Feb 20

Memories of Christmas

My buddy Shane just sent me a picture of his big Geet from Christmas. I think he’s still there, but he managed to send me a picture of him, smile stretching ear to ear, holding up a big GT. Pretty cool to see. Very happy for him.

It was a year ago I was in Christmas Island with him and I was looking for my own GTs. I caught a small one (a giant trevally the size of a small trevally), I lost a mid-sized GT to the coral at the Korean Wreck and I cast at and failed to catch a big one.

That last fish I can recall pretty well even now.

It was the last day and we were on our last flat. The light was fading and the water reflected a silvery gray making it almost impossible to peer into the water even a few feet ahead of us. I thought the guide was just running out the clock and I didn’t blame him. We’d been looking for GTs and we never seemed to quite be where the fish were. He’d put in a good shift, but we just hadn’t done it.

Then the guide points.


A fast moving bulge of water, 80-90 feet out, heading our way, pushing water like a snow plow. I made a good cast in front and beyond the fish so I’d pull the fly in front of its nose. The guide was in my ear yelling “FASTER! FASTER!” and I was stripping as fast as my top gear could manage. I swept the rod to add some speed as I’ve done from time to time with cudas and you could see the fish light up on the fly. He was close and you could see the open mouth and see the eye and the water sheeting over his back.

In my mind I was thinking “THIS IS IT! LAST FLAT! LAST DAY and damnit, it is going to HAPPEN!”

Except it didn’t. The fish saw us and just turned off and away and that was the end of it. I was just left there shaking, wondering how this crescendo somehow managed to fall flat. I had seen the fish in my hands, but it had only been in my imagination, a brief projection of what success and joy would feel like.

Shane had that look on his face today in that picture. It isn’t a great quality picture (he’s going to send better pics when he gets a chance as he’s still there), but you get the point, don’t you? Victory. Success. A dream realized.


Jun 14

Shane goes (back) to Los Roques

My buddy Shane did a hosted trip to Los Roques, as he does every year or two, and he put together this little video.

Makes me want to go to Los Roques very much.

Jan 14

Mexico, the Drake and Shane



Got the winter edition of the Drake and I was happy to see my friend Shane (and his wife) in there smacking some fish down in Mexico.

I got to fish with Shane down in Belize, as well as spending a fair amount of time with him on the Lower Sac, Upper Sac and McCloud. He’s one of the best anglers I’ve ever fished with and has been generous with his time and expertise.

Great article, written by Tom Bie, who was also on the trip. They are down in at Paradise Lodge on the southern Yucatan coast and it looks pretty nice.

Check it out, if you haven’t already.

Oct 13

Scott’s favorite flies

I’m not the only one thinking about flies, it seems. Here’s a post from Scott Heywood about one of his favorites. He gets pretty deep.

I should love this fly. Afterall, the Shane in Shane’s Psycho Puff is my friend Shane. Still, I haven’t had luck with this fly, but that may be because I don’t fish it often and tend to reach for it when everything else hasn’t worked, which isn’t the best testing ground.

I may need to give this fly a second look.

Jun 13

Shane goes to Paradise

Paradise Lodge, that is. I think this was a hosted trip that Shane did with his wife.  Funny thing is watching his wife blow a tarpon shot and get a little angry… been there, done that and can totally relate to that feeling.

Cool video.

Apr 13

The Lower Sacramento – land of rainbows

On Saturday morning I was headed up to my folks place and I decided to stop in at The Fly Shop in Redding on my way. As I walked in I saw my friend Shane on the phone. His clients for the next two days were on the line and they were canceling.

That worked out in my favor (although not Shane’s).

Sunday morning I left my folks and headed South, with a stop off at the Lower Sacramento River to fish with Shane and his brother-in-law, who had never been fishing before.

The day was good a good one. On Monday it is supposed to blow 30 mph, but Sunday… it was lovely. I probably should have reapplied the sunscreen one or two more times, that’s how nice the weather was.

We pushed off and were soon into fish. Shane’s brother-in-law caught fish. I caught fish. We had a double and missed another two by seconds. A good, fine day on the water with a good friend.

A decent Lower Sac rainbow.

A decent Lower Sac rainbow.

The double. Very nice. (mine is on the right)

The double. Very nice. (mine is on the right)

Shane with another fish.

Shane with another fish.

It is always nice to be on a piece of water with someone who knows it really well, who can find the fish and knows what they want. Shane is that guy on the Lower Sac. He’s shown me that time and time again.

We were drifting down and Shane told his brother-in-law to cast on a light patch of bottom. He told him to mend upstream and he told him to get ready. Two second later the indicator went down a a nice fish was on.

He knows these waters so well. The fish don’t stand a chance.

Great to be on his water again with him.



