Aug 12

Doug’s Conch Fritter

Doug Jeffries, a long-time reader of the blog, recently got a fly in Fly Fishing in Salt Waters (a magazine I subscribe to). My mag hasn’t arrived yet, so I found out about it through Scott Heywood’s blog Fly Paper.

It is, indeed, a fine looking fly (full tying instructions at the Fly Paper link above).

Yeah… that’s sweet.

That is a fly I’d like to have in my box, and exactly the kind of fly I probably won’t tie because I have yet to tie a fly that called for a dubbing loop. I should really stop by Doug’s and figure that out.

Doug… you around? How do you feel about teaching? You know, I’m an East Bay guy now.

Those of you who tie, what are the flies that you’d like to tie, but intimidate you a bit?


Aug 12

Best Tides

A piece you may be interested in at the Fly Paper Blog about the best tides for bonefishing.

In the ocean, the moon is at the controls. Pockmarks and all, the moon is the king. His subjects range from the smallest invertebrates to the largest fish and all the creatures in between.  


That’s some skinny water.

I am guessing that it is my overall low number of bonefishing days that has lead me to believe that there are plenty of flats where the tide may determine where the fish are going to be, but not really IF they are going to be there.  There do seem to be some flats where the fish are there all day, just in different places… up along the shore at high tide, further out on the flat at low tide.  There are certainly some places where the fish can’t feed at low or high tide.  I seldom have the option, when on my own, of going for the “right” tide, I have to go fishing when I get a chance to go fishing, tides be damned. I think Scott agrees, saying:

I am often asked what is the best tide profile to choose for a bonefish trip. The simple answer is, “The best tides happen when you can go.” 

I know a little bit about tides, but I could certainly be armed with more information. There is some good stuff in the article that aims to give that sort of info.  Read it.




Jun 12

Speaking of Family Trips – Crooked Island with Scott

Scott Heywood recently took a family trip to Crooked Island and it looks like a very good time was had.  Scott put all this down in his blog Fly Paper.

Yeah, that looks nice.

Even looks like they got good weather.

As these things tend to go, there were more non-fishing pictures than there were fishing pictures in his post of the trip, which is really to be expected. It is good to see we anglers are learning the art of compromise.



May 12

A Crooked Report

Yeah, not the Crooked River in Oregon, which I fished a long time ago. I’m talking Crooked Island in the Bahamas.  This report is courtesy of Fly Paper, the blog by Scott Heywood.

Damn fine picture.

Feb 12

Quick Tip from Fly Paper

Fly Paper is a new-ish blog from Scott Heywood (who runs Angling Destinations).  Worth checking out for sure.

Here, he provides a little tip about where you should, and should not be walking when strolling along a beach looking for cruising bones.

Check out the full post and find out what the tip is here.

Jan 12

Fly Paper and Water Cay

Scott Heywood has a new blog (Fly Paper)… and the first post I looked at was pretty much right in the zone. Check it out.

Prior to 2008, Grand Bahama Island’s Northern Horn was a tough spot to reach. Several well known operators on Grand Bahama, namely the Pinder Brothers and Greg Vincent from Pelican Bay Resort fished this area, but it required long boat rides for visiting anglers (45 minutes at a minimum) which chewed up valuable fishing time. In the fall of 2008, this problem was solved by long time Grand Bahama resident and superb bonefish guide, Sidney Thomas. Sidney and his family took the task of renovating the small bonefish lodge on remote Water Cay that was destroyed in the fall of 2003 by a series of devastating hurricanes. Along with a few experienced anglers, Sidney and his brothers knew the bonefish treasure that swam in and around the flats of Water Cay.

via Fly Paper.

Jan 11

Some Bad Weather Bonefishing – Angling Destinations

Angling Destinations and Scott Heywood had one of their DX trips that encountered some… well… frigging impossible fishing conditions.  Check out the story.

The next day the winds rotated to the NE and rose to 30 m.p.h. While any far-flung exploration was once again out of the question, we were able to hug the shore line with our skiff and find hundreds of fish on two white sand flats. Under a bruised sky and with near gale conditions, we pursued hundreds of very bitchy bonefish. We managed to hook quite a few when all was said and done, but it was never easy and we worked very hard for what we got.

via Read the story from Angling Destinations.

