Welcome to The Bonefish Flat

There's a stiff wind in your face as you squint in the sun trying to see what the guide sees. "Bonefish at 12 o'clock about 90 feet, do you see it, mon?" You don't and keep squinting, your hat pulled low to keep the sun out of your eyes. "Bonefish at 11 o'clock 70 feet out. Come on man, do you see it?" As the guide is calmly shifting the skiff into position, this time you spot the fish, "I got, it," you reply.

"OK, Mon, Bonefish 50 feet at 10 o'clock. Cast when you're ready."

Cast when you're ready. And with that you drop your fly, roll out a cast, false cast once, and then...

Welcome to the bonefish flat.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Midcurrent Interview with Brian O'Keefe

Brian O'Keefe is one of my favorite people in fly fishing today and arguably the best photographer in fly fishing today.

Be sure to check out this interview on midcurrent.com.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Set Your DVR for Pirates of the Flats

On Sunday at 9:30 EST on ESPN 2 is the first episode of Pirates of the Flats.

The show is narrated by Tom Brokaw and will feature "the great one" Lefty Kreh, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, and Tom McGuane who wrote the flats epic 92 in the shade.

This show is not to be missed.
Tom McGuane is one of my favorite authors and I have a lot of respect for his work. Be sure to pick up a copy of The Longest Silence and read some of his short storys on swffing. The stories are superb.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Important Story on Conservation from the NY Times

Below is an OP-ED piece from the NY Times that talks about the importance of Menhaden to the Atlantic Ocean. Not sure if bonefish eat these fish, but redfish and rockfish certainly do and are a important gamefish for those of us who throw a fly loop on the bonefish flat.

Please read.

December 16, 2009
Op-Ed Contributor
A Fish Oil Story

"WHAT'S the deal with fish oil?"

If you are someone who catches and eats a lot of fish, as I am, you get adept at answering questions about which fish are safe, which are sustainable and which should be avoided altogether. But when this fish oil question arrived in my inbox recently, I was stumped. I knew that concerns about overfishing had prompted many consumers to choose supplements as a guilt-free way of getting their omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show lower triglycerides and the risk of heart attack. But I had never looked into the fish behind the oil and whether it was fit, morally or environmentally speaking, to be consumed.

The deal with fish oil, I found out, is that a considerable portion of it comes from a creature upon which the entire Atlantic coastal ecosystem relies, a big-headed, smelly, foot-long member of the herring family called menhaden, which a recent book identifies in its title as "The Most Important Fish in the Sea."

The book's author, H. Bruce Franklin, compares menhaden to the passenger pigeon and related to me recently how his research uncovered that populations were once so large that "the vanguard of the fish's annual migration would reach Cape Cod while the rearguard was still in Maine." Menhaden filter-feed nearly exclusively on algae, the most abundant forage in the world, and are prolifically good at converting that algae into omega-3 fatty acids and other important proteins and oils. They also form the basis of the Atlantic Coast's marine food chain.

Nearly every fish a fish eater likes to eat eats menhaden. Bluefin tuna, striped bass, redfish and bluefish are just a few of the diners at the menhaden buffet. All of these fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids but are unable themselves to synthesize them. The omega-3s they have come from menhaden.

But menhaden are entering the final losing phases of a century-and-a-half fight for survival that began when humans started turning huge schools into fertilizer and lamp oil. Once petroleum-based oils replaced menhaden oil in lamps, trillions of menhaden were ground into feed for hogs, chickens and pets. Today, hundreds of billions of pounds of them are converted into lipstick, salmon feed, paint, "buttery spread," salad dressing and, yes, some of those omega-3 supplements you have been forcing on your children. All of these products can be made with more environmentally benign substitutes, but menhaden are still used in great (though declining) numbers because they can be caught and processed cheaply.

For the last decade, one company, Omega Protein of Houston, has been catching 90 percent of the nation's menhaden. The perniciousness of menhaden removals has been widely enough recognized that 13 of the 15 Atlantic states have banned Omega Protein's boats from their waters. But the company's toehold in North Carolina and Virginia (where it has its largest processing plant), and its continued right to fish in federal waters, means a half-billion menhaden are still taken from the ecosystem every year.

For fish guys like me, this egregious privatization of what is essentially a public resource is shocking. But even if you are not interested in fish, there is an important reason for concern about menhaden's decline.

