22
Feb 20

The raft in the Bay

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and today was the day. I put the raft into SF Bay and went fishing.

The tide was falling, and a bit faster than I would have liked. We had some trouble settling/finding a place to launch, but new friend Josh and I made it happen. Josh is getting into raft fishing himself and MacGyvered a trailer for himself, which we used to launch my raft.

Worked well. I want one.

The wind was up, about 17-20, and cutting cold, but we fished with the wind to our back. I was worried the wind would make it impossible to row, but it didn’t and it wasn’t.

When we finally got on the water we noticed fish… rising? Certainly a lot of fish were breaching in one form or another and it wasn’t long before Josh was onto a fish. It got off just before he landed it, but I thought I knew what it was. It wasn’t a striper and it wasn’t a halibut. It was the third and lesser of the fly-eaters in the Bay. It was a Jack Smelt. There were thousands of them.

So, we wailed on the Jack Smelt for a while and it was entirely entertaining. I don’t know how many we caught, but it was more than Skunked and less than Too Many. It was just a good time. – Side Note: I caught all of mine on a bonefishing fly.

Getting the raft back OUT of the Bay was more challenging as the muck and mud were where the water had been when we launched. We made it. We were mud caked and tired, but no one threw their back out. At this age, that’s certainly what victory looks like.

A fun foray with the raft (I’m still working on a name for her). We will do it again.


01
Feb 20

Memories of Christmas

My buddy Shane just sent me a picture of his big Geet from Christmas. I think he’s still there, but he managed to send me a picture of him, smile stretching ear to ear, holding up a big GT. Pretty cool to see. Very happy for him.

It was a year ago I was in Christmas Island with him and I was looking for my own GTs. I caught a small one (a giant trevally the size of a small trevally), I lost a mid-sized GT to the coral at the Korean Wreck and I cast at and failed to catch a big one.

That last fish I can recall pretty well even now.

It was the last day and we were on our last flat. The light was fading and the water reflected a silvery gray making it almost impossible to peer into the water even a few feet ahead of us. I thought the guide was just running out the clock and I didn’t blame him. We’d been looking for GTs and we never seemed to quite be where the fish were. He’d put in a good shift, but we just hadn’t done it.

Then the guide points.

“GT”

A fast moving bulge of water, 80-90 feet out, heading our way, pushing water like a snow plow. I made a good cast in front and beyond the fish so I’d pull the fly in front of its nose. The guide was in my ear yelling “FASTER! FASTER!” and I was stripping as fast as my top gear could manage. I swept the rod to add some speed as I’ve done from time to time with cudas and you could see the fish light up on the fly. He was close and you could see the open mouth and see the eye and the water sheeting over his back.

In my mind I was thinking “THIS IS IT! LAST FLAT! LAST DAY and damnit, it is going to HAPPEN!”

Except it didn’t. The fish saw us and just turned off and away and that was the end of it. I was just left there shaking, wondering how this crescendo somehow managed to fall flat. I had seen the fish in my hands, but it had only been in my imagination, a brief projection of what success and joy would feel like.

Shane had that look on his face today in that picture. It isn’t a great quality picture (he’s going to send better pics when he gets a chance as he’s still there), but you get the point, don’t you? Victory. Success. A dream realized.

Awesome.


22
Jan 20

Be Huge

I was at drop-off this morning taking my kindergartner to school and another dad saw my Patagonia tarpon hat and asked if I fished. I told him I was more than a little into it and he asked me “Are you a huge fly fisherman?”

Of course, he was talking about Ben, who has been pounding out funny and informative videos for a while now. We talked about the videos a bit and I told him I had to once email Ben to apologize for not understanding his whole thing and having a wrong hot-take. I’ve since come around and look forward to seeing Ben’s sense of humor address many of the how-to’s and why’s of the fly fishing world.

Huge Fly Fisherman just hit 10K subscribers and he’s giving away an Orvis rod in celebration. I thought for sure it would be a line straightener, but, I guess a rod is more practical.

