Second Christmas is coming… about a month out. Some gear still left to acquire and about 100 flies left to tie.
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.
Lefty Kreh meant a lot to a lot of people. If you’d like to get a piece of Lefty, you can, and in the process you can benefit his family.
There’s an action going on now for some of his possessions and proceeds go to his family.
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.
There’s lots of advice out there about how to rig up for GT fishing. There are strong, educated opinions.
I’m told before I go GT fishing I should cut the front loop off my brand-new ~$100 fly line and build my own loop.
It is even talked about in the book “GT, A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Giant Trevally.” In the book, Peter McLeod talks about how he builds his own loops out of 50lb hollow braid.
I can see how, when GTs first became a species chased with a fly rod, fly lines might not have been up for the challenge. What I can’t see is how that’s still the case in 2018.
I mean… is RIO, for example, really selling a fly line that requires you to first cut part of it off and refashion a loop in order for it to be fished effectively? That can’t be the case, right?
What do I know about fishing for GTs? Pretty much nothing. I’ve caught one adult tarpon and lost a few more, but those are my big fish. In those cases I trusted to the manufacturer’s loops. Can’t I just trust the line maker for GTs?
I decided to ask RIO. Here’s what they said:
He shouldn’t be worried about loops. Lots of people use this line successfully for GTs with the factory loop. People do ruin lines, but the majority of those occur when a fish drags the line over something sharp like rocks or coral. That can strip the coating off or even cut through the core.
The loops on the GT line are manufactured a little differently than a loop on say a trout line. In addition to welding the coating together, we add a reinforcing PVC sleeve around the weld. As a result the welded loop is typically stronger than the line’s core break strength.
The one piece of information I’d add is that the loop knot in the end of the leader may end up being a weak point. A perfection loop, like on a typical trout leader, decreases the break strength of the mono by about 20%. That doesn’t matter if the tippet is significantly weaker than the leader butt, but for a level leader a figure-8 loop is a better option.
So… I’m going to NOT open my GT fly line from the box and cut the tip off. I’m betting the possibility of my operator error is higher than the likelihood of a manufacturing defect.
Yup… I’m going to put my faith in the company.
Here is Elliott’s second part of the Bahamas trip podcast. In this part you’ll here about conservation efforts in the Bahamas and you’ll learn a bit about the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and you’ll also come along with me as we deal with the aftermath of a dead bonefish. Yup… I killed a bonefish. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I did. We’ll explore some of the ethics around that and where I may have, momentarily, fallen down.
It is possible to have a lot of thoughts about where the line is… but sometimes… sometimes is it a little hard to see.
Bonefishing is a blood sport (the picture below isn’t from this trip even… if you fish for bonefish, this is going to happen, sooner or later). Fish will die, even when you do everything right. That’s why it’s so important to get everything right that you CAN control.
Give a listen… let me know what you think.
I had the good fortune to spend a week at East End Lodge on Grand Bahama with Elliott Adler, a writer for The Drake Magazine and the “Podfather” of the DrakeCast. We are separated by about two decades, but the gap narrowed on the bow of a skiff and we got on well. This was Elliott’s first bonefishing trip and he did very well, being a good caster and a generally fishy guy helped him come up to speed quickly. Here’s a short interview with Elliott on his first bonefishing experience.
We got to spend a week fishing in Grand Bahama for bonefish. What stands out from that trip? Are there one or two moments that replay in your head?
- Having never really fished a saltwater flat before, this entire experience was pretty novel for me. The first thing that struck me was the layers of the horizon. This hit before I grabbed a rod. We were out on these flats where the water went from navy blue to turquoise until it hit a bright white sand bar, then behind that was a thin band of green mangroves, then the sky, then the cathedral of clouds, until finally directly above us would be blue sky. This is a classic image of the Bahamas which has been featured on the cover of probably every fishing magazine but it was still pretty breath-taking to experience in person.
- While the focus of the trip was bonefish, I had just as much fun catching every other species out there. Between the two of us we probably landed 3 species of snapper and maybe 5 others that I can’t recall. Each one was new to me and they all put up a better fight than the average trout I encounter.
