May 11

Bonefish Handling Week – From the Pro

Alright, I told Aaron Adams that I’d make this week’s posts all about handling bonefish correctly… so… that’s what I’m going to do.  Monday to Friday will be dedicated to showing fish being handled and released well.

As far as the catching part goes, just fish as heavy a tippet as you can and have enough drag to make progress in getting the fish in.  Don’t overplay the fish… that’s a pretty easy concept.

In terms of the release portion of the issue goes you just have to be aware that every little bit longer you keep the fish out of the water increases the likelihood that it will get munched on when it is released.  These aren’t trout.  Just because it swims away doesn’t mean everything is OK.  If it swims away, but is tired… well… the odds that a cuda or shark will eat it go up a fair bit.

Here’s Dr. Adams…

Jun 10

A Pirate By Another Name

If you watched Pirates of the Flats last year on ESPN you’ll recognize some of the names… Yvon Chouinard, Tom Brokaw, Michael Keaton and Bill Klyn are all there.  New are Zach Gilford and Lori-Ann Murphy.

A new show is in the works, basically Pirates of the Flats 2, but renamed, expanded and moved from the network  that no longer supports angling, to a network that does… the Outdoor Network.

The cameras are moving from the flats of Abaco to the flats of Florida and Belize and the target species are expanding from bonefish to include permit and tarpon.  The new show films this summer and will broadcast in early 2011.

Once again this will be done in conjunction with the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, so conservation will be a cornerstone of the program.


This, but a little different.

May 10

Interview with Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard has led a pretty interesting life.  He founded Patagonia, sure.  But he’s also lived the life that Patagonia has supported… he climbs, he surfs and he fishes.  He fishes for  Atlantic Salmon in remote reaches of Russia, he fishes for Steelhead on the Babine River in British Columbia, has been seen at Three Dollar Bridge on the Madison and he’s been seen wading the muck in the Marls of Abaco on the series Pirates of the Flats.

I would like to work for Patagonia... just say'n.

Yvon co-founded  1% for the Planet with Craig Matthews and is a committed supporter of wild places and the wild things that live in those places.

Is there an aspect of bonefishing that stands out for you when contrasted with the other species pursued with a fly rod?

Both Lefty Kreh and I think it’s our favorite fish because it’s like a  combination of hunting and fishing. It uses up all the senses especially if you don’t fish with guides, which I have stopped doing. The working out of tides and spotting them on your own is one of the most satisfying parts of the experience.

With bonefish habitat spanning the globe along predictable latitudes, do you find yourself drawn to the same waters and the same flats again and again, or do you seek to explore?

I like to fish different places. My favorite is to go to the Tuamotos in Tahiti with my surfboard and fly rod, and fish the flats near the lagoon entrance. Trouble is these flats small and the fish are big and even with 30lb tippet they break you off on the coral.

Great anglers have great teachers.  Have you had any particularly influential bonefishing mentors?

Yeah, Lefty. He is the best teacher there is. Also, Moana on Christmas Island, who has only one eye, but is unbelievable at spotting fish. He just says “fish coming over there” and nothing else and looks for the next one while you deal on your own with it. Why can’t there be more guides like this?

While one might be able to catch bonefish along the popular beaches of Los Roques, most bonefishing is done in a wilderness setting.  In the wilderness things are, well, wild.  Is there anything you’ve seen out on the flats that stands out as remarkably wild, interesting or unusual?

Some of the flats in the South Pacific are so full of sharks that sometimes I’ve been driven off the flats because they are so aggressive. I have to carry a long pole to fend them off.

Pirates of the Flats was a great series.  What do you hope viewers take away from it?

The most important thing is to get the fish in quickly and leave it in the water. Forget the hero pose.

Pirates Casting

When I think of bonefish I also tend to think of Kalik and Cracked Conch.  Are there other associations you make when thinking about bonefish?

I just love walking the flats and observing all the life around.

Thanks Yvon.  Appreciate your thoughts.

Feb 10

Arg… Rebroadcasts of Pirates

Pirates of the Flats has been a joy.  I was a little surprised on one occasion to have tennis show up on my DVR instead of bonefishing.  I really don’t like watching tennis… even the ladies in the tiny skirts… just not my thing.  I understand that ESPN has to do what they have to do, just wish they (whoever the “they” is in this situation) could get the tags right.

If you missed an episode or two, or had tennis screw up your plans, there’s a rebroadcasting schedule for Pirates of the Flats on the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust website.

So good, you should watch it twice.

Jan 10

Tag Ends – 1/4/10

Looks like the upcoming episode of Pirates of the Flats is going to look at predators and bonefish mortality.  Good stuff.  ESPN… set your DVR.

A look at the sharks that prey upon bonefish, and how anglers can increase the odds of bonefish survival after catch & release. A veteran fisherman casts at a bonefish of a liefetime, estimated at 15 pounds. Biography on author Thomas McGuane.

