Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Wendtland Boys Go Fishing

Long tine tarpon devote, Tony Wendtland, is preparing to take his younger son, Taylor, to Tarpon Cay on the Yucatan this weekend. Tony is my neighbor and we both have sons that love to fish so I really could appreciate it when Tony told me,
"Taylor is pretty excited to catch his first tarpon on a fly rod.  He has been practicing his double-haul at the Flying H polo fields."
Taylor was 15 in March so this trip is a belated birthday present!


Tony took his other son Kit to Isla Holbox in 2008 where he caught a big jack crevalle. When Kit asked the guide before his hookup what jacks were like, the guide told him, 
"They are like really big crappies on crack". 
Hard to argue with that!


Upon their return, we'll be looking forward to some pics of Taylor's first tarpon. Thanks for the photos Tony and GOOD LUCK guys!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bonefish Lessons from Water Cay: Part Four... Fish

The hints, observations and lessons from the April trip to Water Cay Lodge trip conclude with some hints on fish behavior:


Fish Behavior 
-Big bones are the last off the flats when the flats cool off following a cold front and the first back onto the flats when they warm up.
-Cool water caused by rain, wind, a cold front make the bones shy and they then act strangely at times. When the sun came back, they settled down a bit, but were still shy. 
-Bones on dark flats are still easy to see (as long as the light cooperates) because they adapt and become even darker than the bottom.  
-Barracuda hold still, suspended in the water column; bones are generally lower in the column and moving.  
-Bigger fish seem to like deeper water on windward shorelines and some wave action farther from shore than smaller fish. Due to cover? food? 
-Regarding the leaf sipping behavior of bones, seeking crabs hitchhiking on mangrove leaves on falling tides, I also heard a group of bones sipping at the edge of the channel where no leaves were present. I heard them do it 2-3 times in the span of a minute. The feeding sound was a combination of a pop and a slurp, like the sound a sea trout or snook makes while surface feeding. These fish were obviously feeding. I caught a 7 lber out of the group, who pounced on the fly as soon as it hit the water.  
-Fish travel is predictable. Bones will follow contours and structure when moving and avoid showing themselves if possible. Cast ahead of their most likely path and let them swim up to the fly until it is in their cone of vision.  
-There is feeding behavior and non-feeding behavior. I don't remember the difference, but seeing a fish dip or mud is definitely a sign of feeding behavior. 
-Do tailing fish move into the wind or into the tide?
-Bonefish make circular holes or "puffs" by blowing water into the sand to excavate prey species. Turtles make deep coffin-shaped holes in the flats, especially in creek bottoms where tidal flow is frequent and concentrated. Don't know why - it must have to do with food though. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bonefish Lessons from Water Cay: Part Three... Presentation

The hints, observations and lessons from the April trip Water Cay Lodge trip continue, this time with hints on presentation:


