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.


30
Jun 14

The add-ons

I love bonefish. I think that is pretty clearly understood. I love fishing for them and being where they live and I’ve been fortunate enough to do some of it.

What has been a little surprising are all the other things I’ve come to love which come along with bonefishing. I’ve come to really love the sharks and rays and cuda. I’ve been surprised at how much I love fishing for tarpon, how much I love the humble jack.

I’ve come to love lobster and cracked conch and the Bahamian mac and cheese.

I love Kalik and Sands and Belekin, although probably more for the location than the taste.

What are the add-ons that you’ve come to love about bonefishing?

Just a cool environment.

Just a cool environment.


02
Sep 13

From the Archives – First Day of Bonefishing for Mrs. BOTB

(Originally posted September 20, 2012)

She’s a sport. This was our honeymoon, after all.  It was also her second day of fly fishing ever. That’s jumping into the deep end, pretty much.  Still, I figured if it was going to happen, it stood a good chance of happening here, out of El Pescador in Belize.

I would routinely say that what I wanted, out of the day on the water, was to share with her what it was that I loved, out there on the flats. It is an obscure concept if you’ve never been out there and maybe the selling of it is a bit challenging.  “Hey, let’s stand on a boat for a few hours, looking for fish that are really hard to see, in the sun without shade. Oh, and you can’t have a beer until you land a fish (OK, that’s really more my rule).”

She was kitted out for success. She came walking up for breakfast like she belonged.

Ready for action

We got out on the water and headed up to the park.  It is a nice ride up there and the day wasn’t too hot while we were running. Soon after we paid our fee at the park we went in search for baby tarpon.  This wasn’t maybe the best first stop. First, it wasn’t going to be something that would put her up on the deck and secondly, back in the mangroves it was stiflingly hot.

I was also having a case of the sucks. I couldn’t seal the deal on the baby poons. I swept the rod on the first fish. I cast on the head of the second. I cast behind the third. The fourth wasn’t interested. All the time it was really, really hot. She suffered through it all though without a complaint, which just goes to show what a trooper she is.

We went out into a slightly bigger lagoon, a place with a bit of a breeze, and I managed to blow one last fish. On this fish I made a good cast, got the take, set the beejeezus out of things and managed to just break the fish off. That was surprising because this same set-up had landed my 85 pounder in Cuba. Same knots, same spools of material. Go figure.

Me, casting.

We then left to find some bones and the Mrs. got up on deck. Cesar, our guide set about helping out with her cast.  This was her second day fishing, period. It is a tough place to start. Cesar got her up and running and put in into position to catch fish.  There is a lot to remember though, and it was tough for her to carry it all in her mind.  There is so much we carry in muscle memory and when you have to pick it all up and have to keep it in the front of your mind, well, things are going to get dropped, and plenty of things got dropped. She was unfazed though, mostly because of her awesomeness.

Mrs. BOTB actually hooked two bonefish, which I thought was simply wonderful. She got to feel the fish a bit, but put too much slack into things and both bones managed to get off. She did, however, manage to get a little snapper, so was not blanked on the day and got to enjoy a Belikin.

Earning the beer.

The day ended with Cesar and I out on foot chasing down several schools of bones. That was a fun time.

Another one in the books.

She got to see what I love out there and she understands me a bit better because of it.  That was the goal, so, mission accomplished. She may need a few more days of trout fishing before we head back to the flats, which I’m happy to provide for her.

She’s game, which is just simply wonderful.


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.