Tag Archives: adventures in bonefishing

Ghost of the Hippocampus

It was an overshoot, a lousy cast, and it scattered the fish but they quickly regrouped and the guide told me to keep stripping the fly and two started competing for it and one beat out the other and then I had to clear my line.

I remember that moment in Andros South because, like a lot of my fishing, it was mechanically less than perfect but the connection still packed a physiological charge, like lightning seeking a path to ground. And because, for whatever reason, it was the last time I felt and saw a bonefish eat a fly.

That happened about five years ago. Before I caught my first bonefish, in 2005, it seemed like such an important thing to be doing, to need to have done, that now it seems odd that it took someone else’s recent post about Andros South to realize that somewhere along the way, fishing for bonefish transitioned from something I do to something I did.


There are plenty of things I used to do, like play ice hockey or drive stick shift, but fly fishing is something I still do, and probably the thing I have done for the longest amount of time. But what to make of the parts of it stuck in the past tense?

Maybe it circles back to what it all is to you in relation to everything else. Is fishing linear, a list of accomplishments to check off in succession? (That’s a hard thing to quantify anyway–in 1999 I caught a blue marlin in Hawaii but that qualifies as an experience rather than an achievement.) Or is it more of a fluid thing with ebbs and flows or does it evolve into  Wordsworthian spots of time?

Either way it’s not like “did” in this case has complete finality because there’s still the attainable possibility of “will do.” I don’t know when or where yet, but one day a bonefish will swim onto a flat,  unaware that it is moments from mistaking my fly for a fleeing shrimp. When that happens, I’ll ride that lightning.


Things That Matter on the Flats

locked and loaded, despite

 You motherf&*$&*rs got no creep,” -Kima Greggs, “The Wire” Season 2

The bonefish started moving away from me the second I raised my rod to throw and I had no accounting for it. But Ellie, my guide, gave me a look that made it clear this was all my fault.

“What’s in your bag, Pete?” he asked, and I felt embarrassed for overlooking such a small thing that could dampen my prospects.

I get to go flats fishing for bonefish, on average, about once every two years, so I am no authority on the subject. But in my brief travels I’ve picked up things that have stuck. Besides the general obvious ones–false casting sucks, poise counts and so on–it sometimes seems to be the tiniest of details. Such as…

THE SHIT IN YOUR BAG: Sound travels 4.3 times faster through water than air. Ellie, one of the guides from Andros South*, had detected a rattle coming from my pack when I loaded my back cast. The culprit: Those little plastic containers you throw your desired flies into at the fly shop. I’d left one loose in there with three crabs I’d purchased and forgotten about.  And it cost me shots.

THE SHIT ON YOUR LINE: Scene two, I was walking along a shallow flat, floating line stripped and trailing at the ready. Except it kept sinking. Every ten feet or so I’d snag a rock or shell or coral bit and get otherwise hung up. This again, entirely my fault. Despite my known preferences for ditch fishing in sandy, muddy and potentially toxic areas, the number of times I had cleaned my line added up to never. All that grit, and all the times I’d stepped on it added up to FUBAR. Thankfully, I’d left my spare reel sitting safely in my luggage at the lodge.

The guide wound up serving as my personal line caddy for the session, walking side by side and holding my line free from snags until I was ready to throw. Mighty cool of him.

The fish I did catch were, thankfully, blind to my inadequacies.

*(From FIBFest 1)