12
Jul 10

‘Island Salt’ book launch packed with support

Want to read a book set in a Grand Bahama bonefishing lodge?  Well, there happens to be such a book… Island Salt. The author of the book is Sydney Watson.

The little story about the book was something I found on Bahamas Islands Info.

Island Salt, is set in a legendary bone fishing lodge on Grand Bahama, which becomes the vortex for murder and misplaced loyalty.

via ‘Island Salt’ book launch packed with support.


06
Mar 10

Redbone, Bonefish and Grand Bahama

The idea of fishing competitions/tournaments is met with utter disdain not universally embraced by the fly fishing community… at least the trouting part of it anyway.  In the salt, it seems there is a whole different attitude… one that includes lots of tournaments for lots of species, including bonefish.

I saw the results of the Redbone Deep Water Cay Celebrity Classic.  I couldn’t find a list of folks that entered, or what makes them “celebrities,” maybe they don’t wear panties, I don’t know.  Deep Water Cay is the uber-exclusive lodge/operation on the far, far end of Grand Bahama… actually, just off shore on their own cay… Deep Water Cay… they have their own airport.

I caught my first bonefish right behind Deep Water Cay, although I was with an independent guide.  I don’t begin to have the the kind of obscene wealth resources it would take to  have bought in at DWC.

The story can be found on the ESPN site here.  The winner was Cal Collier Jr. who posted 22 fish over two days.  Points were given for Permit too, but no one caught one (no one caught one the year before either).   Sounds like he had to battle some difficult conditions (like a 57 degree morning and 20 mile per hour winds).  He got 16 in the final day to end up on the podium (do they use podiums?).  The guide was Cecil Leathen… can’t find too much about him.  I’m guessing he should have won half of whatever was won if he’s like any of the many, many guides I know.

The biggest fish of the tournament went to David Collier (yes, related) with a 28.5 inch fish.  Um… that is frigging massive, by the way… 12-13 pounds according to the chart I looked at.  TWELVE PLUS POUNDS.  I would have liked to have seen that fish.

Nice location… not cheap.

19
Jan 10

Grand Bahama – Day 5 – Departure and Summary

My last morning in Grand Bahama I packed up, left the hotel/motel and headed to the East End for some fishing before my flight left at 2:45.  After the impossibly windy day before I was hopeful that conditions would be better… and they were.  The huge flat was at high tide, but it was only barely rippling in about a 5 mph wind.  Partly cloudy skies revealed slices of the flats, sometimes staying sunny for 20 or 30 minutes.

I quickly found my first fish, up tight against the shore.  I then spooked my first bonefish of the day as they took one look at  my offering, knew exactly what was happening and indicated that they’d rather not play.

So went my morning.  I found fish, had maybe 10-12 legit shots and time after time the fish either diverted smoothly and calmly, or high-tailed it.  I found fish mudding, and even those fish were super wary.

I also saw Captain Perry and his wife walking along the beach.  We stopped and chatted.  As we were talking, Captain Perry pointed out a single bonefish cruising towards us and then past us, 30 feet away.  I made a cast in front of the fish and it calmly turned toward deeper water.

“If that’s how the fish be acting, I don’t think you gonna catch anything today.” said the Captain.

He was right… although only just.

I found a pod working in a corner against some mangroves.  I blocked  their exit and waited.  They eventually came my way, a small grouping of 4-6 fish.  I had on a one of my velcro crabs.  I twitched the fly and the lead fish passed.  I was getting ready to recast, felt one of the trailing fish take the fly and, as a reflex, lifted the rod tip.  I trout set on the one fish I could get to eat all morning.

So it went until it was time to head to the airport for what would turn out to be delays upon delays, eventually landing at SFO at 1:30 AM, pulling into my Sierra Foothills driveway at 4:30 AM.

Summary

  • The trip would have been a near total failure were it not for Captain Perry.  He found me dumb fish and I caught some. I highly recommend him.
  • On my own, the flats I found held fish that were much, much more educated than I’d have liked.
  • I only managed to land 2 DIY bones in 3 days of DIY fishing. I probably had 50 or 60 shots.
  • If a really hard wind is coming from the South, GBI is a tough place for the self-guided.
  • My interest in bonefish does not remedy my lack of experience.
  • Bahamian speed limits are clearly suggestions that pretty much no one takes heed of.
  • The Bahamian economy is in the pits, simply because ours is.
  • Folks were surprised to have a Californian there.
  • Dogs are not on leashes, seem to be mostly wild and not to belong to anyone.
  • The number of derelict, abandoned or partially destroyed homes/buildings between McLeans Town and Freeport is remarkable.
  • The micro-compact car I had was not suited for real off-roading.
  • The amount of trash at some of the East End beaches was troubling.
  • The Inflatable Kayak was wasted due to high winds, although it cost me nothing to bring along.
  • The further East you go, the dumber the fish get.  The guides go WAY East… places only boats can go.

