Mar 17

Six Years Ago – Andros

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett

Six years ago I got invited to Andros South for a week of fishing and blogging, something called FIB FEST 2011. This was back when maybe blogs were a bit more relevant and before the age of… well, whatever this is the age of.

The trip was great and the people I met were awesome and when I got back, after being in bonefish heaven for a week, I found out my marriage was pretty much over.

Photo by Cameron Miller down at Andros South.

So, Andros serves as a kind of line of demarcation between the life I had before Andros and the life I had post-Andros. I still feel profoundly grateful to have had such an amazing experience be the buffer between those two periods of my life.

Fishing trips are kind of like that. I think back to important times in my life and I tend to think “Now, that was just before Cuba” or “That was just after my 2010 Belize trip.” The trips serve as milestones in so many ways. They are a map to my past.

Andros South in the morning.

Thank You Andros (and Andrew).

Jun 14

Casting Further

The good folks over at Deneki have an article all about how to get a little more out of your casting.

Always a good thing. Never stop learning. Never stop trying to get just a little bit better.

Casting... work on it.

Casting… work on it.

Feb 14

Good Content

Deneki is the content king when it comes to bonefishing. They just put out a mountain of good information. With that in mind, you might want to check out the list of their top ten bonefishing related posts.


Andros South… I have some very fond memories of that place.

Nice bone, tagged and ready to go. Photo by Cameron Miller.

Nice bone, tagged and ready to go. Photo by Cameron Miller.

Nov 13

Deneki’s Big News

I read the news last week and I got to talk to Andrew yesterday about the sale of Deneki to the family behind Rapids Camp Lodge. Andrew is going to be sticking around, doing marketing and taking care to get things integrated, but the Deneki operation has indeed been acquired. The brand itself will grow to include the Rapids Camp operation in addition to Chile and Baja options as well.

Me, in a special place.

Me, in a special place.

Andrew’s done a great job with Deneki and has been Mr. Content Marketing, sort of showing the rest of the industry how you take photos, stories and knowledge and build a brand out of it.

Deneki’s Andros South operation has a special place in my heart. Heading there in 2011 was an inflection point in my own life. I clearly had a Pre-Andros South life and a Post-Andros South life. I’ll always be grateful to Andrew for making that trip a possibility.

The idea isn’t to alter Andros South, but to take what Andrew has built and grow the overall operation, grow the brand. I look forward to seeing how it all comes together and what Andrew does from here.

Here is the story from Gink & Gasoline.

Andrew, stalking bones in S. Andros.

Andrew, stalking bones in S. Andros.

Oct 13

Advice from Deneki on your Andros flies

I recall a post similar to this before I went to Andros. That post went straight to my head and it got stuck there and it seems most of my bonefish flies since that time have been influenced by that one post.

Here is a recent post from Deneki about what your Andros flies should take into account.

Big but light.  South Andros bonefish are big, and big fish tend to like bigger meals.  At the same time, though, we fish a lot of really shallow water since our fish tend not to be spooky.

I see the imprint of Deneki’s advice in my fly box… like this one.

Yeah... that should work.

Yeah… that should work.

Aug 13

From the Archives – FIBFest Day 1, the rest of the story

(Originally posted in 2011)

I said more details would come out about Day 1 from FIBFest, but I never really put them out there… the Outdooress beat me to it, putting up her version of that first day of fishing… you can read it through the link below, and I’ll give my own account below that.

One single cast, a few panicked strips of my line, one marginal strip set and BAM….I caught a bonefish on my first try. As my line peeled away I distinctly remember Bjorn behind me saying, “clear your line!” followed quickly with, “beginners luck!”

via And Sometimes, A Fly Fisher Must Self Time Out..while Bonefishing | The Outdooress.

On day 1 of FIBFest I was paired with Rebecca (aka the Outdooress). Rebecca had never been saltwater fly fishing before.  It is safe to say that she had some anxiety about the whole business.  I tried (for a solid 20 seconds or so) to give her the deck first, but she insisted she needed a little time to calm her nerves.

Her nerves were not promptly calmed when we stopped the boat only to see a 5 foot lemon shark (she’s not totally on board with the whole “sharks are cool” thing).  I got up on deck, took line off and stood in the place I most enjoy in the world… the bow of a flats boat.  Ahhhhhhh…

My favorite place

Soon, our guide, Ellie, had spotted the first fish.  I got a follow and an eat and missed the fish.  I missed the second fish.  I missed the third fish.  I was apologizing to Ellie a lot at this point.  Number 4 and I missed it.  I think I hooked a couple of these fish, briefly.  My strip set had about 20% tout set in it and it was just enough to botch the job.

Number FIVE stayed on.  I was on the board, the boat had the skunk off it and we were in business.

Staying on… first fish in of the trip.

It was Rebecca’s turn.  She got up and started getting some line out and doing a little practice casting.  It was not going well… I couldn’t tell what exactly wasn’t going well, but it, in general, wasn’t going well. I could see Rebecca getting really frustrated.  After a few minutes she realized that the help she had received the night before from someone around the Slack Tide Bar in setting up her rig had backfired.  In a Kalik haze, someone had missed one of the guides.  Rebecca was going to have to re-rig.  I was up again.

