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.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Tarpon and Roosterfish Record

The other night I had a dream about tarpon. I was fishing from a skiff and the big tarpon was jumping out of the water like only these fish do. I think the subconscious is telling me something. Namely, Florida Keys for next year.

Check out this article and pictures of a possible new world record tarpon. I'm curious as to what bonefish flat readers think, but there has to be some way to record these fish and not kill them. I'm good with catching a fish and then eating it, but the only thing you would do with that tarpon, after weighing it, is toss it.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at bonefishflat@gmail.com.

There is also a new pending record on a 48 lbs roosterfish. That is one species that is on my list. I went stealhead fishing on the Sandy River outside Portland a few years ago with a guy named Jad Donaldson who was a FANTASTIC guide. He also does trips to Christmas Island for bonefish and Baja for roosters. The roosterfish trip is definitely in my future at some point. What a cool looking fish.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Steve Huff Into the IGFA Hall of Fame

Steve Huff is getting inducted into the IGFA hall of fame. Steve is a revolutionary guide who fished with the great Del Brown and named the Merkin fly. He also continues to guide and is an instructor at Sandy Moret's Florida Keys Outfitters Fly Fishing School which is like a fantasy camp for people like us who like to fly fish in the salt.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Andy Mill on Tarpon Fishing

I listened to a FANTASTIC podcast featuring 5 time Tarpon Gold Cup Champion Andy Mill. Andy is a former Olympic downhill skier turned saltwater fly fishing guru who knows his stuff. If you've read much about tarpon fishing, then you've read about Andy. He has his own style of fishing which is a version of the "down and dirty."

The podcast is great and Andy really tells some of his secrets. He fishes with his son quite a bit when he is on the platform and his rule is that if his son doesn't land the fish in 5 minutes, he's got to hand over the rod. His techniques have really changed the sport of tarpon fishing.

The other thing I really admire about Andy is just that he lives my kind of lifestyle. A house in Aspen and a house in Boca Raton. He gets to fish with a guide 30 days per year and that's pretty darn cool. "I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners." Okay, that's a Lebowski quote but it just seems to fit.

Thinking about Andy and his accomplishments also makes me think about all the other greats of saltwater fly fishing. Ted Williams, Lefty, Flip, Steve Huff, Chico Fernandez, Sandy Moret, Stu Apte, Del Brown and the list goes on and on.

Who am I missing? Send me an email at bonefishflat@gmail.com and let me know.

These guys were real pioneers doing things with fly rods that were supposed to be impossible. Amazing that we can land a 200 lbs tarpon with a fly rod. I think I want to catch a tarpon now. Maybe it's time to book a trip to the keys.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Could the BP Gulf Oil Spill Put Tarpon on the Endangered Species List?

Could the BP Gulf Oil Spill Put Tarpon on the Endangered Species List?

Here's an article from the Examiner talking about the potential effects of the oil spill on Tarpon. This is so frustrating, why can't they plug a damn hole. As we think about fathers day, I sure hope this spill doesn't mean I can't take my son tarpon fishing. Apparently the location's where Tarpon spawn are the same area's where the oil slick is hanging underwater.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday's Flat Rant: What up With Fly Fishing and Golf?

It's 8:30 p.m. and I finally sat down from work, kids, a little picking up the house and I just want to relax so I've turned on the U.S. Open which for people who don't care is being played this week at Pebble Beach. This has me thinking, why do you read of so many comparison's between golf and fly fishing?

Full disclosure here, I used to play a lot of golf and could hold my own on the links. Because of time, work, life I really don't get to play much anymore and since I can't play competitively, I've sort of lost interest. I love fly fishing because it gets me outdoors and you can really clear your head and focus on you vs. fish. Man, I'm really starting to want to go fishing right now.

Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time, loves to fly fish. In fact, he was an honorary chairman of the Federation of Fly Fishers. I've also read that Tiger Woods likes to fly fish too (I was going to make a joke here, but really, why bother). I don't picture the Angling Exploration Group playing golf...at least not seriously.

