14
Apr 17

Win a frigging trip to Cuba, via Yellow Dog

Awesome shot by Jim Klug.

I got to go once… and it was amazing. That’s where I got my first adult tarpon. It was a very special trip. You could get to feel that same feeling. Yellow Dog Fly Fishing is giving away THREE free trips to fish Cuba. What an opportunity.

“This could be you! Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures will be giving away THREE (3) all-inclusive fly fishing trips to Cuba for THIS SPRING. There is no purchase required, and no strings attached.

Tune in Monday, April 17th at 9:30am MTS / 11:30am EST to hear Yellow Dog’s Director of Operations, Jim Klug, announce the start to the Cuba Fly Fishing Giveaway via Facebook Live.”

Go on… win yourself a trip to frigging Cuba!

 


31
Jan 17

What to do about the Bahamas

stormy times for the Bahamas

I’m conflicted. I love the Bahamas, but the government of the Bahamas doesn’t love me back and some of its people are downright hostile to how I want to vacation and spend my time and money. So… what am I to do?

The new law has been rolled out and it has been a bit bumpy from what I’ve heard. Have not heard about people being denied, just that some folks who are supposed to issue the licenses don’t seem to have a firm grip on what is going on and you may have to wait a full day or two to actually get the license. I have not heard about enforcement issues yet, but then, I don’t hear everything so I wouldn’t rule it out.

What I do know is the trip I took last February is a trip I can’t take in 2017. I rented a boat and a friend and I fished together, without a guide, for the last three days of the trip. That would be illegal to do now. This fact bums me out.

I’d still be able to go around on foot, or use a kayak or canoe to get around, but that boat is no longer an option. I’d still be able to go and use a guide, either through a lodge or on my own, which does change the price dynamics a bit, but, you still get the Bahamas that way, but I won’t spend a dime on those who fought against us.

There are plenty of operations who have fought the good fight, on behalf of all anglers and for the Bahamian people, and they stand to lose if we just all stay away. Folks like Abaco Lodge, Bairs Lodge, Delphi, East End Lodge, Swain’s Cay and Black Fly, just to name a very few, all fought hard for us and I don’t want them to be hurt for doing what was right.

If you want to go to the Bahamas, there are two places to check out:

  • Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures – They aren’t booking the anti lodges. They’ve been in the game for a long time. They know Prescott, have known him for years, and they were very involved in the fight. If they have a destination in the Bahamas, you can feel better knowing they are on the right side of this thing.
  • Abaco Fly Fishing Guide’s Association – If you want to know if a guide or lodge is pro-angler, ask if they support the AFFGA or the BFFIA. If they support the former, you are golden. If they support the later, well… I won’t fish with them, I know that much.

It isn’t good in the Bahamas right now. I was just reading one lodge owner saying his business was off 70%. People are hurting.

So, don’t stay away if you are going on a lodge trip. But please, spend your dollars wisely.


13
Jan 17

Comments from Yellow Dog on the Bahamian Regulations

Yellow Dog knows a thing or two about the Bahamas and Ian Davis has been going there longer than I’ve been fly fishing. He knows the lodges and the people and he wrote his thoughts up about the regs and what they will mean for the Bahamas going forward.

You can read these thoughts here.

The regulations are in place now and it looks like licenses are being issued. Don’t know how it is working on some of the smaller islands. If you have experiences, please let me know.

Another DIY GBI bonefish

 


15
Nov 16

Interview with Jess McGlothlin – The South Pacific

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If you have picked up a fly fishing anything lately, you probably have seen photos taken through the lens of Jess McGlothlin or you’ve read an article written by her hand. She’s got a keen eye for composition and seems to be just about anywhere where things are happening in the fly fishing world. She has Jess McGlothlin Media and is also part of the Yellow Dog Flyfishing team. I did an interview with Jess to hear about what she did down in the South Pacific. It isn’t a place you think of when it comes to fly fishing, at least not now, but maybe you will.

Jess, I’ve seen some photos you took from a fishing expedition to a location in the South Pacific. Where was it, exactly, that you went and, most importantly, how was the fishing?

