I write this not as a guide or an angler, but as both. Cards on the table (in case you haven’t read the About page), I am a bonefish guide. I’m also a fierce advocate of DIY flats fishing. As such I feel in a unique position to offer an opinion that considers both the perspective of the guides and the adventure angler.
Let’s be honest, we DIY’ers might start with the best intentions: We’re going to explore, man, drive around and fish the whole island. But then, of course, we have no idea how the tides affect fish in that area, so (barring good luck) we’ll likely hit it wrong and (often) erroneously conclude that a fish-less flat is fish-less because it’s a bad flat, when it’s just a bad tide.
On the other hand a guide has to think about tomorrow, and next week, and next month. So if the fishing is tough, they’ll still move around, trying to spread out the pressure while still getting the best shots at fish. It’s a balancing act they have to do every day—considering the wants/desires/dreams of the client vs the health/longevity of the fishery (and their career).
I’ve heard it said that it’s not the casual DIY angler that’s pressuring the fish. I’d definitely have to disagree with that.
See, the psychology of a DIY angler is one I completely understand, having been there myself. I mean, if I’ve spent all that time planning a trip, scouring the forums, browsing Google Earth, and arranging all the flights, rental cars, lodging, etc, and coordinated all that with my buddies, and then the fishing turns out to be tough I get desperate to catch fish. We all do. Especially if (as is probably the case) that’s going to be my one exotic flats fishing adventure for the next year or two. So if I only find one flat that reliably has fish I’ll be sorely tempted fish there every day.
We tend to live in a myopic world of our own wherein we are the only anglers clever and adventurous enough to step off the map and do it ourselves. The truth is there were many before and they’ll be many afterwards—all desperate to catch fish with no real incentive to consider the ramifications to the fishery.
If I can slip back into my guide boots for a minute, I can attest that I’ve seen a flat take over 2 weeks to recover after being pounded every day for a week by a single DIY angler. It was one of the two weeks I was resting that flat and when I returned with a paying client expecting willing fish, I found spooky, closed-mouthed ghosts. So, I guess in the final analysis I’m echoing Dr. Addams and Bjorn on ThisIsFly when I say, DIY is great, just don’t be an A-Hole. But, in fact, I’d go farther and wonder if it’s possible for a normal, respectful angler turned DIY-angler-on-the-edge-of-desperation to be anything but. To be honest, the jury is still out for me.
REDACTED: August 29, 2013
So, to review:
- Fierce advocate of Do It Yourself Fly Fishing.
- Everybody stop being A-Holes.
WindKnot the Angler