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.

Mar 12

Fishing Jones interviews Mr. Deneki

His name actually is Andrew Bennett, but he’s the guy behind Deneki Outdoor. Here’s a cool interview that Fishing Jones did.

Here’s a sample question asked…

You’re Ivy League; shouldn’t you be launching a tech start-up or bundling subprime mortgages?

Check out the interview to see the answer.

Fishing Jones, is, of course, Pete McDonald, who is part of the Pulp Fly writing project. A great number of the writers for the project came out of FIBFest (Bruce Smithhammer, Pete McDonald, Michael Gracie and myself). A lot of good things have happened there at Andros South. Good job Andrew.


May 11

Salven Paints Some FIBFest Goodness

Here’s a new Bragging Rights Portrait of Eric Rathbun of Moldy Chum who recently had the opportunity for the ethereal experience while chasing Bones in the Bahamas.

via ” Bahama Bonefish ” Tropical Bragging Rights Fish Art portrait –  Mike Savlen.

That is just pure awesome.  Mike does some really, really good work.  This picture was taken at FIBFest… some really good pictures were taken by Cameron and now one of those has been turned into a pretty kick arse painting by Mike.


I want one.


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Apr 11

Hunting for Bonefish and Steelhead | Tom Larimer Guest Post

Another FIBFest related post from the good folks at Deneki.

Photo by Cameron Miller

Chasing bonefish had never held huge appeal to me… after all, I’m a steelhead angler that thrives on punishment. Give me a river full of fish and I start losing interest – the hunt is what captivates me.

via Hunting for Bonefish and Steelhead | Tom Larimer Guest Post.

Tom Larimer wrote another good piece for the Deneki Blog about the hunting aspects of bonefishing compared to steelheading.  I have to say, the hunting aspect of bonefishing is something that really grabs me.  That you have to see the fish before you catch it… you have to know where to expect it and when it will be there, then you have to make the cast and get the retrieve right… I love it.

I imagine that it has a lot of parallels to hunting, although I’m not a hunter myself.  You have to know where the elk or deer or grouse are going to be.  You have to get in the right position.  You have to see your target and you have to make the shot.

Of course, you get to let your bonefish go.

Apr 11

My top fly from Andros

A few folks have asked… so… I gave it some thought.  I think this patterns was the one I wish I had more of down there in Andros at FIBFest.

Reverse Gotcha... bunny tail... rubber legs... ya know... "stuff"

Maybe this has a name… I’d think it is just a bit too similar to other patterns to have it’s own.  It’s goodness.  I added some UV Cure whatever to the back of the fly, which is a move I really, really like.  Some folks said it would make the fly land too heavy… I didn’t see that, but it is possible that would be an issue in really skinny water.  This fly is a #2… so… not little, but after reading some of Aaron Adams’ thoughts on the matter, I think we should probably move up a size or two on most of the flies we throw.

Hope this helps.

Apr 11

Impossible is Nothing

They said it couldn’t be done.

They said it was impossible.

They called me crazy… or worse.

“You need bait” they said.


I had something they lacked…  I had belief.

I knew it could be done.

I knew it was possible.

In fact, I knew it was inevitable.

Once I had focused in on the task it was going to make it happen.  There was no doubt.



Photos by Cameron Miller

OK… maybe it wasn’t the best fish of the trip, but I am the only FIBFester that caught one!  Hand-lined that mo-fo!  Yeah!

Thankfully, I still had a few #8’s on my box from the last trip.  No way those fish could fit a #6 in their mouths.

Apr 11

Moldy Chum and Norman, the South Andros Guide

A post from Eric of Moldy Chum about Andros South Guide Norman.  I fished with Norman one of the days I was there… he’s good at what he does.

If I were to guess, Norman is probably in his mid-thirties. It’s hard to tell though, as most guides on the island are in pretty g’damn good shape. When he’s not hunting Walter on the Westside, he owns and operates a nightclub just south of Congotown.

via Fly Fishing | Blog | Photos | Podcasts | Travel | Gear | and More – Moldy Chum – Bonefish, 7 o’clock – 20 feet.


Norman picking out a fly. Photo - Shadow River Media, Cameron Miller

Photo – Shadow River Media, Cameron Miller


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Apr 11

FIBFest… the travel back

It was always going to be a long day of travel to get from South Andros back to San Jose, CA in a day.  If I was an East Coaster, it would have been easier.  It took four flights, one airport sprint session and the slowest van ride ever (he drove 50 in a 65) to make it back… but I made it, about 11:30 PM (also known as 2:30 AM on Andros Time).

My bag… not so much.  It should get here later this morning so I can give my girl the shells I bought from the Shell Man.

While FIBFest is now very much over… the memories of the week will last a long, long time and the friendships I’ve made this past week will last even longer.

That said… it isn’t too bad being home either.

One reasons to be home.

Mar 11

The lights of Andros

The pictorial report will be up in a while, but I wanted to share a little bit of magic I saw tonight here in Andros.

I went out tonight after dinner to the little jetty at Andros South in search of ‘Cuda’s.  I didn’t fine them.  What I did find, however, where a couple hundred phosphorescent green flashbulbs going off in the water.

I don’t know what they were.

They weren’t there long.

They were beautiful.

Flash, flash, flash.  Green little lights that lit up and then faded away all over the water for a hundred feet.

It just doesn’t get much better than that, bonefish or no bonefish.  This is a special place.

Mar 11

FIBFest Nears

OK… Andros is coming up really, really fast.  Today… Thursday.  Tomorrow… Departure Day.  Saturday… Andros.

The posts are starting to come fast and furious.  When things really get kicking off, you can follow the mayhem mostly by following the Deneki website.

In the meantime, you can check out some of the blogginess from some of the folks who will be joining me (or will I be joining them?) at Andros South:

Michael Gracie

Complete Thought


There’s even a hashtag for FIBFest, for those of you who do the Twitter thing… #FIBFest.


Anticipation is cresting.  Come the adventure!