If you read a lot about fly fishing, you'll see a lot of comparisons to golf.

For starters, you can do both in some pretty average places and some really beautiful places. For us saltwater fly fisherman, fishing the Seychelles would be the equivalent to playing Pebble Beach. Fishing the old pond behind the barn? You're playing the public course in the city (think Hain's Point if you've ever been to DC).

I think too that these two sports are similar because they are both highly individual. In the end, its you and the golf ball or you and the fish. What about a guide, you might say? Ever heard of a caddy? Same difference, you see.

Both sports are also really gear-centric. You really don't need that new driver to shave a few strokes off your game. And you really don't need another 8 wt to replace the other fast action stick you bought 2 years ago. But both groups want them, and in fact may "have" to have them. I really have to have a new S4S 8 wt, but my old T3 will really do just fine. New fly line, what about new golf balls or a new bag?

Probably the best comparison is both sports take practice. You wouldn't play Pebble Beach without bringing your "A" game. I wouldn't go to the Seychelles, Florida Keys, or Belize unless you been practicing, too.

So there you go, fly fishing and golf have a lot in common.

Happy fathers day to all the dads out there. And dad, since you're one of the millions of bonefish flat fanatics, happy fathers day.

Mothers and kids, your father probably wants a new S4S 8 wt for all he does for you every day. But what he really needs is just for you to take him fishing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Watery Rave

Check out the new blog, The Watery Rave, from the good folks at Costa. It is now an official place that The Bonefish Flat hangs out when not fishing. They cover a lot of topics that we all love, namely saltwater and protecting our fisheries.

They also have a great logo for the site, some cool videos, and a great picture gallery.

They even gave a shout out to my review of their shades. As I've said before, you won't catch me on the water without my Costa's.

Friday, June 11, 2010

WORLDAngling's Will Benson on The Spanish Fly

I know it aired a month ago or so, but my DVR and the episode of the Spanish Fly with Captain Will Benson never really jived. So the DVR finally got it right, and I had a few minutes to watch Capt. Benson guide Jose Wejebe to several bonefish and a permit on the flats of Key West.

Lots of interesting things you pick up on this episode if you watch closely. I like Will's line about why he likes fly fishing. He says, "You never can master it. You learn something new every day."

This is how I feel about fly fishing, too. It's always something new and its a challenge. Me against the fish...or the wind...or whatever.

Here's my reel, a conch, and a bonefish flat.

Here's a picture from my last trip that I like. I hope everyone has a great Friday and a fish filled weekend. Don't forget, if you have a fishing report you'd like to share, please send it along to me, JT, at bonefishflat@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Bonefish Flat Review: North Riding Point

For two years in a row, I’ve fished with guides out of North Riding Point Club.  I’ve been very impressed both years. 

North Riding Point has a BEAUTIFUL piece of property on the ocean about 20 miles east of Freeport.  The landscape is meticulously manicured and, while I haven’t stayed at the club, I will go out on a limb and say that the club would provide first class accommodations and meals.  The club provides lunch while on the water and it’s outstanding.  Be sure to get the conch salad.  They do an excellent job with it.
North Riding Point Club
Tim and Mercedes Comstock run the place, and they do a great job.  They are responsive in getting your guide setup and they picked us up from our hotel in Lucaya.  In short, they take care of you.  If you’re putting your trip together yourself, I can’t emphasize enough how important the “responsiveness” is.  The last thing you want is to travel to a destination and not have a guide show up, or to have messages crossed as can certainly be the case. 

Driveway Leading up to the Club

A big advantage to fishing with North Riding guides is they trailer their boats to locations that they feel will provide the best action for they day.  I’m not going to give away where we went, but our days were extremely windy, and our guide took us to a location to help get us out of the wind. 