Here’s his video about the give-away. Just comment on the video (on Youtube, not here) and you’ll be entered to win.


07
Jan 20

I’m headed to Abaco is 2020

I was going to skip my annual saltwater trip this year. The beating that Grand Bahama and Abaco took kind of hollowed out a piece of me and it didn’t seem there’d be much “there” there anyway. I got a new raft and figured maybe I’d head to Idaho for that week instead.

However, after watching the trials and tribulations of the folks out there via social media (Cindy, I’m looking at you) I had another thought… maybe this is when I actually should go to the Bahamas. Maybe this is where I should spend that money and time. The Bahamas has maybe never really needed me, but, maybe now they do.

Abaco Lodge. Photo Credit Anna Stromsness A place that doesn’t exist anymore… but will again.

So, this May I’m going to head to Abaco. Probably over Memorial Day weekend with most days falling the week before. I’ll look at getting an indy guide and maybe trying to convince a few others to come along.

Marsh Harbor was hit very, very hard, but the further south you go, the better the island starts to look. Power and water are a concern in lots of places, but not in the south. I’ll be able to crack a cold Kalik at the end of the day and enjoy some Bahamian grub. Flights are starting to come back on-line and if you go, you’ll be taken care of and your business will be appreciated.

I’m happy to share details if you are interested in making the trip yourself, or if you’d like to come along with me as I try to figure out this post-Dorian trip.


12
Dec 19

Update on the East End

I’ve been watching photos pop up from Abaco and things look pretty bad there. You see less coming out of the East End of Grand Bahama, but this video gives you a glimpse of what things are like. No power on the last 35 miles of the island.

With the lodges not working and no power… I’m not sure how things are going to come back.

Consider donating to the East End fund to help the people out there.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/dorian-relief-effort-east-end-grand-bahama


01
Dec 19

Day Saver in Oahu

First off, I didn’t expect that much traffic. I was staying at the Aulani with the fam for Thanksgiving and needed to get to the airport flat to meet Kenny at 7:00 AM. I thought 40 minutes would do it. I was wrong.

The bell staff were also wrong that it would be “about the same cost” for a taxi and a Lyft… it was, in fact, not about the same cost at all. It cost me $128 to get to the flat (vs. $38 to get back) and I got there 15 minutes late. I hate being late.

The flat, when we got out there, was glassy clam. No wind rustled the mangroves or the water and it took about 10 seconds to see my first tail waiving at us to say good morning.

Now, it must be said, these fish are kind of assholes. They are so very, very spooky and they’ve seen some stuff, man… they’ve seen it all. They were super skittish in the sheet of skinny water and Kenny let me know it wasn’t ME they were rejecting, but more an overall disposition. Having an almost teenage daughter, I understand the mentality.

We worked hard and didn’t have too much to show for it. I had maybe 10 shots through lunch and I had maybe another 5 after lunch. The shots decreasing as the wind came up and the tails stayed down with the changing tide. I hooked one nice fish that must have run around one of the many, many coral obstacles and cut me off. It was good to feel the tug, but I was still off the board.

The day was waning. My dinner reservations were on my mind as well as questions about exactly how much traffic I might have on the way back West. I told Kenny that, ya know, if it wasn’t going to happen, we didn’t need to keep after it. Kenny said he wanted to try one more spot.

The breakers weren’t being totally blunted and so the ride out on the last flat was a little wild, a confused jumble of swells from different directions meant everyone had to hold on from time to time. To make it a bit more challenging the water was both a little deeper and the bottom seemed to be the EXACT color green of a bonefish. I was seeing phantom fish everywhere. Luckily, Kenny was seeing actual fish and had me cast toward a fish he had picked out.

“Strip long.”

“Strip long again.”

Tight to a fish and it was lightning, streaking across the flat. Backing exposed and recovered. Smiles all around. When I saw the size of the fish I wondered if I had hooked it in the ass, but it was just a strong, ocean-side fish. Not the 10 pounder, but the right species in the right place and sometimes you just need to take what the fishing gods give you.

What a Day Saver looks like and what a relieved guide looks like.

