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, February 7, 2012

Stalking the Flats with Brian O'Keefe: Part 2

If you missed part 1, click here. 

O’Keefe on Bonefishing

Inspired by O’Keefe’s bonefish podcast, it was only fitting we talked extensively about flats fishing.  One thing I admired was how he keeps simplicity at the fore- front. As I prepare for an upcoming bonefishing trip, I was curious how Brian gets ready for his trips.  I asked about some of his favorite and essential gear.

Because Brian has extensive camera gear and some computer equipment, he has to pack smart on the fishing gear.  He throws in a few extra hats and a good lightweight but tough waterproof jacket and some spare battery packs.

Check out this double.

With regard to hooks, he likes “a sharp one.”  When asked his favorite rod and reel combo, he doesn’t really have one other than a fast action rod.  He has never bought a very high-end reel, either.  He does place a high value on his fly line and a finger protector.

Brian said he does tend to go overboard on bringing flies and once showed a box of 50 permit flies to his guide. He offered up some good tips, though, like trying the Avalon fly which he has used to good success.  He also enjoys receiving a new fly now and again from a friend to try out on one of his adventures.  Another tip is to tie up a few blind bonefish flies for the bones that get their backs up, literally, out of the water.  “A fish in this type of water is almost impossible to catch without spooking, so you need a fly that lands without any plop.”

“So if you could pick one spot to fish, and had to pay for it yourself, where would you go,” I asked.  “The Seychelles is one place that is on the bucket list, but living in Oregon it literally is the furthest place away from home.”  He cited a huge variety of fish species, as well as a shot at monster bonefish.  Cuba is another destination high on the list because of big bonefish and tarpon living on relatively untouched flats.  He noted that Castro actually set up the Jardines de la Reina and only a limited number of rods are allowed to fish at a time.  This means a lot of big, dumb fish in a beautifully protected environment which he saw first hand as he had a chance to dive some of the reefs. 

For someone like me who writes a saltwater fly fishing blog, I couldn’t resist asking Brian his advice on how to break into the outdoor writing and photography business.  He said traditional media is not that easy.  With photography, it is really hard these days because there are so many people in it and a lot of seasoned professionals out there that publications rely on.  He recommended, as I’ve heard before, combining writing and photography because it’s easier for an editor to go to one place to get what they need for a story. 

With regard to writing, “just keep doing it.  Write as much as you can.  Try your local fly fishing newsletter.” He said a lot of guys get started doing regional or local fishing coverage.  He thought outlets like blogs are a great way to get into the business because they let you practice and really work on the craft. 

To wrap up, we talked about a memorable fish.  Brain told the story of fishing in the Berry Islands with a guy who was really impatient and would get on the bow and just cast over and over again.   “A real Type A busy body.  Then, he wanted to try my rod.”  Reluctantly, Brian agreed and the guy started casting wildly. 

Later, it was O’Keefe’s turn on the bow and he hooked a monster bone that he thought was at least 31 inches.  The fish would eventually break him off.  After examining his leader, he noticed a series of wind knots that his “fishing buddy” had put in the leader. 

O’Keefe also said one of his biggest bonefish was caught on Long Island, Bahamas.  He was wading and wading a big area in the north of the island near a big blue hole when several big bonefish came along.  His fly led the fish by 15 feet but the school just spooked.  He then got the idea to set up a type of bonefish stakeout by returning the next day and semi-burying the fly in the sand.  Sure enough, the same school came back, he gave the fly a twitch, and landed an 11-pound bonefish in a method that sounds to me like setting a bonefish landmine. 

Having caught probably hundreds of species on the fly, I asked what his favorite fish to catch on fly is.  “I have a deep respect for big bonefish,” he said.  “Not to ignore casting to the smaller fish, like some people, but it is neat to pursue the big ones.”  But true to form, as Brian and I kept talking he added, “But you know, mutton snapper are a really cool fish, and seeing tailing mutton snappers are pretty cool too.  And you know, big barracuda.  Really big barracuda, put up a spectacular fight with lot’s of aerial action too.” 

Brian is the real deal and a truly great ambassador to our sport.  I hope I get the chance to share a boat with him one day.  Quite simply, the guy just loves to fish and it shows.  

No comments:

Post a Comment