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.


28
Dec 23

Fifteen Years Ago – First Bonefish

I am a Facebook person. My whole life is on there. Some may dislike that, others are similar. That’s not what this is about.

One thing I enjoy is the Facebook Memories and today popped up a memory with my Bahamas 2008 album featuring my first trip to the Bahamas and my first ever bonefish.

That green hat, my first decent bonefish and some horrible fish handling.

I was with my dad on that trip and he caught his first bonefish and one of the nicest mangrove snappers I’ve seen landed.

My dad pulled out the cast of his lifetime to get this pretty fantastic mutton snapper.

A LOT has changed since then.

My mom passed. My dad is medically fragile (currently with COVID, so, we’ll see) in assisted living having moved from my childhood home. One marriage ended and another (ambetter, healthier one) began. I had a son. I changed jobs, 3 times. I moved, 5 times. I have less hair and more pounds. I’ve since fished multiple times in the Bahamas, Belize, in Cuba, Mexico, Hawaii, Christmas Island, Florida and more. I’m a better angler now than I was then and maybe a wiser person.

So many memories have filled in the intervening 15 years, but this trip will always stand out as amazing. That’s why we take these trips, to go out there and do the thing and create memories and stories that will hold us over until the next time.

Get out there and create some memories.


21
Jul 23

Fishing with the boy

This trip, to SE Idaho/SW Wyoming, has been magnificent in some many ways, but it has also been a time for growth and learning.

One of the big things I wanted to do was to get the boy in the raft. He’s 9, coordinated enough to figure some stuff out, but not yet a fully-formed angler.

We had one misfire where we went looking for some small water to fish and basically failed. The boy got tired of walking. He got bored. I didn’t react well to his complaints and there was a spiral that suckes allllll the fun out of what we were trying to do.

Then, I got him out on the raft. I towed this raft ~890 miles to get here. It was not a small endeavor.

He took to it… he loved it… said he prefered this kind of fishing to creek fishing/river fishing. He went out with me twice and talked about about how much he loved it. And, after some amature net work on the first day, we finally got the money shot.

He was stoked. He had a few fish on and many dry eats, but this is the one he got to hold in his hand, knowing that he caught it.

There was a lot of good dad/son time on the water. We saw bald and golden eagles. We saw a moose and a fawn. We saw more osprey than you could shake a stick at. We saw stoneflies and caddis and mayflies. We had a great time on the water.

This… this was a thing worth doing.


18
Jul 23

Personal Best

The cast was put well past where I expected to find the fish, I didn’t expect a fish in the first couple feet, but that is where it took the fly. When it tore off past me, my eyes went wide. This was a big fish.

I was drifting by myself on one of those big, epic, well-known tailwatater. I was trying to not to get in the way as the guides put their boats in and I was trying just to not mess up backing up with the trailer. I had a day to fish solo because I had taken a two day drive and knocked it off in one day. My family was flying in the next day. This was a day to play, the sort of day I haven’t had in a while.

I had to fish when stopped as I haven’t figured out how to cast to a bank while rowing.

This was one of those spots. I secured the raft and started fishing. It looked promising.

Then… all hell broke loose. The fish exploded past me, moving water with it that let me know this fish had girth.

The second though I had, after “oh shit!” was “I’m going to lose this fish.” I was just sure it was going to come unbuttoned… I mean… don’t most big fish slip off? The longer it goes the the odds start to tip in the fish’s favor.

I honestly couldn’t believe it. I landed the fish in my boat net, got to admire it a bit and let it go.

This was my largest brown to-date. I figure it went between 23″-24″ and was FAT. I’ve caught maybe 5 or 6 larger rainbows, but you just don’t get too many like this. There is an allotment and this was one of those… a special fish.


30
Jun 23

The Sunglasses Refresh

If you fish, you need some shades. That’s a given.

Roughly 95% of everyone seems to have a pair of Costas, and that makes sense. They make a fine pair of sunglasses. I’ve had a few over the years myself.

My current pair is the Rincon and while I like them, the lenses got a bit scratched, so I was looking for an alternative. A look on-line and the price to replace was high so I decided to go cheaper and got a pair of Sunclouds which had a good rating on Amazon.

Well… they sucked. Like, they really sucked. The lenses scratched early and often and pretty much defeated the whole purpose of having a pair of sunglasses. I’m guessing the good rating was thanks to a room full of for-hire reviewers somewhere overseas. These were not good sunglasses. That was not the way.

