This video from Christmas Island is from 2013… I’m headed there with Shane at the end of the month. CANNOT WAIT!
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?
Another year is in the books. Let’s see how it went.
I got three distinct chances to chase bonefish in 2018.
Spring Break in Caye Caulker, Belize.
Family trip to Oahu.
Week at East End Lodge.
Spring Break turned out VERY different than planned. I caught bonefish off the dock and managed one with Heywood before I got sick. Sick I stayed for 2.5 days. It wasn’t how I wanted my daughter to spend her Spring Break, but… ya know… things happen. My girl got her first snook… so, there was that. I love Caye Caulker and I’ll be back.
Oahu and I managed to get another day with Captain Kenny. He’s a great guide and I enjoyed my day. Managed another Hawaiian bonefish, which is a feat that haunted me until Capt. Kenny banished those demons in 2017.
The trip to East End Lodge was, in a word, fantastic. The weather in July, the last week they were open, was hot, but the winds were low. The fishing was first class and the guide was brilliant. Food was on point. Rooms were comfortable. Ya know… I kind of liked it there. I have a real fondness for that part of the Bahamas. It is where I caught my first bone a decade ago. It is where I caught my first DIY bone. I love it there and I love it more now.
That’s a pretty good year. I have to say. With family and job and lots of adulting going on, getting in the salt three times is damn fine work.
I didn’t get camping this year. Smoke and fires kept that from happening, and so my son and daughter didn’t catch a trout this year. I’ll fix that in 2019.
I didn’t fish the McCloud this year. I only fished the Upper Sacramento for about an hour. I didn’t fish the Truckee or the Carson or the Walker. I didn’t fish Montana. I didn’t fish Oregon.
I didn’t fish Florida. I didn’t fish Mexico.
The list is nearly endless of places I didn’t fish… but I’m happy with where I managed to wet a line in 2018.
Cool little video on the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust homepage at the moment which tells the story of bonefish spawning patterns, uncovered by science.
We’ve long suspected some of this stuff, but now we know. Populations are connected. Most bonefish DON’T travel from Andros to the Florida Keys, but their little, tiny, adorable bonefish babies don’t stay put. They travel on the currents from Andros to Cuba, around Cuba and up to the Keys. So, that monster West Side bonefish will beget that monster Keys bonefish, just in a few generations.
That means Bahamas conservation and Cuban conservation are really Florida bonefish conservation. That’s pretty key to know.
Consider joining BTT this holiday season. They do great work.
In Belize… dredging sand from a living reef. This shouldn’t happen. As if the fishing gods agreed, the barge ended up stuck on the reef it was smothering.
You can do better, Belize.
Here is Elliott’s second part of the Bahamas trip podcast. In this part you’ll here about conservation efforts in the Bahamas and you’ll learn a bit about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and you’ll also come along with me as we deal with the aftermath of a dead bonefish. Yup… I killed a bonefish. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I did. We’ll explore some of the ethics around that and where I may have, momentarily, fallen down.
It is possible to have a lot of thoughts about where the line is… but sometimes… sometimes is it a little hard to see.
Bonefishing is a blood sport (the picture below isn’t from this trip even… if you fish for bonefish, this is going to happen, sooner or later). Fish will die, even when you do everything right. That’s why it’s so important to get everything right that you CAN control.
Give a listen… let me know what you think.
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.
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.
When I went to Grand Bahama last month I was joined by Elliott from The Drake, who happens to put out The DrakeCast, a solid podcast you should be listening to.
It is happening. I’m going to Christmas Island at the end of January, 2019. I’m going with my friend Shane, who I haven’t fished the salt with since 2010.
I’m somehow not tying flies yet, but I will be.
Christmas… so… tell me your bits of Christmas advice.