Aug 13

Funny thing about slow fishing

I’ve noticed those days where the fish don’t seem to be biting I seem to always be late getting back. I am very hesitant to leave the water without tasting success and the fewer fish the more determined I tend to get.

There are usually things you can do to change your luck, but how much you can improve your luck depends on many factors.

The better you know a place, the better you can take the steps needed to change your luck. You know what the possibilities are. You know where the limits are. You can pull from a variety of options. My home waters are places I know well and if the fishing isn’t happening I know I need to get on the tracks and hike a bit, I need to put on another split shot (or three) or I need to look at different types of water (move from runs to pockets or pools to runs). Something kicks loose.

If you don’t know the place, but you know a bit about your target species, you can make some adjustments. I don’t know bonefish like I know trout and I never know a place I’m bonefishing like I know my home waters, but I know enough about bones to make some adjustments. I can try to find the depth I think the bones will be at, I can look for transit routes on or off flats or I can try to change my position relative to the sun to see into the water better. Some of that will change your luck a bit, but if the fish aren’t there, the fish aren’t there. In a stream if you aren’t catching a fish you are doing something wrong. If you aren’t seeing fish on a flat there is always the possibility the fish simply aren’t there.

So, pier fishing with my daughter yesterday we fished and fished and fished. I’ve caught fish on that pier at those tides with that wind with that bait with those same rods, same weights cast at those same distances. Hour after hour passed and we were fishless all the while. I don’t know how to change my luck there yet and I don’t know if it is even possible. I don’t know enough to even come up with possible explanations for the bad luck beyond “the fish don’t appear to be here now.” But we stuck it out and about 4.5 hours in there was a tug, albeit a light one, and one small brown smooth hound shark was brought in. Glad I have a girl who would like nothing more than to sit with her old man on the pier for six hours trying to intercept a shark. I know it will likely stop at some point, but in this, I’m lucky and I’ll take what luck I can get.

We'll take it.

We’ll take it.

Jun 13

How does this still exist?

Catch and kill shark tournaments? In this day and age?



I think the days of mindlessly slaughtering sharks is over… well, no, it clearly isn’t. Let me rephrase. The days of mindlessly slaughtering sharks SHOULD be over.

This graphic tells the story better than any words possibly can.

Jun 13

My father’s day

I’ll remember this father’s day for a while. First off, the sunburn I got today will be with me for some time, providing a nice reminder for the days to come. Seriously… total sunscreen failure today and the wife, who would like me not to die of skin cancer, is nonplussed.

I also got to spend about 6 hours out fishing on the pier with my daughter who, at 6, is capable of fishing for 6 hours at a stretch. She impressed our pier-mates with her knowledge of the fish and just generally was pretty awesome out there today.

Also had a couple of firsts… our first ray and our first Broadnose Seven Gill Shark (even if it was a small one). The Seven Gill is the SF Bay’s Apex predator and can reach over 6 feet in length. We’ve seen these caught, but this is the first time we ended up with one on our line.

I love the hair here. It was windy.

I love the hair here. It was windy.

Fly Ray... FLY!

Fly Ray… FLY!

No complaints.

Apr 13

Pier One Restaurant – Shark Feeding

This is the shark feeding we saw at Pier One Restaurant in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

For a little girl (of 6), who loves sharks, I can think of few things better than this. This was her highlight from the trip.

Apr 13

Grand Bahama Sightseeing

Woke up this morning to the sound of wind. A quick check of the weather told me it was going to blow about 18 mph. My morning clearly would not involve looking for wagging tails on the glassy flat out front. Still, I was determined to have an adventure today and I got my girl ready and we hit the road armed with the knowledge that low tide would be at 9:45.

We headed East to some places I’ve come to know a little bit and love a lot. A little pocket flat was first with plenty of the lime-stone tide pools along the way. We got to the flat and, low and behold, there were a few bonefish. Said bonefish were super spooky though and they weren’t too interested in what I was doing. Every time I’ve come here I have found fish. Every time I have found fish I have failed to hook one. Today was no exception. We threw jigs on the spinner in the creek on the way out and we headed off to the next flat.

A favorite flat, even if I've never hooked a fish there.

A favorite flat, even if I’ve never hooked a fish there.

The next flat, a big, broad, expansive flat of white, hard sand wasn’t screwed up by the wind when we got there and soon after setting out I found a bonefish… who was not interested. The girl, though, found a ton of shells and a good time was had.

A girl with her shells.

A girl with her shells.

We also stopped in Pelican Point at the Shell Lady. Got a pretty fantastic shell for the girl. It was $20, but I figure this lady doesn’t get too many visitors, so I felt it was money well spent.

Shell Lady

The Shell Lady. My second time getting a shell for my girl here.

We got back to the condo (rental, VRBO) and found a  place called Pier One Restaurant. They feed sharks nightly. Now, you may have negative feelings about the feeding of wildlife, and I can understand that. However, my daughter loves sharks and this was a highlight… not just of the trip, but of her life to this point.