- Our guide Cecil really made the trip. I remember him saying something along the lines of “clients don’t come back to these lodges because of the management, they come back because they had a good time with the guide.” I whole heartedly believe this to be true. Without him I would have had a real tough time landing my first bonefish. But much more important than that, he was just really fun to be around. Great attitude, told good stories, and gave really frank on-the-record answers to my questions about environmental damage over the past 30 years and other problems in the Bahamas even though he knows I work for a fly fishing magazine. A lot of lodge owners and guides won’t do that out of fear of harming their livelihood.
How did bonefishing live up to or fail to live up to the hype?
- I had always heard bonefishing was about stalking a fish and then that initial run once you get them on the reel. Almost like a positive reenforcement for putting in the hard work and making the right cast. I had a couple fish that made my reel scream and I’ll definitely remember them, but in both of those cases the guide did most of the work for me, which made the reward less sweet. So in those cases the hype seemed to be a bit overbuilt. What got me the most excited was walking the flats on my own trying to put it all together by myself. I managed to land a couple fish without any assistance. They were both small but those will be the most memorable fish of the trip and that individual aspect will be what makes me come back in the future.
What were your impressions of the Bahamas?
- In short: Great people, great food, great fishing. You don’t want me to go into my thoughts on the economics of the place.
What’s something you learned from Cecil in our week of being on the water with him?
- I relearn this every time I fish with a guide, but it’s always good to be reminded how well many guides know their water and the time and dedication it took for them to gain that knowledge. Cecil was one of the more dedicated fisherman with whom I’ve had the pleasure to share a boat.
Is there a blown shot you’d like to have back? If so, describe it.
- I missed so many shots that its hard to pick a single one, but the first fish I threw at sticks out. Maybe it’s because this was the first bonefish I had a chance at catching, or maybe it’s because 40% of its back was out of the water, but I think that was the biggest fish I saw. Of course I landed the fly right on its back and the thing spooked immediately. On a positive note, that fish really grounded me in the flats fishing mindset which was necessary and probably helped me for the rest of the week.
Bonefish… great fish, or the greatest fish?
- There’s no doubt that bonefish are a great fish, but calling it the greatest would be premature. There are so many incredible species I haven’t even seen. So the jury is still out. Besides that, steelhead still probably hold the #1 spot in my heart.
It was nice being on the water with you Elliott. I hope our paths cross again.
You can check out Elliott’s podcast , The DrakeCast, from our week together here.
When I went to Grand Bahama last month I was joined by Elliott from The Drake, who happens to put out The DrakeCast, a solid podcast you should be listening to.
Some of you may have noticed that the old DIYbonefishing.com site, which had allllll sorts of information on where to find bonefish, is now this hot wreck:
When was the last time you were bonefishing in a fresh water lake with snow capped mountains in the background?
This is a snapshot of the old website:
Gee… I notice a considerable difference.
Why buy the site and then put up a totally generic and crappy face on it? I mean… who does that?
Rod Hamilton was the guy behind the original DIY website and a couple of DIY bonefishing books, like “Do It Yourself Bonefishing.”
What happened here is not readily apparent. There was no broadcast farewell. There was no message to fans and friends. The site just went down, replaced by that dumpster fire of a website. Rod’s email doesn’t work anymore. I don’t have a way to contact him. He appears to have called it a day, although no one I’ve spoken to really knows what to make of this sudden departure from the scene. I hope he’s well, as I know many of us do.
One can argue if it was a good idea to “hotspot” in such a public and readily accessible manner. I fall into the camp of “if you tell everyone where all the spots are, you spread out the pressure.” It may be a crap opinion. I don’t know that there is a scientific study here to fall back on.
I liked having all the info out there. Knowing where to go doesn’t mean you are going to find fish, or that you’ll be able to catch them if you can find them. DIY fishing is, simply, harder than doing it with a guide who knows the ins and outs of their particular bit of water.
If you have additional information on what happened here, please share here. And Rod… if you are out there, I hope you are well.