provide their comments thereon to the Department of Marine Resources. This would be best done through email to fisheries@bahamas.gov.bs and should be received before Friday 26th June 2015.

 


31
Dec 14

Wait… is it really New Year’s Eve?

How did that happen?

This year has been a blur and probably the least I’ve blogged since the thing started. There simply hasn’t been time with the new addition (who just turned ONE), the new job (which I’ve now been at a year) and everything else.

It has been a mixed year, in many ways. There have been some high highs and low lows.

One of the bones of 2014

One of the bones of 2014

The Fishing High Points

  • Long Island. I hosted a trip for Angling Destinations to Long Island. It was a great week and my only pure fishing week of the year. I had never been to Long Island before, so it was great to check that out, see a new fishery, get to know new guides and new anglers. I landed maybe my biggest bonefish to date at about 7.5 pounds and I experienced some things for the first time. It was a great week.
  • The Keys. A short trip with only one fishing day, but I got to go out with Capt. Derek Rust and Dan Dow and I stuck my first redfish (after many, many blown shots by yours truly).
  • Montana. Labor Day was an the in-laws on the Yaak River in Montana. My daughter had a 20 fish day on dries on a little creek, a magical experience.
  • The Pier. My daughter and I continued to dunk bait from our local pier and we had one day sans obligations that we fished there for 8 hours and caught too many sharks to count. A highlight for sure.
  • The Upper McCloud. My daughter and I went camping on the Upper McCloud again and she caught her first trout solo on a fly. A proud moment.
  • Fishing with my dad. When my mom passed away this year I went up to be with my dad and we did what came naturally and we fished. I don’t get to fish with my dad too often these days and it did seem to be cathartic. It was a special few days.

With all of that said, this was probably my lowest year in terms of fishing days. I had a fly rod in my hand maybe the fewest days since I picked up a fly rod in 1996.

It was a great year as I watched my boy grow from infant to toddler. It was a hard year with my mom passing away. It was a great year as I watched my wife excel at motherhood and in her career. It was a hard year as my daughter struggled to share time with her new brother and I went from week on/off to a weekend dad. It was a year full of ups and downs.

I’m looking forward to 2015. I’ll likely get fishing, somewhere. I’ll probably catch a bonefish, maybe a tarpon, certainly a trout and a shark. Beyond that, or where those activities will take place… I can’t say just yet. Time will fill in the blanks.

Happy 2015 to you and yours. I hope you it is a year full of personal bests.