Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Photos from FISH XXVI at Swains Cay on Andros Island

The annual FISH Trip (Forum for Indiana Subjects in Healthcare) just concluded last week. This year marked FISH XXVI and for this our 26th year of toting a fly rod around the globe, we ventured back into the salt. We chose Swain’s Cay Lodge which is located on beautiful Mangrove Cay between the legendary Middle and South Bights of Andros; the very heart of the Bahamas' best bonefish flats. There were 24 of us this year including many old friends and a few new faces that fit in exceptionally well. We all had a terrific time!!
Cheryl Bastian, Kristian and her crew at the lodged joined a terrific cadre of guides including: Shine, Randy, Elvis, John, Kiki, Marvin, Alvin, Leslie, DJ, Dencil, Ephriam, Douggie and Mark to deliver us an exceptional experience. Meals were great, accommodations comfortable and the service stellar.
While we had enough wind to last us well into the future, the fishing was still very good. We enjoyed both days with lots of sunshine and days with barely enough. Yet, despite these challenging conditions we had many opportunities not only while wading but also when being poled by these excellent guides. 
Here then are some photos from FISH XXVI: 
Thanks to all. It was a great trip!!

It was a short flight from Nassau to Mangrove Cay... just enough time to get the ball rolling!

We were made very welcome by the excellent crew at Swains Cay!

Beautiful spot on the beach.

The wrap around deck offers a great spot to enjoy a cocktail.

Brad Skillman rigs for a squall

And not a second too soon!

We enjoyed some good wading opportunities!

Devin Fox planning his strategy for the day

John and Devin Fox make landfall after a blustery day.


Matt Jenkins with a beautiful bone.
Brad Skillman...
with a big bone...
AND a nasty 'cuda!

Off he goes...
Some of the photos from trip participants:

Our fearless leader, Terry Heath, in his now legendary came pants

David Winter with not one, 

but two big bones!
...and a third he had trained to eat out of his hands!

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Typical Day Bonefishing at Water Cay, From October 2017

Roll out of bed at dawn. Before you do anything else, check the weather. Mumble if it's windy, count your blessings if it is clear and don't say one single word if it's clear and calm. Curse any person that says (usually in a perky tone) "It's a perfect day with no wind." 
Ahhhh... there it is. Now it is almost guaranteed, just short of 100%... the wind will pick up in the next 2-5 minutes and reach gale force by the time you've guzzled your first cup of coffee. But I digress, go grab a cup... it's ready by now.

Guide Greg Rolle savors his first cup.

As you sip your coffee, do your best to wake up while you sort gear, pick flies and try to remember that thing you were going to remember to do today. You know, that thing...
That thing... maybe it had something to do with my casting?

Scott Sawtelle and Dean Kalmbach shake off the cobwebs..

Grab your partner for the day, your gear, a camera, a few rods: one for bonefish, one for permit, maybe a third for 'cudas... and don't forget a few beers for the way home.

Then it's to the boats and you're soon heading out to see what they day will bring...

...maybe catch a beast like this one Mike Schwartz caught on Day One

...or maybe wade away from the boat to get a photo of that big fish you caught in the tidal race between two small cays. You floated your fly right into the bone's mouth. The fish never moved. He just ate your crab like a river trout eats a nymph. Then, after you land the fish, you decide to wade out to get a photo, get your feet stuck in the marl, lose your sandal, get laughed at by your partner and your guide Ezra. You never do get your photo because you were too worried you'd never see your sandals again.

Then catch a few more fish while always learning something new from the exceptional guides at Water Cay. 
Here is an example of a little tidbit picked up one day. Let's call it 
Lesson #152 - 
Flies That Hover

The WC guides do not like a fly to be too "bushy" when the tide is moving briskly either up or down. They want a fly that sinks fast and hugs the bottom. The guides think that many crab flies and heavily dressed shrimp flies, can be lifted by the tide rubbing against the bottom of the flat. As such, the fly hovers inches off the bottom thus acting unnaturally. Put another way, a "bushy" fly can hover (even if it is heavy) by the action of the tide against the bottom. So always check your fly to make sure it’s getting down fast enough (and stays down) given water depth AND tide velocity.  Lesson 152 was given by Ezra Thomas on Day 2.

Take-away from learning Lesson 152
Take-away #2
Take-away #3
Water Cay bones are big. The reward for learning these lessons is big fish often hooked in very shallow water. The fishing around water Cay is some of the coolest you will ever experience. It is rare day that you don't get a shot at a 7-12 lb. bone. What you do with these shots is up to you. Are you a good listener? 

Steve Peskoe listens very well!

As the sun travels across the sky, the day flies by. There are fish seen, fish missed and fish caught. It's all about your percentage. As you get better, your batting average goes up. I think the Water Cay guides have made a pac with the Water Cay fish to constantly push you to become a better angler. You'll walk away from Water Cay a better angler than when you arrived.

Soon it will be the middle of the afternoon and you haven't eaten lunch yet. You've been so engaged in the fishing you haven't felt a bit hungry. But you better eat soon or you'll spoil your appetite for dinner.

As the sun gets lower in the sky, you head home for cocktails, a spectacular sunset and a filling home cooked Bahamian meal of lobster, or conch or baked chicken or snapper.

By the time you finish dinner, it's dark and you're feeling the day's efforts. Maybe you have the energy for a game on TV or the inclination to tie a fly or smoke a cigar. But, soon it's off to bed for a few pages of a good book before sleep and the prospect of getting up tomorrow to do it all again.

Next rain delay!