Because I had looked for sunglasses on-line I got alllllll the targeted ads for sunglasses and some for lens replacement services too (in this case, Fuse). I hadn’t really heard of lens replacement services, but it seemed a pretty good idea. The frames still look great on my Costas and the lenses from Fuse looked good. I could customize exactly what I was looking for at about 1/6th the price.

So, that’s what I did. The customer service from Fuse was SUPER helpful as I would have ordered the wrong size/fit, but they got me sorted out and the lenses arrived in about a week. They took about 30 seconds to install.

Now I have the frames I still like with new lenses that are supposed to be scratch resistant.

Huzzah.

The only thing that is weird in the Fuse lens-buying process is the marketing. Now Fuse wants me to “join the community” and for me to start racking up “points.” I just needed new lenses. I’m not looking for a new hashtag and I’m pretty good with my existing community. If I am buying more lenses it would mean the ones I just bought have failed, in which case, I won’t buy more.

That’s it. That’s the post.

(Note, none of this was discounted or free. I think the days of people sending me free stuff has passed as I’m not actively cultivating an on-line following like I might have done a decade ago… now I’m just an aging fart who spends way more time on youth soccer than I do fishing, cuz… life.)


18
Jun 23

Back home from Belize – Thoughts

This trip kind of snuck up on me for some reason and I didn’t really have my shiznit together for the fishing side of things… so, here are some thoughts.

  1. Bring a spare rod. I almost did, but didn’t. When I broke the tip off my 8 weight it meant I fished with a slightly modified rod that didn’t cast as well.
  2. Bring the 60#. I packed like I was only going to see baby tarpon. I only had #40, to the slight annoyance of my guides (they hid it well).
  3. Refresh my tarpon box. I haven’t really looked at my tarpon flies in a while and I should. Need to tie some more flies up, in a variety of weights.
  4. Bring some hooks. One thing I hear consistently from guides is that it can be hard to get hooks. I could have brought some. That would have been an easy and nice thing to do.
  5. Look where you cast. Literally… if I want to lead the fish by 5 feet, LOOK at that spot. When I look at the fish and try to lead them, I end up putting the fly on top of them.

I have no idea the next time I’ll be casting to bonefish or tarpon. I imagine it will be a while. We’ll see, I suppose. I was reminded how much I love being out there, in a panga or a skiff or on foot, with the prospect of an amazing fish in front of me. I love the mangroves and the frigatebirds and the snapper and the manatees and dolphins and crabs and just the all of it. I love being there, in places that have those things. It was a good reminder.

Also, my wife picked up COVID on the trip, so that could have been better. Her first time.


17
Jun 23

Belize 2023 – and that’s a wrap

I’m sitting here on the north island of Caye Caulker, stinking a bit, thinking about packing up as we catch a boat back the Belize City here in a couple hours. It has been a good family trip. We snorkeled the reef. We visited an awesome Maya ruin almost all the way to Guatemala. I got fishing with my boy. I had plenty of morning patrols with a fly rod in hand.

Morning patrol was the most effective. I managed a decent snook and a baby tarpon right out front, which was pretty rad. Beyond that, well… the wind has been blowing about 20 mph pretty much non-stop since we got here. The sargasso is all over the place and between that and the wind the water on the ocean-side is something like café-au-lait in color. That has made it a challenge.

I honestly don’t remember being anywhere for a week that had wind like this so consistently… but maybe I’ve never been in the tropics in June before? I don’t know, but it has been less than ideal for fishing.

But… to the fishing.

Earlier this week I went out with Dennis for a full day with my 9 year old. A full day with a 9 year old is an iffy thing. Kids get bored, so I didn’t know if we’d last the whole day.

Right off the bat we ran into a pod of dolphins that showed off for us a bit. That was pretty cool and a memorable thing. We ended up seeing 2 different dolphin pods and about 5 manatees.

My son used the spinning rod and bait and he crushed it. He well out-fished me, which was fun for him and a thing he was not shy in sharing with random strangers.

For me… I had one good tarpon shot and I blew it. Wind at my back, I saw the fish first, moving over white sand at 12:00. My shot was good, but I dumped too much line with the strong wind and I struggled to get tight to the fly. So, when the 5+ foot tarpon ate the fly, I couldn’t get a hook set on it. That was it. That was my tarpon shot. I didn’t get another.