The club fishes out of Dolphin skiffs which are comfortable and provide a dry ride.  The skiff we fished out of was well maintained and clean.    
Here's where they keep and maintain the skiffs

In 2009, I spent a day on the water with Captain Bully.  Bully is a quiet guide who can find the fish.  When he speaks, you can bet it is to call out a bonefish.  We had a great day with Bully.    
My Dad With Captain Bully

This year, I fished with North Riding’s head guide, Stanley “Stan the Man” Clinton.  On the way to the flat, Stanley told us that his boat has a penalty box for anglers who don’t listen or who blow their shots.  While I blew a few shots, I was fortunate enough not to land in the box. 

Stan the Man likes to wade for bones and that is a good thing in the wind.  It lets you get into water that is very skinny which I found helped me to see the fish a bit easier.  It’s also nice when you’re fishing with a partner as you get to fish the whole time. 
Dad and Stanley Stalking Bones

We caught some really nice sized bones with Stanley and he is a great guide.  He can spot a fish a mile away and has a great sense of humor. 
Me, Stan "the man", and Dad

If you’re going to Grand Bahamas and want first class accommodations, then I highly recommend North Riding Point Club.  If you just need a guide for a day or two, then email Tim and Mercedes and they will take care of you, too.   

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Bonefish Flat Week Ahead

I just got back from a work trip so I'm trying to dig myself out hence the no post yesterday. I'm working to try and update content Monday through Friday so I'll keep it coming. In the meantime, if you like the site be sure to visit our facebook page and give us the thumbs up.

If anyone out there want's to contribute a saltwater fly fishing report, or you have any thoughts on the Web site, drop me a line at bonefishflat@gmail.com

This week I have a review coming up on North Riding Point which I hope you like.

Don't forget Father's Day is coming up and if you need a gift, Abel Reels has some new T-Shirts out. If you follow the flat, you'll know that Abel's are T.B.F. approved gear. I love my Abel #3 with a Super 8 spool. The Tarpon shirt is pretty cool if you dad likes to slay big poons in the salt.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Bonefish Flat Gear Review: Costa Del Mar Zane

When fly fishing in saltwater, we can have an endless debate about what is the most important piece of equipment an angler needs. Fly rods, fly reels, fly lines. Don’t forget the right fly. But if you’re sight fishing, or even just reading the water, polarized glasses are mandatory.

There are a whole host of polarized glasses on the market, but in my mind, Costa Del Mar’s with 580 lenses stands out above the rest.
Me and the Zanes landing a bonefish
A few years ago, Costa introduced the revolutionary 580 lenses. According to Costa, the 580's "Use patented technology to cut down on the yellow light, allowing the eye to see more red, blue and green. Simply put, they're the most advanced glare-beating polarized sun lenses on the planet, and they'll change the way you see, period."

I’ve had a chance to test Costa’s Zane model with silver mirror lenses now for a few months and have really been pleased with the results. The silver mirror is actually a copper shade which is very similar to the green mirror that Costa makes. I have a pair of green mirrors, too, which are amber based and the difference is very subtle. I found that the silver lenses let in just a tad more light making the flats a bit brighter. This is perfect for early morning before you have full sun. During the day, I found that I still got enough shade from the sun as typically we’re fishing with broad brimmed hats, anyway.

While bonefishing in the Bahamas, I wore these shades exclusively and found that I had no trouble spotting fish (if you discount for the wind, which when Costa finds a way to see through the chop, that will truly be a miracle). In fact, there was a few times I even spotted fish before my guide.

The lenses just create a contrast that is highly conducive to spotting fish.

Over Memorial Day, I had an opportunity to fish the Chesapeake Bay with the Zane’s and was equally impressed in this situation. While you can’t see more than two or three feet into the Bay’s waters, the 580 lenses really give you a leg up in reading the water. In fact, I was able to spot two big rays that were chasing a school of bait fish.
My Zanes and Sharky
When you think about it, unless you’re a guide or extremely fortunate and get to fish every day, you end up wearing your shades off the water more than on. The silver mirror 580’s are a great lens for driving blocking enough sunlight to keep you comfortable while making your surroundings look like a picture on your high definition T.V.