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Nov 10

Angling Destinations on a DX Trip in the Bahamas

A nice write up by Scott Heywood from Angling Destinations about one of the DX trips in the Bahamas in 2010.  Good stuff.

Going on a fishing trip is more than packing gear and making airline reservations… it is also a process of getting your mind right and managing expectations. I’ve noticed over the years that the anglers that do the best job of this also have the most fun and strangely enough, also catch the most fish. The toughest thing for anglers to accept is that no matter how much you spend on a fishing trip or how grandiose your expectations are, you are not purchasing fish. You’re only buying a seat at the poker table.

via Fly Fishing Montana Brazil Alaska | Bonefishing Bahamas | Angling Destinations.


Jul 10

Truth Telling

Scott Heywood had more to give than just his interview from earlier in the week.  He also had some great advice for the next generation of anglers.  Scott told me all of this over coffee in the airport in Zagreb many years ago.  I was working as a heavy for the Norwegian mafia hunting down some rouge black market lutefisk in the crazy days after the break up of Yugoslavia and Scott was on his way to catch his second 20 pound bonefish in Dubia.

I didn’t take notes, but I didn’t have to.  I have a photographic memory, except with sound (including font and punctuation). So, now I pass on that advice…

The Future of Our Sport

The Most Important of Angling Skills

Because in our culture, it is the duty of the experienced to pass on skills to the inexperienced, and because in the past few years we have seen an alarming lack of skill demonstrated by many anglers new to our sport, we have decided to broach a most sensitive, yet critical, subject. We feel that it is high time that someone with courage and a deep and abiding concern for flyfishing’s future steps forth to discuss the increasing lack of commitment by the experienced to pass down the most important of angling skills.

For many centuries now, how an angler managed the truth revealed both the accumulated skills of the angler and the level to which he was enjoyed by the angling community. With this in mind (and not much else), we humbly offer some pointers on the fine art of truth management with the goal of training the young and passing this wisdom on to the uninitiated. What follows are important rules to fish by… please pay close attention.

1. Always remain plausible. This is the most critical component to good truth management. We have a friend that each day always catches a 24-26” trout on a stream that may produce such a fish once a season. Obviously, his prevarication skills are suspect which, unfortunately, brings all his angling skills into question. We still like him, we just don’t listen to him because he broke the cardinal rule of plausibility. So our advice is learn your water and learn what your friends will accept – pay close attention to raised eyebrows and stolen glances and always remember truth management skill #1… “Maybe it didn’t happen, but it COULD have.”

2. Be creative. Don’t limit yourself to inches and pounds and perhaps try buffering your story with other emotions like disappointment to throw off your audience. For example, “I hooked a 10+ lb. bone, but decided to break him off when a shark chased him. It broke my heart!” or “The trout was at least 20” and he finally took my #22 Adams, but I couldn’t land him because he went through the next rapids and I slipped and couldn’t keep up with him (due to my arthritis [optional]).”

Both statements clearly delineate your superb angling skills, but the feigned disappointment promotes plausibility (see above) and camouflages the absurdity of your story. Your friends will love it and although they don’t believe it, they will respect you.

Remember then Rule #2… “Good stories only happen to people who can tell them.”

3. Never listen to your guide. All guides lie (but for tips, so its OK) and once you have repeated their lie they will desert you like Linda Tripp at a plastic surgeon’s convention. Your guide tells you 8 lbs. they will tell their buddies it was really 6 lbs. and this will get back to your friends as 5 lbs. Meanwhile, you’ve been running around telling everyone about this 8lb. fish you caught. This is a critical truth management error. Your credibility is zero for a least a year. Speaking of this, we had a fellow mail us a picture of a trout the guide told him was 11 lbs. and the picture showed clearly to be barely half that. Of course, we said nothing (please note this. . . we may lie, but we are polite, Ed.), but we winced when he told us he had sent a copy of the photo to all his friends. Obviously, with a little training this guy could easily have learned to add on a pound or two and lose the negatives. It seems so easy, but like all angling skills it has to be learned and practiced. So Rule #3 is… “Never limit yourself by the truth.”

