Apr 16

Long Island on the cheap

A couple years ago I went to Long Island for a hosted trip. It was a good time and has led to friendships I still have. It also did a good job of filling up the memory bank with plenty of bonefishy goodness.

This is, sadly, the best picture I have of that fish.

This is, sadly, the best picture I have of that fish.

Long Island got hit pretty hard by the hurricane and is in the process of recovering. The guiding operation I fished with, Bonefish Paradise, run by Dwayne Knowles and his brother, are offering a pretty sweet deal for April and May. This deal, and I haven’t seen anything like it, is $250 a day for a fully guided trip on Long Island. So, you and a buddy could fish for 4 days for $500 each. Really… where else are you going to find something like that? I’d go, were it not for the very real prospect of losing my job and marriage if I tried.

Dwayne, calling out a fish to Jason Bourne (photo from Aaron Vanderwall)

Dwayne, calling out a fish to Jason Bourne (photo from Aaron Vanderwall)

If you need a trip, jump at this. You aren’t likely to find a cheaper trip and you’d get competent guiding in a wonderful place. You’d also be giving some business to some good folks who could use it and would be appreciative.

Not a sound.

Not a sound.



Hello Long Island Bonefish

Jul 14

A little Long

A video from SWC featuring Long Island.

Long is a pretty laid back and special place, unique due to the old salt flats and catering to the wade angler.

Go, if you haven’t already.

Jul 14

Nets all around

Photo by Matt Hansen... me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

Photo by Matt Hansen… me, seconds after losing a really, really nice fish.

Well… want to get a little depressed?

Here’s a story about netting in Long Island… that’s bonefish netting. This makes me grumpy. I have to say, I didn’t see any netting there when I was there, but, Courntey did.

One of Mr Knowles’s recent guests, Courtney-Marie Martin, writing in the Internet-based fishing blog, skinnywaterculture.com, said of her Long Island experience: “I witnessed first-hand one of the major conservation issues currently going on in the area, with gill netters present not far from the flat we just fished.

“My heart broke. If we don’t preserve what little we have left, this will all be gone, and there will be no future generation to follow in our footsteps. This is apparently an on-going, don’t ask don’t tell, problem on the island. With a heavy heart, and the thought of bonefish being gill netted, along with other innocents by catch, we headed in.”

If that’s not enough, there are some who think the decline in bonefish in the Keys may have something to do with commercial netting in Cuba. That’s what this article puts forward.

We do not know the exact correlation between the bonefish in the Keys and the fish in Cuba, but we do know that about fifteen years ago, there was massive netting projects going on in the north part of Cuba, gill nets that stretched miles across the flats and channels.  From  reports the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has heard, thousands and thousand of bonefish, along with countless other species were netted and sold at market.  At about this same time, the bonefish population suddenly plummeted in the Florida Keys.  

And why do I keep bringing stuff like this up?

“We have reached the time in the life of the planet and humanities demands upon it when every fisherman will have to be a river keeper, a steward of marine shallows and a watchman on the high seas. We are beyond having to put back what we have taken out. We must put back more than we take out. We must make holy war on the enemies of aquatic life as we have gillnetters, polluters and drainers of wetlands. Otherwise, as you have already learned, these creatures will continue to disappear at an alarming rate. We will lose as much as we have already lost already and there will be next to nothing, remnant populations, put-and-take, dim bulbs following the tank truck.”  –Tom McGuane writing in the Some Remarks section of his outstanding book The Longest Silence.

Jul 14

Courtney goes to Long Island… and crushes it.

A nice story on the Skinny Water Culture Blog from Courtney.

She went to Long Island, fishing the same waters I fished just a few months ago.

She did well.

I saw a few very large dark shadows swimming slowly, for a split second I thought they were juvenile tarpon they were so big. Then I realized…, “tarpon don’t live here”. They were bonefish, and not just any bonefish, at least 10lb and up. 

Well done.

May 14

Who likes free stuff? I think I know the answer to that.

Rod Hamilton has put together a pretty sweet list of prizes and he’ll be giving a ton of stuff away.

We are talking Redington Rods, Sage Reels, Costa glasses, dozens and dozens of bonefish flies, buffs, hats and books with a grand prize of a free bonefishing trip to the Long Island Bonefishing Lodge.

It is really, really easy to enter. All  you have to do is go HERE and that is just about it.


Looks good, me thinks.

Looks good, me thinks.

Apr 14

ID the Snake

One morning as we were getting ready to head out fishing on Long Island we found a little snake coiled up hugging one of the coolers. Doug Jefferies picked the thing up much to Samantha’s surprise.

Anyone know what this is? Here’s the story from Scott Heywood’s Fly Paper.

Our little Bahamian neighbor.

Our little Bahamian neighbor.


Apr 14

This guy should be famous

The setting was beautiful. A lone rock far from anything else out on the ocean-side flats of Long Island. The wind was non-existent. To top it all off, there was a school of bonefish that would not be discouraged. The damn things just hung around.

