• All the other dorados have been watching. Like fingers reaching down to him, they descend… their shapes converge like living petals blooming from the stamen of the dead fish. The tiny flower whirls ever deeper, getting smaller and smaller, until it is no more.
     ~Steven Callahan Adrift

You Should Read More: FishingPoet: “West to Water”

April 18, 2015

Here, I am slow motion. Layers of break-neck life peeling away. I know it’s the wide-open expanse of frontier plainsong. Forever rolling and howling as the speedometer pushes 85 and The Grateful Dead wander their highway through Althea in Nassau. I am small here.

If you haven’t yet, you should head over to FishingPoet and read the rest. I usually try to stick to salty subjects here on FlatsWalker, but some stuff is simply so good you’ve got to make allowances. Besides, it certainly falls under the heading of “Spilled Ink”.

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Fly Casting REVup Challenge: #2

April 15, 2015

Fly Casting Basics: Straight Back, Straight Forward

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Let’s focus on the DIRECTION of our casting stroke. For this weeks REVup Challenge, try to work on casting straight back, and straight forward, rather than around a curve.

Head guide of Fish Bones Fly Fishing in the Cayman Islands analyzes the difference between the standard “loopy” overhead, 10-to-2 casting stroke and a slightly “side arm” stroke.

The classic overhead casting stroke tends to throw the flyline down on the backcast and forward cast, forming a large, inefficient loop.

By contrast, a slightly side arm immediately directs the fly line straight back, and then straight forward, parallel to the water surface. This produces a stealthier cast (for spooky bonefish) by turning the fly over parallel to the water, rather than kicking down at the end of the fly cast and splashing down. A straight line will also get more distance in the wind, because a tighter loop is more aerodynamic.

This is because focusing on “side arm” encourages the caster to keep his elbow down, rather than raising it on every backcast. Keeping the elbow low is a critical element to good flycasting, as it helps us track the rod-tip (and fly line) along a straight path.

Subscribe and get weekly Casting REVups to help tune your cast for summertime or your next fishing trip.

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Fly Casting REVup Challenge #1

April 05, 2015

Fly casting is: a slow, gradual acceleration to a sudden speed-up-and-stop.
~ Lefty Kreh

 

 

Join the REVolution. REVup your casting and REView the fundamentals. This is the first in a challenge to myself: one casting video a week (52 for the year) focusing on the fundamentals of casting a fly rod. We’ll look at basic casting principles, mechanics, common faults and even mobility issues. These will be drawn in part from the plethora of casting woes I witness as I daily guide anglers to tailing bonefish on the saltwater flats of Grand Cayman Island. Over the years I’ve had to learn how to quickly diagnose an angler’s cast, ignoring most of the issues but focusing on the biggest problem so we can go fishing. This forum will allow me to elaborate on some of the problems upstream and downstream of the major issues like wrist-ing, raising the elbow and failing to stop the rod.

We all wish we could be better casters. Let’s take the challenge and work on it.

Tight lines,
WindKnot the Angler

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Myth & Truth: Bonefish, Sunscreen & Slime

March 17, 2015
Bonefish with infection from too much slime removed.

An infection brewing from too much slime (mucous) removed. BTT photo.

Two fish displayed evidence of bacterial infection following handling, and both fish were exposed to the zinc sunscreen treatment. Based on these results, anglers should consider avoiding handling of fish with sunscreen-coated hands, as well as with UV gloves.

FlyLife Magazine just published an interesting article outlining a couple interesting experiments done at Bahamas’ Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) wetlab where they tested the effects of sunscreen tinted baits on bonefish feeding behaviour and whether sunscreen (conventional or zinc-based), sun gloves or clean wet hands are better for handling fish.

The results are interesting (and you can read the full account at the link above), but the basics are this:

  1. Sunscreen doesn’t deter or attract bonefish to bait. They are primarily sight feeders, so a refusal is probably because of something off in a presentation, or the fly pattern itself. Don’t blame the sunscreen.
  2. Although conventional sunscreen removed the most slime, zinc-based sunscreen seemed to cause the most damage to the bonefish.
  3. Clean, wet hands are the best for handling fish… so remove those sun gloves first.

I personally love the work Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are doing, and if you care at all about these species, so should you. Give em a click. Read. Join.

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The Grouper Moon Project

February 03, 2015

This last site had over 4,000 spawning Nassau Grouper removed from it, in only 2 years of fishing…

A marine scientist doing field work at the Nassau Grouper aggregation in the waters off Little Cayman. [Photo courtesy the Grouper Moon Project]

A marine scientist doing field work
at the Nassau Grouper aggregation
in the waters off Little Cayman.
[Photo courtesy the Grouper Moon Project]

 

A few years ago I started covering this story after a series of massive overfishing episodes threatened this critical predatory reef species prompted the Cayman Islands Government to close the fishing site on Little Cayman until they could gather data on the Nassau Grouper. They discovered that the thousands of Grouper in that single site were  all resident Little Cayman Nassau Grouper. Now the importance of this aggregation site is internationally recognized, not just for the health of Little Cayman’s reefs, but for the future study of this species.

