11
Jun 19

Getting to Cuba Just Got Harder

The Trump Administration recently announced some expanded travel restrictions for Cuba, because, ya know… they are super, super, super duper a threat to our way of life and, also, he’d like to keep Florida red in 2020.

Cuba

I talked with Kristen Tripp, Program Director for Cuba at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures and I asked her what the impact of this latest news would be on their program.

First, Kristen expressed her frustration and sorrow for the people of Cuba who have been through a lot, make due with very little and are certainly being hurt by some of these very backward looking policies. There’s a shortage of just about everything in Cuba, including chickens, and people really are being put through unnecessary harm.

Awesome shot by Jim Klug in Cuba, 2012.

Second, Kristen explained that things have changes since I went to Cuba back in 2012. The whole operation has worked hard to make their trips legal (read, not just sneaking in from Mexico). This new policy makes that harder, but not impossible and they’ll be trying very hard to maintain above-board Cuban trips this year and into the future. Trips are still being booked to Cuba and any already on the books are grandfathered in. Still, there will be changes and the exact fall-out is a bit still to be worked out.

Cuba was a fantastic experience for me… one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. It was pretty obvious how bad the Cuban people were hurting back then and it hasn’t gotten better since. It is all a travesty and I hope some intelligence seeps into our Cuban policy that doesn’t revolve around Presidential politics.

Photo by Matt Hansen… me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

For the latest developments, there are few people better suited to answer your questions than the folks at Yellow Dog and Kristen in particular.

I’m not the only one who thinks this is a bad idea. So does Foreign Policy (that liberal rag). The Guardian thinks sanctions don’t work. Fortune seems to think it is a bad idea.

It is bad policy… a failed policy that didn’t work for 50 years. Let’s get past this.


02
Jun 19

Costa Rica Tarpon

I don’t think I want to go for a swim in here, but the tarpon look FUN.

I really need to get into another tarpon.

I’m just going to say this… there is usually no point to just casting your fly back and forth more than, oh, twice. I call that “casterbating” while you may use another term. Whatever it is, it isn’t shadow casting from a river runs through it, which isn’t a thing anyway.

In that video the angler is doing two things I’d change. First… cast closer to the shore. If you are as short as he is, so frequently, that’s not doing you any favors. Put the fly in front of the fish. Second… get that fly out of the air and into the water.

Costa Rica… yeah… on the list, but the list is too long.


29
May 19

The Story of Oliver White

Few figures in fly fishing right now are as compelling as Oliver White. Owner of Abaco Lodge (and I think Bair’s Lodge) and co-founder of IndiFly, Oliver is the kind of guy you’d want to spend a day on the water with.

Here’s a well done video (the Felt Soul guys) with some of his story.

(Looks like they took this video down… not sure what is going on there, but it is no longer on the Felt Soul site)


26
May 19

The picture, the bonefish and you

I think I’ve been pretty upfront with some of my own bonefish handling mistakes. The first bonefish I ever caught I had out of the water maybe a minute. Same goes for all the fish caught that day. The guide told me the fish would be fine and that they were hardy fish.

That green hat, my first decent bonefish and some horrible fish handling.

That was pretty much bullshit and the science shows just how wrong that is. Bonefish can and do die frequently post-release. It isn’t the exhaustion, like might kill a trout caught in water just a tad to warm. The bonefish will usually swim away just fine and you’ll think “A perfect release.” However, that fish may very well end up in the belly of of cuda or shark within the next few minutes (sometimes seconds).

I mean, yeah, there were a couple of podcast episodes on this very thing due to a fish I had eaten post-release in Grand Bahama.

You have to minimize handing and air exposure for that fish to have a fighting chance. That means your photo taking has to change. Keep that fish in the water. If you are sitting in the boat with the fish in both your hands, that fish stands a substantially higher risk of predation (being eaten). Here are some tips from the folks at the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust on good C&R habits.

The truth of the matter is, after a couple pictures, the fish pretty much look alike. You don’t need to photograph each and every one.

Abaco Lodge and Bair’s Lodge do a great job of showing good handling. Their fish pics are of fish in the water. That’s great. Modeling good handing really helps. The clients look to the guides for how things should be done.

One place you really might be more OK with a fish out of water pic is Hawaii, where natural predators have been greatly reduced. There are simply fewer things to eat those fish post-release.

So, let’s all try to be better. I know I still have work to do, but I’m up for trying to improve.


02
May 19

Oh Bahamas Regulation mess, I didn’t miss you

Sounds like these got dropped off in Eleuthera recently and are being distributed around the island.

Eleuthera is a DIY location for the most part. Guides are scarce and many anglers have been heading there for years to ply the waters on their own.

