I saw 3 or 4 swimming straight at me. It was almost surreal. I did exactly as you had described in the book and without a hitch dropped the tan Crazy Charlie about 2 feet in front of the lead fish. I watched astonished as he just kept coming with intent and then tipped…
Loved this story over on diybonefishing.com. It realistically depicts the challenge (and rewards) of catching the Grey Ghost of the flats on fly by yourself. It also demonstrates why some instruction—in this case Rod’s very useful book—is better than trying to figure the whole thing out from scratch.
Bonefish are pretty much 180 degrees from the species most anglers target on fly. Everything, from the presentation to the hook-set is wildly different from what we’re used to. I see it every day I guide. If you cast past the fish and pull the fly towards them: game over. If you “trout set”: game over. If you roll-cast and rip the water: game over. If you use tippet with the letter X anywhere in it: game over. Walk the flats and blind cast: game over.
Rod’s book contains the fundamentals of targeting bonefish on the fly and helps clarify all these issues. After that, it’s just up to you get out there and do it!
If you haven’t already subscribed to Rod Hamilton’s blog on that site, you should. Weekly stories, fishing reports and tips to get you fired up (and more prepared) for that next flats fishing venture.
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:
- 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.
- Although conventional sunscreen removed the most slime, zinc-based sunscreen seemed to cause the most damage to the bonefish.
- 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.
The mission at MOTIV Fishing is simple: Create a new genre of fishing media that is appealing not only to fly fishing and conventional sport fishing enthusiasts, but also inspiring and captivating to general audiences, fishermen and non-fishermen alike.
I really hate these guys.
Wading with Sharks, and Other Fun Things.
Barjack the Angler Bluefin Flat Indian Ocean April 3, 2011
Heat Exhaustion, The Cuda, and Blue Water.
Feeling euphoric after the 10 mile bike ride and now it’s time to wade. Almost immediately I hook a monster cuda only to get one blazing run, a single jump, and it shakes the fly . I’ll get him next time; they are territorial and I’m a stalker! Walking along I find an area where it goes from reef to deep blue. Gotta say, standing in ankle deep water looking into blue water is daunting.
Wading along I see some trevally—Golden’s, nice ones. I cast and they circle. One eats and makes a nice run. I get him half way back, he turns and the hook pulls. Check fly: point sharp, eyes straight, looks good. More Golden. I cast, hook up, and same result!
I should change flies.
Another pod is coming straight at me so I cast, get bit, and the hook snaps at the bend!
They must have heard that echo in India… wonder if it translates.
Ok, new fly. Go with a Kung-Fu crab; they have a stout hook.
Of course, now there are no fish around, the tide is rising and I’m running low on water. Finally I see a bonefish. It’s a decent one so I toss it out there and hook up. It makes a run and off to the left I see a big shark. I loosen the drag and throw slack. The bone stops dead and the shark swims on. I renew pressure and run into the beach, lock down the drag, and work him in. Damn, 20lb test is no joke! I glance back at the shark and with it are two monster Bluefin Trevally! I horse the bone in release him examine the fly all is good. Like any good jack the BFT flank the shark, which is easy to see as I run down the beach, line dragging and catching everything possible. I get ahead of them and lung into waist-deep water less then 100 feet from a big shark. I’m casting. Nothing. Wade out and run ahead. Cast. Cast. Run some more. This time I get a good angle and hook up! The fish burns off for the reef I lock down the drag and… 3,2,1: slack line. The hook opened wide .
Why 9 is Better than 7… and Jonas was Right.
The fish explode away from me and disappear. The tide is high so I walk the beach and sure enough I see another shark flanked by BFT. Wade out hook a smallish one, release it and catch back up to the shark. I have on a big orange Pugalsi Crab pattern and the bigger BFT will follow but not eat. They look and ignore, but as I’m stripping back in a small pompano eats it and all the BFT go nuts and rush it.
Ok, I could pop this little guy out of the water and release him, or…
As the biggest BFT is swimming away with my fly and that poor little fella in his mouth I jab with the rod a few good times! The 9-weight pays off as put the wood to the fish. It weighed in at just over 12 pounds.
Jonas, you were right. Bait fishing pays big dividends.
