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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chicken Fried Flat

Yesterday began in a dramatic fashion. I left my iPhone in my jeans pocket. The same jeans my wife just threw in the wash. I ran down to the washing machine, pulled out my jeans, which of course were on the bottom, and fished out my phone. Miraculously, it hadn't yet gotten wet.

When day's begin like this, you never know what to expect. Turns out, it really did go up from there. My wife gave me the new Zac Brown Band CD for our Anniversary. The Bonefish Flat gives it four stars.

Zac Brown blends Jimmy Buffett, Bob Marley, and Waylon Jennings together to come up with some laid back, island country fusion sounds that are perfect for the car ride to the bonefish flat. The music will get you relaxed and ready for your day to tailing bones in "Chicken Fried" flat. The song "Where the Boat Leaves From" is a country revved island tune that will have your head bobbing. "Whatever it is" will have you missing your wife, provided you didn't bring her along on your trip.

Be sure to check out this CD.

You've got to listen to something on your way fishing, right?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Do I Write the Bonefish Flat?

How can a guy who lives in Virginia, works in DC, and is not a fly fishing guide write a blog called The Bonefish Flat?  First off, the bonefish flat is about saltwater fly fishing.  It’s rockfish in Virginia and Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, Redfish in North Carolina, Texas Tarpon, and yes, Bahamas Bonefish. 

One of man’s key instincts is to hunt.  Ask any guy this and many of us who haven’t been corrupted by a desk will tell you we long to live off the land.  We want to raise and grow our own food and not be bothered by governments trying to run our life. We want to survive because of hard work. 

If you take this as I do to be fact, I would tell you that God has instilled in me a need to fish and at the top of my list are hunting bonefish with a fly rod.  If not a bonefish, I’ll settle for anything that swims in salt water.  But since the world has changed, I sit at a desk for most of the day.  Next to my desk sits a picture of me holding a permit which sits right next to a picture of me holding a bonefish.  My computer’s desktop picture is, you guessed it, me holding another bonefish.

I research destinations relentlessly looking for information on how to succeed.  When is the best time to go bone fishing?  What should I expect from the weather?  Is it a full moon or when is the rising tide?  I ask around as to what flies work best and then I tie them.  For nights and nights at a time I sit and tie flies for the next trip.  If you’re a fishing guide and you’re going to take me fishing, I’m going to ask you what flies to bring and I’ll tie those too.   

When I’m not working or fishing, I read and write.  Mostly read, but read voraciously about fishing and, in particular saltwater fly fishing.  I read how-to books by Lefty, Chico, and Dick Brown.  I read literature about fishing by McGuane, Hemingway, and anyone else I can get a hold of.  I love McGuane’s essays about the Meat Bucket, or M.B., a Zen like stage of fly fishing where everything comes together and you know life will be OK.  I treasure Hemingway’s accounts of fishing for big game and I understand Santiago’s struggle with his marlin.

I also love to fly cast.  I setup cones in the park and practice casting for distance.  I use a camcorder to tape myself so I can learn from mistakes and get better.  People look at me like I'm crazy, and I am.  I read books on the casting, too. Mel Krieger, Lefty, and Borger (the younger, not the elder). 

At night I look online for Web sites that give me more information on where to go.  I read trip reports from others who have taken saltwater fly fishing trips for inspiration on future adventures.  I listen to podcasts about bone fishing, red fishing, tarpon fishing, permit fishing rooster fishing, and so on.  You get the idea.   

When I fish, it mean’s I’m fly fishing.  I am a fly fishing snob.  I don’t want to use a spinning rod or a bait casting rod.  It’s fine if you do and I won’t laugh at you.  In fact, you’ll probably catch more fish than me.  But to me, there is a real challenge to catch a bonefish waving a stick back and forth in a 15 knot wind.  It’s hard to cast a sinking line off a boat with a big 2/0 Clouser hoping to bag a giant Rockfish that may or may not be there thanks to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. 

I look-up to the legends of our sport. including Stu Apte, Chico Fernandez, Flip Pallot, Lefty, Ted Williams (the fly caster, not the baseball player), Del Brown, and Steve Huff, just to name a few. 

I write The Bonefish Flat since I can’t go fishing everyday because there are higher priorities than fishing, namely a wife and two kids.  But I assure you that when it comes to fly fishing, in particular saltwater fly fishing, even more specific flats fishing, I am a fanatic. 

The Bonefish Flat, its all about to happen. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Florida Python Hunting

Ok, this isn't about bonefishing, but it is about Florida and the Everglades.  If you haven't followed the little snake problem they have down there, this article will get you up to speed.  Apparently people release their pet pythons into the Glades and then the things grow into monster snakes.

People, don't just turn your snake's loose.  In fact, you shouldn't have a snake anyway.  Get a dog or something.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tibor Everglades

So folks wanted some pictures, here is one of my favorite pictures.  I love my Tibor, love the sound it makes when a fish is screaming, and like the scenery here.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Update on the Bonefish Flat

Hopefully you've noticed that The Bonefish Flat has been updated more often lately. I'm making a strong effort to update folks every day.