Quite simply, menhaden keep the water clean. The muddy brown color of the Long Island Sound and the growing dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay are the direct result of inadequate water filtration — a job that was once carried out by menhaden. An adult menhaden can rid four to six gallons of water of algae in a minute. Imagine then the water-cleaning capacity of the half-billion menhaden we "reduce" into oil every year.

So what is the seeker of omega-3 supplements to do? Bruce Franklin points out that there are 75 commercial products — including fish-oil pills made from fish discards — that don't contribute directly to the depletion of a fishery. Flax oil also fits the bill and uses no fish at all.

But I've come to realize that, as with many issues surrounding fish, more powerful fulcrums than consumer choice need to be put in motion to fix things. President Obama and the Congressional leadership have repeatedly stressed their commitment to wresting the wealth of the nation from the hands of a few. A demonstration of this commitment would be to ban the fishing of menhaden in federal waters. The Virginia Legislature could enact a similar moratorium in the Chesapeake Bay (the largest menhaden nursery in the world).

The menhaden is a small fish that in its multitudes plays such a big role in our economy and environment that its fate shouldn't be effectively controlled by a single company and its bottles of fish oil supplements. If our government is serious about standing up for the little guy, it should start by giving a little, but crucial, fish a fair deal.

Paul Greenberg is the author of the forthcoming "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food."

Knots with Lefty

I posted this week about an event I attended where Lefty gave a run down on using knots.

One important thing I learned is that a triple surgeons knot means you make six turns, not three. I had been doing this wrong way and this is an important knot to have in your arsenal when fishing on the bonefish flat.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eastern Blue Ridge Flyfishers

Last Thursday night my dad and I gave a presentation and slideshow to the Eastern Blue Ridge Fly Fishers.

The topic was bonefishing in the Bahamas and we shared stories of our previous trips and hopes for 2010.

If you would like me to speak at your club or event, please let me know by posting a note in the comments section.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 14, 2009

An Evening with The Great One

I had an opportunity to hear Lefty Kreh speak the other night to a group of fishermen in Maryland. He really focused his presentation on tying better knots and showed me a new one for tippett to leader.

Another important thing he talked about was fighting big fish from the butt of the rod. Another ringing endorsement of the "down and dirty" technique.

He really is a great speaker and has been a gift to fly fishing. I would love to have a week with him to talk fly fishing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three in a Row

Ok, so three in a row on conservation. This one is on river close to where I live, and close to the nation's capital, so it is a must read. According to the Washington Post, the Potomac is "toxic stew" with problems related to runoff and hormones in the water (the hormones are from birth control which gets into the water, well, you can figure it out).

The hormones are thought to be one of the reasons that male bass are having eggs. More importantly, it is unknown what this toxic stew will do to people since the Potomac is the major source of drinking water for the Washington DC area.

Be sure to read this article.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cleaning Up the Chesapeake Bay

Two conservation posts in a row! Wow!

I saw this article yesterday in the Washington Post and wanted to make sure everyone read it. I'm skeptical as I fish the bay fairly regularly and think its close to dead. The guys who troll multiple rods really take the sport out of rockfishing (striped bass).

For people who don't fly fish, I tell them its like hunting with a bow. If this is the case, then trolling is like hunting with an AK-47.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Important NY Times Editorial on Bluefin Tuna

Today's New York Times Editorial included an important editorial on overfishing of tuna.  While I've never caught any tuna on a fly rod, I hope one day I can.  If I can't, I hope my daughter or son will. 

Here's a link to the piece.  Be sure to read it. 


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bonefish Flat on Facebook

The bonefish flat is now on Facebook. Not sure how this is going to work, but i wanted to make sure i reserved the space. If you're on Facebook, check us out under pages and look for The Bonefish Flat. I have a few pictures up of me, surprise, surprise, with a few fish.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Longest Silence

Good title since it's been a while since i've posted anything. I did manage a fishing trip out west to Colorado to fish for trout on the Frying Pan River and the Roaring Fork River. I stayed in the town of Basalt, Colorado and had a great trip. I caught a lot of fish, both browns and rainbows, and had some great discoveries.

Basalt is a great little town that would be fun for the whole family. Be sure to check it out and check out Taylor Creek Fly Shop if you go. Ask for Cam, he'll hook you up.

I just picked up Thomas McGuane's book, The Longest Silence, which is a collection of his short stories. Anyone who considers his or her self a flats junkie should read his classic 92 in the shade. It's a classic book about a bonefishing guide in the Keys in the good ole days. Be sure to read it and let me know what you think.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Orvis Helios

I had an opportunity to cast a Helios 8wt and 10wt yesterday and that is one sweet rod. The thing weighed half of what other rods in that weight range weigh and I think it would be a piece of cake to throw that 10wt at big Tarpon all day.