In the end, it was a good trip.  It was tougher than I had hoped for and I had fewer fish to hand than I had been dreaming of.  Basically, I have to do this more and it would help if I either had more guiding or were in a location with dumber fish.  There are lots and lots of places I didn’t get to.  I felt pressure to be fishing just about every possible moment, so didn’t explore as much as I probably should have.  I’ll be thinking  of those fish for a long time to come and I will likely start really planning my next trip sometime this evening.

In action in Grand Bahama


18
Jan 10

Grand Bahama – Day 4 – The Wind

I could hear the wind last night… it was blowing hard.  Weather.com said the wind today in Freeport was going to be around 17 mph.  The wind on the East End had to be harder.

When I got to the first flat there were waves… waves are not good for sight fishing for bonefish.  The water was churned up and visibility could be measured in inches, not feet.

Second stop and it was just as bad.

Here’s the flat yesterday…

Same flat today…

Oh… that’s not good.

This was going to be a tough, tough day.  Forget that the wind  had to be blowing 25 mph… there was no seeing the fish.

So, what do you do when you are on a fishing trip and the weather doesn’t cooperate?  You go fishing.

I drove as far east as I could and found a beached barge I remembered from my first trip.  Put on a clouser and went in search of something that would eat.

skunk breaker, but no bonefish (a nassau grouper, me thinks)

skunk breaker, but no bonefish (a nassau grouper, me thinks)

Also found a cuda.

Little Cuda

Little Cuda

This guy didn’t like the windy conditions either.

I found a flat that was sheltered and the water was clear… but the fish weren’t there.

Crab.

Crab.

I tried a road I had been told about heading to the North side of the island, that would have been sheltered from the wave action that had dirtied the water on the South side… but it was too much for my mico-compact.

Basically, it was not going to be a good bonefishing day.  So, I went to Geneva’s and had some cracked conch and Kalik.

Tomorrow I fly out, but not until 2:00, so I have some time to try for bones in the AM.  If the wind isn’t as bad (and it isn’t supposed to be as bad tomorrow) I might have a shot.  The temps are supposed to be cooler, but, you go fishing when you can, not only when everything is perfect.


17
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.

Company.

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.

Damn.

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.


16
Jan 10

Grand Bahama – Day 2 – Captain Perry

Today was a good day.  The weatherman dropped the ball on this one though.  Partly Cloudy would imply some clouds… not all clouds.  That’s what I had today with Captain Perry out of McLeans Town on the East End of Grand Bahama (now guiding out of East End Lodge).

Captain Perry

Captain Perry

Captain Perry was great.  He knew where the fish were, he knew what to throw and how it should be retrieved.  He didn’t get (too) frustrated when I cast on top of the fish for the 6th time or lead the fish by 10′ for the 7th time.

I was/am impressed with Captain Perry’s conservation ethic.  He knows how bad air exposure/handling are for the fish and whenever possible he avoided taking them out of the water or handling them.  He’s a good steward of the natural wonderland that is Grand Bahama.  You should be glad he’s out  there.

That bone is going to be just fine.

That bone is going to be just fine.

Conditions were not ideal.  The clouds made it really tough to spot fish.  Capt. Perry had it dialed though, and was routinely putting me on fish.  I botched a fair number of those opportunities and it took us a while to get the skunk off the boat, but once that happened, the fun began.

Day 2 Skunk Breaker

Day 2 Skunk Breaker

A good time was had, despite the weather.  We used a magic/secret fly that Perry uses to get the skunk off and for the first several fish.  We then switched over  to a pink #4 Gotcha and again, it was money.  I fished almost the entire time with the TFO Clouser 8 wt. and TFO Large Arbor Reel.  I’m in love with both of them.

With Perry you fish hard, 8-3:30.  So, after being dropped back at the dock (he’ll pick you up in Freeport if you want, I wanted to drive out there) I hit a small flat I had remembered from my last trip.  The light was fading when I got there, but there were a few tailing fish.  I spooked a couple, but didn’t rush things.  A while later the tails popped up again.  I made  a good cast and quickly came tight on a bonefish.  Then, as it started it’s run, it just came off.  Bummer.

Still, 12 fish to hand on a cloudy, windy, cool day is good fishing in my book.  I highly recommend Captain Perry.  He’s a good guide and a good guy.

Another Grand Bahama Bone

Another Grand Bahama Bone

A great day.

Being on the water also meant I got to miss continuing coverage of the disaster in Haiti.  The little bit of the news I did catch nearly brought me to tears.  The CNN anchorwoman actually started crying.  Luckily, the answer to global calamities is to go fishing.

