Feb 16

When the wind is up

The flat was loaded with fish. Wave after wave. It was the most fish any boat out of Abaco Lodge would see that day and likely more fish than we saw for the next 4 days on our own.

The problem, as is often the case, was the wind. The wind was blowing the water off the flat and not even the skinny riding Hell’s Bay could get us any further after the fish. Luckily, the fish were frequently coming to us.

Fishing in a 25 mile an hour wind is a challenge. Maybe it is a cinch for Lefty, but most of us mortals have a hard time casting into 25. Things go really wrong. Every shortcoming is magnified and your cast becomes defined by that shortcoming. In a 10 mph wind you can get away with a lot. In 25, you can get away with very, very little.

damn fly line is everywhere

damn fly line is everywhere

This day was the opposite of my first day. That day I saw the fish early. Every cast I needed, I had. It felt like almost every fish I threw at ate.

This day, however, I never saw the fish first. There were some I didn’t see at all. Casts asked for often didn’t pan out as asked for or envisioned.

They say when you feel like you need to speed up, that is exactly when you need to slow down and while I know that, deep down, in my gut somewhere, my animal brain was calling the shots, extolling me for blowing shots and telling me what I really needed was just a little more pepper in the cast. The animal brain is an idiot and a liar and a fool and its casts were “poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

As the tide kept falling, water kept getting pushed off the flat, the fish became even more spooky. From 60′ one fish spooked when the guide pointed at it. Fish seemed to be able to tell when we were looking at them and they’d run, panicked, darting this way and that until they were out from under our gaze.

Amazingly, we caught fish. Against the odds and in spite of the wind, we actually won a few of those contests.

One of my most rewarding fish followed about 20 minutes of fish spooking at every motion. Motion of the boat, the fly line, the fly itself, everything seemed to sew terror. And then there was a string of fish just getting up on the flat and they weren’t bothered and the first fish in that string to see my fly charged it down and ate it with relish.

Nice to be vindicated. Nice to do it in the face of a 25 mph wind too.



Feb 15

Because, wind

Before you take that trip of a lifetime… spend some time getting your cast straight. Pity to go allllll that way and then have the wind kill your trip. There is wind. Almost always and even if there isn’t wind, there will be and it will blow so hard and you’ll think “I can’t cast in this!” and you’ll be right if you don’t work on it. Maybe you can lay out some line when throwing that caddis out on the lake or that 30′ cast on the big river, but the flats are not like that. The wind is sometimes unrelenting and sometimes right in your face as the fish are coming at you.

The wind can be your friend. The chop makes the fish feel a bit more comfortable. It can mask your movements and your noise. A windless day is tough, sometimes tougher than a really windy day.

Wind is a reality. Learn to cast in the wind. It is a skill you can pick up and you can remove that from the list of limiting factors.

So… Mr. Windknot, take it away.

Oct 14

Casting from Gink and Gasoline

The folks over at Gink and Gasoline are doing a fine, fine job, Olympic Medalists and all. They have a post with some casting tips to help you on the flats and it is good advice.

Good technique and timing can input far more power into the casting system than sheer muscle and effort. Casting as hard as I could worked against me ten fold. I wasn’t allowing the rod to do the work and I lost control of my casting stroke in the process. Both of which, ended up opening up my loops and keeping me from consistently laying out a straight leader on the water during my presentation.

Saltwater flats casting is just different from most anything else you are going to do. It has its own set of skills and you are not magically imbued with them just because you’ve caught a bazillion trout.

The big difference is the wind. The wind can be your friend, putting a little chop on the water makes the fish feel more comfortable and masks your approach and cast. When you are looking into the face of a 15 mph wind, or a 25 mph wind, things can go badly, and quickly.

Read the tips from Gink and Gasoline and then go practice a bit. Doesn’t make sense to spend a couple grand on getting to some dream location without working on your ability to deliver at game time.

Me, casting, in Belize.

Me, casting, in Belize.

Mar 14

Dead Calm

Not a sound.

Not a sound. – PS, do you see the school of bonefish?

On the trip to Long Island to fish with Bonefish Paradise at Greenwich Creek Lodge we got lucky when it came to the weather. There were no whitecaps on the water (which I learned are formed when relative wind speeds reach 14 mph). We might have seen a few minutes of 12 mph wind, but we had many more minutes of dead, flat calm.

It turns out dead calm can make for really tough fishing.

One of the mornings Elvis, Tandy (who was called “Candy” for most of the day) and I went far out on the Ocean-Side flats to a little rock way out all on its own. Once the motor was off and we were out of the boat I experiences near sensory-deprivation level quiet. There just were no sounds, save for the occasional shad or bonefish tailing.

It was spooky quiet.

When there is such an absence of sound every sound that is generated seems like an explosion. Each step sounded like a careless water buffalo walking through a rice paddy. And, as it turned out, every cast with the textured line on the Orvis H2 sounded like a million zippers being zipped all at once.