I’ve been lucky enough to be on a few South Pacific trips in the past couple years. I did an expeditionary trip to Samoa for YETI and Outside Magazine this spring, but the trip that, to me, epitomizes the South Pacific was exploring Anaa Atoll in French Polynesia with a team from Costa del Mar and the IndiFly Foundation. Anaa is a small atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, about one-and-a-half hours’ flight northeast from Tahiti.

In a word, the fishing was good. Really good. Kind of great, really. Healthy and happy bonefish (some big boys), bluefin trevally, bohar and all manner of reef fish, napoleon wrasse, and other species. I talked recently to a friend who returned to Anaa and he reported some strong GT fishing.

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The South Pacific is just not on the radar screen of most saltwater anglers outside of a few, well known places, like Christmas Island. What do you think the potential is for that region based on your experience?

I think the potential is huge. I’d love to get back in the area and spend an extended amount of time exploring — there are fisheries that are not quite on most people’s maps yet. In the States we hear more about Christmas, Rangiroa or Tetiaroa, but after the traveling I’ve done in the past several years, Anaa is the place I’m trying hard to get back to. A variety of species, friendly locals, and a strong “adventure” element… the South Pacific ticks all those boxes. And give me undeveloped locales over tourist zones any day.

From the trip to Anaa Atoll, what was the highlight?

The final day of the Anaa trip, my photo clients looked at me and said, “You’ve shot all week, now it’s your turn to fish,” and handed me a rod. I couldn’t argue with that. I caught a bonefish and a bluefin trevally and then happy went back to the camera, more than content.

It’s rare to go to a place where there is so much photo fodder. Not so much a plethora of subjects in the traditional sense — you’re on a small island with limited inhabitants — but in terms of the sheer beauty of the place and its people. One day we took a break from fishing to spend some time getting to know the village, and ended up participating in patia fa, the highly competitive local sport of throwing homemade spears at a coconut suspended high on a pole. We just hung out and threw spears and stuff for an afternoon— how awesome is that?

And, yeah, I could have stayed another month just to shoot photos of the fish.

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You shoot some mean photos. I’m wondering what sort of considerations you take when you head somewhere so remote in order to not have the whole trip go sideways on you.

Something always goes sideways; that’s a given. On this trip, I ended up in the little atoll clinic (luckily the rotating, listing French nurse was there at the time) with toe and foot infections from coral cuts. I ended up losing both toenails and by the end of the trip I could barely fit my feet into my flip-flops for the flight home. Part of the game, and there’s no question in my mind the images were worth it.

In planning any shoot, I sit down with the client beforehand and develop a shot list so I know what their “must have” shots are. This list can be as short as a half a page and as long as ten. If logistics allow, I sit down every evening with clients while on location to review shots and ensure they like what they are seeing. Typically we do it the first day or two, then they know they’re comfortable with what we’re shooting and it’s less of a worry. It’s always a good sign when the client starts to bring beer to the photo review.

I’m lucky to travel frequently enough to have developed a “gear list” with items I know I’ll need. It varies location by location and job by job, of course, but the basics stay the same. I take meticulous care of cameras on location — in saltwater locations they get swiped down with a damp cloth then dried each night, lenses and filters carefully cleaned, batteries charged, and memory cards backed up three times then cleared. If I don’t have time to do all that and sleep, then I don’t get sleep. It’s pretty simple.

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The trip you took was associated with IndiFly. What is that program and where are they working?

IndiFly is one of the better ideas I’ve seen come into the fly-fishing community. As a photographer and writer, to me it’s the ideal combination of what really got me into photography — humanitarian work — and fly-fishing. The organization’s website perhaps sums it up best:

“Indifly is a 501(c)(3) organization protecting the world’s greatest fisheries while providing sustainable livelihoods for indigenous peoples. Indifly’s mission is focused on the conservation of natural resources, food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable livelihoods in these communities.

We accomplish our mission by assisting indigenous communities around the world transition from non-sustainable practices. Most often, through the development of sustainable* community owned fly fishing ecotourism operations. *economically/environmentally/culturally.”

Add in an accomplished, intelligent group of leaders and it becomes something special.

