Jul 12

The Curious Case of the Missing Permit

There is a crazy amount of habitat in the Bahamas.  As a high schooler might say… “there is, like, a lot.”

There are plenty of bonefish in the Bahamas.  There are Jacks a plenty.  Cudas are all over the place along with sharks.  There are fewer tarpon, but they migrate, so that is mostly understandable.


Where are the frigging permit though?

From the 2011 Redbone Tournaments at Deep Water Cay:



Every once in a while there is a permit caught in the Bahamas.  There are clearly some permit there, but they are few and very, very far between.

I asked Dr. Adams about that and he said the research hasn’t been conducted.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on why permit appear to be scarce in the Bahamas.

Jul 12

Interview with Bill Horn – Seasons on the Flats

I first learned about Seasons on the Flats by seeing some of the art work for the book done by Bob White.  That got me interested and so I tracked down Bill Horn and asked him to do an interview.  That we did.  It took me a while (like, 3 months) to sit down to transcribe it and it was at that point I realized the recording must not have started on the phone call… “0 Seconds” is all it said.


So, Bill finally sent me an email on something else and I had to confess that I had failed to record the initial interview and he quickly, and graciously, offered to do it a second time.  So, I’m glad to have this interview with Bill Horn, author of the upcoming Seasons on the Flats (out this month), to share with all of you.

The Author, Bill Horn

Your book is called “Seasons on the Flats,” what was it that drove you to write this book?

I did a few magazine articles (my first ventures into outdoor writing) and submitted one titled “Tarpon Camp” that got rejected.  Started to rework it and got the idea of taking a Keys’ visitors through an angler’s season.  That idea, and the fun of telling tales about these wonderful little islands, got me going and the “book” just poured out in the next few weeks. “Seasons” is my love letter to the Keys.

Given the book chronicles the seasons, which is your favorite to be there?

Ouch – that’s a tough question as each season has its distinct pleasures.  Summer is probably my favorite with good bonefishing, permit, junior tarpon in the backcountry, enough big poons to make it interesting, lobster season, night reef fishing, and hanging out on sandbars in warm clear waters with a cold one in hand.  Of course, this gets interrupted periodically by hurricanes and tropical storms but it’s the price you pay for being in subtropical latitudes.

 The Keys have a reputation as being a bit rough… the fishing is difficult, the guides prone to yelling and the number of people to contend with are growing… how do you feel the stereotypes match the reality?

The Keys’ flats demand your “A” game but that’s what makes it great — it is never boring.  These are the major leagues for flats anglers.  The tarpon and permit fishing remain excellent and bonefish are still there (just not in the numbers in places like the Bahamas or Mexico). And newcomers shouldn’t shy away.  The guides might be intense (the days of yelling are years past) but damn they’re good and a few days with a veteran Keys’ guide is a great learning experience. Crowding and conflicts with others do occur, especially during spring tarpon and in the Upper Keys, but that’s why there’s summer and fall and the Middle Keys.

This is my kind of thing.

When you look at the future of fishing in the Keys, what are the biggest threats?

Water quality is the big threat but the outlook is good. The Keys are systematically retiring their septic systems and that should improve inshore waters. Plus the Everglades restoration projects are finally getting into gear and in a few years water flowing into Florida Bay (quantity and quality) should also get better.   Although not a threat per se, the years of not knowing much about bonefish, permit and tarpon are ending. Research by BTT and the Florida Wildlife Commission are shedding new light on fish migrations, spawning behavior, rearing habitats, etc.  With this kind of information finally available, there will be new opportunities to make good fishery management decisions to bring back the bonefish to historical levels and hold onto the great tarpon and permit fisheries we presently enjoy.

When looking for bonefish, what is your go-to rig (rod/reel)?

I’m pretty old school – been using the same 8 weight Scott STS and Abel 3N for years.  I like to upline my rods and have grown partial to the Wulff Bermdua lines. Use as long as leader as you can and my favorite Keys bonefish fly may be a surprise – a big old #2 Red Headed Gotcha.

The Keys are also knows for their characters.  You have a story about one of those?

Being the end of the road, an eclectic entertaining bunch of souls do collect in the Keys. For regular chuckles, check out the “crime reports” in the Key West newspaper.  Last year’s favorite was a minor car wreck caused by a woman shaving her nether regions while driving to her boyfriend’s house with her ex-husband in the car.

