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?

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.

Mar 20

Out Islands – COVID Closed

COVID might not have the destructive winds of a hurricane, but it may have just as dire a landfall in the Bahamas. You are being asked not to travel to the Out Islands, which I don’t think many folks would find easy to do anyway these days with restrictions to travel happening all around.

I’m not heading to Abaco in May. We’ll see what this thing looks like in 4-5 months.

Here’s something from the Out Islands Promotion Board:

Dear Bahamas Out Islands Sun, Sand and Sea Adventurers,

With your health, safety and wellbeing in mind, we urge you to postpone your travel plans to the Bahamas Out Islands until such time as you are advised by your country’s federal, state/provincial and/or local government that it is safe to travel and we are in a position to safely provide you with our warm, Bahamian hospitality.

Two key reasons for our recommendation:

In addition to our safety concerns for all, we share our recommendation for two key reasons:
1.      Most countries in the world have urged their citizens to postpone all non-essential travel, including the U.S., whose State Department on Thursday, March 19th issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory urging Americans not to travel overseas and to return to the United States.

2.      While, as of March 23rd, the Bahamas Ministry of Health confirmed just four (4) cases of COVID-19 in Nassau, on Thursday, March 19th, the Most Honorable Doctor Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, in an unprecedented move to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout our islands, issued Emergency Powers which took effect on Friday, March 20th at 9:00 AM and will remain in place through March 31st, 2020 declaring the following (which is not a comprehensive list):

I.      A country-wide curfew extending each night from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM;

II.      All establishments, institutions, businesses, offices, stores and organizations shall suspend operations to the general public except for a list of “essential businesses” which will operate from 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

Travel Flexibility and Support:

We understand the need for increased flexibility with travel planning right now. To assist our guests in their travel decisions, we have encouraged all of our hotel members – for bookings made directly with them – to relax their cancellation policies. Please contact your hotel directly. Guests who booked via online travel agents or other third parties are advised to contact their booking provider for information on their policies and for assistance.

Our Commitment:

Our Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board Support Team takes great pride in the role we play in the business of our hotel members and you, their guests. Rest assured that as circumstances continue to develop, one thing will remain constant: we will make our decisions with the health and well-being of you, our hotel members and our island communities as our highest priority.

The Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board Support Team

Mar 20

Unlikely and unwise

A trip to the Bahamas in May is starting to look as unlikely as it would be unwise. What a unique moment in history we are living through.

Of course, this is insult to injury to the people of the Bahamas, to survive Dorian and then to have the flow of business shut down by a virus originating half-a-world away. Unfair on top of unfair.

We are a bit of a rough spot here too, of course. We have a “Shelter in Place” order, my son’s schyool may not re-open until the next school year and my daughter is doing distance-learning. I’m working from home, stuck in sweatpants and on conference calls, and maybe this is the new normal.

It is straight out of a movie or book plot. The reason for that is it was always possible. And now… it is here.

How I’d love to be on the flats looking for bonefish right about now, even if the winds were howling at 20. Sure seems like that would be social distancing, if you were doing it right.

But… with no school in and no childcare available and a wife working in medicine (and working in healthcare myself) it seems a very poor idea to go anywhere. I stand a good chance of being a vector for someone else’s misery and maybe even their death. That isn’t a part I’m willing to play in anyone’s story.

Maybe I’ll imagine what that trip would be like and write it as if it happened. In fact, I’ll probably do just that.

Mar 20

Bahamas Power

Saw this segment on 60 Minutes about the Bahamas going solar. Great idea. While in Christmas Island (about a million years ago, although actually just about a year ago) I talked with a couple of guys looking to instal solar on small Pacific islands to replace diesel generators. It was part of a World Bank or government project. Tons of sense… inspiring, even.

Then there is the Bahamas… they don’t have an Australia or New Zealand to fund those projects and passing the costs down to the consumers isn’t really that realistic in a place where the median household income is officially about $33K in many places and probably well below that number in reality.

The solar array they are putting in Ragged is supposed to cost $3,000,000 to get power to about 100 people. That’s awful math. That doesn’t scale particularly well. I don’t think the 100 people of Ragged Island are going to be able to actually buy that power.

I’d love for this story to be real, but it has the feeling of a lot of window dressing. Still a long, long haul for the people of the Bahamas to recover from Dorian. The housing situation seems poor, at best, and the government seems to be all red-tape and sound bites. I’ll be there in a couple months and I’ll be curious if my impressions change after being there and hearing from the people directly.

Feb 20

It is on. Abaco Trip Countdown Commencing.

The airfare is purchased. The lodging is secured. Now… two months of overthinking gear and fly selection.

Right now there are three of us. Four makes a good, round number. Let me know if you are interested.

While part of Abaco looks like this…

I actually stayed in one of these buildings with my family a few years back. This is Treasure Cay.

Other parts look like this…

I can’t say I’m “looking forward” to seeing the destruction Dorian brought to the Bahamas, but I’d like to see it for myself and to contribute to the economy in a direct way. That’s what we’ll be doing.

Jan 20

Be Huge

I was at drop-off this morning taking my kindergartner to school and another dad saw my Patagonia tarpon hat and asked if I fished. I told him I was more than a little into it and he asked me “Are you a huge fly fisherman?”

Of course, he was talking about Ben, who has been pounding out funny and informative videos for a while now. We talked about the videos a bit and I told him I had to once email Ben to apologize for not understanding his whole thing and having a wrong hot-take. I’ve since come around and look forward to seeing Ben’s sense of humor address many of the how-to’s and why’s of the fly fishing world.

Huge Fly Fisherman just hit 10K subscribers and he’s giving away an Orvis rod in celebration. I thought for sure it would be a line straightener, but, I guess a rod is more practical.

Here’s his video about the give-away. Just comment on the video (on Youtube, not here) and you’ll be entered to win.

Dec 19

Update on the East End

I’ve been watching photos pop up from Abaco and things look pretty bad there. You see less coming out of the East End of Grand Bahama, but this video gives you a glimpse of what things are like. No power on the last 35 miles of the island.

With the lodges not working and no power… I’m not sure how things are going to come back.

Consider donating to the East End fund to help the people out there.


Oct 19

Fishing Options Post-Dorian

So, you love Grand Bahama and/or Abaco and are bummed you won’t be able to fish there and you are wondering where you should go?

How about Grand Bahama or Abaco?

As the Waypoints podcast pointed out, there are still guides and lodges operating on both islands. While some of the major names are either down for the count (Deep Water Cay) or down for a while (East End Lodge, Abaco Lodge), other options still exist.

H2O Bonefishing is going to be up and running pretty soon, North Riding Point is aiming for Dec. 1 and Delphi and Black Fly are still intact and accepting bookings.

I think travel options are a little light right now, but that will change soon.

Give it a thought.

Oct 19

Waypoints with Jim Klug – Podcast on Dorian and the Bahamas

I didn’t even know they had a podcast. Good stuff. Here’s an episode about the impact on the Bahamas from Dorian.