Wade Fishing Cayman

A Taste of the Islands from Davin Ebanks on Vimeo.

How does one capture the silence, the light, the sense of space, and of course, the often high-paced action of fly fishing in the tropics? How, especially, in one film? Here is one of my early tries. (And, yes, I do have a better camera now.)

Here’s a sample of the variety available in the Cayman Islands, all on foot, by the way. Snook, bonefish, jacks, and permit: it’s all here.

Music Credits:

  • Abja, Crucial Confessions, Inna Red I Hour
  • NiyoRah, Thinking About My Life, A Different Age
  • Habib Koité, Wassiye, Putumayo Presents: Africa
  • Nathan Herrera, Calle Peral

Out There.

I am the darkness on the edge of the firelight.
I am the cold wind in the pines.
I am the rain, hard on the tin roof.
I am the restless ocean, sighing against your shores.

I am the reason you build walls and fence yourselves in.
I cannot be tamed.
I am never lost.
I am the problem to all of your answers.
I am… out there.

Earning the Name (or: How I Roll)

January 2, 2009 (with any luck)

Well, I’m out day before yesterday at —— and find a school of like 3, 4 dozen bones pushed into maybe a foot of water. Ok, take your time here; fish aren’t going anywhere — just wade slow and quiet. A few minutes later I’m standing within casting range and the fish seem unconcerned, ignorant of my presence. Now, aim at the edge of the school. Don’t get greedy. Do this right. I make the cast and immediately hook one, but it comes off only a few seconds onto the reel.

That happens.

The fish aren’t totally spooked though. They swirl around a bit and then push back onto the flat a little ways to the leeward. Fine. I stalk them again, and cast, and cast, and cast. They’re spooky and barely moving in that circular way laid-up fish do sometimes. I’ve got to wait till they’re at the far end of that circle and then fire a cast in close so when they turn the fly is sitting there waiting for them. This goes on for a while: cast, strip, nothing, wait till they turn, cast, strip, nothing, wait. I might have missed a couple short strikes in there, but it could have been the grass–I’m having to let my fly sit for like almost a minute before stripping, so the fly and leader have plenty of time to foul.

By this time I’m pretty keyed up and thinking, Right. Next fish touches this fly I’m hammering it. Which is exactly what I do. I’m using the new XTR and it’s stiff as hell, so when the fish takes off I’m really pulling on it. Zzzzzziiiiiipuhhh… silence. What the…!? I reel in and see a perfect little pigtail where the wind knot I knew was there, knew was there from yesterday, had finally popped. Genius. I stalked those fish for like 15 minutes, made like 30 casts and blew it cause I was too lazy to retie?

That is truly, sadly, far-too-often how I roll.

Loose, man, loose.

December 30, 2008 (probably)

Watch dat reel! Hooked up to a Cayman bonefish.Still dark, had a late night so a little cranky. Drive North to find today’s client waiting in the dark. Ready. Good sign.

SS flat, tailing singles. First cast at first fish and BANG, fish on.
“Easy, now. Let ‘im go.”
“Wa’ ‘appin?”
“I let him go.”
(With mounting trepidation) check drag and it’s a brick wall. Nothings coming off of dat reel.
“Um… loosin’ ya drag.”
Check again: “More.”
“Ya. Really. Da’ drag need’ be loose, man, I tellin’ ya. Loose.”

We miss a few more before the tides done there and head to the windward. Next couple stops have nothing, so we end at the End, walking the beach and seeing nothing. Finally I spot a small school heading away from us. Reel in. Walk beach. Get ahead and strip out line, ready again. Here they come.
“Ok. Cast now… a little left. Good. Let ‘er go. Strip, strip. Got ‘im!”

Fish blasts off and the line jumps back slack. Check drag: tight as ever again.
“Loosin’ ya drag.”

Cast again and miss a couple more: one trouted and one legitimately pulled out. No worries. We’re seeing fish. Keep walking and miss a few more to the usual suspects. Lined fish. Stripping too fast. Etcetera. Then we see a big pair coming down the beach, heading the right direction this time, right for us. Cast, strip, strip, strip. Fish is on the fly, following, going to eat?… never know because with about 4 ft of line out the rod tip dude starts swinging the rod away from the fish.
“No! Why ya swing de rod? Pull de fly away from de fish like dat, man.”
“I was out of fly line.”
“No. Man, I tole’ you: don’ stop strippin’ de fly, les I say so.”