For the first time I saw bonefish, 50 and 60 feet away, visibly spook at the sound of a false cast. I saw them spook at the sound of a single strip of the fly. I’ve heard this criticism of textured lines before, but I had not experienced it myself. Now, I have.

It was simply too quiet. Too still. The weather too good.

When there is a light wind the fish can’t see you as well. They can’t hear you as well. They don’t bolt at the slightest provocation because those slight offenses are masked and obscured and forgiven by the wind.

So, I will no longer wish for windless days… although, if I can dial it up, I’d say a nice 8 mph wind might just be perfect.

Dec 11

Luckily, the trip was about more than just the fish

I’m in a cafe in Hawaii at the moment… I’m all packed up and killing a bit of time before I have to get on the flight back the Bay Area.

The trip was a good one, as long as we don’t look at it strictly in fishing terms.  I had a few reasons to head here and fishing was only one of them.  In many ways this was a trip to bring the last 8 years of my life full circle and I think I accomplished that.  Another reason to come here was this is where I saw my first bonefish, about 4 years ago.  The experience had a bit of an impact on me and I always wanted to come back to have another shot at those fish.

The first couple of days the weather was considerably less than ideal.  High winds, constant cloud cover and a good smattering of rain really put the damper on things… literally and figuratively.

Hard to see the fish with out the lights on.

The weather broke a bit on Saturday and I had a good amount of time with the lights on.  No bones even seen.

Sunday… Sunday was what I was really here for.  I walked out onto the flat and saw what looked like a bonefish feed mark.  I took a picture.  20 seconds later I saw my first bonefish of the trip and 30 seconds later I spooked my first bonefish of the trip.

Much better conditions

I came back to that spot three more times and the next two I found single fish and at each occasion the fish spooked on the cast.  Fly hit the water and the fish bolted.  These fish are SUPER SPOOKY.  They were in deeper water, maybe 3 feet, and I was lucky to see them at all.

Later, at low, low tide, I was walking really far out on a big rubble flat and I saw tails. I don’t even think they were tailing, I think they were swiming in water that was about 5-6″ deep.  I got two casts in before they bolted, never to be seen again.

Sunday was a day of shots.  I had them.  I can’t argue with that.  I didn’t convert any, but I had shots.  I found the fish, on multiple occasions.  Turns out these fish are a bit tougher than I planned on.

I’ll post some more pics and go into things a bit more in the coming days.

May 11

Slipstreamangling – Cuba Travels

Rich French, from Slipstream Angling, recounts his recent travels to and from Cuba (he’s Canadian, that lucky SOB).  You can read his stories on the Slipstream blog.

I spent two days fishing the flats at Cayo Coco and while I caught some nice fish, the entire time I was fishing was a real battle due to the hard, ever present 25-30 mile an hour winds I was dealing with the whole time. It made conditions really tough and the guide had to work overtime just to get me into fish.

via Slipstreamangling :: Extraordinary Waters Worldwide.



Mar 11

Thinking about casting…

Andros South is in… 21 days (until I leave, 22 until I get there) and I’m starting to think about getting that new Rise 8 wt. out on the grass field at the local school.  It is occurring to me that I need a little bit of stick time before I am presented with my first cruising bonefish or 2011.

Hey buddy, I'm not going to go cast myself, ya know!

I found this bit on the Deneki site from Bruce Chard about casting in the wind.  Thought it was worth reading again (as I’m pretty sure I posted this when it first went up back in 2009.

Here is a little except from a piece I wrote about my Grand Slam down at El Pescador.  It highlights a couple of really, really bad casts I put out after some bonefish…

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.

Yeah… maybe I should get out sooner rather than later to chip off the rust.

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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Dec 10

Mel talking double haul

Mel Krieger talking about doing the double haul.  Pretty hard to get out on the flats without a double-haul.  This is not a recent video, of course.  Mel passed away back in 2008.  Seemed like a really good guy, from what I heard about him.  I know I saw him at a couple different shows over the years. Those than knew him still talk warmly about him.


May 10

Deneki on the Wind

Deneki Outdoors puts out some really good, quality blog posts in addition to running one of the best lodges out there, Andros South.

This post talks about the wind and how ya need a little of the gusty stuff for the best fishing.  Calm is nice to look at, but tough to fish.

Of course… ya don’t want too much, which is usually the case in the places where bonefish live.

As I said, Deneki also runs Andros South.  There will be a collection of bloggers headed to South Andros in a few days to fish and write/share their experiences.  I was invited to go, but between selling one house, moving and getting ready to sell a second, I just couldn’t make it work.  I will be following the festivities and probably sinking into a deep and troubling depression.

Here’s the line-up from the Deneki website:

Should be  fun to see what  comes out of the week.