07
Jun 24

On the passing of Chris Santella

Kirk Deeter wrote this personal tribute to Chris Santella, and from the looks of it, he knew Chris well and counted him among his people.

Chris was a fishing acquantance of mine and our paths really only intersected once, but that was a memorable experience as it involved fishing the waters of Cuba.

It was a long time ago now, right about 12 years from my count, and I got brought to Cuba by Yellow Dog to fish with a bunch of really interesting guys. Chris was one of those guys and I know I shared a skiff with him one of the days we were there, although the details of that day’s fishing have faded. The fishing was awesome, in general, but I don’t recall a specific fish caught by or with Chris. He caught many, as happens in a place like that.

I do remember him brining something like a guitar and playing at various points, including in the airport.

What I recall of Chris was he was humble and kind and interesting.

Godspeed Chris.


21
Feb 24

Anini wins again

If I’m going to Kauai, I’m going to get some time at Anini.

This is not because the fishing is fantastic there. It isn’t. It is horrible fishing. It is one of the only places you can sometimes, maybe, almost see bonefish in Kauai. It is also the first place I ever saw a bonefish, back in 2008.

This place has kicked my butt more than any other place I’ve ever fished. It just doesn’t give up its fish easily… at least not to me. Maybe there’s an angler out there who just crushes here, but I don’t know that angler (and if real, I kind of jealous-hate them).

The flat is big… really big… and is a rubble flat of old coral. There are dips and holes and things to trip on and my body this morning is speaking loudly… mostly saying “slow your roll, old man.”

I might have seen 2 bonefish, from about 10 feet away in 3 feet of water. Whatever they were, they were out of there fast and I had eyes on them for about 3 seconds. Still… not sure.

Spooked a couple of schools of smaller blue fin trevalley.

Caught a cornet fish (not photographed) and one blue fin trevalley.

I wonder why they call them blue fin…

This is what Anini offers… humility, beauty and the faintest hope at a bonefish. I’ve fished it 10 or 11 days and have yet to even hook a bonefish here.

If I get back, I’ll fish it again.


20
Feb 24

Coral Hawkfish

Another day in Kauai and another day of me casting at anyting that might, possibly, eat a fly.

The tide was a little bit lower and I think that meant the Christmas Wrasse were not available, but… BUT… if I cast near structure with a larger fly, I might just get a Coral Hawkfish to dash out, smash the fly and try very hard to pull back into it’s crevice or hole. They were surprisingly fun, even if they weren’t huge.

They acted like a mini version of the triggers I so loved in Christmas Island.

So pretty… and look at those spines.

These aren’t O’io, but they are fish and they are beautiful and they take a fly. That checks a lot of boxes.

I do enjoy the Islands.


19
Feb 24

Christmas Wrasse

Aloha!

I’m in Kauai for vacation (kid is off school this week) and of course I brought a rod (two, actually) along.

I decided to pass some time right in front of the resort and was rewarded with a few Christmas Wrasse.

I mean… how are these even real? Look at those colors!

This fish didn’t put me into my backing and barely put a bend in my 8 wt., but… I could look at this fish all day.

This is one thing I love about these kinds of places… the fish are often glorious.

I had to drop down from a #6 to a #8 for this guy. Otherwise they couldn’t fit it in their mouths.


11
Feb 24

One Year Count Down – Christmas Island

Well… it is booked. The deposit is paid. This thing is happening. I’ll be heading back to Christmas Island Feb. 11 of 2025.

I can’t wait to be back out there.

It is just such a cool environment. I really enjoyed it when i was there in 2019, before the world shut down for a few years.

I loved the trigger fish, the GT shots, the bonefish, the BFTs and all the wierd and beautiful stuff you’d catch near the Korean Wreck.

I just loved it. And I’m headed back.

We’ll be at Christmas Island Lodge, which seems a good operation.

Here’s to the days and hours of anticipation. Get out there.


09
Feb 24

Godspeed Cathy Beck

I never met Cathy Beck, but I certainly knew of her, and her husband Berry. Word came out earlier this week that Cathy passed away while they were fishing down in Argentina. Condolences to Barry and all those who knew and loved Cathy, and that seems like a lot of people.

Here she is talking casting and hauls.


07
Feb 24

The Helios 4 is announced

Years ago… many years ago… I had the Helios 2 sent to me to bring on a trip (Cuba, maybe?).

I fell in love with the thing. It was my go-to rod for bones and I caught a lot of fish on it. I liked it so much I kept it… I traded some ad space on the blog for the rod. That was back when someone would actually give you someting of value for a banner ad on your niche fly fishing blog (oh, those were the days).