American anglers seem to want a good adventure that ends with a great meal and a comfortable, bug-free bed. How do you think the South Pacific meets, exceeded or falls short of that?

It depends where you are going. Where we were on Anaa, the lodging and food were excellent. We slept in well-furnished huts with real beds, hot water, electricity and all the comforts of home — really, I was quite impressed. There was even a small TV in one corner (I never turned it on to see if it actually worked). The food was very local (raw fish in coconut milk, various stir-fries, all manner of seafood, etc.) and extremely good. We even had French vanillas creamer for our coffee, and fresh eggs and homemade chocolate croissants every morning. So Anaa “exceeded,” big time. I lived nicer there than I do when I’m back in Montana.

Other places, it depends on how you set yourself up. I’ve slept on the beach and been chewed up by bugs, stung in the neck by a scorpion in my sleep, and returned from trips with my fair share of various tropical fevers. It depends of what kind of care you take of yourself, and if staying in fancy resorts is your thing, typically the lodging and food meets most American standards. Personally, I prefer to stay, eat, and work with locals as much as possible — I think it’s the only real way to get the true feel of a place and you meet some of the best people.

It feels like everything that can be discovered, every fishery that can be know, is known already. Do you think there are places still left to be explored?

I like to think so. Maybe it’s romantic or naive or silly, but I like to think there are still some kick-ass fisheries out there waiting to be explored. I can only hope I’m lucky enough to be on the teams that pioneer them.

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Do you find it hard to be behind the camera when the fishing is good? How do you deal?

“How do you deal?” — I love that. I’m getting better at it. If I’m on a big commercial shoot, I may not ever pick up a rod. The job has to come first. But it’s hard sometimes. Being out on a flats boat all day can be nice, because when the light is really awful on a bright, hot day, I can usually use that time to shoot underwater work and maybe pick up a rod.

Several weeks ago I was an instructor at a Belize On-the-Water Fly-Fishing Photography Workshop for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures. On the first day, I was in the boat with a student and he wanted to shoot, so I fished. It was a treat! One permit to hand and I was a happy camper for the rest of the week… it’s amazing what just a short stint on the rod can do to improve morale. It’s hard to be in these places and not fish, but part of the gig. And it makes those times when I can all the better.

And when the fishing is good, it means I have a lot to shoot, usually in a short space of time! My brain gets clicking and busy… and there’s something just as satisfying sharing the moment with the camera in hand. I know those moments will be documented for some time to come — and that’s what makes it all work.

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Awesome Jess. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Hope to share the water with you in the future (always good to share a boat with a photographer… way more bow time!). 


22
Oct 16

Interview with Camille Egdorf from the film Provicence

The Seychelles are one of those epic destinations most saltwater fly anglers dream of, pirates and all. The Seychelles are back in business and one of the people who got to go there when it re-opened was Camille Egdorf. The story of the Seychelles fishery, the pirates and the re-opening was captured in film format by Confluence Films, the same folks who brought us Waypoints and Rise (among others). This film, called Providence, is visually stunning, with more of a narrative arc than we might have seen before. The film focuses on this one place and it is utterly worth watching.

I got to do an email interview with Camille Egdorf, who works for Yellow Dog Fly Fishing. Here are her answers.

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Camille in Christmas Island

Spending so much time in the wilderness in Alaska and then going out to the Seychelles, a different kind of wilderness, what were the similarities and most glaring differences in those two types of wilderness?

I’m no stranger to being in the middle of nowhere and I’m really quite comfortable with it. Being totally immersed in nature is a great way to completely lose your mind and also find your soul. You can find the feeling of solitude, inferiority, adventure and mystery both in Alaska and in the Seychelles. They’re both surrounded by nothing more than what Mother Nature put there eons ago and you’re completely at the mercy of it. It’s humbling.

Of course, there are some major differences between the two. The biggest most obvious difference is you’re surrounded by hundreds of miles of water in the Seychelles. Of all the things that intimidated me, the ocean intimidated me most. I’ve never in my life felt so belittled and insignificant. The fishing there is like fishing on a foreign planet where the various species are colorful, weird, fast, deadly and completely alien to a trout fisherman.