I have seen some of the illustrations in the book done by Bob White.  How did you come to work with him?

Met Bob about 20 years ago when he was head guide for Tikchik Narrows Lodge in Alaska.  We fished together and I was an instant admirer of his art.  When the book was almost done, I wanted it to look classy and that meant one thing – get Bob to do the illustrations. It took one phone call to make it happen.  His 15 pencil sketches in “Seasons” are wonderful;  the three maps and the hammerhead shark are my favorites and you can purchase originals or prints from him.

Work by Bob White

In our fishing lives we run into people who, for one reason or another, give of their knowledge to help us out.  Is there someone who has been instrumental to your growth as a flats fisherman down in the Keys?

Getting introduced to Albert Ponzoa, Bus Bergmann, and Rich Keating – three outstanding Marathon guides –  really opened the door to the Keys’ flats.  I had fished the Keys as a kid in the 50’s, and caught my first bonefish in 1974, but these guys took me to a whole new level. They taught me a lot, prodded me to improve my skills, laughed and cheered when we enjoyed success, and cried with me when the fish kicked my ass.  An angler, and friend, can’t ask for more.

Thanks for doing this twice Bill and I look forward to reading that book!

Mar 12

The Avalon

When I head down to Cuba in… like… a WEEK, I’ll be on a media tour heading out with some folks from Yellow Dog (they aren’t selling trips to Cuba, fyi) and we’ll be fishing with Avalon.

One thing that that Avalon is known for is their fly… the Avalon fly. This is supposed to be a permit-getter and while I think where I’m headed is less known for permit, there is a chance I’ll be throwing to one.

I tied up a few last night. I didn’t have the tan marabou so I substituted materials, but I think that I got the concept more or less right.

My Avalon... maybe it will work, maybe it won't.

A week from today I start the journey. Countdown in full effect.

Jan 12

Belize… the difference between passing and making laws

Belize has passed some great laws protecting bonefish, permit and tarpon. That’s great.  Way to go Belize. Passing laws like that is not easy.

However… enforcement lags behind and there are some real threats out there in Belizean waters right now.  Case in point is the matter of a boat, fishing out of San Pedro, that appears to be netting permit, killing permit and selling permit. (thanks for the link Adam)

Authorities have been alerted (thanks in part to the co-owner of El Pescador), but nothing has come of it. While there is a law passed to protect permit, it is not a reality in some of the waters around Ambergris.

So… Come on Belize. Put some teeth in there.


Dec 11

Belize – nice shots from Adam Marton

These are some pretty nice shots of Belize taken by Adam Marton.


Dec 11

Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve – Worth Supporting

The good folks at the Turneffe Atoll Trust are trying to get signatures for a proposed Tuneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.  It’s a good idea. (You can go to this site to express your support)

Belize in general has really come a long way toward embracing conservation… as they should.  Tourism is an important part of the Belizean economy and that only works if they have wonderful places to show people.  TAT is pretty new to the scene, but they are already engaged in some pretty exciting work.

So, spend a little time to do what they are asking you to do.  I’ll be doing it myself as well.

Dear Bonefish on the Brain readers,

I am going to ask for a moment of your time regarding something that is incredibly important for the future of our industry and the future of saltwater marine environments in the Caribbean.

We aren’t asking for any money, but we need your voice of support!  As an esteemed member of the fly fishing community, you are no doubt concerned by the mounting threats against coastal ecosystems around the globe.  The future of saltwater angling depends on the integrity of places such as Turneffe Atoll, Belize – the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Western Hemisphere.  

Nearly a decade ago, Turneffe Atoll Trust was formed to help implement an environmental success story, one in which a globally significant ecosystem gained protection before an environmental crisis hit.  Turneffe Atoll is currently healthy and as of yet, does not need to be fixed. What it urgently needs, however, is protection and management so it doesn’t fall victim to further improper development, unsustainable commercial activities, and environmental degradation.

The great news is that this goal is within reach because the Government of Belize has recently indicated it is prepared to formally designate a new Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.  An achievement of this magnitude bodes well not only for the future of Belize, but also for all who have a stake in marine conservation and saltwater fisheries throughout the Caribbean basin.  This is why I am asking you to help with a final push towards making this dream a reality.  

