Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

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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Update on South Andros

May 10, 2013

Most anglers identify South Andros as a huge expanse of wadable flats around the southern and southwestern tip of the island:  Flats filled with large schools of uneducated bonefish in the 2-4 pound range eager to eat flies.  Anyone interested in seeing larger fish in singles and doubles would gravitate the North Bight of Andros, the West Side of Andros, or the North Shore of Grand Bahama.  Think again!

Over the last few years, more and more clients fishing Bair’s Lodge, Andros South, Pleasant Bay or Mars Bay are catching big bonefish.  The 7 – 10 pounders are being landed every month.  Mars Bay has kept a record of the bonefish caught this season, here are some highlights.

1)      The numbers of fish being caught over the spring and neap tides are virtually identical, but the “moon” tides are producing bigger fish.

2)      Anglers are landing good numbers of fish in the 27” – 31” range in each month.

3)      The largest bonefish landed was an astounding 36”.

To put some of this into perspective, and provide information on how to estimate the weight of your Atlantic bonefish, please refer to the table below, which has been excerpted from page 20 of Randall Kaufmann’s Bonefishing!.

Size (in)

Weight (lbs)

Size (in)

Weight (lbs)

18″

3.5

28″

8.6

19″

3.8

29″

9.6

20″

4.1

30″

10.8

21″

4.6

31″

11.9

22″

5.1

32″

13

23″

5.5

33″

14.4

24″

6

34″

15.6

25″

6.5

35″

16.8

26″

7.2

36″

18

27″

7.7

37″

19.2

This method of estimating weight is not as accurate as [girth2 x length / 800], however it does highlight the massive size of a 36” bonefish!  For those of us with ruler marks on our rods, it also provides an easy way to estimate the weight of our bonefish and minimize the amount of time spent handling the bonefish (click here for best practices for on handling and releasing bonefish).

Go ahead and speculate why there are so many more big bonefish being caught on the South Andros flats.  It could be cyclical, climate change, guides getting better at finding bigger fish, or better anglers doing the fishing.  With anglers landing plenty of fish in the 7.7 to 11.9 pound range, our conclusion is that this might be the best time to fish South Andros.

Salmon Fishing: How Do I Love Thee. Part I – The Grab

December 4, 2012

Having worked in the fly fishing travel industry for 25 years, I’m sometimes asked, “what’s your favorite fish to fish for?”.   Without hesitation I answer, “if I had to give up all species except one, I would keep Atlantic salmon”.  The question that frequently follows is, “why?”. You know, that’s a damn good question.  Lord knows I have suffered through long and painful droughts when the salmon had not yet come in, had already gone upriver, or when they were there and for a myriad of reasons, would not rise to the fly. 

Yet, they sometimes do rise to the fly, sometimes subtly, sometimes aggressively, and sometimes they try to rip the rod out of your hands.   This is what the salmon fisher lives for, or at least what I live for – the “grab”.   You methodically search the water with carefully measured casts, swinging the fly through possible lies.  And sometimes you approach a known “hot spot”, or from years of experience, you recognize a likely taking spot – a “bucket”.  The anticipation builds as you approach the bucket, each cast bringing you a bit closer.  Finally, you get to that cast, the one you know in your heart and mind should be the one.  The fly swings oh so seductively down and across the stream and slides into the bucket and BAM, the “grab”.  Oh it might be a subtle take – just a slight tug, or the line might just stop, or a solid “pull”.  Or it might be that explosive attempt to destroy the fly (the kind I love).  But they’re all “grabs”, and your heart stops in momentary  disbelief as you await further proof that there’s actually a fish at the end of your line.    

Such proof might come in the form of a majestic leap or series of leaps, or an immediate burst of speed into a searing, backing-melting run.  Or you might just feel a constant resistance, causing you to wonder if you simply snagged a rock – until the head shakes tell you differently.  There are many kinds, but they are all “grabs”.  And no matter how many I experience, no matter how sweet the bucket looks, or how well I know this is a “sure thing” taking lie,  when the grab comes, it still surprises the hell out of me – every time.  Like some kind of miracle just occurred!  For me, actually landing the fish is secondary.  I fish for the grab!

Doug lives for "The Grab"

Doug lives for “The Grab”

Seychelles Best Flats Fishing – Farquhar Atoll

August 17, 2012

The Seychelles became a bucket list destination because it’s a beautiful, remote destination with fantastic wading for bonefish on hard sand & coral flats and a variety of other species both on and off the flats that added depth to the fishery.  Recently, a new fishing operation has opened on Farquhar Atoll, which has taken those credentials to the next level.  

Beautiful and remote? Farquhar is called the “Jewel of the Seychelles” and considered to be the most beautiful island in the archipelago and also the southern most atoll (2 hour flight from Mahe).  The staff and guests are the only people on the atoll, living in the islands only accommodations.  Check.