You caught a lot of different species in the Seychelles. Which was your favorite and why?

It’s tough to pick a favorite. As you know, everything in the ocean is bigger, faster, stronger has more teeth, tougher scales and bipolar attitudes. And if they don’t they inevitably get eaten. So everything brought it’s A game and fought harder than anything I had ever tangoed with before and I loved every second. If I had to choose though, I’d say GT’s were the highlight. They’re intense on so many levels and no matter how many you catch, they always leave you either completely demoralized and defeated or triumphant and accomplished. They’re fast, aggressive and are so visual that there truly isn’t anything that can compare.

How do you prepare, gear-wise, for a trip like that where you are going to be fishing for everything from bonefish to GT’s?

Most times it’s organized chaos when trying to compile the right gear for a trip of this magnitude. But I try to keep it simple and avoid bringing copious amounts of rods and reels that I probably won’t even use. I’ve seen anglers pack 10 rods for a week-long trip and to me that’s excessive and just a headache. They’ll pack an 8wt, a 9wt, a 10wt and on and on which will leave them with enough rods to outfit 5 people. For this particular trip I had two 8wt’s and two 12wt’s which kept me fishing all the time and allowed me some insurance if I broke a rod. My best advice is to pick two rods of a different weight that are capable of handling several different species. This will allow you to pack light but also keep you covered for a variety of species and in the unlikely event a rod is busted.

When you are on the water a lot you tend to see things that other people have never seen and would never believe. Is there something like that you’ve seen on your time in the water? 

There are certainly moments that come to mind where I couldn’t believe my eyes. But there is one situation I continuously look back on and laugh. I guided in Alaska for about 7 years at my parents fish camp, Western Alaska Sportfishing, on the upper Nushagak River. It is very remote and the only other fishermen you see on the river are bears. One day I was guiding a couple fishermen through a section of river that was full of salmon. We were having a blast catching fish when we rounded a corner and startled a young grizzly about 30 yards away. It was so surprised by the boat full of yelling fishermen that it got mad and started taking all of its anger out on a small willow tree. The sight of a roaring bear mauling a little tree will stick with me for life. We laughed about that for hours.

What were the rods/reels your brought with you?

For rods I used the Echo 3 Salt the entire time. I mostly stuck to using the 8 and 12wt which I’d swap out when I either saw a bonefish or GT. The 12wt is a great big game rod, mostly because of the added grip above the reel so you can really put some leverage on bigger fish. I put those rods through hell and truthfully, they should have busted but never did.

For reels I used Hatch. I’ve used Hatch Reels before and knew they were nearly bulletproof so I went into this trip knowing I was in good hands. They’re sealed which makes them great for saltwater fishing and keeping salt out of the gears. They’re simple to take apart and if you need to clean any sand or grit out, you can open them up without having to worry about springs or screws flying everywhere.

With a bumpy from the Seychelles

Do you think it makes more sense to spend money on a premium rod or a premium reel for this sort of trip, assuming you could only go one of those directions?

Absolutely. The saltwater environment is a harsh one and not just because everything gets a healthy coating of salt. As I mentioned before, everything in the ocean is bigger, faster and stronger and as a result, will put your gear to the ultimate test. It’s imperative that you bring quality equipment otherwise you’ll be stripped of any dignity you may carry as a fishermen within seconds of hooking your first GT or large bonefish. These fish don’t mess around and neither should you. Even the best equipment in the industry has a tough time holding up to these conditions and fish. In short, you ultimately get what you pay for so it pays to dish out the cash.

What one piece of gear that was totally critical on your Seychelles trip (non-rod/reel)?

There are two actually – sturdy wading boots and sunglasses. Roughly 99% of our days spent on the flats of Providence were on foot and if hadn’t had good footwear, I would have ended the trip with stubs for feet.

Having good eyewear is mandatory if you want to spot fish and keep your eyes from being burned out of your head. I would have been in a world of hurt without my Costa’s.

Where is the next saltwater location you are planning on traveling to?

I don’t have anything planned for saltwater yet but I’m hoping to get down to Belize. I have a serious fascination with Permit and haven’t had the chance to target one. So I’ve got my heart set on that for this winter. Aside from that, my next big trip is to Kamchatka, Russia to host a group of anglers for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures on the Zhupanova River. Big rainbows dwell in those waters.

