18
Mar 19

How to Skiff

A solid video from Huge Fly Fisherman and probably suggestions most folks reading the blog are already aware of.

I’ll say… the one thing I won’t do on here is offer to let the guide fish if I’m paying $700 for a day of guiding. I want to be cool and all, but I have limited days on the water and that’s a lot of scratch. Other than that… yeah… make an effort. Be kind to the skiff.

(Yes, offering to pole is probably aimed at friends fishing in skiffs belonging to friends. There are a few skiffs I’ve been through friends, but living in CA, most of the skiffs I’m on are ones I’m paying to be on, which does change the math.)


16
Feb 19

On not getting the runs

I had heard pretty much everyone who goes to Xmas gets the runs at some point. I’m here to tell you this is not the case.

The risk is certainly on Christmas Island, however, and caution is your friend.

The Villages provides purified water in a pitcher in your room. Use it. Use it to brush your teeth. Use it to rise your toothbrush. Use it for anything.

Don’t put water in your mouth in the shower. Just don’t.

I had a phone appointment before I left with the Kaiser Travel Clinic and they got me a 3 pill prescription for antibiotics specific to what I might encounter there. I didn’t need to use them.

It was frequently the case that guides missed days because of GI bugs. Water borne disease is pretty rampant on Christmas and the locals are very much not immune. Many guides powered through their days even with their stomach bugs and would simply excuse themselves to take care of business. It’s life on the island and that guiding money isn’t going to come from anywhere else.

Only one guy out of our 16-17 anglers had any issues and that was minor, treatable with Imodium (which is NOT how you treat sever diarrhea). Caution and prevention is where it is at.


26
Jan 19

I’m at that point…

I leave for Christmas Island in two days. I’m at that point where I have almost everything together for the trip and I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I don’t know what that thing is.

I have… two eight weights, two ten weights, a twelve… three 8 wt. reels, three reels for the 10, one for the 12. I have leader material and tippet and about 300-500 flies, depending on how you count them. I have my boots and socks and pants and shirts and sun screen and body glide (for that chaffing you can get on the inner thighs). I have cameras and chargers and plugs and… the list goes on and on.

So… what is the one thing I’m forgetting??????

We shall see, and soon.


01
Jan 19

2019 – A Preview

When I look out at 2019 I can’t look much past what will happen at the end of the month. That’s when I’m going to be heading to Christmas Island.

I mean… Christmas Island.

Yeah…that’s a big one.

That’s my big trip for the year. Very much looking forward to that trip. My gear is in. Lots of tying still to be done, but it should be a very, very good time.

Spring Break with my daughter is still a bit undecided. Planning on camping in Kauai, but I need to get that reserved. If it is full, well… not sure where we’ll go. Planning on being somewhere fairly tropical. Trying to do something on the cheap, so we’ll see what I put together. Fishing is always a part of this, but not the main thing.

There is a planned trip to Hawaii, but we are going to the BIg Island this time, so I won’t get to fish with Kenny in 2019. I don’t know what the fishing is like on the Big Island, but I have the impression it’s a rare thing to catch a bone there.

Hope to get the kids back camping up in trout country.

I need to get my now 5 year old son into more fish in 2019 and I’m suspecting Jack Smelt might be the way forward. They are plentiful and they are close. These are two key attributes.

I’m hoping to get a trip up to the McCloud in there somewhere too. It is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world and there is some thread that ties me to it. Each year I don’t fish it I feel some pang, some faint discordant twang on that thread.

Where are you fishing in 2019?


08
Dec 18

Nightmare – Belize Edition

I almost never remember my dreams. Maybe once every couple of months I’l wake up with a vague notion of what passed through my brain in the middle of the night or a random comment during the day will unlock some stored and normally inaccessible memory. There is, however, one way I get a little glimpse into what’s flowing through my head in the slumbering hours.

I have an almost 5 year old.

He’ll walk into our bedroom at very odd hours and interrupt his parents’ sleep because…

  1. His music has turned off.
  2. His sheets are messed up.
  3. A book has fallen off his bed.
  4. He has to pee.
  5. He’s had a bad dream.

Usually, it is 1-4, rarely 5. You can get an idea from the list that these are not exactly 3:00 AM emergencies, but, he’s a good boy, so… we allow it.

Last night he came in and not only did he interrupt our sleep, but he caught me in the middle of a bit of a nightmare of my own.