Apr 13

A trip to Christmas

Friends recently returned from Christmas Island and they put together this little video.

I want to go. Very much.

Dec 12

Now what?

I remember my first trips very well. They weren’t that long ago, really, so it isn’t like my first steelhead trips, but still, they stand out very clearly. One of the feelings I recall is the feeling of dread when I finally had a fish in sight. I felt very unsure about what action I should give to the fly. To complicate things I had a friend tell me about some fish he had seen in Los Roques where he needed to not move the fly at all. With that in the back of my head I would wonder if I should leave the fly alone or if I should strip it in and if so, how fast and how long the strips should be?  That sort of argument going on in your head as you try to fool a bonefish is very nearly a game ender for the whole enterprise.

Down in Belize in 2010 I got to fish with my friend Shane. Shane has seen a lot of water and cast at a lot of fish. He has over 365 days of bonefishing, which I find pretty damn impressive since he is pretty much fully employed as a trout fly fishing guide, guide service manager or lodge host (AK, not the salt). Nor is he a Floridian or independently wealthy (or dependently wealthy… which you never really hear about, those poor guys). Watching him fish and talking to him a bit about what he was a great shortcut to better fishing. Here is some of his advice, combined with some thoughts from Captain Perry (anyone know where he’s guiding out of in Grand Bahama these days?).

1. When you cast you should give one long slow strip to start things off. That makes sure you clear your slack and gives some movement to your fly. Movement catches the eye of a bonefish and that first strip could get you your fish. If the fish doesn’t see your fly, it will almost never eat it.

2. You need to strip at a speed which will keep your fly off the bottom. If you are fishing above turtle grass, you need to keep it off the grass. Otherwise, you just need to be above the sand. That isn’t too fast and it isn’t too slow.

Beyond that, there are times you leave it, times you give a jerky retrieve, times you do other stuff I haven’t had to do yet. I am not yet proficient enough to know when to give a bonefish a fly that I’m not stripping. I’m going to need to do more of this to figure that out, but it is good to have a game plan going when I have a fish to cast at.

If you have a Plan A, you can divert. If you have no Plan A, you are basically screwed. Not making a decision is, in fact, making a decision. It is making a decision to have crappy fishing.

Shane, doing what he does (and doing it better than me).

Shane, doing what he does (and doing it better than me).

Jul 11

Sarah’s first bonefish

Now, Sarah has a leg up on most folks starting out trying to find their own bonefish.  Her husband is one of the best anglers I know, my friend Shane.  She’s had a pretty good teacher and that can really reduce the learning curve, but it is still an accomplishment to score your first bonefish.

Nice bonefish Sarah!


Here’s Sarah’s story in her own words:

I’ve been on seven bonefishing trips in the last several years. I’m grateful when I realize
that’s twice (oaky maybe 7 times) as may as most anglers dream about…in a lifetime. A
couple of those trips I didn’t even get any follows. During the earlier trips, my husband
and guide, Shane was slowing teaching me the ways of the ghost of the flats. What to
look for, how to spot them, how to cast into the wind, how to clear your line when the
fish takes off, how not to lose a finger while they run…About four years ago (with the
help of husband guide by my side) I was able to spot, cast to, and land my first fish and
then my second the same day. It was a huge accomplishment. And those two bonefish
remain the biggest I’ve landed since then. We weren’t married yet at the time, but I
secretly think that’s when he starting thinking about making me his wife.

As any bonefish angler knows, when chasing the elusive flats dweller, Murphy’s Law
truly applies. I’ve done it all wrong, many many times. I’ve seen a large school, gotten
excited only to cast and find out the hard way that my line is wrapped around my foot.
I’ve cast to a bonefish shaped clump of turtle grass only to be frustrated when it didn’t
try to eat my fly. Then, there’s casting in the wind. I’ve stared at objects “that could
be a fish” so long with the hopes of using my jeti mind skills to somehow will it into
becoming a bonefish. Not so much. I’ve made the most beautiful casts only to plop the
tiny fly down on the fish’s head so as to spook him so bad he tells all his buddies to steer
clear of that flat for the rest of the day. I’ve tried to make casts into the wind only to have
my line fall in a jumbled mess a few feet away. I’ve broke fish off because I didn’t “let
him run.” Did I mention the wind? What can go wrong will go wrong when bonefishing.

But, once in a great while, the fish gods smile down upon you and everything goes right.
Today was that day. Husband guide dropped me off to walk a flat by myself while he
walked the boat a ways away. He was a good 200 yards away when I spotted 6 fish
coming at me on my right side about 80 feet away. Wind and sun at my back. (“That’s
when all the conditions are right for a good time.” – Alan Jackson) So, my heart starts
thumping and I make my cast…about 50-60 feet. One cast. Three strips. Fish on. Big
smile, giggles out loud. I had done it all…all by myself!! All is right in my little world

Mar 11

Grand Slam Reflections… The Permit

Carried over from Grand Slam Reflections… The Getting There.