I’d told him stories all day of how we catch fish with the leader in the rod tip, but I suppose that, just like the drag deal, the skepticism factor was too high for such tall tales. Or something. Ok. Still no worries. We’ll find more fish…probably.

Finally we spot another school along the edge. Another perfect setup, but they’re tougher this time. The same strip doesn’t work so we mix it up. The fish go nuts: some blasting off entirely while others charge the fly then bolt.
“Don’t stop strippin’! Strip, man, strip!” A pretty Caymanian Bonefish.
There, a fish blasts up on the fly, sees us, does a complete 360 and grabs the fly with about 2 (no joke, not a word-o’-lie: two) feet of leader out the tip.
“Let ‘im go.”

Finally we’re hooked up and into the backing. And all is well… because we land it.

Ri-dic-u-lous Bonefishing Video: Andros, Bahamas

Big Bonefish with Big Charlie from Davin Ebanks on Vimeo.

We recently made a (much too short) pilgramage to Andros, Bahamas to fish big bones with Big Charlie Neymour. Blowin’ like 25-30 (knots) the whole time but Charlie just said, “Bad weather: big fish.” “Kaaay…” we answered. Nothin’ for it but to grab Pancho (the 9-weight), throw on a #10 line, a short 20-lb leader, and the strongest hook I could find. It was ON… and luckily we brought the video camera.

I’d like to echo the sentiments of the bonefishing saint who turned me onto this place: “If I had one more day to fish, it would be the North Bight with Big Charlie.” That’s a recipe for dying happy right there.

For more pics, verbage, and whatnot on this amazing island and fishery check out www.bigcharlieandros.net, and if you go tell ’em Ebanks sent you.

Day Off: Christmas ’08

December 22, 2008 (The Warm Up)

Grand Cayman wintertime beach (with the all-important fly rod).Awake later than expected and groggily dig through my old fly-boxes from last holidays. Luckily there are several usable flies still clinging to the ragged walls of Styrofoam and I decide to hell with tying freshies, I’m going fishing. I grab leader, boots, new 5pc-8wt, reel, glasses, keys, and what all else and point the aging Toyota to the windward. The sun’s out but it’s blowing a hurricane from the NNE and it looks like tomorrow’s fishing will be tough. Somewhere in there tomorrow’s sport calls to confirm, asking how the fishing is. Yeah, like I know. I’ve been here less time than he has. But, that’s the deal with guiding: you never know anyways, so I swing par for the course and hazard a guess. Well, wind’s up but the clouds have cleared and we’ve got a good tide so I’m optimistic. This seems to answer… an answer, anyways.

First flat is all white caps and waves breaking. Further east at the final flat, having past a series of practically dry flats on the way, I find tailers. A couple schools. First few shots are rusty at best, and this flat is always tough. Low water, spooky fish. Touchy. I tie on the smallest little fly – just some fuzz and rubber legs – and drop it about 3 ft ahead of the school, maybe half dozen times. Every time except the last they turn before reaching it, zigzagging down the flat unpredictably. Then I see the wake, the almost imperceptible but thrilling follow before the fly gets pounded, line stops dead and I’m whoopin and hollerin like a Mexican on a bender.

Things are well, and all manner of things will be well: a nice 4, heck, call it a 5 pounder on the flats.

Tomorrow I’m going guiding.

“Welcome to…

the desert of the real.” Those words ring in my mind (after a recent viewing of the legendary film) as my plane touched down at (an undisclosed location) in the midwest. Smokestacks bristled below and the air, once we exit to the jetway, smells like someone has been cooking old socks. Ah, back to the grind.

The quiet waters of the flats seem a world away and I try to hold on to the memories as long as I can. Of course, any such attempt is vain, as it turns out. There is something about this place that makes it seem like you’ve always been here. In a few minutes I’ll be tossing my duffel on the floor of the old apartment — to remain unpacked for the next week except for the occasional quick rifle for fresh socks — and going to the fridge hoping there’s ice in the freezer and something to eat.

The TV, of course, hasn’t worked since the much awaited digital transition (though I foolishly held out hope for a while and it wasn’t until I spent a few sweating minutes in the attic reading the box the thing came it that I admit that I am now without a functional boob-tube). Probably best, I tell myself, I’ve got a lot to do without sitting senseless in front of a glowing box. I could tie flies, update the old website, start that blog I’ve been meaning to or (for goodness sake) actually finish my Thesis and graduate. Guess which one I’ve opted for.

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