Thanks Camille. It looked like a fantastic time out there and glad to see you put the stick to some impressive fish. 


05
Aug 16

Yellow Dog gives Hurricane Earl Update

This link from Yellow Dog Fly Fishing gives a rundown of fishing operations in Belize and the impact Earl had.

Some operations were impacted more than others, but no one lost their life and no one was totally leveled, so that’s good news.

Belize is a special place for me. I got a Grand Slam fishing out of El Pescador in 2010 with my friend Shane and I honeymooned here in 2012.

Glad to hear operations have mostly made it through the hurricane.

Honeymoon Bonefish

Honeymoon Bonefish


23
Nov 12

Droolworthy… Jim heads to St. Brandons

He’s back already, but Jim Klug of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures just went to St. Brandon’s Atoll in the Indian Ocean and it looks AWESOME.

That is beautiful. (photo by Jim Klug)

Nice, nice bone from the Indian Ocean.

Yeah… the obligatory GT. I need to catch one of these.

 

 


08
Apr 12

Awesome day in the garden of the queen

We started off today getting an unexpected shot at a nice permit… a black tale sticking up through the wave about 40 feet away. I made the cast, had a follow and a little jack grabbed the fly before Mr. Permit could.

After that I broke off a bone, lost one in the mangroves and was starting to get a little frustrated.  Then… the day turned around. My boat-mate, Charlie, caught his first fly caught bone, then his second and third. We found a school of bones that just wouldn’t spook and we caught bone after bone.

Then, we went looking for tarpon. We found them. We fished a deep cut with sooooo much life, it was just amazing.  There were jacks busting bait and tarpon rolling and cudas crushing little bait fish. It was happening all around us and it was awe inspiring. Felt like being transported back in time to some virgin bit of paradise.

I had a tarpon eat my black death bunny about 20 feet off the boat. I was sure I had a good hook set on him, but he spit the hook on the first jump. I was shaken… literally. Took me a few minutes to get composed (but it was the kind of being ruffled with a big smile on my face).   Had a second shot and a good hoot set. The fish took off and then jumped (caught on camera, I’ll get it up when I can) and then came off.  I even jumped a third tarpon. A nice tarpon.  Maybe 60 pounds.  Awesome.

It was just a fantastic, wonderful day with Avalon guide TiTi and boat-mate Charlie. I caught somewhere around 5-7 bones, three snappers, a horse eyed jack (15 pounds) and jumped three nice tarpon.

We’ve even seen Franco this evening, the saltwater croc that hangs around the houseboat.

One of the most enjoyable days I’ve had on the water.

 

Yes... it is as awesome as it looks here.


06
Feb 12

Out of the way places

There are so many places to fish… really… SO many places, but it seems the folks who book those trips tend to send anglers to the same places.  There are plenty of outfitters who book Andros and Mexico and even Christmas or the Seychelles.  While there are so many places to fish, you have to search a bit to find an outfit that will take you some place new.

One place that isn’t on everyone’s list is Guanaja Lodge… in Honduras.

Honduras doesn’t usually rise to the top when you start talking about fly fishing destinations for bonefish.  Really, I don’t think I’ve heard it come up in casual conversation with more than one or two people… and I talk about bonefish a lot (so much it tends to annoy people).

Yup… that’s from Honduras.

23
Oct 11

Interview with Ian Davis

Ian Davis is a saltwater addict who happens to have a pretty cool job as part of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures.  He’s had a pretty interesting life on the water and he took some time to share part of that with BOTB.

Where was your last trip to the salt?

I was in the Yucatan and Belize. Heading to Grand Bahama on Nov. 2nd, then I’m headed to Bimini to fish a new operation and then I’m headed to Mangrove Cay, on operation down on Andros.

That sounds really rough there.