Fantastic Bonefishing? The fishing is 100% wading.  The average schooling bonefish is 4 – 6 pounds and there will be quite a few bonefish in the 6 – 8 pound range.  Most anglers end up leaving the schools to find fish in single and doubles for a bit more of a challenge.  Check.

Variety of Species?  In addition to Bonefish, there are the normal fish you’d expect to see on a flat in the Seychelles: Shark, Barracuda, Snapper, Triggerfish, Trevally (including Giant Trevally), Milkfish, Napoleon Wrasse and Indo-Pacific Permit.  The guides on Farquhar have also figured out how to catch Humphead Parrotfish, which were previously though to be uncatchable on the fly and become experts at targeting GT’s (Giant Trevally).  You can also fish deeper water for Sailfish, several Grouper species, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Job fish, and more.  A client of our landed 18 different species on the fly…all with a floating line!    Check.

This is truly one of the special fishing destinations in world, and the reservations book shows it – the first availability is for late-October 2013.  If you’re interested in fishing Farquhar, we suggest getting started now.  Like Farquhar, but more interested in Bonefishing?  Check out Farquhar’s sister operation St. Brandon’s Atoll, which has better bonefishing with less variety

Farquhar Bonefish

Bonefish!

Tanzania Tigerfishing

August 2, 2012

Tanzania offers one of the finest fisheries left on the planet – Tigerfishing on the Mnyera and Ruhudji Rivers.  This is the place if you’re looking to catch a big Tigerfish on the fly.  The season runs from August to November (15 weeks) each year, with a maximum of 8 rods per week (4 rods per river). 

The early part of the season is good for big fish with less numbers and late season in better for more fish with a decrease in average size. Early season the water levels are higher and guests can expect to hook around 10 fish per day.  During the later part of the season, water levels are lower and warmer, and this attract more small male fish into the system from floodplains downstream, accounting for the increase in smaller fish in the system.  During this time, clients will expect to hook up to 20 or so fish per day.

The strikes are violent and when a Tigerfish hits your fly, she’s moving at top speed.  Due to the voracity, strength, and size of these fish, a 50% hook up to landed fish ratio is considered doing well.  Tigersfish will actually hold the fly in their jaws for an entire fight, unhooked, only to open their mouth at the boat and spit the fly.  Similar to Tarpon fishing, it’s all about the take, the acrobatic jumps, and the fight. 

The past 2 seasons on the Mnyera and Ruhudji were superb: 578 fish landed between 10 and 20 lbs and 31 fish breaking the magical 20lb mark.  To put this in perspective, a trophy Tigerfish from any other river would be 12 pounds.  On the Mnyera and Ruhudji, the average fish is between 8 – 12 lbs. 

The cost for 7-nights / 6-days fishing is USD $6,750 per person person based on double occupancy accommodations and a shared boat / guide daily.

 

20 lb Tigerfish? I’d be smiling too!

St Brandon’s Atoll Bonefishing

July 19, 2012

FlyCastaway has arrived in Connecticut and we’ve been enjoying spending some quality time with Gerhard and hearing him speak about the fishing programs.  You may not have heard, but St Brandon’s has been described as the finest bonefishing in the world.  We know it’s a tall order to fill, since there are excellent fisheries like North Riding Point, that produce quality numbers of double digit bonefish each year.  An excerpt from a FlyCastaway’s description of the May 11 – 20, 2012 trip to St. Brandon’s.  

The week started off with an absolute bang, the neap tides meant we had ample time to fish some of our Bonefish hotspots and we literally climbed into the monsters St Brandon’s has become renowned for. Simply put, the fishing was off the charts! Each day at least one team would return home with an image of a weighed double digit Bonefish. For those not in the know, most dedicated saltwater anglers will go his entire lifetime without ever holding a 10lb fish….and we were doing it on a daily basis. By the end of the week we racked up no less than ten fish, which weighed over the 10lb mark, two of which were eleven pounds!

The average size was equally impressive, and when guys started putting their noses up at eight pounders we had to give them a little pep talk. Something along the lines of “each fish is special” and “you don’t know when you’ll get this opportunity again”. Added to this we had some scary good sight fishing for these hogs as they tailed in water no deeper than our gravel guards …

The “schooling” bonefish are in the 6 – 7 pound class, one or two 4-pound bonefish may be the smallest bonefish you’ll see, and there are bones there pushing 14-pounds.  Oh, the fishing is 100% wading and there are only 8 anglers fishing these flats every other week over two 3-month seasons each year. If you love bonefishing, this might just be having your cake and eating it too!

