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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Traveling Fisherman

Why do so many of us like to travel "just" to go fishing? I live outside D.C., and it's not enough for me to pull a shad out of the Potomac, a smallie out of the Rappahanock, or a brookie out of the Rapidan. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy fishing for all these fish and do so every chance I get. But still I sit around dreaming of my next trip to the flats for bonefish. Currently I'm thinking about a redfishing trip to Charleston.

But it's not just me. Chances are if you are reading this you don't get to fish for your favorite fish species after work. Most of us don't live in the keys or right on the coast with a dock and a flats skiff in the backyard. Even guys who live in Miami or the keys travel to the Bahamas for more shots at bonefish.

Most of us take great joy in planning the details of our next trip. I know I do anyway. Right now I'm researching redfish flies and their recipes online, calling fly shops in Charleston, and consulting the great oracle better known as google for every bit of information I can get about how to score a red on fly. It's becoming an obsession. And you know, I think my general attitude on life is better when I've got a fishing trip planned.

So why aren't we content with that bass out of the local pond? Because they don't pull like a bonefish, that's why. On my last trip to the Bahamas, which seems like forever ago now, I met a fisherman from Texas who best summed it up. "They just don't understand," he said referring to people who have never had a bonefish tear off line in a violent burst of speed as the fish flees for it's life.

Steelheader's have a saying, "The swing is the thing, but the tug is the drug." They've got it right. The ferocious run of bright chrome must be similar to the bonefish.

So maybe that's why we travel, because the "tug is the drug." Maybe we travel because it gives us something to think about during the work week. Or maybe we are just seeking the next adventure to a new, unknown destination.

Whatever it is, we all will keep on traveling in search of bluer waters and bigger fish.

Monday, March 28, 2011

FIB Fest 2011

Deneki Fly Fishing lodges, which owns and operates four fishing lodges across the world, is currently holding the Fishing Industry Bloggers (FIB, pretty fitting acronym for a bunch of fisherman, huh!!) festival at its property on Andros Island in the Bahamas. It looks to be a great event with several of the leading fly fishing bloggers getting together to fish, chat, and post all of the excitement on twitter, facebook, and yes, the good ole' blog. 

Learn more about the event and participants, including our friend Bjorn over at bonefishonthebrain.com, here

  The FIB Fest office for the next week. 

Bonefishonthebrain pointed out this great bonefish photo from one of the participants blogs, MichaelGracie.com so be sure to check it out.  It'll give you a good laugh. 

It sounds like the folks are catching lots of bonefish and are in possession of plenty of cold Kalik so unless you're on the flats this week, lets sit back and live vicariously through the Fibbers. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stop Eating Wild Steelhead

What do Steelhead, the fish of a thousand casts have to do with the bonefish flat?  Remember, the flat is about all things salty and steelhead spend most of their lives at sea getting bigger.  Unfortunately, these great fish are in trouble.

I came across this site, called Stop Eating Wild Steelhead.  I really like the premise of the group.  It's a grassroots blog that started out as a Facebook site.  They have grown into a site that reports restaurants and stores that sell wild Steelhead.

I'm a big fan of true grassroots movements because I've seen the impact that they can have on our society.  Laws get changed, attitudes get changed when small groups of people who care get involved.

And why shouldn't you eat wild Steelhead?  Numbers of wild Steelhead are down dramatically and more research is needed to determine appropriate take limits.  According to the Web site:

In most rivers up and down the west coast, steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. On a few remaining rivers where they have not yet been listed, wild steelhead continue to be harvested even though these rivers are not meeting their escapement goals. No matter what marketing hype you may read, these fish are not of a self-sustaining population and we cannot afford to lose any more of them from our rivers.
We need science-based management for these fish.  And we need to stop selling the last of this valuable resource in fish markets and restaurants.  An effective means of doing so is to inform consumers so that they can make an educated decision to not purchase wild steelhead.
So check out the blog and stop eating wild Steelhead.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Required Reading: Deneki's Bonefishing 101

A couple of weeks ago our friends at Deneki Outdoors put together a bonefishing 101 guide.  I get questions from time to time about how to go about fishing for my favorite fish and this guide is a great starting point. 

You can get it here.

I've finally gotten around to reading it and it does a great job laying the foundation for your next bonefish trip.  If you've been bonefishing before, this is a great refresher before you go on your next trip.  If you've never been on the flats before, this will get you ready with the basics of how to spot fish, casting, and what to expect. 

The flats can be a hectic place and one thing I learned from my days playing golf is to have one swing thought.  For the flats, it would be one fly thought.  Like golf, fly fishing has a lot of different moving parts when you are actually casting.  Flats fishing multiplies these things because you've got fish moving quickly, usually a very stiff wind in your face, and a guide behind you urging you on.  Trying to keep all the components of a perfect cast in your head can get confusing.  This is where keeping one thought in your head, your "fly thought," will help you better present the fly to the fish.  Bonefishing 101 gives you several good places to start for a fly thought and it will help you fish better. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Odds n' Ends

If you haven't checked out the latest online edition of Catch Magazine, then you've got to take a break today and give it a look.  The cover has an amazing shot of tarpon full out doing it's thing.  Also, Brian O'Keefe has a fabulous photo essay of, you guessed it, bonefishing in the Joulters which is located on Andros Island in the Bahamas.

You can always go to Catch Magazine in the links section of the Bonefish Flat.

And speaking of magazines, The Drake finally has a new issue out so be sure to head to your local fly shop or book store and pick up a copy.  My Drake ritual was to go to the Borders near my office and pick up a copy, but it recently closed down so I'll have to come up with a new way to get the magazine.  Maybe I'll just subscribe.

Finally, I'm starting to put together my summer trip for redfish.  I'm thinking of taking my kayak down to North or South Carolina and going after reds sometime probably in June.  If you have any suggestions on locations, tactics, or flies, shoot me an email at bonefishflat@gmail.com.  I'd love to hear from you.

Otherwise, I've been listening to the Itinerant Angler redfish podcast and checking out Capt. Seth Vernon's Web site here to get schooled on the finer points of catching a red.