A lot of behind the scenes work happens on those trips that really separates Yellow Dog from a lot of the competition out there. The fact that we take all our own photos takes an enormous amount of time. Jim and I both spend a lot of time shooting the lodges and the food, I was just at the Trout Hunter in Island Park yesterday re-shooting the lodge. I didn’t even fish. I floated a couple of sections and I had an angler with me and I just let him fish, talked with the guide, talked about the hatches and it is the same thing down in the Bahamas. There no doubt it is a great job and we have a great passion for it, but a lot of these trips are hard work. You are ready to come home after your 10 days stint.

Kind of an awesome shot there.

When you are out on the water a lot, you see some strange things. Is there anything that stands out?

One time I was on the West Side of Andros and we were poling the opening of a creek and it is really muddy and silty out there. We were catching bonefish and I think this was probably April or May, and way in the back part of the flat there was this big commotion going on, lots of splashing. It looked like a big old cuda had gotten stuck in the mud and I just figured it had been chasing a bonefish and had gotten in too shallow water and was struggling to get out. The bottom was soft enough that it could probably crawl out of that mud. We weren’t worried about it. It was pretty far away. We just kept fishing and kept catching bonefish. We were fishing about another half hour and finally it started working its way towards us and it’s back was out of the water and we were both saying that it was a monster cuda and we should probably go over there and catch it and take some photos of it. We started poling over to it and it turns out it was about a 70 pound tarpon. It was literally taking a mud bath. We got up close to it and we didn’t even cast to it, at first, and it was utilizing that soft, silky west-side mud to get sea lice off of it, or just literally have a spa day. It just looked like it was having so much fun noodling through the mud like a salmon making a redd and that was really neat. I’d never seen anything like that and when we threw at it, it ate immediately. It was really fun.

Other fun stuff out on the flats. Always have a rod rigged for whatever species you want to target. Invitably, whatever you are not prepared for will roll down the pipe. I’ve seen tuna and dorado up in the Joulters in the Bahamas in four feet of water. If you didn’t have a tarpon rod, you aren’t going to have a shot at that. A close friend of mine saw a sail fish on the West Side of Andros in three feet of water. You just never expect those sorts of things, but when you have shallow water adjacent to deep water, like a lot of the Bahamas, you are going to have a wide range of species that might be coming at the boat.

That was probably a lot of fun.

What’s your current favorite rod and reel.

Nine foot 8 wt., Biiix Winston and Hatch Reels.

I know you guys love the Hatch Reels.

Yup. I’ve also always been a big fan of the Winstons. When I had my fly shop in Colorado, I sold them and I’ve continued to use them. I love the fact that they are made in Montana and they are super a good company and good people. I love the action. I think it is one of the best fish fighting tools out there. So many people focus on casting the rod and they forget that that is only half of it. You have to fight the fish. With today’s stronger tippet in flourocarbon, you can give the fish more work that folks typically do. Stu Apte is the master at that. Stu’s a good buddy of mine and we talk a lot about the proper pressure on fish. I really think that boron butt section really enables anglers to lean on their fish a little bit more and we all know that the importance of that, not only is it fun, but it is conservation based. We want to protect the species so our kids can catch them. The way to do that is to land them quickly. Flouro has aided to that, but often people are buying these wicked fast rods all the way to the tip and they are super quick and brittle and it is hard to put a good fight with that fast action rod because one head shake and it can break. The fast action rods these days are also often difficult to cast within 50′, they are just too fast. That’s what’s always brought me back to Winston. The castability and the fish fighting ability of those rods.

Spending a little bit extra on your reel is important because of the way salt eats away at our gear. I stand firmly behind the Hatch. I love that it is an encased drag system, it is sealed. I like that the foot is machined on. Battling the screws is always a bummer if they loosen up. I love that you can take the spool off and nothing falls out. Everything is attached and it doesn’t fall out. I’ve had horrendous times trying to take a reel apart, something jams or trying to change from right hand to left hand retrieve and some little spring goes flying out and lands in the water. Trip over. I love the fact that the Hatch reels are idiot proof.

There are usually a couple of people in our angling lives that really help us grow as anglers. Do you have anyone like that in your saltwater fishing career?