Tosh Brown photo

Tosh Brown photo

 Presentation 
-If you cast to a fish and it either ignores the fly or moves away from it, look around before moving or recasting the fly. The target fish may circle around and try to locate the fly, or another fish, often unseen, may move on the fly. 
-If you blow the cast or the fish doesn't act like he sees the fly, be patient, let him swim past it then try again when you are in position for an effective cast. That might not happen, but it was your own fault in the first place and patience is your best shot at redemption. 
-Fish travel is predictable. Bones will follow contours and structure when moving and avoid showing themselves if possible. Cast ahead of their most likely path and let them swim up to the fly until it is in their cone of vision.  
-Only let the fly touch the water once, then be patient. Fish often react to the sound and will reverse course if they aren't spooked. 
-When chasing tailing fish, never try a cast too long for comfort. The stalker can only control distance and the amount of patience he is willing to devote to the hunt. 
-The shallower the water, the closer the fish has to get to see the fly because the fish is lower in the water column and therefore has a smaller "cone of vision". The deeper the water, the better the fish can scan the bottom and the larger the "cone". That being said, casting close to a tailing fish is a risk.  Anticipate and cast ahead of the fish and let it swim up to it. 
-When chasing tailers, stay together; if one fish spooks, it can blow the whole flat.  
-When fishing to tailers in shallow water, don't strip the fly, just impart slight movement to make it look alive and attract attention, less than an inch, otherwise the fly will either hang up or spook the fish. In deeper water a short strip alternated with a pause and longer strip seemed to be the guides' formula. 
-Use short, slow strips in shallow water or when the fish are generally wary. Short strips are used to get the fishes’ attention when he’s looking for food.  
-Use longer, quicker strips in deeper water. The fish are less wary there and the water column is deep, so this strip gets noticed more readily.  
-Use long, gradual strips when the fish have noticed your fly and are actively pursuing it. Long, slow strips are used to mimic fleeing prey and to strip-set the hook.  
-Once the fish notices the fly, stop stripping until the fish tips up on the fly, then do long, slow strips. 
-A long strip on the hook set is essential and more important on larger fish (tougher mouths?). Never -ever lift the rod tip on a set. 
-If the fly hangs up on the bottom while a fish is pursuing it, don’t try to pull it free. The fish may think the prey is trying to hide and might vacuum the fly off the bottom. Try to free the fly only if the fish moves off. 
-If the fly hangs upon a mangrove stem under water, use the same procedure as above, with the addition of pulling on the line to wiggle the mangrove shoot slightly. That will often get the fish’s attention if the fly is low enough to be in the fish’s cone of vision. It may notice the fly and then try to vacuum it off the mangrove. Bones will eat a fly hung on a mangrove. Shaking the shoot attracts the fishes attention. 
-When fish run into the mangroves, release all drag and they will run back out. That solves part of the problem. 
-When stripping while facing into a wind, keep the rod tip in the water at all times. If you raise the tip, the wind will catch the line and blow it toward you, pulling the fly away from the fish.  
-Once the fish is hooked up, raise the rod tip high to give as much line clearance as possible to prevent fouling on the bottom, snap the rod butt into your forearm to prevent the line from looping around the rod butt or the reel, and form a ring around the escaping line with the thumb and index finger of the line hand while extending the line hand straight out to the side in order to keep the loose line as far as possible from the rod, reel and your body. As the fish comes onto the reel, allow the line hand to follow the line to the reel, at which point you can start to fight the fish off the reel. 
-Bonefish know how to rub out a fly by going sideways on the rough bottom, maybe a reaction learned from eating spiny prey. To reduce the chances of getting scrubbed off, keep the rod tip high when playing a fish. This is most important in shallow water and over hard bottoms.

Tosh Brown photo

Bonefish Lessons from Water Cay: Part Two... Casting


The hints, observations and lessons from the April Water Cay Lodge trip continue, this time with hints on casting:




