Feb 16

Starting with the cuda

I’m starting off posts about my recent trip to Abaco with a barracuda I caught on a spinning rod. Maybe that’s an odd choice, but that’s what I’m doing.

This was the second day in Abaco and our last day at Abaco Lodge. My fishing partner Aaron and I were fishing with Trevor and the morning was proving tough. Wind (at one point blowing maybe 25 mph). Clouds. Cooler temps on the flats. There are a million reasons why the beautiful flats we were looking at didn’t seem to have any bonefish on them and what few chances we were getting in the AM we were not making the most of. The fish seemed morally opposed to flies.

We weren’t down, just eager and a bit frustrated that what light we had didn’t include the illumination of the bones we were looking for.

Then we saw the cuda.

It was a nice cuda, for sure, but not a record breaker. We saw a lot of cuda on our trip, both in the Marls and where we fished later. They were everywhere, including many places bonefish were not… like this flat, at this moment.

I grabbed the spinning rod with the well-worn cuda plug and launched it fish-ward. It really is amazing how far those things cast. I had just replaced my spinning rod and this was the first cuda the rod would see.

The cuda at first seemed startled, then it seemed pissed as it ran down the plug as I reeled it in as fast as I could. It lunged and missed and lunged and missed again and was nearing the boat when it slashed again, this time grabbing one of the two treble hooks, the water exploding followed an instant later by that brand new spinning rod snapping in (more or less) half.

Things can go two ways at this point. You can either be mad/angry/upset about it, or you can think this turn of events is awesome. We went with the latter option. There I was fighting a 25 pound cuda with half a rod and Aaron and I both started laughing. Smiles, all around. As Aaron said later, “There is just something cool about breaking a rod on a fish.”

A big fish and a broken rod.

A big fish and a broken rod.

That’s striking the right tone. It was a trip highlight, among many. It was a ray of light on a mostly cloudy and very windy day.

Travis went on to find us fish… a lot of them, more than we saw the rest of the trip. We even managed to catch a few, but the day was mostly made with that cuda.

It was a story for the dock when we got back, where we learned we weren’t the only one to break a rod on the day. Another angler broke his 11 weight on a tarpon (yes, a tarpon in the Marls).

Bonefishing is fun. Fly fishing is the way I want to catch them. However, barracuda are also fun and watching one try to murder a 7″ plug is downright exhilarating. I love bonefishing, or course, but I love the whole package with its ups and down and expansiveness.

I’ll be thinking of this trip for a long time.

Jan 16

The Wire

The RIO wire

The RIO wire

I can’t go to the skinny water without my wire, I admit it.

At first, barracuda were the enemy, the predators of bonefish and bonefish were what I was out to catch. It seemed natural to hate them and their ability to turn a landed bonefish into half a landed bonefish.

As predators they excel. Their speed and power and aggression are really astounding. And… aren’t those pretty good traits in a game fish?

My hatred turned to curiosity and then to outright joy.

I’ll say it. I love barracuda.

When they decide to go after a fly they destroy it, shred it, make it a fraction of its former self. When you hook one they jump like skinnier, madder tarpon. They throw rooster tails of water on their lightning runs. They are electric.

They can also hurt you. Badly. Maybe not kill you, but they could take off a finger or two.

“It ain’t wilderness unless there’s a critter that can kill you and eat you.” – Doug Peacock.

So, with a trip on the horizion, it was time to buy some new wire. I’m going for the bonefish, but I’ll enjoy the cudas too.

Jun 14

A boney day in Cuba

From my Cuba trip, 2012.

Today I told the guide I didn’t want to pick up my tarpon rod and I ended up not doing that at all. What was in store was a really fun day of bonefishing with Chris Santella and guide TiTi. We also managed to tangle with a few jacks and cudas.

The bones first.  They were larger today than I had expected with the average bumping up toward 4 pounds. On one flat I spotted a dorsal and asked the guide if it was a bonefish. He said “No, shark……………… BONEFISH! BONEFISH! BONEFISH!” Had to be 10 pounds, plus. Didn’t get a cast in to it, but it was very exciting nonetheless.

The guide has two ways of finding bonefish. Looking for them and not looking for them. We went in search of Jacks a few times and almost every time we found bonefish. I didn’t mind at all.

That said… sometimes we weren’t the only ones to find the bones.

One bone got munched in half by a cuda.  First time that has happened to me. Odd experience to reel in half a bonefish.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn't work out.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn’t work out.