We looked for bonefish for a bit, but the water in the lagoons was really warm and all the feed marks were rays, not bonefish.

I went fishless, save for two accidental small cudas.

That’s the way to goes sometimes. I got to share something I love with my son, which was really special. The kid hung in there too. He said the fishing was his favorite part of the trip.

I got another half-day with Guide Kyle and that trip was fun and I had plenty of bonefish shots and even a couple good permit follows (seriously, no idea how I didn’t end up with a permit… so… close!). Kyle got us out of the wind, back in some deep lagoons and he found fish for me.

I’m rusty. I put the fly on the heads of bonefish more often than not. I guess you can get out of practice with this stuff! I was also casting with my 8 weight that I managed to break the tip off of. Yup, second broken 8 weight in about 2 months.

We also had a guide pull up behind us and then pole directly on top of us. I mean… that’s just total dick-head-maneuver guiding. Kyle did well not to spear the guy with his push pole. If you are the client in this situation, tell your guide you’d like to not do this.

And there we are… that’s the end of the trip. We leave here shortly. I’m not packed up yet… maybe hoping if I just never pack, I’ll get to prolong my stay in Belize? It’s time. Work beckons. There is soccer club work to be done. There’s a whole life up there in the Bay that I need to get back to… but I do love it here, even with the relentless heat and this aggravating wind, I do love it. Caye Caulker in Belize and East End Lodge in the Bahamas are probably my two favorite places. Glad to get to be here with my wife and my son and I look forward to getting back, whenever that might be.


09
Jun 23

I might just bring some fishing gear along

It’s a family trip, but, ya know… maybe I’ll bring some fishing stuff along.

A couple of fly rods and a spinning rod. We’ll see if the boy can throw a fly and if not, there’s aways the spinning rod. I’ve been brining the spinning rod pretty much every time I head to the salt. You just never know when it is going to come in handy and I’d rather be in the game with a spinning rod than out of it.

My Cliff boxes are getting a little rough around the edges, literally, cracking, foam loose. They’ve done good service though and each is over a decade old at this point.

I bought flies and then… well… realized maybe I didn’t need to. I’m bringing several hundred flies, most that I tied. I told my wife that the flies in the boxes are the ones that I decided not to use on previous trips. The flies that aren’t in the boxes are the ones that I liked/that worked! There’s some truth there, although I am not sure exactly what percentage.

Tomorrow… we fly.


07
Jun 23

A Belizian Bonefish on the Horizon

I had a trip to Abaco planned for March 2020 to follow up my 2019 Xmas Island trip. Bonefish trips were yearly things back then, maybe a couple times a year when I was lucky, and I got lucky more often than I deserved.

Then, COVID and the world changed. I have not touched a bonefish since that Xmas trip. I had a chance in Kauai, but on the day I had lined up to hit the flat the swells were over the reef, the water stirred up, visibility negligible and the fishing was cancelled. I did managed a blue fin on a spinning rod, but that was it. I also managed, a couple years ago, a small trigger in Maui. A bonefish though? No… no bonefish.

This weekend though, I’m headed to Belize, a country that holds a lot of big memories for such a small place. Thirteen years ago I stumbled into a Grand Slam there. I had my second honeymoon there. I had two trips with my daughter there. Now I’m headed back with my wife and son.

I’m very much looking forward to it, but I haven’t had much time to prepare. The vice is gathering dust, I just had a 36 hour trip to and from Boston. I just celebrated ten years at the company I work for. I’ve been neck deep in soccer club stuff. So, I had to do something I haven’t had to do in a long time.

I bought flies.

I love catching fish on flies I tie and I really only tie for the salt at this point. Still, this year, for this trip, at this point in my life, I just couldn’t find the vice time.

I have a hunch I may enjoy catching a bonefish, or seeing my 9 year old son catch a bonefish, with one of these store-bought flies almost as much.


06
Jun 23

Mills and Hiaasen in conversation

One of my favorite writers is Carl Hiaasen. I’ve pretty much consumed everything I can find from him and have enjoyed almost all of it. He’s Florida… deep in his bones and it comes through. He’s a warrior for the natural world and for truth and for doing-what-is-right and I just adore that it comes out in his books the way it does.

His character Skink is one of the all-time greats.

Turns out he’s also one hell of an angler.

So, I was happy to see this Mill House podcast come across my feed.

I hope you enjoy it.

He will.