A permit there would be hard to come by (I guess you go to Tracy Auto Parts?). The process isn’t exactly working, really anywhere, and there’s no real sense of who is enforcing this sort of thing. If there IS enforcement for this, why not for gill-nets?

So many questions… so many questions.


24
Apr 19

Big bad ideas in South Abaco

Here’s a story you should check out. The Abaconian paper put out a really well done piece about the latest in a LONG parade of bad development proposals for South Abaco.

. The Abaconian paper put out a really well done piece about the latest in a LONG parade of bad development proposals for South Abaco.

Kakona appears to have similar plans to the now-maligned Valencia Group from 2007. Of course, Kakona is just the latest in a string of development companies to attempt a project in South Abaco.

In 2007 it was “Valencia.” In 2012 “The Resorts of South Abaco” came knocking. Followed in 2015 by “The Ranches of South Abaco.” Finally, in 2018, “Kakona” is making a play.


http://www.theabaconian.com/2018/12/12/proposed-south-abaco-development-latest-in-poorly-planned-projects/

It feels a bit like I heard Florida was back in the day… a haven for frauds and con artists selling dreams.

What pipe dreams look like.

21
Apr 19

Christmas Island Gear Rundown

We fly anglers love our gear. Some (I’m looking at you Aaron) use a trip like this to load up on new rods and reels. I tend to try and make due with what I have, although even I brought in some new tools for this trip.

The Rods

I brought 5 rods with me and used 3. My 12 weight never left the rod tube and my back-up 10 had a similar fate. Both of those rods were the Redington Predators that I’ve been very happy with for years.

I brought one loaner rod with me and that was a Sage Salt 10 wt.. This was my go-to GT rod and the rod I used to horse up Milkies and Bluefin Trevally. It’s a solid rod and it cast well. Fast action and easy casting. Sadly, I have to send that one back, as it was a loaner, but it would earn a place in most saltwater quivers.

My go to bonefishing rod for the past few years has been my Orvis Helios 2. I’m just comfortable with that rod. We’ve seen things together. Just yesterday I cast an H3 and it felt like a totally different rod (which I didn’t love). I’ll keep my H2 until I snap the thing.

I used a “trigger” rod for part of the trip, a rod rigged up with a crab fly and 20# tippet. This was my Redington Predator 8 wt. that I picked up last year. I’ve been pretty pleased with this rod, which is on the lower price-point side of things. The first trigger I landed in Christmas was on this rod and I had to put the stick to the fish to keep it from heading back to his rocky, coral-lined home. This is the fish that then bit the rod. I am happy to say the rod is in fine shape, which is pretty shocking, but is true nonetheless.

Mmmmmmm…. predator….

Reels

I ended up using two new reels on this trip.

First, I had the Redington Grande, which is a machined version of their Behemoth reel, which I also own and have liked. I had the Grande on the 10 wt. and actually got the larger version of the reel, a 11/12, so I could dump more backing on it. I wish I would have caught more fish on this, but what I saw out of the reel was all positive. I made a mistake with the reel on my reef-lost GT in that I should have locked the drag down, but I didn’t and the line ended up getting a bit roughed up on the reef. That spelled the last action for the Grande as I moved to the back-up reel which had a new line on it.

The back-up reel was the Sage (the SPECTRUM MAX). Solid reel. I had no issues with this reel and it did well when pulling those milkfish up from the depths.

The bonefish reels I used are the ones I’ve been using for years now. There an Orvis Mirage (the earlier version) and a Lamson (a lightspeed, I think) which is similarly no longer in production. I used to really like Lamson as a reel maker, but they’ve made a succession of odd choices in the past few years.

Lines

The only lines I used that were really new to me were the RIO GT lines. I had no complaints about these lines. I had made the decision not to monkey with the factory loops and so I should comment that I did have to swap reels because the factory loop on the first reel got pretty messed up on the coral. I can’t think that is the fault of the loop though. The loop to loop connection seemed to be the place on the coral that the line got stuck and the loop was partially cut through in a couple of places. That said, it still held, it was the leader that ended up getting cut. Also, if I had made my own loop the profile would have been even more pronounced and it would have caught even more. I still stand by my decision to use the factory loop. The factory loop held on the milkfish just fine. People land huge GTs on the factory loop. I’ve seen the pics.

Other Key Bits of Gear

I ended up getting a pair of Simms flats boots because I was told the booties would not stand up. The boots worked well. I got a pair that were a previous year’s model so they were fairly cheap. That said, a guy on our trip had a pair of the booties, same Simms booties I have, and they stood up to the coral just fine.