No amount of preparation can get you ready for this place. I gotta head home and tie up more crabs on the smallest, strongest hooks I have.
Rethinking live bait,
Barjack the Angler
1 Nate, remember that one I hooked with you and Darin? This one was bigger. [back]
2 Ok, I know I’m going to eat crow on the whole hooks debacle so let me just come out and say that I’ve caved and ordered a bunch of Mustad Signature Saltwater hooks. Ok. Fine. I said it. [back]
*Indian Ocean Chronicles
April 29, 2005
Day V. It’s been tough. Weather. We’ve had patchy overcast skies, winds at times pushing 25 knots, but we’ve still caught fish, 5-7 pounders mostly and shots at double-digit trophies. But Dad still hasn’t gotten his ‘big one’. Sure, there’ve been some nice fish, but the mythical double-digit, the ten-pounder has eluded him. And we fly out this afternoon.
Luckily Charlie has a sympathetic streak and has offered to take us out this morning early. Half day trip: in and out on a mission. That morning I stowed my rod in the gun’l knowing I wouldn’t use it until Dad got his fish. Until then it was camera duty for me.
We cross the bite and begin poling with Dad on the bow. Charlie is on today. By 8am we’ve already missed several shots. We’ve been passing on fish in the six pound class, deemed too small by Charlie. The chance of missing a shot at a big fish is too great. Finally I hear Charlie say clearly, Twelve o’clock, 80 feet, two fish.
At 65 out feet we spot them and Dad makes a cast. The fish are big and the pressure’s on. Of course the fly drops way left and short.
Very calmly Charlie says, Cast again… to the fish, man.
This time the fly lands about three feet dead ahead of the fish. Both rushed the fly and the lead fish, the big one, nailed it. In the face of such a clear, deliberate eat Dad lost his nerve. His strip-set would have pull-started a lawnmower.The fly popped out and the second fish darted forward and ate. This time the hook set was smooth, almost gentle. The rod bowed deeply and I heard Charlie’s now excited voice: Set the hook, man!
Half a second later the fish is burning off heavy drag and eating backing from Dad’s reel. It’s a good fish, a solid fish, and when we land it several minutes later Charlie laughs down from the platform: Nice fish. Another 10-pounder.
Then he adds, (rather whistfully, I thought), but if you had hooked that first one…
December 28, 2000
Since I had only been out practicing my cast I had no more flies on me. I carefully waded back to shore and, once on the beach, bolted for my car. I scrabbled through the first flybox I found, tied on a new fly (taking at least five times as long as I should have) and dashed back to the flat. The school was still there. I promptly hooked another, which immediately spit the hook. Another cast and I broke off again: steady, now, this won’t do at all. I hadn”t brought any more flies with me so wade back to shore, dash to car, cut off bloody eight-pound tippet, tie on ten-pound, new fly on, dash back.
The school had moved somewhat, drifting further out with the last of the tide, but they were still within range. When the line came tight this time I calmly cleared the loose fly line and let the drag do the rest. The first run stopped just into my backing and then the fish changed directions, swimming back toward me. I reeled like mad and stumbled backward, trying to keep a tight line. Soon I saw my leader crawl toward my rod tip, but I still couldn’t see the fish. I couldn’t believe how well camouflaged it was. Desperately I searched the water in front of me and suddenly there it was, all lit up and banded. Each scale was distinct, as if it was freshly cut from glass and platinum, reflecting the coral and grass of the bottom. The fins were a surprise; they were edged in the most unexpected, startling blue: my first bonefish.
I had been laughing with glee but upon seeing the fish I was struck by its somber demeanor. Other types of fish look clownish, aggressive, or cow-like, but not this. I’m sure it was simply anthropomorphism on my part, but it’s down-turned mouth and direct gaze seemed slightly disapproving to me, like a professor handing a favorite student a D-minus. I was struck too by the same notion as many other first time bonefishers: that the fish seemed somehow to have shrunk upon capture. Surely such a little creature could not have fought so hard, could not have taken me into my backing. I held it gently and quickly removed the barbless hook, marveling again at the sky-blue fins.
A second later my first bonefish slipped easily from my hand and, not ten feet from me, it completely disappeared, blue fins and all.