08
Feb 19

Everyone wants to know about GTs

GTs, Geets, Giant Trevally. Everyone wants to know about the GTs of Christmas Island. Everyone who goes there wants to catch one. They are undeniably special and when you look at all the species in a place like Christmas Island, the GT stands out, in relief, and your finger keeps finding them on the page.

Yes, I saw some big geets in Xmas. The first one was at the Korean Wreck when a good fish (40#? more?) smashed a bonefish I had just released about 8 feet from where I stood as I was looking the other way. This was right on the shore. Scared the hell out of me (and the guide too). It gave me an impression of just how impressive these fish are and underscored just how precarious is the life of a bonefish.

Later that day the guide took me out to one last spot and in a couple of minutes found me a small GT on shore patrol. One cast, a couple strips and he was on. Not a big fish, but a GT. It pulled hard, very hard, and I could imagine what this fish multiplied would feel like.

A mini Geet

Another, about the same size, came by about 2 minutes after releasing the first fish. Didn’t have my act together enough to get a cast in.

The next day I was out at the Wreck again and the first fish we saw was a GT with it’s back out of the water. It wandered off into the breakers and we followed. I put some long bomb casts out into that area just where the breakers do their breaking, but I wasn’t getting any love. The guide told me to reel in and so I put out another cast and was putting the line back on the reel when something kind of magical happened.

You’ve seen when the face of a wave becomes a window into what is below the wave? As I reeled in a wave came rolling in and when the face of the wave was in full view I could see my bait fish imitation clearly and I could also see the GT come up and eat it. It was like watching it all happen on a high-def screen.

Here’s where I made my GT mistake. When you get a GT in this sort of environment you CAN NOT LET IT RUN. Just where those waves were breaking is a drop off and along the drop off there is pretty much nothing but a bazillion coral heads waiting to snag your line or your tippet and to free that fish from you. You are supposed to immediately crank down your drag and not give one god damned inch to that fish (if possible).

The fish was off the edge in a heartbeat and threw the first wrap against the coral a split second after that. I could still feel the fish pulling, but I knew it was in danger. I walked out a bit further to see if I could get it unattached and could see the line come back toward me and wrap on another bit of coral. There, about 20 feet from me, right at the edge of the drop, I could actually see the GT. He wasn’t huge, maybe 20 pounds (25?), and he was still attached. I walked out a little bit more and picked up the fly line winding from the point it was wrapped to my left to the spot it was wrapped in front of me. That bit of added tension did it. The leader cut on the coral. The fish was free.

Fast forward to the last day and the last flat. I was still without a big GT. I don’t think one was actually landed on the trip. Largest might have been about the size I had lost to the coral, but the 40 and 50 and 60 pounders, or those elusive 90 pounders were all un-landed. One guy had lost his whole fly line on a GT when trolling and there were other anglers with other good shots, but nothing in the books. I was fishing with one of the top guides, TK, and we were walking a flat not far from a GT highway. The sky was grey and the light was flat and diffused. I couldn’t see anything in the water at all.

Guide TK

At this point I started to wonder if TK was just riding out the last minutes of the trip. I couldn’t imagine you could walk out on a flat like this and find a GT without being able to see in the water. Part of me was also telling me to trust my guide. He was very much searching the water, not going for a stroll. He knew the water and the fish, I didn’t. I should just trust him, right?

With time running out and the 10 weight primed in my hands TK pointed at a fast moving bulge of water headed more or less in our direction. “GT!” It was a short cast, maybe 30 feet. I cast ahead of the fish, just beyond his path and when TK told me to strip, I stripped like mad. The fish reacted, veered toward the fly and it all seemed like it was going to happen.

“How perfect?” I thought. “Here I am on the last day, on the last flat, and I have this monster GT chasing down my fly in two feet of water and this will be the crowning moment of this trip. You can’t write a better story!”

Except… the fish then exploded and altered course in a direction distinctly not toward the fly. Maybe it didn’t like the fly. Maybe it didn’t like the strip. Maybe it saw us. I don’t know, but I watched the massive shape displacing a lot of water quickly fade from view.

I had the shot. I had a good shot presented by a guide who knew his water and knew his fish and it just didn’t happen.

We walked a bit more, maybe 10 minutes, to the edge of the flat where the boat would pick us up. TK turned to me and said, simply, “Maybe next time.”


06
Feb 19

Triggered in Christmas Island

I’m back from a week in Christmas Island on the trip hosted by my friend Shane through The Fly Shop.

It was a good trip with some good people and some tough weather. Conditions were overcast on our first few days of fishing and that’s one reason I was particularly pleased with the trigger fishing.

People say trigger fishing is like permit fishing. That is something I’m not sure I can totally agree on, as I’ve now caught three triggers and have only caught one permit (although I’ve had about 20X the trigger shots than I’ve had permit shots). I think permit get the edge in difficulty and I’m happy to let them have it because that leaves trigger fishing as more enjoyable.

