07
May 21

New Threads

I was watching Ben at Huge Fly Fisherman and saw his shirt and I had to have it. Turns out it was from the Trailer Trash Fly Fishing podcast folks.

Luckily, I had the $25 in the bank to make the shirt mine.

Man… it is just a thing you have to learn if you are going to chase bonefish (or anything in the salt) and when you get it, when you finally learn how to do it, all things become possible.


24
Apr 21

The Palms of Alameda

I live on an island. It is a nice place. We have great neighbors and live in a great neighborhood. I love it here, deeply.

At the tail end of April it will be 61 here as a high and there are large swaths of the summer the high will be 68. We’ll get a week of 100+ heat at some point, but, it isn’t the tropics.

While this island, sitting on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, is worlds away from the Bahamas, we do have a palm tree we can see from our back yard and if you look at it real hard and actively exclude everything else from your vision, you can almost transport yourself to the Caribbean.

I just got my coffee and looked out the kitchen window to see if there was much wind out and saw the palm, calm and still. If I were fishing for bones today, I’d be comforted by that sight. I can remember other mornings on other islands where the sound of the wind through the palms was the first thing I heard when I woke and I would know from that sound that the day would be tough.

I can’t turn that part of my brain off. I don’t want to turn that part of my brain off.

I love this palm… this little bit of island mentality, or island memory.


14
Apr 21

Wil Flack knows permit

I don’t know Wil Flack. Let’s be honest, I’m very likely not awesome enough to know Wil Flack. Dude is super fishy and we all aspire to that title and few will earn it.

Wil Flack knows permit. Guy lives down in Belize, runs the Tres Pescados Fly Shop in San Pedro and is pretty much associated with catching permit.

I’ve caught one, small permit and the few chances I’ve had to cast at them generally end up with me thinking WAY too much about what I’m doing, which is usually a surefire way to screw something up.

So, in order for you and I to learn something from Mr. Flack, here are some videos of him talking about how to move the fly for permit. I never get this right. Maybe these will help.

Ready?


17
Oct 20

Fly Fishing Journal tribute to Josie

If you are here, you probably already see what the Fly Fishing Journal had to say about the passing of Josie Sands, but, just in case Bonefish on the Brain is your #1 fly fishing news source, I thought I’d share what that fine publication had to say in reflecting on Josie’s passing.

Here’s a well done piece in tribute to Josie Sands.


09
Oct 20

Josie Sands Passes

A bazillion years ago in a world that doesn’t exist anymore I went down to Andros South to fish with a bunch of other fly fishing bloggers. It was called FIBFEST 2 and it was an amazing time (thanks Andrew). It was, literally, the demarcation line between my life how it was and how it would be. I’m eternally grateful for that opportunity.

The crew there at Andros South was a stellar collection of very good guides and staff. One of the top guides there was Josie Sands. Josie was very good, very stern and very serious, I was told. You better bring your A game when you fished with him. All that made me a bit nervous to fish with him. I was worried I wouldn’t live up to his high expectations as my interest and excitement usually outpace my abilities.

I don’t remember who I was fishing with (might have been Andrew Bennett?) but I had one day with Josie. He had me up on the deck as he was poling us along a beautiful bit of Andros when he called out a bonefish. 80 feet. That’s a hell of a cast. By the time I had everything ready to go it was 70 feet, but there aren’t a lot of guides who would even call out a fish at 70. They’d wait until the angler could reach the fish, maybe not even saying anything until it was at 50′. I remember making that cast, consciously thinking about the mechanics and trying to clear my mind of everything else. I summoned up some nordic casting spirit and laid it out 70 feet in a bucket and Josie issued the customary “strip, strip, pause, strip” commands until I was on the fish.

I don’t remember the fish at all. I remember the cast and I remember how good it felt to be given that task and to not let Josie down.

Josie recently passed away in a boating accident down in Andros. It is a loss for that community for sure.

Godspeed Josie.

Here’s a link to a tribute to Josie from FishWest.


03
Oct 20

Thoughts of failures

I was laying in bed last night trying to go to sleep in this craziest week I’ve experienced as an Adult American Human and my thoughts drifted off to Christmas Island.

So, what did I think about? I thought about two things. First, I thought of the day I missed 20+ bonefish shots… second guessing my flies and strip and wondering what I could have done differently. Was it the UV flash that reflects an odd color in the sun? Was it treating the flies like shrimp instead of like minnows? I don’t know. I can’t know. I won’t know. But we focus on the failures more than the successes, don’t we? Our brains are wired like that.

Second, I thought about the last fish i cast at… a very nice GT and a great shot and the fish that just didn’t eat. The guide was urging me to strip fast and I was… but was it too fast? Not fast enough? do you need to let the fish eat? What could I have done differently? Really, I’d need a dozen more shots, or more, to start to answer the question.