The Patagonia sun hoodies are all I wear these days. They are just hard to beat. I now have three pairs of that shirt.

Protected from the rays

The Simms sun mask is my go to now. Love the holes which reduce the feeling of breathing through someones hand on my mouth and it also reduces the fogging up of sunglasses.

Yes, you can drink a beer through your sun mask.

Earplugs. My roommate for the trip very much suffers from un-diagnosed sleep apnea. I never got a solid night’s sleep. Someone on the trip gave me a pair. That was very, very important for how the whole trip went down for me.

Body Glide. Nothing would mess up your trip faster than your inner thighs being rubbed raw. Body glide is the answer. I use it proactively pretty much any time I’m spending time in the salt.

Antibiotics. Turns out my health plan has a travel clinic. You tell them where you are going and they’ll write you a prescription for what you might need and they’ll also look and see if you need any vaccines. I didn’t get sick on this trip, but I would have been in good shape if I had.

I needed a big, waterproof bag and I didn’t want to break the bank. Enter the Outcast AK Duffle. This thing is HUGE (no, I was not over weight). I could fit my rods IN the bag. Really pleased with this thing.


14
Apr 19

No bonefish were harmed in the making of these memories

Anini… a pretty cool place and one of very few places in Kauai where folks target bonefish. I’m not hot-spotting here. If you couldn’t put those particular topics together your Google is broken.

So, yeah, my 12 year old daughter and I made our way to camp at Anini for her Spring Break. We’ve been doing these Dad/Daughter trips for the past couple years and it has been some top shelf memory making.

The overlook of Hanalei Valley

A few things to know:

  • Roosters. Roosters start doing their thing about 3:15 AM. Ear plugs are mandatory equipment.
  • It is cheap… $3/day per adult. Cost us $9 to camp.
  • There can be a lot of people there. There were, roughly, all the people when we were there.
  • The North Short of Kauai means rain. Sometimes, that could mean 50″ in 24 hours. On this trip it meant some rain at night and on and off during the day.
  • Mixed in with the rain and the wind will be stretches of wonderful beautifulness.
  • The bones there are, ya know, kind of scarce. I saw one on foot and I saw a few while paddle boarding.
  • You’ll need a car to get around.
  • The Bubba’s in Hanalei is now a salad place.

Camping means bringing camping stuff. For the two of us it was 4 bags. I’m sure if you are a really awesome camper you can do this with less stuff. We tend to bring a lot of stuff and that meant four bags.

The BEST thing we brought with us was an inflatable SUP. Worked very well and the beach at Anini is such that I had no worries about letting my girl take it out and paddle around. There is a coral head that takes all the oomph out of the waves and you are left with a pretty calm flat.

I managed to catch some trumpet fish in the cuts. Trumpet fish are dumb. Simple as that. I caught a couple on gear and three on flies. I didn’t catch anything else. It wasn’t really a fishing trip. It was a trip with the girl and in that regard it was pretty wonderful.

If you are looking to go catch a Hawaiian bonefish, well… go to Oahu and go out with Kenny. If you are looking for a pretty awesome place to do some very unique camping, check out Anini.

Finished Tiamat’s Wrath in the Expanse series… looking for my next book now.

02
Apr 19

Aloha Spring Break

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that for the last few years Spring Break has meant a trip with my daughter. She’s 12 now and maybe won’t want to do this sort of trip much in the future… I mean… how fun is it to hang with your mid-40’s dad?

Last couple years we went to Belize, which was a good time. This year, we are instead headed West to the Garden Island, Kauai.

Not a bad place to get skunked.

Now… Kauai and I have a complicated relationship. It was the island I honeymooned on for my first marriage. It is the place where I saw my first bonefish. My folks brought us out there for their 40th anniversary. I went to this very same spot just after my divorce to try to catch one of those bonefish. The last time I fished here, for 4 days, I had exactly three very marginal shots.

It’s beautiful there… and rainy… and lush. I’m looking forward to it and, at this point, the girl is too. We’ll be camping for three nights and I hope the roosters let the girl sleep enough to keep her in good spirits.

Maybe there will be fish… maybe not. We’ll see.

This was the bonefish I caught in Kauai.

21
Mar 19

Sudan?

When I think of Sudan I don’t think of fly fishing… but… maybe I should. This video looks super intriguing and I have a newfound appreciation for triggers after fishing Christmas Island.

I mean… there is this from the US State Department…

” Reconsider travel to Sudan due to terrorism and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk.”

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/sudan-travel-advisory.html

I doubt Sudan is going to be really high on my list, but I’m sure that’s just part my ignorance of what’s happening there.

Do love the triggers though.