Sure, I blew plenty of trigger shots, but they are pretty easy to find, even on overcast, windy, rainy days. They let you get fairly close, if they don’t spook when you look at them. Also, I had a good sense of what I needed to do when casting at one.

First fishing day greeted us with rain, wind and thick grey skies. My guide (ee went by “T”) and I found some bones, but we found many more triggers. I had caught one trigger in Mexico with Nick Denbow, but these triggers were more colorful and more plentiful. I was happy they were there.

I had maybe 20 good triggers shots on the first day and had three eats that I didn’t come tight to before it happened.

This is still my largest trigger. I was surprised by how hard he pulled.

Nice looking trigger.

I had heard the main thing you need to do is keep them out of their rocky/coral homes after they get hooked. That in mind, I put the stick to the fish, knowing I had 20 pound tippet to play with. S/He made a couple of nice runs (not to its hole), but we managed to get it in. Lovely fish. Cool eyes. I was stoked. Day was made.

Now… you’ll notice where my rod is in the picture above. So… when I lowered the fish to the water… well… this happened.

uh oh

It held on for probably 2 minutes.

Um… now what?

Finally, it let go. The rod, a Redington Predator 8 wt., was, to my shock, totally fine. It had bitten the ferrule, maybe the strongest part of the rod. No damage was done. Helped that the teeth didn’t get it bad at all.

So, that was day one.

The rest of the week I cast at several more triggers, but didn’t get any to seal the deal. I had some follows, some interest, maybe some eats, but no more triggers to hand.

On the last day we had GLORIOUS LIGHT. Despite the light I was having a crisis of confidence as I went 1/25 on bones in the morning. I was seeing them very well, often before the guide (thanks, 6’3″ frame) but I just couldn’t get it to them how they wanted it. I was dejected. After lunch, I had some redemption, going about 5/15 with two coming unhooked and one lost to coral. Then… the second and last trigger of the trip.

I loved it. One cast and it was on. The cast was perfect and I needed a perfect cast to help salvage some dignity.

Last trigger of the trip

(Yes, that’s what passed for great light on this trip)

This guy even ate a bonefish fly. Go figure.

Not really fishable any more.

I’ve grown quite fond of triggers. They’ll hold a special place in my heart for a while.

More to come on the trip.


16
Jan 19

Beyond the Horizon video – Honduras

Well… that’s pretty damn interesting. Off the map in Honduras.

 


09
Jan 19

We need to Bahamas to be better than the US

I’ve had it in salad. I’ve had it in fritters. I’ve had it deep fried. I’ve had it in chowder. My daughter has even had it raw.

When I think of the Bahamas, I think of conch. But… there was a time when you might think of the Keys when you thought of conch. I have a vague recollection of my dad having a conch salad when I made my first trip to Florida around… oh… 1984. But, you won’t find conch for sale in the Keys these days.

From what I gather the Keys conch fishery collapsed in the mid 70’s and all commercial and recreational harvesting of conch was banned in 1985. To this day… 33 years later, the fishery still hasn’t recovered.

The Bahamas has shown signs of stress and it keeps getting more and more pressure heaped on it as the out islands gather conch to eat locally and to send to all those tourists in Nassau and export markets.

The whole show may only have 10-15 years according to a new study.

I can’t even imagine the impact a conch collapse would have economically on Bahamians. Something has to change and in this, I hope the Bahamians can learn from the mistakes of their Western neighbors.

Cracked


08
Jan 19

Shane goes to Christmas Island

This video from Christmas Island is from 2013… I’m headed there with Shane at the end of the month. CANNOT WAIT!


05
Jan 19

Why I’ll get back to Mexico at some point

Trigger Food

This fly had the misfortune to find itself in the mouth of a trigger fish. Man… those chompers are serious.

Guide Nick Denbow put me on this fish down out of Mahahaul, MX back in 2016.

A trigger, and Costas

I found other triggers, hooked a few, but found them tough to get to hand and VERY tough on flies. I fished for an hour with one of those bitters crimped by a trigger before I noticed.

As I head to Christmas Island here in a few weeks I’m thinking about triggers again and I’m trying to tie up some flies durable enough to get the job done. I’m using epoxy (really for the first time) and I’m working on things crabby.

That’s some heavy wire, man… heavy…

I don’t even know what these hooks are. Found them at Bass Pro and not in the fly tying section. This is some kind of bait hook and about 4x heavier than any other fly hook that size I’ve ever seen. That’ll do… that’ll do.

Look out triggers… I’m coming for you… wherever you are.


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?


30
Dec 18

Obligatory Review of 2018

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.

Heywood with my daughter’s snook

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.

A nice o’io on a cloudy day in Oahu.

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.

 


20
Nov 18

Five Generations of Bones

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.

Norman tagging a bonefish for BTT


16
Oct 18

Short term gains

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.

Coral being killed