Nice Bonefish from St. Brandon's Atoll

FlyCastaway visits Angler Adventures

July 12, 2012

Gerhard Laubscher of FlyCastaway is visiting Angler Adventures in Connecticut next week and giving a couple of presentations about FlyCastaway’s cutting edge fishing operations on St. Brandon’s Atoll, Mauritius and Farquhar Atoll, Seychelles.  Both destinations offer spectacular fisheries that get almost no fishing pressure due to their remote locations and are priced like rare commodities, adding exclusivity to both destinations attributes (Farquhar prices at $7,500 US and St. Brandon’s prices at 6,500 Euro). 

To get started, here’s the guides report from the April 4 – 11, 2012 week at Farquhar that included one of our clients, Steve Gross, who was looking to tally up as many species as possible.

If you’d like to attend Gerhard’s presentations, click here.

Farquhar Atoll: 4-11 April 2012

Beautiful TrevallyLike a tide eager to begin its initial surge, our new group of guests arrived on the shores of Farquhar champing at the bit to explore the multitude of flats and species Farquhar has on offer. After our customary quick briefing and some hasty rigging of tackle, the group which consisted of 9 men and one hard core fisherwoman set out to get a brief taste of what was in store for the rest of the week. The weather was set to be stable …we were hoping for an absolute cracker!

GT's are abundant on FarquharYves quickly enticed his first Trigger to eat the fly. Jeff joining the action as he got stuck into a Milky as they are still here and feeding hard! Clare quickly showed the boys she was here to do business by landing the first GT, sadly her Dad. Finally after countless attempts, Wayne O finally managed to land his Trigger, which has been eluding him for years. And it didn’t end there for Wayne as he recorded our first Farquhar Slam, that being GT, a Bone and a Trigger in one day. Now that’s some serious angling and bragging rights!

There are Milkies too!But back to the rest of the week, the Milkies were still hanging around and after and epic battle, Alex landed his first Milky, awesome fish Alex! His action didn’t stop there either, he also managed to land a GT and a Bone in the same day, quite an achievement. Good fishing was being experienced by all, although we did have a fair number of large GTs lost due to hooks pulling and lines breaking. Clare however had the pink touch (literally), and landed another good GT. Things were heating up and the pressure was on to get the desired species.

A small GT is still a Giant Trevally!!!Ian subsequently also made his way in to the record book by landing all three of the species and Yves just failing to qualify by losing his GT. Wayne, Dean and Jeff had one truly memorable day whereby they landed 5 GTs, although Wayne did get smoked by a Yellowfin Tuna which tore off 300m of backing in less than 20 seconds late in afternoon!

Triggerfish offer a flats fishing challange on Farquhar2 Slams in two days. Let’s make it 4 in three days. Dean and Jeff decided they also wanted a taste of that action and had no trouble landing a Trigger, a Bone and a GT. Piece of cake, all in a day’s work at the office….these were the comments around the dining room table each evening. Steve continued his species count and landed a truly impressive Napoleon.

Don't under estimate these Sharks.  They're fast, powerful, and fun on a fly, especially on a skinney flat.Last day out on the flats and Ian once again showed his metal landing a 98cm GT which was the largest of the week. Jeff and Wayne muscled in some Bumphead Parrotfish, whilst Steve braved “THE WALK” and reaped the rewards, landing Bones, Bluefin and two Blackfin Sharks. It was really good to have Steve out fishing with us after months of preparations and planning!

An amazing week of fishing with 4 Farquhar Slams, 15 GTs, 6 Triggers, 2 Napoleons, some Bumpheads, a Milkfish and countless Bluefin, Grouper and Snapper. That is what Farquhar is all about!

Best Airfares to New Zealand

June 1, 2012

Judy Hall is the travel manager at Angler Adventures as well as our New Zealand expert.  I asked her some questions about booking flights and got some interested answers.   

Evan:  Judy, what’s the most common request you get from clients booking long haul flights, such as to New Zealand?

Judy:  What’s the best fare I can get on a first class ticket?  Since the flights require overnight travel, nearly every client wants to fly Business Class or First Class to get the fully reclining “sleeper seats” and first or Business Class tickets can cost up to $14,000 per person. 

Evan:  What do you recommend?

 Judy:  I used to recommend the American Express Platinum 2 for 1 travel program exclusively because it was the best deal available.  Now, there are a number of options, such as Excursion Fares or mileage programs.  I research each of the options to seek out the best fares.  It’s complicated and time consuming, but if I can save my clients thousands of dollars, it’s time well spent. 

Evan:  Is there anything else people should know making these arrangements?

 Judy:  Actually, I’d mention that this is a service we offer at no cost to our clients.  After a phone call, I do all the legwork preparing the options, and then present the client with the best currently available fare.  If they ok the flight option, I issue their tickets.  It’s a time and money saving service that’s free!

 Looking for more information?  Click here for more information on New Zealand Custom Itineraries, here for more information on why you should use a travel agent, or here for our recent newsletter on traveling to New Zealand.

New Zealand Trout Fishing


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