It didn’t take me that long on the second fish, as I recall, but soon, Rebecca was up on deck again.  I told her that I was sure she was going to stick the very first fish she cast to.  That’s the way these things work.  Beginners Luck is real and I was sure she was going to be dipped in that magical pixie dust to get her first bonefish.

Oddly, I was pretty much spot on.  The first fish she had to cast to she stuck.  That was a very nice thing.


I was back up and whacked #3 and it was Rebecca’s turn again.  This is where things started to kind of come unraveled a bit for the Outdooress.  There was some wind and when it came time to make that 40′ cast into the wind the Outdooress hit a wall of frustration and I could see the downward spiral that would take her off the casting deck and install me back up there.  Now, it should be noted that I tried to have her keep the deck, to get through it and stick with it, but it was clear to both of us she really needed a little breather to get her head right.

I’m a pretty good cheerleader and reminded her this was her first day in the salt, that casting like this is not a skill set that most trout anglers can really claim and that it takes time and that she needed to be more gentle with herself.  Bits and pieces of this made it through, but she was having a tough time.

Confidence is a tricky thing.  We build our confidence as anglers by putting in the time and and seeing results.  Most of us do that on rivers and lakes before we try to take it to the salt and when we get there, we often find our skills are related, but not totally what is called for.  We have defined ourselves as anglers and here is something we can’t do.  It is a real “wtf” moment.

The day progressed… Rebecca started cutting herself a little slack and spent more time up on the deck.  She landed three bonefish on her first day fishing in the salt.  I’d call that a good day.

I managed to get some good follows from some lemon sharks on a gurgler, but no eats.  The fish would accelerate on the fly, raise their nose right to it and by that time they would be about 15 feet from the boat and they’d peel off.

One unlucky bonefish became a snack for some of the lemons post release.  Poor bastard.  We were shadowed by lemons with three sharks visible at one time on occasion.

I had one fly we named the 50/50.  I’d cast to one little pod of fish and they’d follow and then bolt.  Ellie would say “Maybe we should change that fly… wait… bonefish, 11:00, 40′!”  I’d cast and this other group of fish would crush the fly.  The fish either loved it or hated it in equal measure. Go figure.

The 50/50, retired.

So… that’s the tale of the first day of FIBFest.

Aug 13

Andros South, how I do miss thee

Some photos from Peter Viau taken while fishing out of Andros South.

Great pics Peter.

That is a picture to put a smile on your face, isn't it?

That is a picture to put a smile on your face, isn’t it?


I'm ready for my close-up

I’m ready for my close-up


Looks like pretty good light

Looks like pretty good light



Aug 13

Advice for first timers

Deneki has a great post up about advice for first timers.

Maybe, since you are at Bonefish on the Brain, you are already into bonefish. Maybe you are here because you aspire to get after bones. If the latter is the case, check out that post from Deneki.

Fishing for bones is just different than fishing for freshwater species. It just is. Some of your skills will translate, some won’t and there will be new skills and concepts you’ll need to get the hang of. None of those skills is an insurmountable barrier.

Get after it.

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett


Aug 13

13 habits

Some solid goodness from the land of Deneki. The 13 Habits of Highly Effective Anglers.

Some of this is applicable to bonefish, some of it is more stream/trout/steelhead oriented, but it is all good stuff.

Fish the near water first.  Anglers who catch a lot of fish always make some short casts into the near water first.  If you tromp right into the run and launch one out to 70 feet, your chances of catching that fish right on the bank are exactly zero.

This one resonates. On my home waters I fish in tight. I almost never have cause to lay out the line on a long cast. The first 10 feet of fly line on my trout rods is just dirty. The next 10 feet looks pristine. There’s a reason for that.

I should add that I can also kind of crush on my home waters. One of the main reasons is that I fish the close water first. In fact, I fish the near water pretty much exclusively. If there is a cast I want to make further away, I simply move until it is in close.

Andrew’s list is good. Really good. I’d add a couple things.

  • When you feel like you need to speed up, you should slow down. A lesson I learn and relearn on a fairly frequent basis.
  • Sometimes you need to stop fishing and just watch for a bit. Observing what is happening out of the immediate context of the next cast can sometimes prove very, very informative.

Good stuff Andrew.

Andrew, stalking bones in S. Andros.

Andrew, stalking bones in S. Andros.

Apr 13

Picking the right fly

Deneki recently ran a post about picking the right bonefish fly. Worth a read.

Now, that’s a real issue for people like me who walk out on the flats with 600 flies. If you only have a dozen flies, it is likely an easier decision tree.

The boxes.

The boxes.

Here’s how I usually pick a fly.

  • Depth. Deeper water required heavier flies. However, it seems, from my very limited experience, it is almost always bead-chain eyes. I have lead-eyes and mono-eyes and it is almost always the bead chains that win.
  • Big fish, big flies. Someone told me that and I bought it. Heading to Biscayne Bay I’ve been told I need 1/0’s. The bones of Belize require flies in the #6-#8. A #6 or #4 seems to go over well in most places.
  • Go with the pattern that has worked. Seems like a good call, no?
  • Never fish the stuff I haven’t fished before. That’s not a good thing, but I notice the flies I’ve tied but am unsure of… yeah, those don’t tend to make it out of the box. Sometimes I wish I would take more risks.
  • When in doubt… put on a Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp.

In the end…

  • Relax. It matters way less than we think it does… probably. Presentation over fly selection, within reason.