Casting
(This part caused us all the most problems, especially in the stiff winds of 2012. In the parlance of ecology, this would be called a limiting factor, and so is the one single area we all need to improve the most in.) 
-To do well here (or anywhere on the flats), you must have an accurate 40 foot cast into the wind, which is achieved with a tight loop and technical perfection, not strength and more power. 
-Use a double haul on everything that doesn’t require a roll cast. 
-Practice your double haul techniques until they are absolutely reflexive. Good hauls do you no good if they only happen in the park or off the dock, but are not executed when the bones are in front of you or the wind rises. 
-The keys to a good double haul are short, quick hauls with the line hand and crisp snaps and clean stops with rod hand. Timing is essential and requires practice. 
-The hardest part of a double haul is the delivery. Form can be good on the false casts and fall apart on the delivery cast. 
-Cast in your normal upright position. The “wary fish crouch” adversely effects your casting performance. 
-Your total casting motion should be fluid and the amount of energy required should be determined by the distance of the cast and the prevailing wind conditions.  
-Cast like a girl. This means consistent 30-45 foot casts that are accurate and land quietly trump long, splashy, inaccurate casts over time. 
-Casts into the wind require more energy on the forecast and casts with the wind behind you require more energy on the backcast.  
-If the boat rocks while you are casting, there’s something amiss in your casting technique. This rocking body motion in a cast will spook fish, especially from the bow of a boat. 
-Hold fly in line hand by hook bend w/point up and hold the line coming out of the reel with the same hand. Have one rod-length of line beyond the rod tip. Start your cast with a backcast. That will pull the fly from your fingers and start to load the rod. Your line hand will already have the line in it close to the reel for the first haul.  
-Try to use a maximum of 2 false casts before delivery. With an increased number of false casts you increase the risks of the cast going to hell and of spooking fish. 
-Cast with enough line speed to deliver the fly effectively w/o “slapping” the fly down. An effective, soft delivery is best. 
-When casting into the wind, be sure your tip is low on the delivery. If it’s up too much, the wind will steal some of the energy from the line and your cast will pile up. 
-Cast at fish (1-2’ feet in front of them) unless their behavior dictates otherwise.  
-Bones react to the shadow (or the flash) of fly lines in the air even when the cast is otherwise perfect; plan false casts ahead of time. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bonefish Lessons from Water Cay: Introduction and Part One

THE FOLLOWING TRIP REPORT, SUBMITTED BY CHUCK ASH AND FRIENDS, IS A MUST READ FOR ANY SERIOUS BONEFISHERMAN! 
     Let's be clear, if fishing is your top priority and you believe that the only fisherman you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be, then the info below is your bell ringing. If you are a sponge for technical fly fishing info, there is little doubt that the guides at Water Cay Lodge are some of the most knowledgeable in the Bahamas and as such, the following info should be carefully noted. Also please note, you don't have to be fishing this area to benefit from this advice. Much of this info will work anywhere in the world that silver tails prowl and angler's hearts beat just a little bit faster for it.
So here you go... read it, digest it, use it!

Guide Ezra Thomas


Guide Sidney Thomas
Guide Greg Rolle
The Cast of Characters:
I first met Chuck Ash in 1979 and now am lucky enough to count him among my best friends. Chuck is an exemplary Alaskan fly fishing/wilderness guide having kayaked, rafted or waded most of the rivers and streams of any significance in Alaska. I have worked for Chuck as a guide for decades having floated and fished many of these rivers. I have learned much from him and like to think the feeling is mutual! I know his company, Brightwater Alaska, offers some of the best raft fishing trips in the world and those that fish with Chuck leave better anglers and people. Chuck is also an accomplished saltwater angler having fished all over the world usually hosting his own trips or hosting trips for us at Angling Destinations, Inc.


Hans Thallmayer with Greg Rolle

Alan Longfellow with Ezra Thomas
In late April, Chuck returned once again, to Water Cay Lodge on Grand Bahama Island with some of his best friends. What follows is the summary of the lessons learned from that trip. I have known some of the guys on this trip for many, many years and knowing their experience, urge you to pay attention to the words written below. The superb guides at Water Cay Lodge, along with the experienced individual in this group, generously contributed to this blog entry. These hints, observations and lessons mostly come from John Higgins and Chuck Ash, but also anecdotally from the rest of the guys, namely Eric Berger, Hans Thallmayer, Alan Longfellow and Scott Tanner. These thoughts were compiled during their “after-action’ sessions on the lodge porch each evening over sundowners. I wish I had been there!
Let's start with a short anecdote and trip report:


Water Cay, Grand Bahama Island 
April 27-May 4, 2012 
Journal entry from Thursday, 3 May 2012: 

Yesterday evening as we sat on the porch of the lodge rehashing the day, John had told us that he, Eric and Ezra had been fishing along the mangrove edge of the keys north of the lodge in the morning. The tide had just turned from an exceptional high and was starting to fall. As Ezra poled along John heard a sound, one that reminded him of the slurping “pop” that a surface feeding sea trout or small snook makes. Ezra had noticed it, too, and told John that it was bonefish feeding on the surface. He said that the bonefish will nose the leaves that the falling tide flushes out of the mangroves looking for crabs riding along on the leaves. Ezra doubled back to try to find the bonefish making the sound, but was never able to locate them. 