I would say when I had my fly shop my partner was a big steelhead fisherman and I really loved the flats. I’d go down to the Bahamas and bum around and stay at friends houses and I got really lucky and I started fishing with Charlie Neymour and Andy Smith and I couldn’t have picked two better people. They were about my age and their dad’s were the fathers of bonefishing in the Bahamas. Crazy Charlie and Ivan Neymour were really the first two guides in the Bahamas and the pioneered bonefishing in the Bahamas. So, their sons, I grew up with them. They had the same passion for it that we had for it. They weren’t conch or lobster fisherman that guided bonefish in the off season in their cousin’s boat. These guys were serious. On their days off they were fishing. That’s something that Yellow Dog always asks… “What do you do on your days off?” We want to know that they are after it and fishing just like we do. Andy and Charlie had a strong passion for big bonefish. We always want to get our numbers up that first morning, but the rest of the time we’d spend looking for big bonefish and permit and tarpon. They really set the stage for me and enabled me to understand the sport of flats fishing at a grassroots level. I wasn’t reading about it, I was sleeping on the beach and saving all my guide tips to be able to come and fish with these guys. We could only afford a couple of days with them, but we really valued that time and asked a lot of questions. Being guides ourselves we knew not to guide the guides. We let them do their thing. Some years later when I came to Yellow Dog I got to spend a lot of time with Charlie himself, Charlie Smith. That was probably where I gained the most insight on a fishes behavior. It can be so fine tuned that now I feel like if I see a fish I know if I’m going to catch it based on it’s behavior and what the previous fish did. That’s a neat thing, to have that relationship with your guide where the guide starts to turn the boat a little bit or you feel it speed up or slow down and and you look 60′ at 11:00 and there’s a fish and not a word was spoken. That’s how I’ve managed to get with the Smith family and the Neymour family. There’s not a lot of talking in the boat anymore beyond our kids and our families and maybe a little business. We aren’t pointing out fish anymore.

People doing these trips get so focused on how many fish they’ve caught. Please don’t do the math on how much each fish is costing, after flights and package and beer. That reduces your fish count. I really like to promote the cultural aspects of these destinations and first and foremost the relationships with the guides. Those can be some of the strongest relationships you’ll carry though the rest of your life and they are all wonderful people and I really consider the Neymours and the Smiths some of my closest friends. We get to see each other at the shows and throughout the winters and then when I go down there. I’m still trying to get them to come up to Montana, but haven’t had luck on that yet.

What percentage of the flies in your fly box do you tie?

For trout flies, I had a fly shop and when I sold that I pilfered about 30 years of flies.  I’ll tie the basic trout flies, but I love to tie saltwater flies.  I have a vice at my desk and when I’m making pre-trip or post-trip calls, which is about 30% of my time, I’m tying flies. I love the big saltwater flies. The first half of my fishing career I tied trout flies.  Now, as I get a bit older I like the bigger hooks and the bigger flies. I love tying tarpon flies like variations of the toads, cockroaches and black deaths.  Love bonefish flies like clouser gotchas, toad head, I still spin a lot of elk hair… I think that flies pushing water really gets their lateral lines going.  I use a lot of traditional materials. Enrico Puglisi is always blowing me away with his materials. I am using a lot more EP materials in my flies and I love his his flies. He’s a big time innovator. Not only are his flies sexy, but they catch fish and are durable.

Ian showing how to take a good C&R photo here.

One of the things I love about bonefishing is all the other stuff that is associated with it.  The cracked conch and the cold Kalik.  Are there associations you make with bonefishing beyond the fishing?

I would say watching friends fish.  I really get a kick out of watching fish describe their experience and seeing it first hand.  I’m really lucky.  I’ve caught a lot of bonefish and I’ve been in a lot of places where bonefish live. I never thought I’d say this, but I don’t have to catch a lot of fish to be happy.  On the Henry’s Fork I fished about 20 minutes and I just really watched my buddy fish and took pictures.  Photography has really taken over for me in terms of my enjoyment on the fringe. I also really enjoy watching the families associate with these destinations grow. I like watching their kids grow up.  I have three young kids and like I was saying, I kind of grew up with Charlie Neymour and Andy Smith.  Now we all have kids and families and it is always fun to go back to those places and see people growing up.  There isn’t a lot of change in those places beyond that.

Thanks Ian.