4. Never offer information. Make your friends pull it out of you – be cool! This is absolutely critical because this hesitancy makes you seem both modest and truthful. Since obviously we are neither, this is a skill you’ll want to acquire

ASAP (acquiring this skill immediately earns advanced angling status, Ed.). When one truly masters this skill, you will enter the most revered of angling stations, that of sage (aka TV Angling Show Host) so rule #4 is… “False modesty is the best policy.”

5. Underestimate if there is proof. Again another advanced skill, but if acquired, one that will place you far above the rank and file in terms of truth management skills. So remember, when something does happen and you actually catch a fish and you have witnesses or pictures. . . pay close attention now as this runs contrary to every instinct an angler has. . . you must underestimate the size and length of the fish. Yes, we know it goes against our nature, but try it. For example, say a fly pulls from a shark’s mouth, lassoes the fish and you land him anyway (this happened to me. . . honest!) in clear view of at least two angling friends. When telling the story, say your fish was 20 lbs. if he was 60 lbs. and that it took 5 minutes to land him if it took 20. You’ll find your stories will have credibility for years to come and rest assured, your friends will set the record straight. So rule #5 is… “Whenever possible, deceive your friends even if you’re telling the truth.”

With that, my plane was called for boarding and we parted ways.

Thanks Scott.

Thanks Scott.

Jul 10

Interview with Scott Heywood

Scott Heywood is one of the founders of Angling Destinations, a fishing travel company that books trips to just about every place I want to go, including a few places they don’t even advertise.  It is nice to see that Scott still gets excited about fishing, whether that is chasing a bonefish in the Bahamas or fishing his home waters around Sheridan, WY.

That's no carp.


Being in Sheridan, Wyoming, did you start your company to get away from the winters?

No, you know, I always tell people we started this company purely legitimately, we started booking trips for one little resort on Abaco in order to get a free week of bonefishing every year, so we started with the purest of motivations.

It kind of blossomed from there.  We’ve been doing this a long time since the late 80’s, early 90’s and there wasn’t a lot going on with bonefishing then. It became quickly apparent that there was a real need for people with good information about where to go and the company grew very quickly and has grown every year and it has been a really interesting thing.  We haven’t gone “mainstream,” we don’t do the glossy brochures and all that stuff, we just deal with a very dedicated group of anglers and we are kind of like your blog, we are for the dedicated.

We have four customers in Wyoming. There are 400,000 people that live in the State and we don’t have that many bonefisherman in Wyoming.  We love living here, its great fishing and a beautiful place, but it does mean you have to take longer flights to get to the bonefishing, but we all bonefish 6, 7, 8 times a year, so we are traveling a lot.

Do you have one bonefish that really stands out in your mind?

I was thinking about that and it’s a really difficult question because there has been so many weird and strange moments in bonefishing.  I’ve actually been bonefishing since my early teens, so almost 50 years of bonefishing and when you get to fish some of these places when there has never been anyone fish it you get some weird things happen.  The place that comes to mind immediately is the Seychelles because I was lucky enough to get to go there in the mid 90’s before anyone had really been there and I got to go to St. Francoise when we were the 6th, 7th and 8th people ever to get out there to bonefish.  This was before Larry Dahlberg did his TV shows and we were lucky to get out there to see it.  We had so many strange things happen with bonefish… we could get close enough to bonefish to tap them on the tail with our rods, we could catch them on grasshopper flies, but one series of fish really stands out.  We were walking around the island and the bonefish would tail up into the surf to chase crabs and you could actually cast your fly on dry land in the surf and you could pull bonefish up out of the water, up to about their anal fin, they would chase these crabs up out of the water and get them.  That just sticks in my mind.  When  you do anything long enough in fishing you see some truly odd behavior and if you’ve ever seen the nature shows where you see the Orcas surf in to get the seal pups, that’s what it was like to see these bonefish come in, charge in, and try and get these crabs right off the beach. Our goal was to catch a bonefish without ever getting the fly in the water and we were actually able to do it.  The bonefish would sort of nip at the crab and they would grab a little section of it and they would pull it back into the water and then they’d pin it and eat it.  That was a pretty cool experience.