Not a sound.

Not a sound.

I finally made my way over to cast to the school (maybe 400-600 fish) and quickly hooked up and just as quickly lost it. Lost a couple more before I finally managed to get one that didn’t slip off. The forces keeping the bonefish schooled up happened to be sharks and cudas. My little bone didn’t make it. It was eaten by a cuda, despite my trying to give it line and give it a chance.

About this time another boat motored up. It was odd to have another boat come all this way out there when they had to be able to see us there from more than a mile away. The boat pulled up 200 feet away and the lone angler and his guide set up shop.

As they eyed the school I was fishing to I managed to get another bonefish on the line. This one I pulled out of the school quickly and the sharks and cudas didn’t see it. I landed the fish, the smallest bonefish of the trip, maybe a pound, and I managed to not get my hand taken off, which felt like victory.

Seeing me otherwise occupied with landing the fish, and making a sarcastic comment about the fish’s lack of girth, the boat moved in on the school.

You sirs, are douchebags.

You sirs, are douchebags.

Yup… they came in and poached my school. They moved right in on the fish and pushed them beyond me.

I just had to stand and stare in amazement. The total lack of class was stunning.

So, let’s just all agree not to do this, OK? Let’s not do it ourselves and let’s not let a guide we are paying do it. Just don’t.


Good. I’m glad we had this talk.

Apr 14

Jason Bourne Goes Bonefishing

My name, Bjorn, is a tough one for a lot of people. It is pronounced “bee-orn.” The “j” throws a lot of people. I’ve had that name since birth, however, so I’m used to it.On the recent trip to Long Island the name produced a new funny twist.

Head guide, Dwayne, had trouble with my name, as many do. Dwayne pronounced my name “Born” and I answered to it. You can’t be picky when you are named Bjorn.

Dwayne, calling out a fish to Jason Bourne (photo from Aaron Vanderwall)
Dwayne, calling out a fish to Jason Bourne (photo from Aaron Vanderwall)

In order to remember my name, Dwayne latched on to the Bourne movies, associating my name with Jason Bourne.

On the boat, when fish were spotted and Dwayne wanted to get my attention, the association with the movie character proved too strong and he’d simply call me “Jason.”

He knew it wasn’t right, but he couldn’t stop himself.

“Jason… Bourne… Jason, bonefish, there!”

Soon, even Dwayne’s brother Elvis was calling me Jason.

So, in March of 2014, a character from fiction visited Long Island in the Bahamas in search of bonefish. There were no car chases or explosions, save those by barracuda.

Apr 14

Conch Time

It isn’t always about the fishing. Sometimes it is about all the other things that go along with just being there. There are birds and snakes and big, huge mollusks.

Yup. Conch.


On Long Island I was fortunate to have Conch Fritters three times, Cracked Conch once and Conch Salad twice. It, to me, is the flavor of the islands and I indulged when I had the opportunity.

Max fritters

Aaron cleaning up the last of it.

Aaron cleaning up the last of it.

Mark, making a conch themed fashion statement.

Mark, making a conch themed fashion statement.

Mar 14

The Tarpon of Long Island

I can say I saw some of the tarpon of Long Island. I cannot say I caught one.

There is basically one, deep cut which holds the tarpon. There used to be a lot more of them around, but the last big hurricane cut through some of the canals and the baby tarpon vanished. The deep cut holds what few adults are still found there.

They come  up and roll and then head back down deep. The bend where they are found is a confusion of currents and boils and deep water. I saw a spinner shark glide beneath the skiff, but I only saw the tarpon roll at a distance of 50′ or more.

Dutifully, I pounded out some casts to the general vicinity of the rolls, but the fish were probably 10 feet below the fly and I doubt they ever saw it.

I did get to cast the new Sage Motive rod in an 11 weight lent to me just for this trip. The rod cast very well and even the guide was impressed with the line I was able to lay out with this purpose built tool. The rod is fast, as you’d expect. If you’ve cast other big, fast action saltwater rods, you know the experience. I liked the rod and felt comfortable with it. I’m sure it would have handled a big tarpon well. Alas, I’ll have to make that speculation and not report from experience.

Sage Motive 11

I never got a boil on the fly. I never saw a 5 foot shape loom up behind the fly. I can’t say I got close to catching one.

Still, I enjoy just seeing them. My knees got weak at the sight of them. My pulse sped up, my hands began to shake. I felt fortunate just to have a shot.

I did get to fish the Motive a little bit more, casting for sharks, cudas and trolling for jacks. I did get a fish on it, which was a nice bonus.

I might not bring an 11 on my next Long Island trip. Instead, I might revert back to my Redington Predator 10 wt., which I had along as well and which dealt with the jacks and cudas just fine, even throwing a big popper into the wind.

I sure would have liked to hook into one of those nice Long Island tarpon, but they are so few it might be better just to let them hang out and play with the locals.