Oct 12

Missing tails

The sun is wrong.

The clouds are up.

The glare is in my eyes.

I’m looking for a clue, a sign, a give away. I’m looking for a tail, wagging off in the distance, reflecting light off of blue edged silver, a sign saying “Here I Am.”

There is nervous water and where you see that, fantastic. However, I have likely cast to more schools of mullet or lord-knows-what hoping they were bones, only to find that they were something “else.” Hopeful, I’ve made the cast and crouched down, making the strip, anticipating the pull, only for there to be… well… nothing and seconds later a school of small, nervous fish passing me by, busy not being bonefish.

I know they tail. They tail in photos and in stories and in films and in emails, blog posts, message board posts and casual conversations.  They tail in my mind.

Why aren’t they tailing, like, now? When I need them to tail?

They tail or I am just out here for a walk, just out soaking up the sun and the saltwater.

Scanning the water I make one pass trying to look in the water, which hasn’t worked well, and another looking on the water for that nervous water and waving tails. A lifeguard scans the water looking at each face, trying to see individuals instead of a mass of people. You can’t pick out a swimmer in distress by looking at the mass. You have to see the distress on someone’s face. In the same way I try to scan the water without just seeing the expanse of the flat, but trying to focus on each section, each feature, each moving shadow to confirm or reject the question at hand, trying to discern if there is a bonefish there, or there, or there, or there.

A tail. That’s what I need in the failing light, under the grey sky, over the turtle grass, with the glare, without it. A tail is definitive. It won’t be a jack or a mullet or a cormorant.

Sometimes, most of the time, they just aren’t there. These are not my trained monkeys. They do not perform on command.

It happens seldom enough to make it frustratingly and fantastically unpredictably wonderful when they pop up and announce…

Here I Am.

Photo by Jasper Vos

Come and get me. (photo by Jasper Vos)

Johan Persson Friberg

This is it. (photo by Johan Persson Friberg)


Apr 10

Golden Ghost

I walked out on the flat and inadvertently spooked a couple of fish, the swirl of mud and wake heading away from me were pretty classic bonefishing. Even more classic bonefishing were the tails… dozens and dozens of them waving away all over the flat.

The weather was perfect… mid-70’s, clear, slight chop on the water.  The water was less than ideal… murky and full of bits of weed and grass pushed to the far end of the reservoir by the wind. 

Wait… did he just say “reservoir?”  What is he talking about?

Switch “Gray” to “Gold” and you are on the right track.  Carp. On the fly.

Today it happened.

I’ve tried a few times over the years, but it has never come together for me… until today.

I was amazed to see carp tailing, but tailing they were.  The carp were sucker-mouthed tight up against clumps of grass and other plants about 12″-24″ deep. I don’t know what they were eating, but it was right on those plants.  I couldn’t get a fly in-between the plants and the fish so I just had to stand there, tails wagging all around me, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do.

I saw one fish crusing toward me.  I had about a foot of fly line out and simply extended  my rod and drop the fly (orange half-back) right in front of the fish.  I saw it look up and inhale the fly.  I set the hook and was tight to the carp.

Now… here is where I have to make a comparison… folks have told me for some time that carp are like bonefish, that they make sizzling runs.  Maybe this carp had a full belly or  stayed up late the night before, but it didn’t really run.  If I loosened the drag it would take line off, but anything resembling a moderate drag and the fish wouldn’t take an inch of line.

It was a big, big fish… a beast by most standards.  I didn’t have a scale, but I think the fish was about 15 pounds.

Carp #1

I caught a second fish, smaller… maybe 10.  The second act was similar to the first.

Carp #2

So, Carp are now officially in the book.  They are 5-15 minutes from the house and will surely be targeted again and soon-ish.

There are some things that are similar to bones… shallow water, sight fishing, tailing behavior.  However, the strength of the  fish is really more weight than the explosive power of the Gray Ghost.

I’ll take the Golden Ghost.  It is exciting and interesting fishing, but I still wish I was on Andros.

Dec 09

Bonefish Tails – RA Beattie

Now this is a beautifully done short of a beautiful sight…

RA Beattie owns Beattie Outdoor Productions and was featured in the pretty much kick-ass fishing film Drift.