If you get a chance, go check one out. I think it's a great rod and would be deadly on the bonefish flat.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Flats Cast

On a message board I frequent, i saw the question posed what does salt water bring to fly fishing. Well, the bonefish flat is getting ready to head to a famous trout stream in two weeks so i've had some time to contemplate this.

The trout cast is one where you start with the basic mechanics of the fly cast and then essentially mess it up. Casting a dry fly involves numerous slack line casts in an effort to have a drag free drift. In addition to the cast, you're also feverishly trying to match the hatch as best as possible and the bugs involved are a lot more complicated than in the salt.

On the flip side, in salt your casting into the wind (always into the wind) and casting a heavier rod with a heavier fly. If you're sight fishing, you're looking for something that's hard to see and is moving fast as hell. Slack line in the salt, unlike trout fishing, is the enemy and slack line casts will cost you a fish of a lifetime.

More to come on these differences as i think they are really worth exploring.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scratch that Itch

Sorry that it has been so long since I've updated the bonefish flat. Fishing has been slow in more ways than one. In one way, I haven't been out too much. In another way, the two times I've been out I haven't caught anything.

Anyway, I'm now looking to next year and where my bonefish flat will be. I'm leaning toward the Florida Keys and chasing the remaining fish for my own personal "slam." I've got the permit, the bonefish, and now I need a Tarpon on fly.

It's time to scratch that itch and think about getting a tarpon date for next spring.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bourdain in Montana

Montana is a long way away from a bonefish flat. But maybe it isn't. For those of you who have seen the movie Tarpon, it features authors Tom McGuane and Jim Harrison. These guys were some of the pioneers of fishing for poon's on the fly.

In his last weeks episode of No Reservations, Tony Bourdain visits Montana and meets, dines, and drinks with Jim Harrison. Harrison looks a bit older, but hasn't lost any of his wit.

Be sure to check out No Reservations: Montana. I think you'll like it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Florida Keys Guide--Capt. Drew Delashmit

Ok, well my favorite guide in the Florida Keys has a Web site so I wanted to share it with everyone following the bonefish flat. Capt. Drew Delashmit is hands down the best guide I have ever fished with.

He's patient, prompt, and most importantly, the guy finds fish. I've fished with him in Key West and out to the Marquesas a few years ago and am looking forward to going back soon.

Give Drew a call and hook it up!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Permit Numbers

As I sit here pondering why my family vacation involves the cruelest of jokes, an ocean with no fish, my mind wanders back to the bonefish flat and I think of the permit.  The tarpon may be the silver king, the bonefish the ghost of the flats, but the permit is like an enigma.  Many know that these fish feed on the flats and there wariness and level of difficulty to catch is legendary.  

But are permit really that difficult to catch?  Are permit a numbers game?  All it takes is one fish, one cast, and you can catch a permit.  So what separates that one cast from 20 or even 100?  

Take a deep breathe, focus on the fish, make your cast and try to hit that permit between the eyes assuming that he's tailing.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Marquesas

West of Key West there is a very special place called the Marquesas.  This atoll is group of protected islands and is where Jeffery Cardenas wrote his timeless classic, The Marquesas.  Although now out of print, this book in my opinion is the best non-fiction book written on saltwater fly fishing.  

In the book, Cardenas, the former owner of The Saltwater Angler in Key West and Key West guide, takes a few fly rods, his skiff and a kayak, and lives aboard his rustic house boat, the Huck Finn.   He parks the boat in the middle of the atoll and camps out for several week.  

Get a copy of this book and enjoy.  For those of us who work a 9 to 5, or 9 to 6 or 9 to 9,  this book is a great escape.  Cardenas lives simply and intently.  

By the way, the Marquesas is a special place for me too.  Here I caught my first permit.  Here he is. 

Monday, June 29, 2009


I just watched Drift the movie which seems to be a joint collaboration between Tom Bie of the Drake Magazine and Jim Klug who runs Yellow Dog Fly Fishing travel company.  This is the best fly fishing movie I've seen since In Search of a Rising Tide.  

The film follows several vignettes including steelheading and trout fishing on the Deschutes River in Maupin, Oregon.  Permit fishing in Belize with Brian O'Keefe is included and it was amazing. Also, bonefishing with the legendary Charlie Smith on Andros Island and tailwater fishing in Utah, Colorado, and Montana.  It finishes off with some fishing in Kashmir.  