It was a day saver and we were both pretty relieved.

You can find guide Kenny Karas here, and I recommend a day on the water with him. He’s good people and knows his stuff. This is a solid recommendation, not an ad.


16
Oct 19

Fishing Options Post-Dorian

So, you love Grand Bahama and/or Abaco and are bummed you won’t be able to fish there and you are wondering where you should go?

How about Grand Bahama or Abaco?

As the Waypoints podcast pointed out, there are still guides and lodges operating on both islands. While some of the major names are either down for the count (Deep Water Cay) or down for a while (East End Lodge, Abaco Lodge), other options still exist.

H2O Bonefishing is going to be up and running pretty soon, North Riding Point is aiming for Dec. 1 and Delphi and Black Fly are still intact and accepting bookings.

I think travel options are a little light right now, but that will change soon.

Give it a thought.


14
Oct 19

Captain

I have a boat now. It isn’t going to see much, if any, saltwater, and it won’t see a bonefish ever. It takes a lot of effort to put together… yes… put together, and then take apart. But, it’s a boat. I’ve made it to 45 without having a boat and you’d be well within your rights to say I don’t have one now. It’s rolled up in my garage at the moment and in pieces.

It’s a raft. A 13 foot raft with a fishing frame. I call it the green goddess. I don’t have a trailer. I have to strap the frame to the roof of the car in pieces and the rest has to make it into the back of the Highlander. I’ve managed to get it out twice now. Once on a shakedown cruise with a couple buddies and once with my dad and a buddy. Fish were caught. I stayed on the oars. We did a short drift I’ve done probably a couple dozen times in my life, but had only rowed once on my own before now.

It was hoped I’d get my dad out in this and maybe it will happen. His reactions have slowed, his casts have gotten shorter. It was hard for him to get to the lane or stay in the lane. He missed fish and his back hurt, but he got in the boat and out of the boat without injury, which maybe is what victory looks like at this point.

The drive from here to Redding to float the Lower Sac is about three hours and it is about an hour to assemble the raft and about 5-6 hours to fish. Then an hour to break-down and three more to get home, where I have to unpack the frame, at the very least, so some tweaker or opportunistic scavenger doesn’t make off with the aluminum tubing. Long days. Maybe I’ll learn the Yuba, which would reduce the drive by an hour each way, but the Lower Sac and her rainbows of unreasonable size are closer to my home waters and, to the extent I know anything, they are what I know.

I’m contemplating taking my daughter down the S. Fork of the Snake this summer, or at least doing a couple drifts out there with her. Kind of depends what girl I have at that moment, which is hard to predict. She’ll be 13 and sometimes hates being in the car (that’s about a 900 miles roadtrip, so…) and other times she’ll barely talk to me and others she’s still my girl who wants to fish and hang with her dad and look for snakes and frogs. I don’t know what planning looks like for a fishing trip with a 13 year old. These are the known unknowns.

I also need to get my 5.75 year old boy out in the raft. Maybe in the flat water of San Leandro Bay, right by our house. I haven’t figured that out yet, but I will.

So, don’t call me Captain just yet, but I have a raft and a frame and I’m figuring out how to use it… where everything goes, what needs to be tighter, what needs to be left at home. Hoping I see a lot of water in the green goddess and that I get to share that water with my friends and family until I tear a shoulder loose or get a bulging disk.

See you on the water.


09
Oct 19

Waypoints with Jim Klug – Podcast on Dorian and the Bahamas

I didn’t even know they had a podcast. Good stuff. Here’s an episode about the impact on the Bahamas from Dorian.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/582856/1838608-10-checking-in-on-abaco-and-grand-bahama-october-2019-updates-post-hurricane-dorian


07
Oct 19

Deep Water Cay Closes

The first and oldest bonefishing lodge in the Bahamas is a casualty of Dorian. Deep Water Cay is ceasing operations.

Here’s the story.

I got to visit DWC a few years back and can attest to how nice the place was. The facilities and the guides and the boats were all top notch. Such a lot of history has come through that little island on the East End.