Send an email to Paul (paul@turneffeatoll.org), with the following three (3) quick and simple pieces of information, you will be added as an endorser to a letter asking the Belizean Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture for the creation of a Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (see the letter below):

1.      Name of your business / organization

2.      Name and title of individual signing on behalf of business / organization

3.      Your City, State, and Country

If all goes as planned, our goal is to celebrate this victory by the end of January 2012.   Your support is key to making this happen, and we very much appreciate your time and your endorsement!

Best regards,        

Paul D. Robertson

Executive Director

Here is the letter you’ll be added to…

Honorable Rene Montero

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries

P.O. Box 146

Belize City, Belize

Honorable Minister Montero:

We, the undersigned, wish to formally express our complete and total support for the creation of a Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.  By taking this historic step, the Government of Belize will not only secure benefits for all future generations of Belizeans, but it will also make a major contribution in the global effort to conserve the marine environment.

As the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Western Hemisphere, Turneffe Atoll encompasses all aspects of an intact coastal marine ecosystem; including deep ocean, fringe reef, patch reef, back-reef flats, extensive sea grass beds, extensive mangrove stands, creeks, littoral forest and two large lagoon systems.  It is home to populations of several threatened species including Antillean manatees, Hawksbill turtles, goliath groupers, Nassau grouper and American crocodiles.  Six spawning aggregation sites are known at Turneffe.  With this rich diversity of coastal marine habitats, Turneffe is also an ideal location to conduct critical coastal marine research.

Additionally, the health of Turneffe Atoll is vital to the Belizean economy.   A traditional fishing ground since the Mayan era, Turneffe is one of Belize’s largest producers of spiny lobster, conch and finfish.   It is an increasingly popular tourism destination and the diving, fly fishing, and eco-tourism opportunities are world-renowned.  These commercial activities provide significant employment for Belizeans and sustainable management of these resources is essential to ensuring a continuous source of stable jobs.

By all measures Turneffe Atoll is an irreplaceable asset to the cultural heritage of Belize.  By taking this huge step forward, Belize will further solidify its position as a global leader in environmental stewardship and forward thinking.  We urge you to make this landmark achievement a reality by designating a Marine Reserve at Turneffe Atoll.


(this is where your name will show up)

Again, thank you for replying to this email with these 3 pieces of information and voicing your support for a Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve:

1.      Name of your business / organization

2.      Name and title of individual signing on behalf of business / organization

Your City, State, and Country

Aug 11

I like awesomeness. How bout you?

I know, I put up a video from Will Benson juuuuuuusssst the other day.  Thing is, I have to post this one too.  I have to post this because it is a whole bunch of awesome.

Props to Will for tagging both the permit and the bonefish.

Now, I managed to get a grand slam down in Belize. However, this now looks like a very, very minor accomplishment compared to Will doing it 1. all by myself, and 2. catching it all on film, and 3. putting it together in a kind of awesome video.

Mad, crazy props to Will at World Angling.

When I was first looking at catching a bonefish in Grand Bahama, I actually got to talk to either Will or Dave from World Angling before my trip.  Whoever I talked to had some ideas for me, suggested the guide I used.  I had no idea at the time they possessed the mad, crazy skills they do.

Aug 11

World Angling Media and Permit

OK, I usually stick pretty tight to bonefish… this is a bonefishing blog, after all.  Still, I just saw this over at This is Fly Daily. I like it.  A lot. Beautifully shot and a conservation message.  Yeah. That’s pretty much my bag.

Well done.


Jul 11

Boise to Belize – bellinghamherald.com


Belize’s blue water, barrier reef, beaches and hospitality attract many tourists, but Boise angler Michael Mickey Myhre went there for other reasons. Belize offers a chance to catch the big four of saltwater flats fly fishing: bonefish, tarpon, snook and permit.

via Fisherman goes from Boise to Belize to catch permit – Outdoors Idaho – bellinghamherald.com.



Yeah, I’m going to say that Belize is the best place on the face of the earth to get that Grand Slam and surprisingly, I speak from experience.

Jun 11

Cuba… one the list

Cuba looks nice.  It looks really nice.  I’d like to go there, and some day, maybe I will.

One guy who just got back is Jim Klug (Yellow Dog Fly Fishing and Confluence Films) and he posted up some photos at his photography site.  You should spend some time there, really.

That looks nice... really nice.

Cigar anyone?