We all paid close attention as John related this tale because it was way beyond ‘Bonefish 101’ and outside of the collective experience of our group. This is the stuff that these guides know and teach and that you never read about in Brown or Kaufmann. 

Hans and I fished with Gregory today. Shortly after lunch, with the tide about an hour above dead low, we unassed the boat to wade along either side of a tidal creek that cut through a flat. Hans and Gregory were on the east side of the creek channel and I was on the west. Ten minutes later I released a nice fish, 8 lbs or so, whose daily routine I had interrupted as it was coming off of the flat toward the deeper water of the creek. 

As I continued south along the creek edge I heard another fish beating through the skinny water behind me. I turned and located it, and immediately saw that I would have no shot. It was too far off, moving too fast and was nearly to the creek. As I stood there scanning the flat, hoping that this fish had not been alone, I heard another sound behind me to the south, along my original direction of travel. This sound was a slurping “pop”. Had it not been for John relating what Ezra had taught him, I would have dismissed this sound,…but now it had significance. 
(Ed. note: For collaboration, see the following trip report from Angling Destinations website Water Cay Trip Report 2009 )

I turned and looked in the direction of what I’d heard. Forty yards out and just on the deep side of the channel’s edge I could see flashes of silver and a slight disturbance on the surface. I moved slowly and quietly into position and at about 15 yards I could both hear and see the fish, a group of a half dozen or so decent-sized bonefish feeding on the surface in two feet of water. 

I put my first cast just on the shallow side of the group and the fly was immediately pounced on. No waiting for it to drop and no finicky take. Bam! and I was hooked up. 

The fish made an initial long run, starting out of the channel and onto the flat several times, but thinking better of it every time. The security it felt in the deeper water worked to my advantage because the tide was at dead low and the flat around me was hard-bottomed and partially exposed. Had that fish made a determined run across the flat it surely would have cut me off or scrubbed the fly out, but that wasn’t to be. After two runs into my backing and several more shorter runs up and down the creek channel, I had the fish at hand. It was broad-backed and maybe 6-7 pounds. 

I took a couple of quick snapshots, doing the best I could to manage the camera and rod while trying to maneuver the fish into position at my feet. Once I had a couple of photos for my journal, I backed fly out of the fish’s mouth. I gave a nod of thanks as it swam away, not only to the fish but also to John and Ezra for yesterday’s knowledge that made this fish possible today.” 

The weather on this trip was atypical and it used us pretty hard. The first two days were totally overcast with light rain and winds from the east 20-25 mph. On days three and four the rain quit, but the dense cloud cover persisted and the wind jumped an octave. It was bad enough on the morning of day three that we stayed off the water; high tide with a 30 mph wind scuff and low gray light. On day five the cloud cover opened up enough to give us mostly sunny conditions, but the wind stayed around 30 mph. The last day was our best. An early afternoon low tide, sunny skies and east winds at 10-15 mph. After the previous 5 days, this seemed like paradise! 

A week’s worth of weather like this defintely has an impact on the trip, but the direction that impact takes is a measure of the folks on the trip. You can bitch and rail at circumstance, you can curse your luck and feel sorry for yourself, or you can look on it as an opportunity, which is the direction we took. 

Every day we took our heavy-weather rods and stepped forth into the wind with anticipation. The challenges became opportunities, and with volumes of help and instruction from guides Sydney, Ezra and Gregory, who are as good at teaching as they are at guiding, we learned a tremendous amount and caught fish every day. here is what we learned:

BONEFISH LESSONS FROM WATER CAY

General 
-Don’t wear your wading boots on the casting deck. They are too noisy. 
-Stand well forward on the casting deck. It reduces rocking of the boat because the deck shape forces you more to the centerline and narrows your stance. 
-Don't room with Hans after he eats Bahamian "minced fish". 