The trip has wonderful, beautiful, fantastic moments, but as 11:30 morphed into midnight and then to 12:30, I kept going back to those two days.

Wishing you all sound sleep and few regrets.


01
Sep 20

Re-Baiting

I think a lot of us have gone through a process in our fishing.

I started off dipping worms for bluegill. A little later and I was slinging eggs and hardware for steelhead. I didn’t discover fly fishing and a love for trout until I was 21 and for a long time that’s all I did, maybe with a little superiority in my beliefs.

I had a kid. I wanted that kid to see/be around fish and where I was that meant bait for sharks. I started doing that and grew a love of hers for sharks.

Then, saltwater fishing, I rediscovered the joy of catching fish on a spinning rod… especially barracuda and jacks.

Kid #2 and a new bit of home water emerges, 4 houses away, and I find out we can catch (little) sharks there. He is overjoyed. Said it was the best day ever.

I’ll fish bait. I’ll fish flies. I’ll fish gear.

I still enjoy catching a fish on a fly rod best, but I’m much more pragmatic now.

The joy in his eyes… priceless.


18
Jul 20

Back in the swing of things

At the start of this thing I wasn’t fishing much at all. Hunkered down, waiting to see how things would go, not really contemplating it would be months and months and months.

My Abaco trip was called off and work travel halted. Conferences were cancelled. Trips to the store were cancelled. Life as we knew it was cancelled.

But, you create a new normal when your old one goes away, and I have. I work from home now, thankful for my job. My wife works from home frequently, doing tele/video visits with sick kids and worried parents. We even seen each other on some days.

Recently, I’ve started getting back out there with a rod as well. We had a few days up at a cabin near my hometown with our “bubble family” and I managed to put all the kids and adults on fish and I managed one of my best trout in years.

A really nice NorCal rainbow

I also managed to catch my first striper in about a year and a half, and then my second.

Also managed to catch a ray with my son while taking my lunch break, about 4 houses away… water I’ve visited many times, but not fished. Who knew?

Feels good to fill some of this COVID time with fishing. I can tell I needed by how good it is making me feel.

I don’t know when I’ll be back on the flats, or where. With a wife in healthcare we have to be careful. Lots of the places I’d want to go don’t seem like great ideas to travel to right now. Who knows… maybe we’ll get a vaccine by the end of the year, or early next. That will free things up a lot, if things work the way we expect them to. We shall see.

I hope you get out there, in the fresh air, and get a few tugs. Some good medicine right there.


10
May 20

The art of getting skunked

I have a new hobby. I go out and stand in the SF Bay with water pouring into my waders like a cold brew coffee and I practice my casting for an hour or so. I don’t catch fish. I guess that’s not a thing I do anymore.

I got skunked yesterday. Much as I’ve been skunked the last 8-12 times I’ve been out in this particular stretch of water, after finding that bit of water productive for the previous couple years (in this case 2017-2018, my bad luck started in 2019. I’ve seen fish caught here in the last year, so I can’t say “it isn’t me.” It is clearly me.

I don’t know if the fish gods are mad or if I’ve put some kind of hex on my flies or if the smell of my waders is driving away the fish… but, something isn’t right.

Ever had a stretch of insanity like this?


12
Apr 20

Well… didn’t see that coming

Who had Pandemic on their 2020 list of possible shit that was going to go down? Not I.

And now… I’m looking forward and kind of wondering what the rest of 2020 is going to look like and what maybe even 2021 might look like.

I have to imagine there is a whole lot of economic damage being done all over the world. Guides from California to Louisiana to the Keys to the Bahamas are all (or very much mostly) client-less. Since those jobs were more associated with the view and the lifestyle as opposed to the paycheck and benefits, I can only imagine how much hurt is being felt out there.

The threats are real, of course. Here in the US we are at 22K dead… either 1/3 or 1/4 done with the dying, depending on the model you prefer. That’s a pretty grim number. No, the hurt isn’t just financial.

My wife, a physician, things we won’t be flying anywhere until there is a vaccine and that is probably a year out. There are a lot of unknows as well. Testing is scarce, but eventually we’ll be able to get people tested for antibodies and that will give you a bit of a “OK, you can go about your business” pass, at least in theory.

I don’t know when next I’ll be on a flat somewhere throwing at a bonefish. Heck, I don’t even know when next I’ll be floating in my own raft. Maybe this summer?

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter much when I next fish. The real world has intruded on my fishing fantasy life.

Hope folks are doing well out there, staying safe and healthy and I hope we get through this and back to fishing sooner than we expect, but not sooner than we should.