We saw many, many sharks and some real giants. We saw the largest lemon shark I have ever seen and the first bull shark I’ve ever seen. There were some massive cobia in there too. It was fantastic.

SHARKS! There are two (at least) in this pic. A big lemon and a bull.

SHARKS! There are two (at least) in this pic. A big lemon and a bull.

It was, as you might expect, a good day. I’m in the Bahamas, a place I love, and I’m with people I love. I also got to blow a couple shots at bonefish. Not too shabby.


Mar 13

First of the year

Took my girl out to the pier today and we managed to pick one up early (and then lose several later). Good to get one in the book for 2013.

The girl reeled this one in (mostly)

The girl reeled this one in (mostly)

There are pretty awesome animals.


2013-03-02 13.51.06

Beautiful fish.

The girl was especially happy to be able to collect a couple of copepods from the shark in a little container with rubbing alcohol. This is now on her nature table. Yes. My girl is awesome.

Also witnessed being caught today were two broadnose seven gills and a ray. Cool.

Funny thing was a couple of guys who started fishing by us. Five minutes after they get there one guy lands a small leopard shark. His buddy had brought him out to catch his first fish and he did. A neat thing to see.

Take a friend fishing.

Feb 13

Awesomeness at TRIW

The blog This River is Wild is simply awesome. This post is one reason why.

You’ll need to go there to see the awesomeness, but it involves swimming with Whale Sharks.

Whale Sharks are amazing, the largest fish in the ocean.

Did I mention that my girl loves sharks and has a stuffed Whale Shark on her bed?

Yeah... my girl is kind of awesome.

Yeah… my girl is kind of awesome.

Basically, I love sharks. If you love sharks, check out Project AWARE.

Dec 12

Chaos… with teeth.

I have to say… I’d like to hook one of these on a fly. Such amazing predators.

Nov 12

Purity and Fly Fishing

I’m a fly fisherman. I have been self-identified as a fly fisherman basically since I picked up a fly rod back in 1996. It is how I choose to pursue fish, it is how I choose to spend time in the wilderness and wild places. Somehow, it became a foundational part of who I am.

Fly anglers, especially trout anglers, tend to be purists. Once you start casting #22 tricos, you are less likely to thread the worm on the hook. It just… happens. You tend to start looking for other fish to catch on a fly, maybe even revisiting species from your bait soaked childhood with an eye toward enticing them with a fly. There is a mindset that seems to emerge. You fish with a fly rod. You release your catch. You change in these and maybe other, deeper, ways.

I went through this change myself. I started out throwing single salmon eggs to steelhead, and worms for bluegill, a panther martin here or there for the odd trout, a jig for shad at the opening days of summer. That was my childhood. Then I went fly fishing for the first time and it was a bit of a revelation and I was voracious in my appetite for the “quiet sport.”

So, it is with this growing fly fishing pedigree that I find myself slicing up strips of squid and threading them on big circle hooks on a rig that also includes an 8 oz. pyramid sinker and then hucking the whole thing out into water that is the color of chocolate milk, or maybe a mudslide.  There is even the much maligned bell atop the stout rod to indicate when a fish has found the stinking squid in the fast moving and opaque tidal flats of the San Francisco Bay.

There is one primary reason for my sudden interest in this type of fishing…

The girl and her shark.

My girl pretty much loves in out there. She loves sharks, almost, if not more than she loves snakes. She has little use for ponies or unicorns or the color pink, for that matter. What she loves are what she calls her “dangerous creatures.” These include sharks, snakes, crocodilians, and, to a lesser extent, tigers, bears, leopards and the like. When I understood that we could actually catch sharks, and just a few minutes from the house, well… it was on. I got the gear. I got some advice. I learned to snell a squid hook. I got a cart to haul all this stuff the 1/2 mile to the end of the pier and we got to embracing the stinky, smelly goodness that is bait fishing.

I baitfish.

Taken by the little girl

That would have been rather unexpected a year ago and I might have even scoffed at the notion. However, I find myself out at the pier rather often these days and, surprisingly, I’m enjoying it.

If I had a choice between baiting a line and throwing a fly, I would choose the fly pretty much every time, if it were just me to consider. However, if the options were to catch fish with my daughter or to not go fishing, I would take the stinky squid every time.


Purity would have kept me from this experience and I think both my daughter and I would be poorer for that.

Still, I’m not likely to put a shrimp on when pursuing bonefish or to thread that worm on a hook for trout, but I will be less judgmental of those who do.

Nov 12

Update on the Pier Fishing

The Pier Fishing is going very, very well. We are having a blast catching sharks in the SF Bay.

Today, we got a double… a couple nice leopard sharks at once on different rods.



Also caught a few Brown Smoothhounds.

The girl and her shark.