Aug 16

There is a difference

Tosh Brown is a photographer, among other things. A really good one. He just revamped his site and it is kind of fun to poke around.

Check it out here.

There is a huge difference between what he’s doing and what I’m doing when I’m taking a picture of a fish out on the flats. I’ve seen good photographers (Jim Klug, Cameron Miller) out on the flats and they don’t fish, they shoot. They are looking for the picture when I’m looking for fish. It is kind of like how guiding isn’t fishing. Being a fly fishing photographer isn’t fishing either. You can’t really do both at the same time.

Here is his picture of a bonefish, underwater. 

Here is mine.

All is well... not to worry.

Yeah… not the same.

Tosh is kind of better at this whole thing… and that’s as it should be.

Apr 13

Interview with Tosh Brown

You’ve been enjoying the pictures Tosh Brown has taken for a while now. You might not know they were from him, but you’ve been enjoying them anyway. Tosh, simply, is one hell of a photographer. He takes pictures of things in the great outdoors… not a bad gig. Bonefish to turkeys to horses to Mahi Mahi. That kind of depth and breadth of experience likely comes with some interesting stories.  Tosh agreed to tell some of those stories here.

Some nice pics.

Some nice pics.


Tosh, you shoot some great pictures. I’m guessing that being a photographer is something like being a guide, in that when you are taking pictures, you aren’t fishing. You are around it, right next to it, but not actually doing it. When do you put the rod down and pick up the camera?

 When I’m actually shooting for someone (contracts, deadlines, and art direction) it’s an easy decision because work comes first. Even if I’m offered a rod and a chance to fish, I always make sure that the day’s shooting list is complete before I make a cast.

Where I struggle with fish-versus-shoot are the “spec” trips where I’m blending the green light to fish and the need to get some shots to justify my time and expense for being there. On those days I typically let the ambient light make my decision for me. Early and late when I’ve got the quality light, I’ll typically burn as many frames as possible and then switch to the rod when the light gets flat/harsh. That works well for some species, but I’ve passed up a lot casts at early morning tailing and waking and rolling fish because the light was great and there were bills to pay.

Is there a saltwater shot you missed that haunts you?

I honestly can’t think of one in particular, but over many years of shooting fish pictures I’ve thrown out hundreds of frames because I was a bit too late on the trigger and captured a hole in the water instead of a jumping or tailing fish. Back in the film days it was usually an exposure mistake that killed a good shot, but nowadays you can fix most of those in Photoshop.

Not exactly like my underwater shots.

Not exactly like my underwater shots.

You have a day where you can fish exclusively for bonefish, permit or tarpon. Which would you pick and why?

I love bonefish for their tailing and running, and permit are okay when they’re not being prickly little bitches. But if I had to pick one it would have to be tarpon. I’ve had the same May/June tarpon dates in the Keys since 1990 and that trip is carved in stone (I hope) to perpetuity. I can’t get enough of that fish: the eats, the jumps, the runs, and the habitat. Tarpon are the total package and we should all be thankful that they taste like boiled ass.

If you were going to bring just one camera out on the water, which camera would you bring?

The fastest one in my box. I started years ago with a Nikon F5 film loader, then switched to a Nikon D2x when digital came along. Now I’m shooting their D4 and it’s an amazing machine. It’s a pricey chunk to lug around but the performance is incredible.

So clean and crisp.

So clean and crisp.

What is your current bonefish set up in terms of rod and reel?

That really depends on where I’m fishing. For schoolies on calm days I love a 6wt that can carry a decent amount of line and land it softly. For bigger fish, heavier flies, and windy days I’ll switch to an 8 wt. I like any reel with a reliable drag and a mid or large arbor for quick line pickup.

For bonefish, where would you pay more attention, the rod or the reel?

Probably the rod. These days most of the reel manufacturers are making great drags that’ll handle any fish, as long as you take care of them. Rods, though, are all over the place. I’m not a good enough caster to spot the fine nuances in speed and flex that some anglers obsess over, but I do know a crappy rod when I’m holding one, and my marginal casting tends to amplify their deficiencies

When you are on the water a lot you see some things other folks just never see. Can you think of something really unique you’ve witnessed out on the water?