As the winter full moon approaches, the Southern Cross Club on Little Cayman prepares for the annual arrival of the Grouper Moon Project team. Each year from late January to early February, scientists and volunteers of the Reef Environment Education Foundation (REEF) join staff from the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment (DOE) to document the last healthy, active and protected Nassau Grouper spawning site just off Little Cayman. The Southern Cross Club and others in the local community provide vital support to the team, recognizing that it takes an entire community to bring this historical and endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

You can read more here: (http://www.pitchengine.com/pitches/7d1e2df1-4739-4736-80be-71a41b0fc895)

Follow along here: (http://www.reef.org/groupermoonproject)

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Smile When You Have Low Batteries

October 12, 2014


Prince EA – Can We Autocorrect Humanity? from Aztech Productions on Vimeo

 

We’re so consumed by our phones and social networks, that sometimes we forget to live.

“As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw.”
— Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

That’s the thing about memory, and any devices (digital or not) that we use to help facilitate memory. Any angler has surely noticed this phenomenon while fighting a big fish. There is a part of your mind—the busy, book-keeping part—that immediately begins recounting the events to you as they happen, in preparation for the story you’ll eventually tell your friends and family (and anyone who seems even remotely interested in fishing).

But storytelling is, by it’s very nature, an editing process. It doesn’t take in the full experience, it cannot. It concerns itself with plot, with character arc and fantastic events. The rest of the experience is simply edited out, excised from the narrative (and, in some ways, from our memory). And worse, the more we tell that story the more it becomes that memory, gradually supplanting the actual experience in our mind. On the other hand, the small fish, the un-memorable catches and, most of all, the unproductive periods spent simply fishing, they are the purest experiences because they are simply lived.

That’s why fishing stories seem so much like fiction, they don’t correspond to what we know real life is like. It’s also why on some level we don’t trust the well-crafted social media image put forth by other anglers. We know what our daily lives are like, how can theirs’ be obviously so much better—well composed, with better colors, bigger fish, prettier girls and nicer food. And so we go out ourselves, armed with an array of media-capturing devices with the goal of competing in this new world of public privacy. We publish videos, post on #TBT, and update the Facebook™ feed. Or sadder still, post on our pathetic blogs (which frankly, no one will read if they don’t make it to a Facebook™ post).

Methinks it’s time to unplug.
Time to Unplug. Go fishing.

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Estrada Art Presents: GladesDays

October 03, 2014


Estrada Art Presents: GladesDays from Estrada Art & Apparel on Vimeo.

Go ahead, live vicariously. Take a glimpse into the vast Everglades through the eyes and stories of official Estrada Art crewmembers. The first of a new series of films, they will take you into the ‘glades from all angles, on poling skiffs and paddle boards and kayaks. From Islamorada, to Flamingo and Everglades City these dudes are living it.

~  *  ~

I fished with Eric Estrada a couple years ago, well, 2013, but it feels like more than a year and a bit. He joined our crew for something we never could figure a proper name for so I just ended up calling it the Florida Gathering… or something similar. Basically it was a bunch of bloggers and guides (and artists) getting together and fishing. We were supposed to take pics, vids, and write stories on our various blogs. I didn’t… yet. There’s stuff percolating, but nothing has been anything like put on paper. Not that it wasn’t a great (not to say epic) trip, cause it was. It was just hard to put into a simple statement. (Unless you’re this guy and can forge a week of mis-matched fishing mayhem into something akin to poetry.)

Anyways, back to Eric. He was a cool dude to fish with. Old school. A throwback to that old-world salt who not only knew his shit, but expected you to as well. And, when you (inevitably) screwed up he would tell you, not out of cruelty or spite, but out of an honest place of constructive criticism. I liked him. I also caught a big-ass Peacock Bass with him within like an hour of meeting the guy, so I might have been biased from the outset. Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed his enthusiasm and personality throughout our stay in Islmorada. I mean, not too many other anglers would be willing to drop everything, pickup a couple complete strangers from Miami International and then drive several hours and guide them for a couple days, for free! Who does that?

I’m glad to see Eric doing well and supporting local talent the way he does. The man works hard and has way of keeping in the background that seems neither braggadocios or falsely modest. It’s just who he is.

So, this is an official shout out, from one old-school salt to another.

Tight lines, brother.
WindKnot the Elder

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