Jan 14

Aitutaki video

Well, this certainly looks nice.  Not sure why they had to weigh each fish in a sling… if that is driven by regulation or by vanity. Seems unfortunate, doubly so if driven by vanity.

Some nice fish here though.

By all accounts Aitutaki is not a numbers game. You go for size and for the remoteness of the place. Nice to get this glimpse of it.


Jan 12

Aitutaki in FFSW

Just got a new issue of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters (thanks Steve) and I was pleased to see a piece on Aitutaki.  For those of you not familiar, that is an atoll in the South Pacific, a part of the Cook Islands.

The fish there are few in number and large in size.  It isn’t a place you are going to run up the score, but it is a place you stand a good chance of finding a 10 pound bonefish.

The atoll has received a bit of press because of the movie made about taking a local net fisherman and turning him into a fly fishing guide.  There were some big names involved in that project in terms of companies throwing their weight behind it.  There has been a guide working Aitutaki for a number of years that didn’t make it into the movie, but did make it into the story, which was nice to see.  That is Butch Leone, who I did an interview with.

Fly Fishing in Salt Waters is just a solid mag.  You should check it out.

Oct 11

Aitutaki and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust

Ah… I love it when favorite things come together.  In this case the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust is heading out to Aitutaki to get all learned up on the Cook Island Bones.  Cool.

Aitutaki sounds like a really interesting place and while I have yet to travel there myself, I’ve long enjoyed hearing from Butch Leone as he tries to get the locals on the conservation wagon.  Things are moving forward there, or at least is a generally positive direction.

The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, of course, is pretty much awesome and if you love bones (or permit or tarpon) this is an organization that should be getting some of your hard-earned (or fairly stolen) money.

Here’s a link to the story.

Oct 11

School getting more awesome in Aitutaki

Get this… they are going to introduce bonefish into the schools on Aitutaki.  That is cool.

The Education Minister, Teina Bishop, says the ministry is looking to introduce bonefishing into the curriculum of Aitutaki schools, and pearl farming for Penrhyn students to factor in education skills specific to each island in the country.

He says the ministry is focused on both academic study and, what he calls, education for life.

Well… that sounds pretty awesome. Kind of like “Trout in the Classroom” when you don’t have trout.

Nice fish Butch
Butch with a nice Aitutaki Bonefish

Jul 11

The pearl of Aitutaki – Way to go Butch

If Aitutaki were an oyster, the budding bonefishing industry would surely be its pearl.

via The pearl of Aitutaki | PostIndependent.com.

Well, look at that, Butch Leone!  A nice little story about Aitutaki that features Butch Leone, who has started a tagging program there in his little piece of the Cook Islands.



Feb 11


OK… things…

Looks like things are maybe not so bleak in Aitutaki and I hope that is the conclusion I’ll have when things are all rolled out…

Bjorn hi

There are detailed criteria, weightings and conditions outlined in the regulations. Much of the vetting and decision making will be the responsibility of the bonefish management committee, including what limits to put on the number of guides (the number recommended was 5). Obviously the regulations  weren’t designed to fit around individuals or the bonefish association but if applied properly it can lead to a fair and sustainable industry for the guides.

The core requirements for guides are (1) CI Boat Master Certificate, (2) Red Cross First Aid Certificate and (3) CI Tourism Accreditation. MMR has funded all these courses and others e.g. guide fishing training and small business management, although just 2 persons have completed the requirements so far.

Regards, Ben

There remain some questions about who exactly is on the committee and how they get there… but, this is a start.

Another thing… I like art… at least when it comes to fishing/fish art.  I’m still wondering how I feel about Bonefish Gyotaku for which, I think, the bonefish likely gave its life.  You can buy this on Etsy.

Bonefish as art

Another thing… speaking of fishing art… there is a new member to my little family… a Lamson Lightspeed 4… destined to tangle with cuda’s and I hope some tarpon, Dorado and other beeg fish swimming out in the ocean.

Isn't she beautiful? Pretty girl.

I’ve never caught a big cuda.  I hope to change that in March down at Andros South and that is the reel I’ll have on… well… a rod to be named later.

Sep 10

Things learned recently


First, the climate for buying and selling houses is crazy… a house that we bought 6 years ago with zero down and no questions asked is now something that lenders are taking a VERY close look at… one walked away from it, another has agreed to do the deal, about a week late.  We’ll make about… get ready for it… $500.  Luckily we only put in about $30K in improvements.  I’m very glad to be getting out of the real-estate game in Silicon Valley where your half-a-million dollars doesn’t go real far.

Depending on the neighborhood, this could be $500,000 - $1,000,000


It takes a long time to get to Aitutaki… I just did a little Kayak search and it figures it would take about 68 hours to get from SFO to the capital of the Cook Islands (and longer to get to Aitutaki).  Man… I’d love to fish with Butch, but that one is going to have to go on the “next 10 years” list.

2 1/2.

Turns out there is a glitch with the iPad kayak.com app in that it seemed to add about 45 hours to the trip to get to Aitutaki.  It seems entirely possible to get to Aitutaki in something like 15 hours and maybe even less. I had one reader tell me this… which is awesome.

I think your calculations in flying to Aitutaki are a little off…my wife and I have tickets booked in January out of LA on Air New Zealand.  We leave LA on a 9.5hr non-stop to Rorotonga, have a short layover and then 55 minutes to Aitutaki.  The non stop is only available one day each week each direction, but it is available.  Plan on fishing with Butch 4 days while there and the rest on my own.  We’re going for two weeks too!