The Permit

On the third day of the trip Shane and I were in the boat of Katchu, a guide from El Pescador, headed up to the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve. We were looking for more action than we’d had the previous day on the tarpon flats of Savannah Cay. We wanted to catch fish, which is sometimes not what happens when you are hunting permit or tarpon.

Chillax'n on the boat ride north.

We set up on the inside of the lagoon, drifting silently over turtle grass, Katchu on the poling platform with his long, wooden push poll in his hand and his eyes scanning the distance. We were looking for permit. Shane and I didn’t really want to look for permit. We wanted to wade for bonefish. Katchu wanted us to look for permit and it was his boat. Katchu told us that the bonefishing would get better later in the day and we should drift along the permit flat first. I think, largely, the line about the bonefishing getting better later was fiction, but Katchu had a plan and he was going to execute on it no matter what we told him we wanted to do. So… we were on a permit flat looking for big black tails and not silver or blue ones.

I was up on deck first with a ten weight in my right hand, the fly in my left and fifty feet of fly line on the deck. I was scanning the water, looking for tails or nervous water. Now, a tail is a damn hard thing to miss on a wide open flat, but the stirring of the fish below the surface that creates “nervous water…” well… I have a hard time spotting that. My brain just isn’t trained that way. Every breeze that came up looked like fish. Every current that ran into a clump of turtle grass looked like fish. What doesn’t look like nervous water, though, is the flash of permit in the sun and that is exactly what I saw.

“Permit, 12:00!” We had found them and they were on the move. I had one shot and, well, it was the first cast of the day. It didn’t all come together and the fish passed out of range, heading up wind and away. There would be more, I was told. I didn’t really believe it.


As I stood on the deck, thinking back just a few minutes to me botching a good permit shot, the guide spotted two bonefish cruising the mangroves. I was very conscience that I had a 10 weight in my hand and I was thinking that the presentation would be too heavy. It is a dangerous thing, thinking. I made the first cast to the bones and tried to ease up on the power so the line wouldn’t smack on the water. Totally underpowered, the cast landed in a heap. I cast again, but my head was too much in the game and the result was the same.

My friend Shane, who is a certified casting instructor couldn’t hold his tongue. “Those are the two worst casts I’ve ever seen you make.” he said. It was pure truth. Those casts were just horrible. I couldn’t help but give a little laugh at the ridiculousness of the casting and the degree to which I could rain on my own parade. It was also glad that Shane had just shown that he wouldn’t hold back the truth and when you are out there to learn, you need the truth.

There wasn’t too much time to dwell on things. Permit were again spotted. “Permit, 1:00!” said Katchu. I pointed my rod. “More right! More right!” The rod passed 1:00 to 2:00. “More right! More right!” I was pointing at 3:00 now. We joked that Katchu’s clock went something like 12, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 6, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11. I pointed my rod at 3:00, but saw nothing. “Where?” I asked. “Nervous water, don’t you see it?” I didn’t… I didn’t see anything. “There, 800 feet, do you see it?”

“WHAT? Of course I don’t see it!” Again, I could do little but laugh. I might not be catching fish, but at least I was seeing the humor in it.

Just as I was about to step down and give the bow up to Shane we saw more nervous water, permit, moving at speed. Downwind. Moving our way. Katchu said “Cast Now!” and I did. The fly, a Christmas Island Special, landed in the middle of the school and the school parted. I let the fly sit for a second and then started stripping as if I were casting to Jacks. The school came back together and balled up around the fly. As the fly swam fast out of the school one permit broke off and followed it. The fish chased the fly down just an inch below the surface, water sheeting over it’s face as it opened its mouth and ate the fly. I saw every detail. I set the hook. The fish was on, the line was cleared and the reel began to sing its beautiful song. Soon the permit was in.

Per Mit. Not a big one, but an honest to god Permit.

This was my first permit ever. Someone later told me that there are two kinds of permit. There are “permit” and “big permit.” I had caught the former and I had done so pretty much completely to the contrary to almost anything you will ever read about how you cast to and catch permit. There was no crab pattern. There was no leading the fish and letting the fly sink or settle. I cast on top of the fish and stripped as if I were trying to keep a strip of bacon from a hungry dog.

This is where the guide shines and local knowledge burst to the fore. On my own I never would have selected that fly. On my own I never would have made that cast. On my own I never would have made that retrieve. On my own I never would have caught that fish. Katchu knew. I think Katchu has been down this road more than once and also knew that first permit and first tarpon tend to come with first big tips. He may not be able to read a clock, but he knows his waters and he knows how to catch fish and thank god for that.

Next up… the Bonefish.

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