The Bonefish Flat is going to be getting even better. I've heard from some fans and will start including more pictures. I'm also going to try and include more videos that are out there.

Conservation will continue to play an important role on the site so you can expect more updates on issues affecting the salt water environment.

On that note, the flat is going to be covering all things saltwater fly fishing, which of course, means the bonefish flats we all love, too.

I'll alsobe sharing some fiction that I have been working on. I'm no Tom McGuane, but I do love to write.

We also have a new logo in the works that will make us a bit more cool. And finally, I'm working to get more trip reports from some friends who also love the flats and the salt.

So please tell your fishing buddies, join us on Facebook, and sign up for my e-mail alerts.

This is The Bonefish Flat, it's all about to happen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

WorldANGLING on the Spanish Fly

Will Benson of WorldANGLING will be fishing with Jose Wejebe on this weekend's Spanish Fly TV show.  The show will air at 9:30 on Sunday February 21.

I first heard of Will on Zach Matthew's Itinerant Angler Podcast which can be found here.  I'll be sure to tune in and watch him fish with Jose.  If you can't watch it, be sure to set the DVR.

If I would have known that Will was fishing with Jose, I would have asked him to ask Jose why he doesn't fly fish on the show anymore.  It looks like Jose will be using the long rod with Will, but be sure to tune in and see.

My guess is that guys like Jose and Tom Rowland use the fly rod less and less on TV because sponsors demand that they use there products.  The fly rod and reel companies just can't compete.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Steve Huff: Flats Guide Extrodinaire

Some of you may be wondering,  "How can I book a day of fishing with legendary Florida fishing guide Steve Huff?  I can't find a Web site or listing for him anywhere."

The answer is you can't.

In this article from Florida Today, outdoor columnist Bill Sargent talks with a living legend about fishing in Florida.

For those of you who don't know, Captain Huff is the guide who famously named Del Brown's Permit crab the Merkin.  Huff guided Brown often and one day Brown showed up with the new fly.  Huff said something like, "that looks like a Merkin."  History was made.  From what I've read, the late Brown wasn't particularly happy with the name of the new fly, but that's what Huff called it and so that's what it became.

This fly has revolutionized fly fishing for Permit.  Before the crab fly, the success rate for catching a Permit was so low that many fly anglers didn't bother fishing for the species.  With the Merkin, it was discovered that yes Permit will eat a fly and so a new flats game began.

The next time you run into Captain Huff, be sure to say thanks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jan Bach Kristensen

I wanted to make sure that everyone saw Jan's Web site along with his photography. He takes great pictures, including lots which are focused on fly fishing and salt water fly fishing.  He has a gallery on Cuba with some exceptional shots.

His site can be found by clicking here: Jan Bach Kristensen.

His pictures have been featured in Fly Fishing in Salt Water as well as ad's for Scott Fly Rods so be sure to check out his site

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Slam from World Angling

Slam by WorldANGLING fly fishing South Florida for Permit, Bonefish, Tarpon, Snook, and Redfish from WorldANGLING on Vimeo.

Will Benson and Dave Teper from WorldANGLING in the Florida Keys are the real deal.  They guide for our beloved big three and make killer movies.  This one is a short film that is on their Web site which I urge you to check out.

Also, they have several videos at the bottom of their page which you can put on your iPhone or iPod.  These are great fun.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Fiction Involving Bonefish and the Florida Keys

I came across this book review in the New York Times talking about a book by James Hall titled Silencer.  I've never read any of his stuff before, but for those of you who like to mix fishing with reading, this could be worth checking out.

If any of you have read any of Hall's books, be sure to leave a comment below on which one's are the best.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Bonefish Flat on Facebook

For folks who have been reading my blog, I know I set up a Facebook page before but had some issues linking it to the blog so i had to delete the page and start it over.  Hopefully it works this time.

If you were a fan before, please sign up again!!!  You can do so with the handy "become a fan" button on the right side of the page.

Thanks for your support!

Bonefish: The Most Valuable Fish in the World

Here's a link from a recent meeting in Florida in which Jerry Ault, a marine researcher at the University of Miami, said that bonefish are, "the most valuable fish, per fish, in the world" due to its effect on the sportfishing and tourism economy.

The article, from KeysNet.com, is talking about the devastating effects that the cold spell has had on Tarpon and Bonefish in the keys.

According to Ault in the article, "The bonefish population was estimated at about 326,000 fish, basically concentrated in the Florida Keys, before the January chill."

"What does that mean in terms of what the population used to be? That's the million-dollar question," Ault said.

Friday, February 12, 2010

ESPN, Home of Pirates of the Flats, Donates to BTT

Since I've been posting about the great work that the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has been doing, I thought I would share a news release they put out stating that ESPN, which has been airing Pirates of the Flats, has donated $5,000 to BTT research.