Lines and Leaders 
-Shark Skin lines are too noisy, which guides feel transmits to the fish. Leave them home.  
-Clear Tip lines make it difficult for the guides (and you) to judge the proximity of line & leader to the fish, and as a result, difficult to know when & how to strip the fly. If the fish are spooky and you need more stealth, lengthen your leader (see below). 
-16 lb tippet is the best choice for general use, especially around mangroves and over hard bottom; more abrasion-resistant, so fewer fish lost. Fish are not leader shy. 
-14-12 lb tippet: Reserve for possible use under clear, low wind conditions if fish are spooky; there is no advantage otherwise.
-Leader length: Use 10-12’ with low-to-medium winds. Add butt section to leader to lengthen it. Use 9’ under windy conditions. It’s easier to turn over.
-The Longfellow Rule: check all your connections, especially fly line to backing. 



Flies 
-Use lead-eyed flies, especially at the upper range of the tide. Only switch to bead eyes if the fish are jumpy at the splash of lead-eyed flies. 
-Must have patterns for Water Cay: reverse Gotchas w/ both bunny and craft fur wings, standard pink mini-puffs, bunny puffs w/ barred tan/brown rabbit strip, Borski’s fur shrimp (or Borski’s bonefish slider), light tan mantis shrimp. 
-Flies that worked: pink + tan, tangerine + tan, pink or tangerine with barred tan, reverse Gotcha with tan wing, reverse gotcha with bunny tail as well as bunny wing, plain or barred all seemed to be consistently attractive to fish. Guides will tell you that the fly doesn't matter - anything will work as long as it gets in front of the fish's cone of vision and doesn't move unnaturally (too fast, long strips, etc see addendum in this trip report Trip Report Water Cay ). White, barred-tail slider however was resoundingly rejected twice. Noise of entry matters. 
-I have quit fishing with crab and goby/blenny patterns. The bones like them fine, but I have too many deep-hooked fish with these type of flies. I do just as well with the above patterns and rarely injure a fish. 
-Use special flies to tailing fish because of shallow conditions. Light landing, but with a big body form that rides point up and slides over rough bottom. (I don't have that exact fly... yet.) 


TO BE CONTINUED... 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Springtime in Wyoming




Last Thursday, May 10, 2012, it was 75 degrees at noon. It was the perfect May day. Scott Sawtelle was flying into Sheridan today for a couple days of fishing. I was excited to take some time off work and replace it with rising trout and warm spring days. 

By the time I left for the airport at 1:00 PM to pick up Scott, the blue skies and wispy clouds were being quickly erased by a dirty horizon. A hard wind pushed at the newly leafed-out trees and flattened the winter bleached grasses that towered over the new growth. By the time Scott arrived, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees and an hour later it was 43 degrees. We got to the river a bit before 4:00 and stepped out into a melee. Scott and I huddled behind my car to rig rods as 40 mph winds forced us first to choose fleece, then opt for fingerless gloves and finally pull on winter hats. I thought it might snow soon as there seemed no end to this fast moving cold front.


I had to will my fingers to tie on the big stonefly dry that I wanted to use in hopper/dropper system. Without rigging up completely, we bailed off the river bank and dropped into the willows hoping that this might help cut the wind. It worked a bit although we still struggled mightily to control our fingers as we tried to tie on bead-head droppers. It seemed absurd to try to fish in these conditions. This was November weather, not May.





Unbelievably, as we kneeled under the willows, we noticed a few baetis popping up. Even more amazing, trout were rising in the small micro-slicks that remained after the scouring the runs were taking by the wind. The fishing proved to be outstanding although extremely difficult with numb fingers and slow-as-molasses reaction-times. Turning over leaders was tough in the wind and without being able to consistently separate flies from fly lines we put down some big trout... but the results were worth the effort. Gale force winds, sub-zero wind chills and shivering bodies somehow translated to enough twenty inch brown trout to make us willing to endure a bit more... ahhhh springtime in Wyoming.