Those cudas… man… they are devious. Hooked up on a cuda and a second cuda bit the line, freeing his brother.  BASTARDS!

All said a good day.  Saw some really great and beautiful country today and had a very good time. Pics to follow when the frigging internet is fast enough!

Now, on to drinks on my last night on the Tortuga.

May 14

Super Cuda

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No… it’s SUPER CUDA!

Jul 13

Day saver

Adrienne Comeau and I met (literally, for the first time) at the airport and then we drove straight to the water. There we met Martin, who was waiting to show us his home water, Biscayne Bay. We strung up in the parking lot and then got on the boat. Shortly thereafter we broke Martin’s trolling motor, and I have to say, I’m amazed at how well Martin took it. Adrienne and I didn’t break it so much as it was broken, but I might not have been as well composed as Martin was.

We headed out.

I was really taken by how close this was to Miami, which we caught glimpses of. What a resource to have right there, so close to such an urban center. From listening to most of Carl Hiaasen’s books on my work commute I even recognized most of the names Martin mentioned as we sped out in search of bonefish.

Adrienne, in the rain.

Adrienne, in the rain.

We arrived at the desired flat and then had a nice, long shower. Basically, it rained. Hard. Adrienne was up on deck first and she actually did get at least one cast in at a Biscayne bonefish, but the shots were hard to come by in the darkness.

After a while I got up on deck, but the weather was bad and the shots were all used up.

There was a Day Saver though. That Day Saver was called Barracuda.

That is me... happy.

That is me… happy.

We caught a few and saw a lot and I was happy with that. I know you don’t go out and just stick a few Biscayne bones on demand. You need things to fall into place. You don’t need everything to break your way, but you need a majority. We were not there on that day and I was pretty pleased to end up with a nice cuda.

Barracuda are fun. They fight hard. They are super aggressive. They have “nasty, big, pointy teeth.” That sounds pretty good to me.

We visited Biscayne Bay. We got soaked. We enjoyed Martin’s love for his home water. We spanked a few Barracuda.

Martin, on the platform, showing us a place he loves.

Martin, on the platform, showing us a place he loves.

All in all… a lovey day.

Mar 13

Tying a Cuda Fly

A very interesting tie… and it is key you watch all the way to the end… all the way.



Apr 12

My half bonefish from Cuba

I had something happen in Cuba that I’ve never had happen before. I know it happens and it has happened plenty of times to plenty of people.  I had a bonefish bit in half on the line by a barracuda.

I didn’t see the cuda around before I hooked the fish. I didn’t think the bonefish was acting weird or wild before the fish hit. I had the bone on and then, all of a sudden, the cuda was there, chewing on the bonefish.  When I pulled in the fish, I was left with the front 1/3 or so of the bonefish.

I got to hold it him my hand and look it in the eye.

It was a weird moment. It underscored that this is a blood sport, even when we don’t intend it to be.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn't work out.

Sep 11


I saw a little blurb on The Trout Underground that implied fly fishing for trout is better than fly fishing for cuda’s because of the injuries sustained to the guy below by a 4 foot cuda that sliced through his arm. Here’s a link to the full story.

See, I kind of see it as the exact opposite.  That there is a possibility you could get attacked by a flying 4 foot cuda is kind of exciting. There is some really crazy stuff out there in the ocean… stuff with sharp, pointy fangs. I like that. The ocean is dangerous. It is wild in a way that included people.  That’s one of the draws.

Apr 11

More on that Androsian Cuda

Bonefish are really fantastic.  I love the stalking, I love the precision, I love the speed of the fish.

Sometimes, though, you want violence and big, pointy teeth.

Enter the Cuda.

While down at Andros South I got a tiny bit fixated on catching a barracuda. I went out every day after we got back from fishing in the hopes of finding and catching one.  I largely succeeded on the first part of that (the finding) and utterly failed in the second (a few flies attacked, but nothing even hooked).

After a few days it was starting to get to me.

I kept after it and I kept mentioning to the guides that I was hoping to catch a cuda.  I had the 10 wt. rigged with 45 lbs. wire leader and either a gurgler or needle fish fly ready for action.  The opportunities just didn’t come or, one day when I had a good shot I put the fly right on the fish’s head and spooked it.

The last day Kyle Perkins and I were teamed up with guide Freddie.  Freddie is the biggest guide at Andros South and has the smallest boat.  He likes getting in the skinnier water.  He also likes to sing and laugh and overall he was a fantastic guide to fish with both in terms of his knowledge of the water, but also his mentality that put a smile on your face even after you blew the cast.