That could also be the second question too, which is something odd or unique that you’ve seen out there.

I don’t even have to go that far back for that one.  I spent a week doing one of our DX trips and we had two very, very strange things happen.  You know, I’ve watched bonefish on the backs of just about every conceivable animal from dolphins to rays to sharks, bonefish I think are prone to follow other animals around because they can turn around and veer of if something turns around to try and eat them.  In one day I watched bonefish do two really weird things. One was, we saw a cormorant colony and the bonefish would wait below the colony and when the cormorants would fly off their nests and swim on the flats the bonefish would follow the birds and when they’d put their big webbed feet would puff up a bunch of marl on the bottom the bonefish would get in there and see if anything came out.  So when we found a cormorant that day we’d follow the cormorant and without having to wait very long, we’d find a bonefish on the cormorant’s tail. They’d follow the cormorants and we’d just cast off the tail of the cormorant and the bonefish, often 8, 9, 10 pound bonefish, would eat our flies in a heartbeat, just suck them right up and we caught a few fish right on the backs of these cormorants, which was really cool.  The only thing that the bonefish would veer off the cormorants to do would be to follow a mangrove leaf. We’d watch them leave the cormorants and go over to these leaves and eat them and we were very confused as to what was happening, why a bonefish was eating a leaf. You’d see the leaf go in the mouth of the bonefish and a second later it would be spit back out and we finally went over and picked up some of these mangrove leaves and there were little tiny crabs that were clinging to the leaves as they got blown out of the mangroves and these little crabs were just hanging on.  These bonefish had learned to pick up the leaves, crush the little crabs, swallow the crabs and spit out the leaves.  That’s pretty memorable.  You don’t forget that soon.

Some of those DX trips seem not for the faint of heart… off the grid, off the map… away from room service and gourmet meals.  What are some of the trade offs when you head out there.

We do so many types of DX trips, everything from nice hotel accommodations to camping on the beach, but generally the two things you sacrifice doing a DX trip, you lose the amenities, be it good food or nice accommodations, especially if you are doing a camping trip where you are sleeping in a tent and cooking on the beach, and there can be bugs and it can be hot.  We always try to have a cooler of cold beer, because who can live without that, but generally, that’s what you give up.  Second, and this isn’t always true, but when you go to really remote places, places where there isn’t a lot of mainstream bonefish activity, there often aren’t qualified guides and the guides that are there are often just local fisherman and they don’t have the skills to be bonefishing guides.  Guides get good by guiding and if they aren’t guiding, they are just local fisherman. I’ve always said I’d trade good guides for stupid bonefish any day.  That’s generally the trade off.

The Ritz it ain't.

Camping + Bonefishing

Those DX trips sound so fascinating.  Are there really that many places out there left to be discovered?  In this age of Google Earth it feels like everything that can be discovered has been.  Are there places out there truly off the map?

There are places that are still very hard to get to, or they are not serviced by existing operations. Let’s say there’s an area 30 miles from an existing lodge, that’s not a realistic place to fish every day for those lodges and it might be a small area, it might be a small fishery, it might not take the impact well of a full season of bonefishing, but a couple of weeks a year it can be a fantastic fishery.  The logistics of getting to it can be difficult.  That’s what we do with our DX trips, we either go to areas that are tough to get to or smaller areas that aren’t often fished and couldn’t handle consistent lodge pressure and do them only for a short period of time. For the people that are the real die-hard bonefisherman, they are willing to make that sacrifice to get into those areas. This isn’t to denigrate anyone that does the traditional bonefish trips, I do them myself, everyone does them, but there are limitations to traditional trips.  Often times, traditional trips just can’t get into those remote areas.

We don’t really do our DX trips as money makers.  They are a labor of love. We do them with people we know and clients we’ve had for a long time and they are just a lot of fun.  They are really invigorating and very cool. They are for hardy souls.  If you don’t like bugs and like air conditioning, they probably aren’t for you. But if you live and breathe wild places, they are really fun trips.

Do you have one fly that you never leave without?  When you go some place that is seldom fished, does it even matter what you throw?