We planned to fish the Bighorn the following day! Obviously optimism reigns supreme with me and Scott!



Domestic Tranquility Index


Here is an e-mail exchange from a few days ago that I thought was funny. It occurred between our office manager Kate, and a client (who shall go nameless for obvious reasons). 
As any devout angler knows, it is very important to keep things peaceful on the home front or it becomes much more difficult to negotiate your next fishing trip. We all intuitively know this, but is is very clearly termed in this e-mail exchange below. 
Anyone who cares to wade in with advice, additions or suggestions, have at it. Seems like a topic most diehard anglers have some experience with and if not, they should!. Again, the names have been changed to protect the guilty!

e-mail #1:
Hi Kate,
Well it appears we have entered and engaged in the pre-trip “antsy” stage of our bonefishing trip. Lots to do and think about, tackle fondling ...nothing that is important. Although, to that end, if you could send the emergency and other relevant trip phone contact information (Bahamas) to each of the participants... we think our Domestic Tranquility Index (DTI) will rise.
Thanks,
Bob

Kate responds:
Hi Bob,
Scott wanted me to ask if you have ever succumbed to the purchase of jewelry on trips to increase the DTI?
Kate

Bob responds:
Kate,
As Scott no doubt knows, DTI management is an art and not a science. It can be confusing as often you think the index is above 100 only to find out to your amazement it is in the 70’s. One of the major reasons we choose to vacation in remote places is exactly because there are no jewelry stores. Consequently straw woven native made placemats and monkey heads on a stick still seem to work (bit of a customs problem with the later)... but how many is enough??
Bob

Kate's answer:
Hi Bob 
Scott and I are laughing so hard! Scott says, "Amen - it's so true." He mentioned a beaded necklace from the Amazon! He'd like to post this exchange on his blog, if you don't mind. We can use your name, or make it anonymous, whichever is less likely to have a negative effect on the DTI.
Kate

And Bob immediately set us straight:
Duh...I choose anonymous!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Water Cay Moment

Thanks to Derry Ryan for sending this photo from his October 2011 trip with his fellow Irishmen to Water Cay Lodge on Grand Bahama Island. 



After this barracuda ate the tail off their bonefish and they decided to even the score! They caught the 'cuda with a green tube lure. As Derry said, "Dog eat Dog". I think this photo tells a great story and I love the smile on the angler's face!





Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Big Browns Last Sunday and Doug Jeffries' Question



    My good bud Doug Jeffries knew I was going fishing last Sunday and on Monday asked me how I did. I fished with Ed Huson who had just returned from the Sea Hunter liveaboard Sea Hunter Nov. 2011 in the Bahamas. They had had a great, if a bit windy, trip. But that's another story.
I've known Ed for years and have always enjoyed his company. We took a very relaxed approach to the day and goofed around a fair bit trying new patterns and techniques. We fished a new stretch of water for me near Buffalo, Wyoming (its name shall remain nameless). 
So back to Doug, he asked me on Monday how we did and I told him I had caught 10-15 fish with three browns being over 20". It was a great day. Doug asked me if we had used dry flies.
   Here was my answer to him:

Hi Doug,
I used a #2 sofa pillow with a prince nymph dropper. I had seen some stoneflies emerging recently and thought a big stonefly dry might work and also could act to attract attention to my nymph.
I dead drifted the dry/nymph dropper rig on a fairly tight line (we always called it high sticking, but with the rig we use and how we drag the nymph through runs on a very short line, now most people refer to it as the Czech technique) then skated the sofa pillow back up stream a bit. Most of my hits were on the nymph, but I caught two 20+" fish waking the big sofa pillow. It was like steelhead fishing a waking bomber! Maybe they thought it was a mouse... maybe a fluttering stonefly? Who cares! It worked.
I love big browns... I think I have an addiction problem.