I have started doing a little contract work (non-fly fishing related, very Silicon Valley related).  Work, as it turns out, gets in the way of writing this blog a bit.  Still, it might actually make it easier for me to enter into negotiations on future trips with the wonderfully beautiful and intelligent woman I conned into marriage I call my wife.


I really like the Trout Underground… especially when I totally agree with him on things like the re-licensing effort on one of my favorite rivers.  I have found that my local fly club has signed up with the lunatic fringe and won’t respond to my questions about why the hell we’d do that.


Frequent Flier miles on Alaska don’t do me a whole lot of good. No (as in zero) flights available for my open travel days to either Puerto  Rico or Belize.  Looks like I’ll be buying my plane ticket with cashish instead of accumulated miles.  To this I say “boooooo.”  However, on a positive note, the “SkyRider” seat has yet to become a reality… I don’t to take my red-eye on one of these satan seats.

No... no thank you.

Aug 10

Playing Tour Guide: Aitutaki

I thought I’d look around and see what I could find on the intertubes about Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, home of Butch Leone, our interview from this last week.

Here’s one of the clips I found.  It isn’t about bonefish, but it is about where they are found… a beautiful place in the middle of the South Pacific.

Aug 10

Interview with Butch Leone

How about living on a remote atoll in the middle of the South Pacific?  Sounds intriguing, no?  That’s exactly what Butch Leone does on the atoll of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands where he guides anglers to some really big bonefish. Atoll life sounds pretty interesting.

Nice fish Butch

Butch with a nice Aitutaki Bonefish

Aitataki is a long way from anything.  How did you find yourself living there pursuing bonefish?

I first came to Aitutaki 13 years ago and just fell in love with the place.  How I decided to come to the Cook Islands is a bit funny.  I was just a kid and just spun the globe and put my finger down.  It landed on the Cook Islands so I figured that someday I would go there.  It took 30 some years to make the trip but it was certainly worth the wait.  When I was planning my trip here for the first time I saw all the sand flats and thought there must be bonefish in the lagoon.  I tried to do some research on the subject but nothing was written about bonefishing on Aitutaki at that time.  I just came down with a 9wt rod and started throwing flies at everything with fins.  I loved it.  Once I got back to where I lived in Bend, Oregon I booked another trip and was back on Aitutaki 6 months later.

What’s the most difficult part of living somewhere that is so isolated?

People ask me all the time what I miss most while I am down here.  I have to tell them honestly, “nothing.”   My lovely wife and little daughter supply everything I could want in life on the island.  With modern technology and the internet I can stay in close contact with my family and friends in the US.

Do you have a particularly memorable bonefish?

If I had to choose a memorable bonefish I would have to say “my last one.”  They are all just so much fun to have run my backing out that it is hard to choose which would be my most memorable.  I guess if I had to pick one it would be my 37 inch bonefish caught in the main channel in town while I was fishing for trevally.  It was quite a surprise to hook a big bonefish on a fly that was just under the surface of the water while stripping as fast as I could.  All I saw when it hit the fly was a slab of silver and I figured it was just a big trevally.  As soon as it started to come back at me after the first massive run I had an idea it wasn’t a trevally.  The size of the thing had me shaking in wading sandals.  I haven’t landed another one that large but seen them plenty of times.

I would imagine that you don’t have a lot of fly shops there, how do you get gear and flies?  Does the remoteness of your circumstances force you to be more careful with your gear?

If you lose gear here you better have back ups because you can’t just run down to your local fly shop and restock.  I have most of my fly tying materials sent in from The Patient Angler Fly Shop in Bend.  Peter Bowers, the owner has been more than accommodating sending my supplies.  For my leaders I just get big spools of the stuff as I go thru so much of it.  I use the RIO Saltwater F/I lines and order right from RIO.  They also have been great and have taken care of me on numerous occasions.  No I am not cautious with my gear.  I’ll toss to anything.  If you get cautious you don’t take the chances that can land a great fish.  My gear is meant to be used and I use it and put it to the test as often as I can.

Do you have a favorite rod/reel these days?

Right now my rod of choice is a 9wt Pieroway rod from Pieroway Rod Company of Calgary Canada.  It is probably the smoothest casting rod I have ever used.  It offers great finesse on short shots and has plenty of power for the long shots.   I would put it up against any of the top rated rods that are much more expensive.  It has helped me land many bonefish in all kinds of conditions.  I also use a 9wt TFO TiCrX that I like and have landed plenty of great fish on.


A Pieroway rod and Cook Bonefish

When you are out on the water a lot you get the opportunity to see things that other people simply will never see.  You see unique things, funny things, frightening things.  Is there something you’ve seen out on the flats that is memorable like that?

I guess the strangest thing I have ever seen out here on the lagoon has to do with a bonefish that we saw one day.  As we were poling along the edge of one of the little islands in the lagoon looking for bonefish, we saw this fish snapping at the tail of an eel.  We poled up close and saw that it was a bonefish and it was just nipping at the eel’s tail end.  This was up on the surface of the water.  My friend Mark and I just kind of looked at each other not sure what we were seeing.  We kept trying to put a fly between the bonefish and the eel but the fish wanted nothing but the eel.  Finally the eel got under a rock and that was the end of it.  These bonefish here are a different fish not only are they big but they just don’t act like normal bonefish, what ever that is.  I know people here that have picked up bonefish trolling.  These fish have the brain the size of a breadcrumb but they still outsmart me all the time.

Working the boat

Butch poling along the atoll.

Thanks Butch.  Hope you enjoy Aitutaki.  Sounds like a special place.