Here is the link: Tarpon & Bonefish Trust

Pirates of the Flats continues to be my favorite fishing show on Sunday morning.  Be sure to check it out if you haven't done so.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bahamas Bonefishing with Brian O'Keefe

Brian O'Keefe is one of my favorite fly fishing personalities and is one of the most well known fly fishing photographers out there.  I'm posting a link to a podcast he did on Ask About Fly Fishing a few years ago about fly fishing for bonefish in the Bahamas.  He gives a great overview of the fishery and some of the things to expect on a trip there.

Here is a link to the podcast

There is also podcast on there about fly fishing in Campeche, Mexico, for baby tarpon and that is worth checking out, too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Currents of Belize

The issue of growth and sustainability, it turns out, is a global one.  I highly encourage Bonefish Flat readers to check out a new film online sponsored by Costa Del Mar called Currents of Belize.

It can be found here www.currentsofbelize.com 

I had the chance to watch the film this snowy afternoon and it is top notch.  It gives a snapshot of what Belize is dealing with as it tries to provide jobs and improve its tourism industry while at the same time protecting its environment and its integrity.  

Plus, it has great footage of the flats including the big three.  

Anyone who is a fan of flats fishing won't want to miss this.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bonefish and Tarpon Trust

Yesterday I posted a how-to catch and release from the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.  I've added this group to my list of favorite sites and encourage readers to check out their site. 

If we want to catch these fish, they have to be there in the first place.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bonefish Catch and Release

I've been reading on different message boards the best way to handle bonefish when practicing catch and release, which everyone should do.

I like to take a photo of fish, but also want to make sure that I'm being responsible. I thought the best way to look at this issue is to go to the Bonefish and Tarpon trust and get their recommendations.

I think this is an issue where common sense rules the day. If it is a small fish, let it go in the water. If it's photo worthy, keep it in the water, have your buddy get the camera ready, take the fish out and take a pic, and put it back in the water. Boom, this can be done in 5 seconds.

If you have been watching Pirates of the Flats, this is how Val Atkinson and Bill Klyn of BTT said to do it.

Another thing to do is use an underwater camera and work on getting the fish that way.

Here is the official page from BTT on how to practice good catch and release...of which I plan to do a lot of this year!

Bonefish Catch and Release

Although catch and release fishing is a valuable conservation tool that can lead to more and bigger fish in the fishery, just because a fish swims away doesn't mean that it lives to be caught another day. The tips below for increasing the chances that a released bonefish survives are based on scientific research focused on bonefish. Be a responsible angler - use Best Practices for Bonefish Catch and Release.


Hooking location and time needed to remove a hook affects survival rates

  • Always use barbless hooks
  • When fishing with bait, use circle hooks

Fight Time:

Shorter fight times increase survival because a fish fought to exhaustion is more vulnerable to predators. Conversely, a bonefish reeled in too quickly may thrash about, increasing its chances of injury.

  • Tackle should match conditions and the size of the fish so that the fish can be landed quickly, but not until their head can be lifted slightly above the water surface and their movements controlled.
  • Always land a bonefish before it is exhausted and loses equilibrium when released (cannot swim, nose dives, or rolls over).
  • If a bonefish loses equilibrium after you land it, revive it until it can swim upright, then shorten the fight time on future fish.
  • High water temperatures may negatively impact bonefish survival after relesae; in warmer water, reduce fight time and handling time.


Minimize handling of all fish; slime and scales can be removed or damaged with excessive handling, thereby greatly increasing the risks of infection. In addition, recent research has shown that mechanical lip-gripping devices can cause damage to mouth tissue if the bonefish struggles against the device, so their use is best avoided.

  • If you have to handle a bonefish, use clean, wet hands and gently support the bonefish from beneath the head and belly. Nets, mechanical lip-gripping devices, and wet cloths can cause injury to the bonefish.
  • Use hemostats, pliers, or a hook-removal tool to quickly remove the hook while keeping the fish in the water, and have your pliers ready and available to facilitate a quick release.
  • Avoid exposing bonefish to air, even when taking a photo. If you must remove the bonefish from the water, limit it to a maximum of 15 seconds.
  • Touching the gills can cause damage and impair the ability of a bonefish to breathe.
  • If a lip-gripping device is used, it's best to use them only to restrain a calm fish in the water while removing the hook. If a fish's weight is desired, attach a sling to the device, and cradle the bonefish in the sling rather than hanging the fish vertically by the jaw.


The survival of released bonefish decreases severely when predators such as sharks and barracudas are abundant because these predators often attack a bonefish soon after it is released. In fact, fish that lose equilibrium are six times more likely to be attacked by predators.

  • When predators become abundant and appear to be attracted to your fishing activity, consider moving to another fishing location.
  • If you have caught a bonefish and potential predators are near, if you have a livewell consider using it to hold the fish for a short time and release it some distance away.

Download your own copy of the Best Practices for Bonefish Catch and Release brochure.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

24 inches and double haul in the wind

Not the size of a bonefish, but how much snow we are supposed to get in DC. How can i practice casting in this weather?

When I do practice, I have 4 cones and I measure them out to 25, 40, 60 and 80 feet and try getting to each with one to two false casts.

One of the keys to true distance casting is measuring your casts. If you don't measure, chances are you'll cheat yourself.