Friday, May 4, 2012

Jon Toft: Crooked Island Trip Report



     I just received this great trip report on Crooked Island in the Bahamas. I received this report from my friend Jon Toft. Jon went to Crooked with his wife Tracey last year and they were eager to get back to this beautiful island (which is a perfect spot for adventuresome couples) again this spring. They had another great trip this year as you can read in his report. Thanks for filing the report Jon!
     I first met Jon at the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge while peacock bass fishing. Jon was then the European manager for the Agua Boa Amazon Lodge and performed that job for 3 ½ yearsJon lives in Switzerland and operates Have a Go Fly Fishing a guiding service for those who wish to enjoy the beautiful rivers, streams, and lakes of Switzerland. 
     Jon originates from the English county of Nottinghamshire where he grew up fishing the local River Trent. On leaving school in 1982, Jon moved some 150 miles south west to the picturesque area of Ross-on-Wye where he worked as a gamekeeper for several years. It was during this time he was introduced to fly fishing by both his gamekeeping colleagues and the local gillie on the famous river Wye. After moving to Switzerland in 2001, Jon began to explore the fly fishing possibilities and found some fantastic fishing in his backyard! 
     So if you ever find yourself in Europe and want to  spend some time fishing with a great guide in one of the most beautiful spots on earth, get in touch with my friend Jon! He is a great guy and is a lot of fun to fish with. He is located about 30km (25 minutes) south of Zurich and 15 km (20 minutes) from Zug.
Jon's website is: Have a Go Fly Fishing









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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tails



     Many mistresses tempt an angler's passion. Some are tantalized by the bright chrome steelhead that skulk in the mysterious coastal rain forests of BC. For others it may be the big 'bows that lurk in the slate blue waters of Alaska or the big browns that live near the rodeo towns in Montana and Wyoming. 
    In the salt, many anglers are seduced by the lure of airborne tarpon suspended over the dark green waters of the Yucatan. Others hear the siren's call of permit that haunt the turtle grass flats of Belize. Here, they obsessively follow elegant black tails as they cut through the cloying humidity of an incandescent tropical summer. Passions turn to obsessions, obsessions turn into life quests. They tell their wives at least it's better than alcohol or other women. Their wives remain unconvinced.




     But for some anglers, a year is not a year without going bonefishing. For them, it is not only the sleek chrome beauty that brings them back year after year, but the spectacular places that these fish inhabit. They savor each new destination like a fine wine, yet return to familiar tropical haunts as often as time and money allows. They are torn then... not only by other species, but also by the myriad of wonderful destinations available within the sport. From the Bahamas to Christmas Island and from the Seychelles to the Yucatan, they seek a slippery rocket with a serious overbite.



     For these bonefishermen, this hardcore group who have learned the ropes, invested too much in gear and spent way too many hours eating, sleeping and thinking bonefish, there is bonefishing, then there is BONEFISHING. While they will settle for cruising fish in knee-deep water or school fish holed up in a gorgeous turquoise pocket at high tide, what they learn to seek is tails... then BIG TAILS!... then BIG TAILS IN SKINNY WATER! 
     Their game is to stalk bonefish when they are the most alert, the most nervous and the most visible. This is when sight fishing takes on an added meaning. These diehards will wade for hour after hour staring into the hard glint of a hot high sun to get the shot. They'll endure long boat rides, sunscreen dripping into bloodshot eyes and fishless days all for the chance at a big, glassine tail slinking seductively upwind seemingly determined to beach itself. When it happens, the glittering fin is quickly transformed into a rooster tail that pulses magically towards deeper water. Long, still waits become explosive moments that carry all the strength and ancient power of the sea straight down the line directly to the heart of the angler.
   Tails... big tails... big tails in skinny water... there simply is no substitute. Because of this, family holidays have been missed, girlfriends have walked out the door, budgets have been destroyed and businesses have been ignored. You either understand this or you do not.