No, probably not. I have to admit, a Crazy Legged Gotcha is probably my number one fly.  I’ve caught bonefish all over the world on that fly.  You can tie it more flashy or less flashy, but it is a pretty good pattern.  Sometimes I tie it reversed with the eyes in back because most of the prey species face the animal they are trying to get away from.  If I had to have one fly, it would probably be a  light, small crab, just a generic tan crab, or a silly legs Gotcha.  If you asked about Los Roques, I’d give you a different answer.   Then you get to those islands in the South Pacific where all the fish eat is worms and you can throw a Gotcha all day and it won’t work.

Are you personally looking for big fish or do you like days with a lot of fish?

I think the answer to that question is that I love the classic bonefishing moments. Certainly, big fish get your heart going much more than a 3 pound bonefish. When you start to see fish in singles and doubles… that is certainly a lot more enthralling that throwing to a lot of school fish.  What I like is when you tier the skills you’ve worked so hard to acquire, from finding the fish and hunting them to making a good cast and then good presentation, making a good enticing strip and then a good strip set.  That’s what I seek are those moments.  You can go and catch 20 fish in a day and then you catch one and you think “That was cool,” and you know, that is what you are going to remember. That’s what I look for.  Many times I’ve walked away from schooling fish to head to a place that looked promising for a bigger tailing fish, but a bigger fish isn’t the end result I’m looking for, it’s those really cool moments.

What’s your favorite reel/rod right now?

I use an Able Super 8, that I really like. My rod of choice is a Loomis GLX.  Loomis was kind enough to give me a new GLX after my old GLX kept breaking and they gave me a Crosscurrent, the same one that Shane had in his interview. That’s my rod of choice and I love my Able.  It’s so easy to service, you can take some parts with you and totally repair them in the field.  You don’t have that issue with the closed drag that starts to squeak where you have to come back and send it in, but you can’t fix it in the field, so that would be my choice.  The old standard, heavy weight Able Super 8.  I’ve taken it all over. Take a couple springs and a couple spare parts and you can fix it and make it work anywhere in the world.  The Loomis GLX is a great rod as well.

The Super

Since you travel so much… what are some things folks should consider when it comes to what to put in their luggage?

Here are some things I think are critical to have.  I first look at e things you can’t afford not to have. Those are, beyond the obvious, you’ve got to have good sunglasses and you’ve got to have good wading shoes that are broken in and you know will not chew your feet up.  If you are going to do trips where there’s a lot of wading and your are going to be on your feet all day, I’ve watched people get a new pair of boots and their feet are just a little different and they end up with horrible blisters and they are in pain the whole time, so I’d say that is the number one thing you’ve got to have.  Other than that, the things I’ve seen people forget are a good day pack or fanny pack and a rain coat.  I’m amazed how many people I’ve seen go fishing on the flats without a rain coat. You’ve never been so cold and you’ve been in a good thunderstorm if you don’t have a rain coat.  It’s really important.

The one thing I thought of that I’ve watched more people ruin trips over is when you get that little chaffing between your legs. The number one thing I’d recommend to people would be to get some anti-chaffing cream, I think Vaseline makes some, and to put it on the first day of your trip so you don’t ever get that started.  I’ve literally watched people walk frog style across flats where they have to put their legs about four feet apart because they have that chaffing from the salt water between their legs.  That is what first came to mind.  If I can give someone a good hint, if you are going to do a trip with a lot of wading, put it on early, before you have a problem, and you’ll never have to deal with it.

Ya know, I’ve had that experience down in Mexico and what I found that works, because I travel with a small child, is Desitin, for diaper rash.  It works well.

Being that you’ve traveled all over the world in search of bonefish… what’s the craziest thing you’ve had to eat?

Oh man… I have had some odd, odd things.  I was on one atoll in French Polynesia that they served a mollusk that was kind of like a cross between blubber and petroleum jelly.  It wasn’t so much that the taste was horrible as much as the consistency and they literally gave me a serving that was the size of a 20 ounce porterhouse steak. There was a huge amount to eat and of course it is bad form not to clean your plate and… I am not a finicky eater, but honestly, I couldn’t eat it.  It was like eating floor wax.  I tried… but it is the only thing that has made me gag.

Mmmmmmm.... beer....

Kalik, beer of the Bahamas.

Great interview Scott. Thanks.