I was either in Belize or on my way to Belize. I had WAY under-packed. I found myself with a simple backpack and a rod tube. One rod. I had brought an 8 wt (probably my favorite, my Helios 2). But… where was my 10 wt? Where was the tarpon stick? Where was the cuda rod?

You can see what a nightmare that would be, right?

Now… because I tend to believe dreams actually do relate to the real world, I have traced back that particular dream to two places.

First… I saw this pick on good ole’ Facebook:

Image may contain: outdoor and water

That’s a tarpon caught out of El Pescador in Ambergris. It happens to be the lodge where I spent my honeymoon and where I got my Grand Slam.

Second source, I believe, for this dream/nightmare is that I’m going to Christmas Island in about 2 months and I am WAYYYYYYY behind on my tying (I’m about a dozen flies into what should be about 5 or 6 dozen flies tied).

That which is left undone is one of those underlying reasons for many a nightmare or sense of anxiety (or so I believe). When you feel like something isn’t totally right, it usually has roots in some task or job you haven’t taken to 100%.

So… I guess I better get tying.


20
Oct 18

Getting a bit of Lefty

Lefty Kreh meant a lot to a lot of people. If you’d like to get a piece of Lefty, you can, and in the process you can benefit his family.

There’s an action going on now for some of his possessions and proceeds go to his family.

You can find it here.


18
Aug 18

Interview with Elliott Adler – Writer, Podcaster

I had the good fortune to spend a week at East End Lodge on Grand Bahama with Elliott Adler, a writer for The Drake Magazine and the “Podfather” of the DrakeCast. We are separated by about two decades, but the gap narrowed on the bow of a skiff and we got on well. This was Elliott’s first bonefishing trip and he did very well, being a good caster and a generally fishy guy helped him come up to speed quickly. Here’s a short interview with Elliott on his first bonefishing experience.

We got to spend a week fishing in Grand Bahama for bonefish. What stands out from that trip? Are there one or two moments that replay in your head?

 

 

      • Having never really fished a saltwater flat before, this entire experience was pretty novel for me. The first thing that struck me was the layers of the horizon. This hit before I grabbed a rod. We were out on these flats where the water went from navy blue to turquoise until it hit a bright white sand bar, then behind that was a thin band of green mangroves, then the sky, then the cathedral of clouds, until finally directly above us would be blue sky. This is a classic image of the Bahamas which has been featured on the cover of probably every fishing magazine but it was still pretty breath-taking to experience in person.
      • While the focus of the trip was bonefish, I had just as much fun catching every other species out there. Between the two of us we probably landed 3 species of snapper and maybe 5 others that I can’t recall. Each one was new to me and they all put up a better fight than the average trout I encounter.
      • Our guide Cecil really made the trip. I remember him saying something along the lines of “clients don’t come back to these lodges because of the management, they come back because they had a good time with the guide.” I whole heartedly believe this to be true. Without him I would have had a real tough time landing my first bonefish. But much more important than that, he was just really fun to be around. Great attitude, told good stories, and gave really frank on-the-record answers to my questions about environmental damage over the past 30 years and other problems in the Bahamas even though he knows I work for a fly fishing magazine. A lot of lodge owners and guides won’t do that out of fear of harming their livelihood.

 

How did bonefishing live up to or fail to live up to the hype?

 

      • I had always heard bonefishing was about stalking a fish and then that initial run once you get them on the reel. Almost like a positive reenforcement for putting in the hard work and making the right cast. I had a couple fish that made my reel scream and I’ll definitely remember them, but in both of those cases the guide did most of the work for me, which made the reward less sweet. So in those cases the hype seemed to be a bit overbuilt. What got me the most excited was walking the flats on my own trying to put it all together by myself. I managed to land a couple fish without any assistance. They were both small but those will be the most memorable fish of the trip and that individual aspect will be what makes me come back in the future.

 

What were your impressions of the Bahamas?

 

      • In short: Great people, great food, great fishing. You don’t want me to go into my thoughts on the economics of the place.

 

What’s something you learned from Cecil in our week of being on the water with him?

 

      • I relearn this every time I fish with a guide, but it’s always good to be reminded how well many guides know their water and the time and dedication it took for them to gain that knowledge. Cecil was one of the more dedicated fisherman with whom I’ve had the pleasure to share a boat.

 

Is there a blown shot you’d like to have back? If so, describe it.

 

      • I missed so many shots that its hard to pick a single one, but the first fish I threw at sticks out. Maybe it’s because this was the first bonefish I had a chance at catching, or maybe it’s because 40% of its back was out of the water, but I think that was the biggest fish I saw. Of course I landed the fly right on its back and the thing spooked immediately. On a positive note, that fish really grounded me in the flats fishing mindset which was necessary and probably helped me for the rest of the week.