Because of my sometimes questionable decision making on capturing photos, I got an up-close view last summer of a lemon shark eating a bonefish on North Andros.

We were fishing the Joulters and losing too many bonefish to sharks. Every school had 3-4 lemons patrolling their fringe. After one small bone got cut in half, I waded up to the bloody head and got down on my knees with my underwater camera. With a wide-angle lens I had to get really close, so I crouched down with the dome port just inches from the bonefish head.

When the shark came back to finish his meal, I captured the entire sequence of him rushing in and grabbing the prize.  He could have changed his mind and gone for my chubby white hands clenched to the camera, but I guess the bloody bonefish head must have smelled better.

Just because.

Just because.

Is there one bonefish that stands out for you in your memory? If so, what was memorable about that fish?

Several years ago I shot a magazine story at Casa Blanca Lodge where we spent the entire week in kayaks exploring miles of water that they’d never been able to access with skiffs. In a shallow lagoon that was way off the beaten track, we found schools of bonefish in about 6 inches of water that acted as if they’d never seen humans. We were paddling right through them and they’d barely even change course.

After losing a fish to a broken hook, I was digging through my fly box when a single tailed up right next to my kayak. For grins, I flipped the hookless fly in front of him and he pounced. He was so close I could see every little detail of the eat: the gills flaring, the mud puff, the tail kick, everything. When I gently lifted the rod, the fly pulled out. When I dropped the tip, he pounced again. For the next few minutes we played this cat/mouse game, and each time I took the fly out of his mouth he became more frantic. After about the 5th or 6th eat he finally looked up and saw me and the kayak about five feet away. Even then he really never spooked, he just turned and swam off with a really dejected air about him.

There have been some shots at really big fish that I’ve blown over the years, but for some reason that little dude in Ascension Bay really sticks out

Thanks Tosh. Keep up the good work.


Apr 12

My own picture taking

I’ve noticed a real trend in my own picture taking when it comes to bonefish.

My first bonefish pics were pretty much the standard bearer for what not to do.  Long air exposure, excessive handling.  Those fish probably didn’t do well.

Yeah... I cringe a bit seeing these pictures.

I didn’t know better and the guide on that particular trip didn’t seem concerned in the slightest. It was kind of a big #fail, even if I didn’t know it yet.

The next trip (same island, different guide) was a big change. I knew better and I was glad to see the guide knew better too.  Captain Perry was my guide and he was very, very vigilant when it came to handling of fish.  The whole day with him we didn’t take a single fish out of the water for pictures.

My last trip to Cuba I found that I was often foregoing the photo-op.  Maybe I’d take a pic of the fish underwater, but often times I would just let them go at the side of the boat and not even snap a single picture. The pics aren’t too glamorous, but I’ve found I’m a bit less concerned about that now.  I do like having a nice photo and I have a few, but I don’t need a hero shot with every fish, or even most of them.

Let those fish swim.

Maybe not the sexiest pic.

Here’s advice from BTT about how to handle a bonefish and how to practice good C&R.


May 11

Seychelles via Jim Klug

If you are not sure who Jim Klug is you may not want to know.  His life has more fish in more places than you are likely to believe and it might make you bitter and angry that someone actually gets to live that kind of life (co-owner in Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, for starters).

You don’t need to be that bitter, man… you just don’t need it.

However, you may want to take a look at his photo gallery from the Seychelles.


I'll bet your soul feels kind of happy in a place like this.

Mar 11

Photo Contest Winner – Johan Persson Friberg

I had a little photo contest on the Facebook Page and we came up with a winner, Johan Persson Friberg (click the link if you are into Abaco… do it).  Really, the FB format makes it a bit difficult to do photo contests, but, I’ll look for a better way to get that done in the future.  The prize was 3 dozen flies from the Pile O’Flies I had dropped in my lap just before Christmas.  Johan said I should give those flies to someone that needs or could use them down in Andros… so… that’s where they’ll be going.