My advice for buying a new pair of polarized glasses is simple. Get yourself a pair of Costa’s with 580 lenses. The Zane is made for a bigger noggin, and they fit me perfect. The shades come in different sizes so make sure to pick one that fits your face size. Costa Zane’s are comfortable to wear and provide a lot of lens area to really cover your eyes. Costa offers a limited lifetime warranty and they stand behind their product. In short, I wouldn’t be caught on any saltwater flat without mine.

Before you buy, be sure to visit Costa’s Web site to check out frame sizes, styles, and more information on specific lenses.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Middle Chesapeake Bay Trip Report

I’m almost strictly a catch and release angler.  But there is one thing I’m happy to keep from the water. 
 Crabs right out the trap
The trip began with a heaping pot of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs done right with a healthy dose of Old Bay seasoning.  Fresh crabs out of the bay are one of my favorite things to eat and fortunately for me the crabs are here.
 Straight to the table
On Saturday afternoon, I headed out with my father in-law and uncle in search of breaking fish in the bay.  Specifically, we were hoping to find rockfish (striped bass everywhere else but Maryland & Virginia) chasing schools of baitfish.  The drill is to run the boat until you see water “boiling” or a big flock of birds hovering over the water.  It’s a little more difficult to find fish this way, but when you do, they make for great sport with an eight weight and a clouser. 

We didn’t find any this day but I did manage a few casts with a sink tip line in a place that looked fishy, but no luck here, either. 

Sunday night I had a few casts off the dock with a popper hoping to entice something as the sun set.  Nothing doing, but I did get some good casting practice in. 

Monday morning I had a chance to get out my kayak.  I use a Wilderness Ride that has a few rod holders on it along with my Scotty fly rod holder.  When I was looking for a kayak a few years ago, I wanted to buy the most stable one I could find.  When you’re fly casting and fishing, you tend to move around a lot on the boat and I wanted something that wouldn’t flip and cost me a ton of gear.  The Ride has a pontoon style hull that is perfect for what I do.
 My kayak, the Wilderness Ride
I took the Ride out into a creek off the Saint Mary’s River which feeds into the bay and had a great early morning paddle.  Unfortunately again, I didn’t get into any fish but that’s OK.  The scenery was fantastic and the kayak really lets you enjoy some peace and quiet. 

The Ride and some local scenery.  Looks fishy anyway, right?

On Sunday afternoon, the whole family went out for a boat ride and I was smart enough to sneak my fly rod on board.  We ran into a school of breaking fish which is a really exciting thing.  After several casts into the school of fish, I saw that the fish were being chased by two huge rays and not the coveted Chesapeake Rockfish that I was hoping for. 
 Me shooting some line to a school of fish.  No dice, but check out the boil in the water. 

All in all a great trip hanging out with family and you can’t go wrong with Chesapeake Bay blue crabs.  The fish on this trip just weren’t biting and I didn’t quite get as much on the water time as I had hoped.  That’s not always a bad thing.  I did get a lot of quality dad time which is important especially around the water.  If the kids don’t like the water when they’re young, the probably won’t like it when they’re older either.  And we all want our Fishy Kids to grow up and share our love of the water. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

North Andros by Chris Santella

What a weekend.  It was tiring, but I had an opportunity to spend time with the kids and to do a little fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

I wish I could say that the fishing was great, but then again, that's why they call it fishing.  I'm working up a trip report that I should have up tomorrow or Thursday.  I'm also working up a review of Costa Del Mar's Zane Sunglasses which I've been testing for a while now so that should be ready for Friday.

In the meantime, I wanted to pass along this story by Chris Santella.  Chris wrote 50 Places to Fly Fish Before You Die and North Andros is one of the places on this list.  I got the book as a gift a few years ago and I think I've hit roughly 5 of the places.  I need to go back and review where I'm at, but it's a great read and lays out some benchmarks as to where to fish.  Pick up a copy if you haven't already. 

I haven't hit North Andros but it may have just vaulted to the top of my list.  The recommendation is from one of my personal fly fishing hero's, Brian O'Keefe of Catch Magazine fame.

Here is a pic from the Chris's Web site and is one of Brian's.  You can check out more of his pictures here.