Recently, I was an idiot. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. My idiocy, in this case, manifested with my snapping the tip off the rod. The good folks at Orvis are going to take a crack at a repair. They don’t make the H2 anymore, so I’ll see what they say when they get it.

Today, it felt like Alexa was listening to me on the phone with Orvis Rod Repair and in my feed popped some posts about the newest Helios coming out.

I’m usually a bit skeptical about 90% of claims of products of any kind. That said… I loved that H2. It was magic.

Maybe you have a special relationship with a rod… something that just comes alive in your hands.

I’m looking forward to getting that H2 back, even if Christmas Island is a year away.


29
Jan 24

2024 Outlook

Currently (and I don’t expect this to change), I have one day of saltwater fly fishing scheduled (beyond fishing in the Bay). I will be in Kauai in Feb. and I’ll bring a rod and I’ll use it. That is it.

This is tempered by the fact that I’ll be heading to Christmas Island in Feb. or 2025. THAT is a good thing to look forward to.

I’m already thinking about gear and flies and have dusted off the vice and gotten back to wrapping some threads. I couldn’t remember exactly how I had tied some of the trigger crabs, but thanks to photos of my fly boxes and hat (where I put flies to dry out while changing flies on the flats), I could reconstruct what I had done. So, the blog comes up with a save.

I also was looking at rods and reels and I couldn’t remember what exactly had gone on with my 12 wt. line.

Thanks to the blog I was able to piece together what happened. I lost a medium-sized GT on the coral/drop-off at the Korean Wreck and the loop got mangled. This knot must have been the guide’s work, as it doesn’t look like something I would have done. I’m guessing the line itself is fine though, so I just need to get a loop back on there and I’ll be golden.

2024 won’t see a lot of saltwater fly fishing. My wife has been very patient, waiting for a non-fishing trip, and we are taking one this summer (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, if you want to say “hi”). Next year though, I’ll be back in Christmas and I’m so looking forward to it.


17
Jan 24

The Sailboat Diaries from Wild Fly

I stumbled upon the Sailboat Diaries from Wild Fly Productions just yesterday. Hadn’t watched it before.

I love it.

I love it because, damn, what an adventure. I also love it because it isn’t about going out and just banging out a bunch of bonefish. These guys mostly don’t know what they are doing, but they figure it out and you get to be there for that.

My first bonefishing trip was with a guide in the Bahamas. These guys decided for their first bonefishing trip they would have a buddy sail a sailboat to a bunch of rarely accessed flats. That’s a big call.

They don’t go and have immediate success. There’s a process, a growing into it. Ya gotta love that because that’s real.

I envy these guys making that kind of trip. I’m unlikely to make that kind of trip happen at this point and I kind of wish I could.

Anyway… go along with these guys on their journey.


06
Jan 24

Feed the fish

Ya know what I think about sometimes? As I’m sitting here on a Saturday evening in January on my couch I just started thinking about how on some trip back whenever when I was tarpon fishing I was stripping the fly too fast and the guide told me I needed to “feed the fish.” I took that to mean I needed to strip the fly, yes, but I needed not to have the damn thing WIN in its race away from the tarpon like a scared baitfish. LOSE the race, by gawd.

And I think about that in the context of the GT I missed in Christmas Island back in 2019. Last day, last flat, last walk with the guide heading back to the boat and here comes a frigging bulge of moving water and the guide loses his mind yelling “CAST! CAST! CAST!” and I do and then he screams “STRIP! STRIP! STRIP!” and I do and fast and I SEE THE DAMN FISH LIGHT UP on that fly. (S)He is excited about that fly and I pulled it right in front of that fish’s face and it wanted it. It sped up and was following the fly, all as the guide yelled “FASTER! FASTER! FASTER!” like piscatorial porn hub mash up. Stip I did and fast as I could, but it didn’t crush the fly and I eventually had no choice or room but to sweep the rod to move the fly and then the damn thing saw us and just stopped chasing the fly and sauntered off just as cool as you please as if it hadn’t just ripped out my heart and destroyed my soul.

A baby GT I caught. The one I missed on the last day was, roughly, a bazillion times bigger (and probably meaner)

I think (and more often than I’d like to admit) that maybe I should have fed the fish, let him catch the damn fly. Would that have worked? Don’t know. Haven’t cast to more than a handful of Geets and all of them on that trip. What do I know?

Man… I’ll never forget that moment… the crushing realization that it Was. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Anyway… I want to go back. I want another shot. Looking Jan or Feb. in 2025. If you are interested, let me know.

Christmas Island is amazing and I’m semi-surprised I didn’t come back and start a trigger fishing blog. Those things are awesome.