Here’s the photo that people liked most…

Yeah... n-i-c-e.


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Feb 11

Life is good – A photo-journey through the world of bonefishing – Global FlyFisher

I like pictures… I like bonefish… I like the Caribbean.  So… it stands to reason that I LOVE pictures of bonefish in the Caribbean.  I found this “A photo-journey through the world of bonefishing.”  Yeah.  I like it.

The flats create an amazing and fascinating world. These areas of seemingly endless shallow water, which are still so abundant with food for the bonefish.

via Life is good – A photo-journey through the world of bonefishing – Global FlyFisher.

Apr 10

More Adam Barker in Belize

So, I juuuuust posted something about my fishing friend Mikey Wier heading down to Belize and fellow trip-mate Adam Barker shooting some great pics.  Well, Adam has a blog and pics from that trip are now up.  Worth a gander.

Some of Adam's fine, fine work.

Apr 10

Mikey Wier and Adam Barker – Belize

I was checking in on fishing friend and Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador Mikey Wier’s blog, Burl Fish, and was happy to see some pics from his recent trip to Belize.  He was down there with a group of anglers doing a mother ship trip.  One of those anglers was Adam Barker, a photographer from Salt Lake City.  Some gooooood looking shots.

Nice shot Adam!

You can see more of the shots on Mikey’s blog here. You can read more about his trip here.

You can find more photos by Adam Barker at his website.  He does a lot of skiing/outdoors type photography, but has a gallery devoted to fly fishing as well.

Mar 10

Fishartist does bonefish

Just a little sample of the pics up at Fishartist.com

Nice fish and a nice photo

You’ll not only find lots of photos on the site, but books and all sorts of  saltwatery goodness.

Mar 10

Brian O’Keefe – An Interview

Brian O’Keefe is a name you have probably seen often if you like looking at well taken photographs of wondrous landscapes and the fish living there. Brian is one of the photographers behind the e-zine Catch Magazine and continues to be one of the preeminent fly fishing photographers clicking a shutter today.

I'm thinking that's a self-portrait

It has been said that the fish that gets away stays much longer and clearer in the memory of the angler than all the fish landed.  Along those lines, is there a bonefish that you didn’t land or connect to that you still think about?

Yes.  I was fishing in the Berry Islands in the Bahamas and a friend wanted to cast my rod and made a dozen long casts to check out the action, line, etc.  Well, my first cast afterward was to a huge tailer.  The fish ate and off it went across the flat. Then, the leader broke with very little pressure. On inspection of my leader, there were several wind/casting knots in the leader…

Is there a picture of something on the flats that you didn’t get that you still think about?

Yes.  I was wading a flat in Bonaire when I saw an adult couple wading in the shallow water.  From a distance it looked like they had on matching red swimsuits. When I got closer I noticed the red was sunburn. I had waded into a nudist resort!!!

We often picture bonefishing as happening on clear, sunny days. However, things don’t always shape out that way… what are the worst conditions you’ve ever caught a bonefish in?

In the Seychelles a storm blew in. A typhoon, actually. We were sitting in the water as the storm raged overhead. The bonefish still took the fly. Only 10 feet away. Our sailboat was blown off anchor and drifted far, far away. We were barely able to find it with our little zodiac. That was a close one. Several people died in the storm on nearby islands.

Is there a place you haven’t been yet for bonefish that you’d like to get to?

I would like to fish the new destination – St. Brandon in the Indian Ocean.

Do you have a go-to fly pattern, and if so, do you think it is really the fly or the confidence you have in it that matters?

I have found the fly to be important several times. Saying that, I should also emphasize that size, weight and presentation are all important at the same time. An orange colored fly has been super hot a couple of times in the Caribbean when there were very selective, spooky fish.

Do you have a tip for aspiring photographers for getting a good shot out on the flats?

A polarizing filter can help on bright sunny days. It makes skies more blue and reduces glare on bright fish.

Thanks Brian. We are all looking forward to watching your adventures appear on pages and screens for years to come.