Freddie = fun

That last day we ended up having some prop trouble deep into Deep Creek and when it was clear we weren’t going to get up on plane for the ride home, Freddie told me I might as well break out the cuda rod. This was very, very welcome news for me.  It meant an extra HOUR of fishing.  Awesome.

Now, there are probably people that say trolling isn’t really fly fishing and that this was cheating and that it doesn’t count.  I… don’t… care.

Fishing with a fly, even if you don't call it fly fishing

I took all the fly line off so I had half a wrap of fly line left and we started the slow troll back to the dock.  It wasn’t long before I got a first grab.  Then I got a second.  The third stayed on for four good jumps and a couple nice runs and then it came unbuttoned.  The fifth strike didn’t stick and I missed the sixth.

“Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” goes the saying.  I reeled up, saw that the tail end of the fly was destroyed and decided to cut the fly in half.  It was a long, bright yellow superhair fly with no trailing hook.  The fish were obviously biting the tail and nothing pointy.  With half this fly left I threw it back out.  About 10 minutes later I connected and the fish stayed on.

It jumped in anger.  It made vicious runs.  The rod throbbed from the power of the fish.  This is not bonefishing, but this was pretty much distilled awesomeness.

"Why don't you come home and meet the wife."

The fish got invited home to meet Freddie’s wife.  Androsians will eat a Cuda so long as it isn’t caught off a reef.

Blissed Out

I got a cuda tooth pulled from the fish to give to my daughter, who at four years old has a passion for dangerous and deadly creatures (I love that girl something fierce).

Note to self… next time use more glue… lots and lots of glue.

Glue! I need glue!


– paid ad below –


Learn everything about boating safety at BoaterExam.com

Jan 10

Grand Bahama – Day 3 – Ass Kicking

Sadly… I was the kickee as opposed to kicker today.  The sun came out, mostly, but the wind came up, hard, and while I found fish, I spooked nearly every single one of them.

I spooked so many fish it is practically Halloween.

I got out to a little bay/cove on the East End today and went down to the far end where I found fish tailing in the corner up  against some mangroves about 2 feet off the bank.

“Sweet” I thought.   “This is going to be a great day.”

Cast, cast, gone.

Then the wind.  Uff da.

Luckily, I found a little mud and got a skunk breaker.

I like this shot for no reason in particular.

I had some company on the flat starting off the morning… but they didn’t touch any fish.  I think someone sent this guy out here to make me feel good about my casting.  Watching them go at it I was again thankful for the good guiding and good fishing I had with Captain Perry.


I found a lot of fish today… but these fish were not the virgin/naive fish of the far reaches of the East End.  These were educated fish.  Most of the spooking I did came from the fish seeing the fly… any fly.  I tried lots… #2’s, #4’s, #6’s… pinks, yellows, tans, whites… bunny, silly  legs, very plain… they all send  the fish running (swimming, I suppose) away at great speed, pushing water as they went.

I found one little pod of nice fish, made the cast, got the follow and got it to eat, but I missed the hook set and he/she/it wouldn’t eat again.  Frustration was mounting at that point.

I drove down to Rocky Creek, but the tide  was wrong for the flat there. I should have known better, really.

I drove back to the first spot.  The wind was howling.  It was too late to go anywhere else… this was going to need to be it.  As I was walking out to where the sand stopped and turtle grass began I had the sun to my back and the wind in my face… I had one window to see the fish, but that also meant casting into the 15-20 mph wind.  Just when I was coming to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to find any more fish I picked up 4 or 5 nice fish cruising my way on the edge of the grass… pretty much directly into the wind.

I slogged a cast out there and it wasn’t bad (surprising even myself).  I saw one fish break off from the school.  I moved the fly, I stopped, stripped,  felt the fish, set the hook and I was hooked onto my second bonefish of the day.  The fish started splashing around, it came tight, but didn’t start it’s run.  I got ready to enjoy the sound of the singing reel and then it just spit the hook.  wtf.


Tomorrow promises to be pretty much exactly the same as today from a weather perspective.  Wind… lots of wind… 12-16, all day.

Now I have figured out that I can see the fish.  Need to see if I can’t catch a few more tomorrow, or I’m going to be reduced to throwing for little cuda’s again.

Sometimes you just need to feel the pull of a fish.