Tag Archives: the future?

Myth & Truth: Bonefish, Sunscreen & Slime

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.

The Grouper Moon Project

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)

Smile When You Have Low Batteries

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.

Rising Sea Level Floods Everglades

Rising sea levels are transforming the Florida Everglades, a new study shows. Plant communities that thrive in salt water are expanding along the coast, leaving less room for plants that depend on fresh water.

In the news today.

“We’ve Caught a Fish, Now We Can Leave”


With a couple of my old clients, I shared the sentiment that if we caught a fish in a location, we could move on and fish somewhere else.   It was always acknowledged with irony, since we knew staying where we were was an easy win.  But we’d also proved our point, and we didn’t want to punish the fish there.  Besides, I was much too anxious to want to see new (and even find) new spots, see how far we could take a little bit of success.

Does that sound counterproductive?  Does that mean we’ll catch fewer fish?

In the short run, yes.   In the long run, definitely not.

~ Marshall Cutchin over at Skiff Republic (unwittingly) weighs in on the DIY debate (in a tangential sort of way).

UPDATE: Lionfish Invasion Reaches New Depths

Ok, so here we are. First, the highlights:

  1. Lionfish eat pretty much anything smaller than them. They also breed a lot more than native species and out-compete them for food.
  2. Lionfish have been confirmed at 300 ft., in “large populations”. Nice.
  3. The whole invasion has been trace (genetically) to just a few releases off South Florida.
  4. We, human beings, started it with saltwater aquariums.

If you want to read more about the deepwater lionfish invasion please do so here.

The Fly Fishing DIY Debate

A younger WindKnot & the Fishing Padre scope out an (empty) Bahamian flat.


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:


  1. Guide.
  2. Fierce advocate of Do It Yourself Fly Fishing.
  3. Everybody stop being A-Holes.

WindKnot the Angler

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