I am in the home stretch for my Grand Bahama trip… I have run out of #6 and #4 hooks.  Waiting for my new order of hooks to come in.  Still a lot of tying to be done.  Tying up some Horrors… man… that has to be one of the easiest flies ever created.

Still a lot of tying to be done.

It looks like I may follow up my Jan. Grand Bahama trip with a trip this summer to Belize with my dad.  We’ll see.

Dec 09

New Lid, BTT

My old fishing hat has gone missing.  I loved that hat.  I wore it all the time.  It had started as a deep, forest green hat from one of my favorite companies, Patagonia.  It fit well.  It had stains on its stains and it was faded to a lovely light and dusty green.  I even took a picture of that hat.

Oh hat... I miss you.

I have considered  calling the police, since I fear foul play may have been involved.

So, I’ve been in the market for a new hat.  With the arrival of Buffs, we can now wear caps on the flats/fishing in general without concern about catching cancer along with our fish.  My people, we don’t tan.

I have found my new cap and it came in the mail today… the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust cap is now mine… to be seen on a flat nowhere near much of anything in 2010.

Cool cap for a good cause

BTT now has Pirates of the Flats and after seeing episode one with that fishing fashion icon Tom Brokaw sporting this same cap, I’m glad I got in early before the rush.

Dec 09

Pirates Are Here!

Update #1: Pirates are HERE.  Just watched the first episode.  Love it.  Wish it were longer.  Wish I was there.  Still, love it.  Great to see Lefty out there showing Brokaw the ropes.  Neat to see a bonefish being tagged.  Loved to see Abaco and tails… love the tails.  Looking forward to #2.

Original Post

No, not the Seychelles pirates (well, I guess they could be, but that’s not what we’re talking about here).  Pirates of the Flats is set to launch on Dec. 27th.

From BTT:

Pirates of the Flats – You Will Be Impressed!

Check out the newest – a slide show and narrative about what the Pirates series is all about. Photos by Val Atkinson, narration by Bill Klyn. Enter the Tin Shed (click on the door) and move over to the box of flies to see the Fishing films. Click on Pirates of the Flats. Here you will find the promotional trailer and the new narrated slide show: http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/tinshed/index.jsp?ln=240

Go straight to the trailer on YouTube: See the new trailer!

A bonefishing show on ESPN2.  Love it.

Modern day Pirates, with graphite and camera gear.

Nov 09

Objectum – Val Atkinson Photos

I’m a lucky man… I have a Val Atkinson print hanging on my wall… about 4 feet from where I’m sitting right now, as a matter of fact.  Val donated the print to an event I was organizing and my parents bought it as a housewarming gift for my wife and I (OK, for me, really).  It’s a beautiful piece of art.

Val does saltwater photography too… I don’t have any, and I want some.

I met Val while guiding at Clearwater House (now Clearwater Lodge) many years ago.  I’ve seen Val’s work all over the place… beautiful books, calendars, catalogs and magazines… pretty much of places I either have known or have wanted to know.

I was therefore excited to see Val as a part of the Pirates of the Flats television program (set for ESPN and airing December 27th).

Val on why he fishes…

You can see Val’s work from Pirates of the Flats here.

Oct 09

Tag Ends, 10/7/2009

Some bits and pieces for your Wednesday.

Aug 09

Pirates of the Flats

No, not the Disneyland ride or a blockbuster movie. This is a new TV show, a bunch of legends, idols and… well, and an actor, out on the Flats fishing for bones, talking ecology, talking about their amazing lives… this is going to air on ESPN of all places, starting 12/27/2009 in January 2010.  ESPN is starting to air more soccer and now fly fishing… now if we can just get Yvon Chouinard on Sports Center and Jim Rome eaten by a Bull Shark.

Check out the Tin Shed at Patagonia.com for all the goodies (they seem to have taken that down)!  You not only see the trailer, but also photos by Val Atkinson (who is simply bad-ass at what he does, check out the link, as it is his own website and slide show of the Pirates).

The show has even linked up with the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, so they are really hitting on all cylinders.

Tom Brokaw quoted about the project in USA Today:

NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, in doing his first TV fishing series, says he “didn’t quite know what I was getting into, except it was a chance to go fishing with my friends. … I belong to an informal fishing posse, kind of an aging boys club. You end up in these fishing camps where the emphasis is on good fishing, good wine and lots of good storytelling.”

In Pirates of the Flats, an independently produced series that ESPN will announce today and will debut in January, the posse — including actor Michael Keaton, mountaineer Yvon Chouinard and author Thomas McGuane — went to the Bahamas in search of the elusive bonefish. And don’t get the wrong idea, says Brokaw, just because bonefish can weigh just 3-5 pounds: “It’s not just blind casting. You’re stalking the fish. … They’re ghostly, quite primordial.”

Update – turns out this is filmed mostly in the Bahamas.