Archive for October, 2013

Religious Experience vs Purpose in Life

October 23, 2013

Religious Experience vs Purpose in Life

by Chip Bates

In his fascinating article in the November/December issue of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters entitled, “Thinking Outside the Boat”, Editor John Frazier refers to his wading experiences at Grey’s Point Bonefish Bonefish Inn, Acklins Island, Bahamas, as a “religious experience”.

I’m an extremist member of that congregation.

I’m celebrating a half century of fly fishing this year. I’ve seen my passion for the sport get more and more focused over the years. In the 70’s, I caught my first bonefish on a fly in the Bahamas. In the 80’s, I added tarpon and permit (Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, Los Roques and Florida Keys). In the early 90’s, I chalked up my first double digit bone (Andros). In the late 90’s, I gravitated toward wading, mostly to enable my partner and me to fish at the same time, one in the boat, one on foot. That was also the decade I fished the Seychelles for the first time. Wow!

All-day-walking miles of gorgeous flats, searching for underwater movement of any kind, keeping sharks at bay when bones were in sight, mixing it up with milkfish, trevally and permit. It was way too much fun to call exercise.

By the year 2000, I had blinders on. I’d become a wading junkie, transfixed by catching big bonefish on foot in water so shallow, the fish couldn’t hide it’s own body parts!

Bonefish-tailing-on-the-Flats

Knowing where to find them, what tide, time of day, how to approach and catch these hyper sensitive, actively feeding fish, became my “purpose in life”!

Being in the right place at the right time, then having it confirmed by the sudden appearance of an enormous tail, creates an explosion of urgency, nervousness, opportunity and energy …. An adrenalin rush beyond compare. You get pretty good at judging the size of the fish by the thickness and width of the fork in his tail. Think jaws of life, not pruning shears!

Chip’s progression:
Sightfishing
Fishing for bonefish
Fly fishing for bonefish
Fly fishing for big bonefish
Fly fishing for big tailing bonefish
Fly fishing for big tailing bonefish while wading!
 
That's a big tail!

That’s a big tail!

Back to Fly Fishing in Salt Waters Editor, John Frazier.  John fished 3 days at one of the premier wading destinations in the Bahamas, Grey’s Point Bonefish Inn on Acklins Island, with Angler Adventure’s fishing “pro”, Doug Schlink. Three days was hardly enough, but John adapted quickly, caught lots of fish to 6 pounds and got a shot at a 10 + pound fish in 6 inches of water! I’ll give John a few years to ratchet up “religious experience” to “purpose in life”.  For a great read, by a talented writer, fisherman and photographer, check out this link to the:

  “Ultimate Wade Fishing Special” in the November/December 2013 issue.

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Preparing for Your Bonefishing Trip: Wading

October 14, 2013

Protect Your Feet with a good pair of wading shoes or boots designed for flats fishing, a few pairs of wet wading socks, and don’t forget to break in your shoes.  Wading shoes and socks will help to keep sand out and reduce blister forming friction, as well as giving support for a day of wading.  But, if the first time you put on your wading shoes in the Bahamas, it’ll be a long week.  Break in your shoes by wearing them around the house for an hour or two a couple times per week.  It’s much better than blisters or sore arches.  Do Not wear last years sneakers with cotton socks or open sandals – your feet will thank you.

 Click here for more information on wading shoes

Find a Comfortable lumbar pack or chest/sling pack.  Bigger is not always better.  The pack should have the essentials (flies, leader and tippet material, nippers, hook file, pliers / hemostats, light rain jacket, camera, water bottle, and maybe your lunch / snack) but not packed full so it disturbs your casting.

Wading is Exercise and it can be a lot of work, especially at a destination like Grey’s Point Inn, South Caicos or the Seychelles where there are extensive flats and you might wade all day.  Some flats are firm and easy to wade, while others can be slightly soft or have uneven bottoms, which make walking more difficult.  To be sure you’re physically prepared for long wading sessions, schedule long walks or hikes months before your trip.  It’s also a great way to find some more remote areas on your local waters, so don’t forget your rod and a box flies!

A Little Practice Casting can make the difference between getting your fly to that 9-pound bonefish, or watching it leave a rooster tail as it runs for deeper water.  The majority of shots at bonefish while wading happen between 40’ – 60’, so accuracy and versatility are more important than speed and distance (but the later can also be helpful).  The best practice casting is to targets in that 40’ – 60’ range, from different angles (click here to see a diagram of the casting clock).  Be sure that you’re not just casting with the wind at your back – knowing how to handle wind blowing in your face or from your right / left will make getting your fly in the right place much easier.  Don’t forget to practice your casting while wearing your pack!

Want more tips on flats fishing; check our “What to Bring” list by clicking here.

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Go Small. Go Light. Go Weedless.

October 11, 2013

Bonefish on Grass Flats

Go Small.  Go Light.  Go Weedless.

by Chip Bates

You can encounter tailing fish on any fertile bottom, but weedy bottoms hold the most prey, therefore the most fish. Big fish seem more comfortable feeding in the shallows over a dark bottom.  Click here for tips on Shallow Water, Tailing Fish.

The end of the outgoing and beginning of the incoming brings the skinniest water that’s when you’ll find fish tailing over the weeds. To catch them, you’ll need a fly that doesn’t “plop” when it hits the water: go small.

A tailing fish is focused on a small area.  Frequently he’ll create a cloud of sand or mud where he’s feeding. You must put the fly in the area where’s he’s rooting, a matter of inches from his nose. You must throw a fly that doesn’t spook him when it lands: go light.

Once the fly lands in front of the fish, let it sink, then give it the tiniest of strips: go weedless.

Without a weed guard, your fly will invariably snag on grass and stripping a fly that’s hooked on a weed is like drag on a dry fly.  Click Here for Tips on Tailing Fish over Weedy Bottoms.

There are loads of excellent flies for bonefishing in skinny water, but our number one fly is the Bunny Bone when we need to go small, light or weedless.  Having a variety of Bunny Bones in your fly box is a necessity, especially when wading for bonefish.  Tan or brown (tied with tan or pink thread) rabbit fur tail with a little gold Mylar and mono eyes are top producing colors.  It’s also a great fly in slightly deeper water with small or medium bead chain eyes, instead of mono.  Try adding crazy legs and don’t forget the weed guard!  Click here for more information on tying bonefish flies, including the Bunny Bone.

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