 

Elliott with a solid East End Lodge bonefish.

Bonefish… great fish, or the greatest fish?

 

    • There’s no doubt that bonefish are a great fish, but calling it the greatest would be premature. There are so many incredible species I haven’t even seen. So the jury is still out. Besides that, steelhead still probably hold the #1 spot in my heart.

It was nice being on the water with you Elliott. I hope our paths cross again. 

You can check out Elliott’s podcast , The DrakeCast, from our week together here.

 


15
Aug 18

So long DIYbonefishing.com and thanks for all the fish

Some of you may have noticed that the old DIYbonefishing.com site, which had allllll sorts of information on where to find bonefish, is now this hot wreck:

When was the last time you were bonefishing in a fresh water lake with snow capped mountains in the background?

This is a snapshot of the old website:

Gee… I notice a considerable difference.

Why buy the site and then put up a totally generic and crappy face on it? I mean… who does that?

Rod Hamilton was the guy behind the original DIY website and a couple of DIY bonefishing books, like “Do It Yourself Bonefishing.”

Good Book Rod!

What happened here is not readily apparent. There was no broadcast farewell. There was no message to fans and friends. The site just went down, replaced by that dumpster fire of a website. Rod’s email doesn’t work anymore. I don’t have a way to contact him. He appears to have called it a day, although no one I’ve spoken to really knows what to make of this sudden departure from the scene. I hope he’s well, as I know many of us do.

One can argue if it was a good idea to “hotspot” in such a public and readily accessible manner. I fall into the camp of “if you tell everyone where all the spots are, you spread out the pressure.” It may be a crap opinion. I don’t know that there is a scientific study here to fall back on.

I liked having all the info out there. Knowing where to go doesn’t mean you are going to find fish, or that you’ll be able to catch them if you can find them. DIY fishing is, simply, harder than doing it with a guide who knows the ins and outs of their particular bit of water.

If you have additional information on what happened here, please share here. And Rod… if you are out there, I hope you are well.

 


17
Jun 18

The lessons of Dad

It was an off-hand remark… “fishing pole” I said.
My dad, mild-mannered and rarely stern, went still. He turned and looked at me and in an even voice said “Rod, son. It is a rod.”

I’ve called it a “rod” since then and have made a point of sharing his wisdom.

Happy Father’s Day to the man who first put a fishing rod in my hand, told me where to cast, explained why and told me to keep the tip up and to keep tension on the fish. All good life lessons.

Dad’s First Sabalito

My dad’s best Bahamas fish

The Babine

Heading out in Abaco

Dad and Fred and a nice Lower Sac trout

Here’s to you dad.

Dad and Sam on the flats of Grand Bahama

Dad on the Metolius

Swing Time

Our first flat in Kauai

Celebrating getting there with a beer.


28
Feb 18

Fishing Rules

I was told you fish for these fish at high tide. No point in heading out at low tide and low tide here can be very, very low. The channel, at low tide, is constricted down to something you could skip a rock across. Hard to know just how deep the channel is when it is low like this. I’ve never seen a boat use the channel at this tide, but I suppose that is its purpose.

I wanted to fish at least once a month and this was, by all accounting, the last day of the month. I ducked out of work just a little bit early and raced home. There, I got some meat out to thaw and grabbed by gear and then off to the water.

The tide was as far out as it gets. The water was a long way down. But… the 28th… last chance.

I figured I’d fast about for 30 minutes or so and then I’d head back in time to make dinner.

Funny what you see out there at such low tide. In the water were sponge like plants, bright red. I’ve never seen those before.

low low low tide

I set about the job of blind casting for California stripers. Cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve.

Then, a most unexpected thing happened. There was a grab. I missed it. I cast again and there was another grab and I was tight to a fish. Was it a halibut waiting for more water to get back up on the mud flat? Was it one of the jack smelt I sometimes catch?

No.

It was a striper.

low tide striper

I wasn’t supposed to be able to catch stripers at low tide. I probably wasn’t supposed to catch stripers in February, or on the cusp of a cold front. But… I did.

The thing I knew just before that fish was that low tide was not the right tide (and that February was not the right month). Funny… now I know something else, which is probably also wrong in one or more of a hundred ways.

That’s what I love about fishing. Being wrong and finding out that I was wrong by catching a fish.

Trial and error.

Error and fish.