Oct 14

Interview with Conway Bowman

Conway Bowman gets around. Based out of San Diego where he guides for, of all thinks, Mako sharks on the fly, he also hosts Conway Bowman’s World of Fly Fishing. His previous show, Dollar Wise Fly, focused on how to get the trip without the sting to your wallet. Conway agreed to do an interview here, so I’ll get you to it.

Image result for conway bowman fly fishing the world


California doesn’t spring to mind when people think of saltwater fly fishing, but you seem to have carved out a pretty good fishery down there in San Diego. How does catching a Mako on a fly compare to other fly caught big game?

First off, California lives in the shadows of other great saltwater fisheries like Florida and the Gulf coast.  California is the victim of an East Coast bias, like many other sports. We just don’t have the fishing population ,popularity or  media attention as  the east coast. That being said, the West coast has some of the greatest blue water fly fishing anywhere. The Mako shark is the star in my opinion. The fighting and acrobatic qualities of the mako shark plus is eagerness to take the fly within a few feet of a boat puts it up there, if not higher, with Marlin and sailfish. Additionally, San Diego , is unique in that there is no other place in the world a fly angler can constantly target a blue water game fish that is over 100 lbs with a  fly within a couple miles from the beach.

I saw on the website mention of Corbina as “bonefish of the west coast.” What is that fishing experience like? And, are those Mission Bay bonefish worth the time/effort?

The Corbina is a highly sought after fish with the fly rod here is so cal. It can be as difficult to catch on the fly ( or on bait) as the Permit. They require the fly angler to present a fly quickly and accurately under adverse conditions (i.e. breaking surf and difficult lighting conditions). The Corbina is almost impossible to see even in perfect conditions so this adds to the difficulty in catching them. The approach is sight fishing in very skinny water, using floating or light sinking lines and fly patterns that imitate a mole crab.

The bonefish here is so cal are more of a deep water fish that are caught incidentally rather than targeted. This is a symptom of not having clear shallow flats available on our bays. I will say there are times of the year when the bonefish can be targeted in deep channels with sinking lines and various shrimp and bait fish patterns. But to get a classic tailing bonefish scenario in clear skinny water just does not happen as far as I know.

Through World of Fly Fishing you are getting to get out and about with a fly rod in hand, where are some of the places you are looking forward to checking out? Any of those bonefish destinations?

Yep I’m very fortunate to be able to travel, get paid and fish all over the world! Best gig in town I must say! Iceland is high on my list for Atlantic Salmon. As far as bonefish, I’ve fished Christmas Island , Belize, Bahamas and Yucatan so that leaves the Seychelles to explore. Hopefully I can do this sooner than later.


You previously had a show focused on good fishing without dropping a ton of cash. What lessons did you learn about getting after it without hemorrhaging cash in the process?

“Dollar Wise Fly”! That was a great show, unfortunately it had a short run, but it really connected with the audience. Still to this day, I receive emails about how that show demonstrated to people that you did not have to spend a ton of cash to have a great fishing trip. It’s so true, with a little research the frugal angler can go out and have a world class fishing experience and not mortgage  the house. Get a tent, rent a camper, do some research of best times, places and go for it! Spend money on good beer!!

 What is your go-to rod/reel for bonefishing?

Orvis H2 9 foot 8 wt with a Orvis Mirage IV. Floating line ( Hydros bonefish or SA Bonefish)

Many of us were lucky to have a saltwater mentor, someone who shaves years off the learning curve. Did you have such a person in your life?

Yes, I’ve had a few. My father john, who took me fishing at age two and who continues to inspire me to go out and fish!!  Bill Storud, who owned the only fly shop in San Diego, Stroud Tackle, was a huge influence early in my fishing life. He taught me how to cast a Penn Jig Master and how to fish a live anchovy. Also how to fight large saltwater fish from a boat I can hear him now over 40 years later (“ keep your shoulders square to the fish at all times”!! “Don’t horse the fish”!!) Capt Lou Fador, who taught me so much about the behavior of Mako sharks and where and when to fish for them. Nick Curcione, who inspired me to take my 14 foot aluminum skiff offshore and target Makos.

When you are out on the water a lot you tend to see things that other people just would never see. You have to be out there to experience it. Is there anything you’ve seen out on the water that was special, unique, scary or funny that fits that description?

It’s all inspiring. Every second, every day, every form of life from the most micro jelly fish to the largest blue whale. It’s a privilege to be able to hit the water and just be in the moment.


What is your favorite species to chase, and why?

FISH! Any and ALL!!!!!

Thanks Conway and I hope to see you on the water down in San Diego one of these days!

Sep 11

San Diego Bonefish

Reposted from the archives.


Yeah, there are bones in San Diego Bay.  They are not as big as they get… well… in most places.  Doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them though.

This isn’t the kind of bonefishing most of us think of… no walking the crystal flats looking for subtle movment.  This is sinking line and blind casting.  If you have a kayak, you can head out there yourself.

If you are looking for a guide (like SoCal Fly Fishing Outfitter), you can pick one up for about $350 (before tip).

This trip is certainly under $1,000.  You’ll just have to take another trip for the mangroves and conch.

On bait, some fish around 2-3 pounds  can be caught, although fly fisherman tend to get smaller fish from the reports I’ve read.

Oct 09

San Diego Bonefish… Get yer fin clip on

Reading the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust website revealed this little nugget about San Diego Bones.

Breaking News – Bonefish Genetics

It wasn’t long ago that word go out that people were catching bonefish in San Diego Bay. Now, with the help of some anglers who collected fin clips for bonefish research, BTT’s collaborators on bonefish genetics research have reported that San Diego anglers are catching two different species of bonefish! These are Albula esuncula, and Albula species A. If you fish for bonefish in San Diego and want to help, send us an email at bonefish @ mote.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it // <![CDATA[
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and we’ll send you a fin clip kit.

So, email the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, get your fin clip kit and help out.  You can tell your S.O. that you have important conservation work to be doing!

Aug 09

Bonefish and San Francisco

With global warming a fact of our modern world, it could very well be that bonefish will some day be cast to on the mud flats off Sausalito.  Don’t rush out and haul that flats skiff from the Keys just yet.  I’m sure there is a lot of food fit for a bonefish in the Bay, but the water is, in a word… cold.   Bonefish don’t love cold water (78 is their ideal) and that Bay water is frigid (gets as warm as 73 in spots, but as cold as  46… which is fatal), as is the water along the coast extending down most of the length of California.

I have been bemused to see several sources list the northern range of bones on the West Coast as extending up to SF Bay.  One of these sources is the website of the Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department.  Some months ago I set out to discover the source of this statement of fact.

Turns out there is a bonefish in the CA Academy of Sciences collection that was caught off Sausalito back in about 1914 or so.  How that fish got there, I have no idea.  If you look at catch reports from piers, party boats and other anglers it is very clear that no bonefish are, or have been, taken in the Bay in the 90 or so years since then (or at least no one has talked about it).

There have been whales up the Sacramento River, but I wouldn’t include the Sac in the stated range of those whales.

Basically… I’m calling BS.  Bones do inhabit some of the back bays in San Diego, but not really any further than that.  Californians are just going to have to wait a few hundred or thousand years to find bones in SF Bay… sorry.