It does a great job really highlighting some of the best fly fishing destinations in the world.  I highly recommend checking it out.  It's available online at Drakemag.com and available on Netflix.  

Check it out. 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Top Ten Saltwater Fly Fishers

I thought I'd put together a list of my top ten favorite saltwater flyfishers so here you go:

1. Lefty 
2. Flip
3.  Brian O'Keefe
4. Chico Fernandez
5. Stu Apte
6. Jose Wejebe
7. Andy Mill
8. Charlie Smith
9. Dick Brown
10. Del Brown

There are lots of other great's out there, but thought i would start with my list.  If you don't know any of these guys, google their names or check out the library.  Many have written some great books.  

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bonefishing in the Chesapeake Bay

Ok, so are there are no bonefish in the bay.  But, my flat away from the real flats this father's day weekend was the Chesapeake Bay.  I fished for about two hours but that was long enough to catch a 14 inch Rockfish.  

The rod of choice was my trusty S3S with a teeny 350 loaded onto my Abel 3.  A chartreuse and white clouser tied by yours truly seemed to fool the fish.  

The trick is to get the fly down low and that's why I like Teeny sinking lines.  Jim Teeny practically (or maybe actually!!) invented the sink tip line.  I like casting the 350 on my 9wt better than an 8 wt.  I just think it casts better, but either would do.  If you have a stout 7 go for it.  

Saturday, June 13, 2009

There's Only One Bonefish

Ok, so I've seen some different articles floating around calling carp the "poor man's bonefish."  I also saw a Walker's Cay Chronicles episode with my fly fishing hero Flip Pallot and Dave Whitlock, who is certainly one of the greats of our sport, talking about fishing for golden bones in the Great Lakes.  

Look everyone, there is only ONE bonefish.  Carp are great and a worthy target to throw a fly at, but bonefish are bonefish.  

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shout Out To Scott Fly Rods

I'm a big fan of the Scott S3S series fly rod.  On my recent trip to the Bahamas, I used my Scott S3S 9 weight to tear it up.  One thought on the fast action rods which everyone says you need.  When you're practicing your cast's in your backyard, I've always thought why do I need this much power.  When you're trying to cast 50 feet in a 20 mph wind, you'll understand.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gotcha Fly

It seems the Gotcha fly is the go to fly for the Carribean, and in particular the Bahamas. I like to tie mine with a rabbit zonker strip for the wing and two pieces of sili legs for instead of mylar tube for the butt. Here is a link of how to tie one http://www.flyfishinsalt.com/techniques/fly-tying-bench/mcvays-gotcha-37291.html

The truth is, most bonefish in the Carribean aren't too picky. Much more important is that you have them tied in different weights with heavy lead eyes, bead chains, and "blind." Feel free to experiement by adding different "adjectives" like more sili legs, rabbit, or different colors.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lodge vs. DIY Bonefish Trip

There are lots of ways you can plan for your trip.  The easy way is to call Yellow Dog, Frontiers, The Fly Shop, or another reputable fly fishing travel agent and have them tell you where to go.  You book it, show up, and catch fish.  

This is great if you have a little extra cash, you're just too busy to get into the specifics, or you haven't done your homework.  

I tend to do things a little bit different on my bonefish flat.  I opt for the "Barta" way, which is the hard way.  I like to research several locations.  Find independent guides and book them myself.  I check out tides, moons, etc. and try to put my trip together.  This can be stressful, but very rewarding and you can save some dough.  

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Clean Lines

One thing I make sure to do is to clean my lines each night during a trip.  I start by washing my fly line with a gentle detergent.  I use Dreft.  Then I rinse with fresh water and then apply glide line dressing.  Finally, I'll go back again and wipe off the glide.  

This sounds like a real pain, and it is.  But, if you're on the trip of a lifetime, you want to make sure that your line is working top notch.  This is the connection between you and the fish, and many of the most experienced anglers will tell you the line is the most important piece of gear you can have. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome to the Bonefish Flat

Welcome to the Bonefish Flat!

On this page, I'll talk all about fly fishing for bonefish.  My goal is to update this blog once a week with new fly recipes, bonefishing destinations, bonefishing tips, and even some trip reports.  We'll look back and highlight some of the founders of our sport and review the latest and greatest gear.  
Stay tuned for the bonefish flat.