Monday, December 12, 2011

Scott's Bonefishing Advice: # 2 in the Series

Bonefish are creatures of the shallows. They live as if they belong to the tides. They charge and retreat over shimmering sheets of bright sand and lush blankets of turtle grass. They are sleek and slender, shy and suspicious. They reflect perfectly the pastel waters and the sparkling bottoms which is their home. With their silver sides reflecting all, they have the ability to seemingly change color.

Fishing for these elusive creatures combines the best of hunting and fishing. You must have the visual concentration and patience to find the fish and a hunter's stalking ability to get within casting range. Your cast must then deliver the fly quietly and precisely. You must entice the fish, with a proper retrieve, to accept and eat your fly. You must develop a feel for the hookset. You must fight the fish properly to bring it to hand. In bonefishing, rarely is blind luck rewarded. Usually, the fisherman with the most skills catches the most fish.
Instead of offering hints in the order in which they must be successfully executed (i.e stalking, casting, presentation, hookset etc), I think I'll offer suggestions to help with what I feel are the most often made mistake even by experienced bonefishermen.

And by far, the most common mistake made by anglers is to cast too early and/or too far. I believe anglers cast too early partially because they believe that if they initially aren’t succesful with a long cast, they will get another chance with a shorter cast. In reality, this rarely happens. If you try to make a cast longer than your skills or the conditions (primarily wind) allow and your fly does not get to the right spot, it will take too long to cast again. By the time you are ready to cast again, the bonefish will have moved on or will have become aware of your presence. 
It is essential then to remember that:
While this is  true in any type of fishing whether it be trout, tarpon, permit... it is essential to get a handle on this concept for bonefish. It is so important that I'll even take it a step further. 
no second shots, no other chances. If you only had one cast, when then would you cast?

Chance are it would be a much shorter cast than most anglers make. If you only had one cast you might wait for that perfect moment. You might wait for that moment when you know you can make the cast, when you know the fish will see your fly and when you know you'll be able to see where the fly lands and/or know where it is.  

I've also noticed one other phenomena associated with the cast and that is the creeping step. Often angles will take a step or two forward as (or immediately after) the fly hits the water. I think anglers do this because they want to be closer to the action. Perhaps to see better see what is happening. Many anglers are totally unaware that they take this step. 
But this habit does two things: First, it often creates unnecessary noise from coral crunching, sand grinding or water splashing and secondly, it reduces an anglers contact with the fly and makes it more difficult to make a proper retrieve... more on the retreive next time. 

So in summary, your first shot is your best shot. Make it count! When casting, imagine you only have one cast you can make to any given fish. And never move, especially forward, after the fly is delivered.

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