A note on fuel… gas was about $4.50 when I was there, meaning a little over $100 of the day’s guide fee went to gas to get us out to the dumb fish.  It was painful for me to pay as much as I did, but the Captain is worth it and, just so you know,  I paid full price for the trip and am not getting anything in return for the positive report.


15
Jan 10

Grand Bahama – Day 1

Air travel once was glamorous.  Not any more.  Between watching TSA make a blind 10 year old girl take off her shoes, my red-eye neighbor hogging all the leg room and an aborted take-off on American Eagle, I think it is safe to say that it certainly is not about the journey any longer, it’s about the destination.

Fifteen hours from when I left the house I was standing on a flat in Grand Bahama. The tide was rising, the water temp was 72 and there were patchy clouds in the sky.  It was 2:30.  I soon spooked my first bones.

I was happy I was able to start seeing the bonefish much earlier than my previous trip.  However, they wanted nothing to do with me.  I probably cast to 30 bones, but no takers.  Spooked a few, others never saw the fly.

Nice looking water.

In the end, the light was failing and I just couldn’t find the fish again.  I left, after 2 hours, fishless.

I decided to stop off at a spot that my dad and I had fished back in Dec. 2008.  It’s a big, white sand flat.  There’s a boat launch there and I figured that if it came down to it, I could probably catch something (anything!) throwing clousers from the launch.  I decided to walk the flat before throwing the big clousers.  Low light conditions, from what I’ve read, can mean tailers and that would really be the only way I was going to find fish as the sun sank lower in the western sky.

Behind me, about 50 feet away, I heard something.  I spun around to see a tail.  I made the cast.  I took up the slack, felt the fish and somehow managed not to trout set.  I had the fish.  The fish was on and a couple seconds later  I was looking at my backing.  That was exactly what I needed.  This bone is the first I have caught on a fly I tied, making it extra special.

First of the trip!

Same fish, but more to the fish's liking.

#4 Pink Gotcha

Notice how my finger is reflected on the gill plate of the fish in the underwater shot?  That’s what makes these fish so hard to see.

Sure is pretty here.  The weather is improving and I’m out with Captain Perry tomorrow, all day.  Can’t wait.

Purdy.


27
Sep 09

9,460,000 Seconds (Bonefishing 2010)

A second isn’t so long… really… passes, literally in the blink of an eye.  So, all I have to do is blink my eyes about 9,460,000 times and I’ll be walking a flat in Grand Bahama looking for ghostly shadows.

I’ve picked my location, I’ve picked the dates and I have grandparents coming in to watch my daughter.  Now all I have to do is wait… and blink a lot.

I’ll be leaving on a red-eye on Jan. 13th and fishing the next afternoon.  I’ll be staying at some place that is $51 a night… I’m only going to be sleeping and showering there… I don’t need a pool… I don’t need breakfast… I hardly need sheets.  With the rental car in there I should be right about $100 a day.

Not too bad.

I know there are flats I can walk out on… I know because I found my first solo bonefish there last December.

Feels good to have it sorted out and now all I have to do is count down from 9,460,000.


01
Sep 09

Oh Grand Bahama…

Oh Grand Bahama, I could never be mad at you…

Here’s a video of some guy, who isn’t me, landing a nice little bone. Obligatory Caribbean music included.


28
Aug 09

See dem bones?

It was December, Grand Bahama, East end of the island.  We were floating in maybe 2 feet of crystal clear water, turtle grass gently swaying in the current below us as we  rode silently on the tide.  This was my first time in a flats boat on my first Bahamas trip.  My dad was in the boat, the guide was on the poling platform and I was up.  My rod was poised, the fly was between my fingers, I had line out and ready and my eyes were scanning the water in front of us behind my polarized lenses.  I was ready to make this happen.

The guide suddenly speaks, “Bones, sixty feet, do you see dem?” he asks, pointing in the general direction.

“No” I say… I see nothing… just the uneven patchwork of the bottom… I see nothing.

“Right der,” says the guide, “moving left to right, twenty fish.”

“I don’t see them” I say… again… nothing. I’m starting to feel equal parts nervous and stupid.

Then… the guide says it… maybe the best line to a rookie bonefish angler in the history of bonefishing.

Ray Charles could see that school mon!”

Suddenly, I see the fish… all of them.  How  did I not see them before?

The cast is made, the bone is on the fly, the fight is on and the fish is landed.

In this picture, Ray was tracking a school of bones just off camera.

That Ray Charles line still cracks me up.  The main issue for me continues to be just seeing the fish.  I can make the cast, I have confidence in the tackle, but if you don’t have a target, you are just standing there with a stick in your hand.