Tag Archives: Bahamas

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.

boneflies2

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.

bonefish-flat

A Shoeless Salvation

At the moment I’ve got three goals in life: To play an acoustic set in a dive bar, catch a 100-pound tarpon on fly, and live somewhere where I never have to wear shoes again.

Ted Williams (the hitter, fighter pilot and fisher) 0nce boasted that he would never have to wear a tie. Good on that, but his time came before business casual. Put me in a place where I don’t have to wear anything more cumbersome than flops and it’ll be alright.

New York’s good for a lot of things but come November it’s time again to feel the restrictions of protective footwear. In a few weeks the stripers that I never seem to have time to fish for will be gone and there will be people in locales way south of the Mason Dixon still worried about sun poisoning and of fish ripping the line off the deck and busting their knuckles on a backing run.

Say what you want about living where you live but odds are it doesn’t have a saving grace that compares to that.

Bimini Diminished

My buddy Fritz just got back from Bimini and said the Bimini Big Game Club has closed. The island has undergone a lot of change the past few years, and not for the good.

The Compleat Angler burned down a few years ago.
The Compleat Angler burned down a few years ago.
Chalks had a crash and went out of business.
Chalks had a crash and went out of business.
They cut a trench through the bonefish flats for marina access.
They cut a trench through the bonefish flats for marina access.
bimini-big-game-dock
Now the Big Game Club is closed.
It's enough to drive a man to drink.
It's enough to drive a man to drink.

DVD REVIEW: Drift

“I want ‘em to look in the eye of that fish.”

The moment the first spey cast jumps from the screen in high definition, and the fly line falls over the currents of the Deschutes River, the viewer is hooked. The film’s vibrancy strikes an immediate chord, and it’s easy to settle in thinking Drift will progress as a collection of high quality destination pieces. Not exactly.

The new fly fishing film from Confluence Films takes the viewer to intriguing places, sure, but Drift isn’t really about where to fish, it’s about people and why they fish. The destinations provide the backdrop.

Drift is comprised of five segments that have the feel of magazine profiles brought to life. In Oregon, it focuses on John and Amy Hazel of the Deschutes Angler as they cast for steelhead. When John Hazel says the above highlighted quote  in discussing what he hopes his clients take from every fish, you get that this is more about his passion than it is about the Deschutes or the steelhead. The same holds true as Drift follows Brian O’Keefe down to Turneffe Flats in Belize and then Punta Gorda with the Garbutt Brothers. (Plus, you get a sense of how hard permit fishing is when one of the brothers spots one and says to O’Keefe, “Only 80 feet, moving left.”)

The people do not come through as strongly in the third segment about winter tailwaters, probably because it packs in three locales–the Green, The Frying Pan, and the Bighorn–but you still get a good overall feel for the why of winter fishing. 

Drift hits it perfectly in its profile of Charlie Smith, the Andros Island bonefish legend who invented the Crazy Charlie. It is the strongest piece in the film; it would have been had it not featured a single bonefish and just shown Smith picking the banjo.

Drift closes in Kashmir, where it follows two anglers (Jon Steihl and Travis Smith) who find that the trout fishing is the same but, “The minute you got out of the water…everywhere there were signs you weren’t at home anymore.” 

Find interesting people in interesting places and tell the stories through strong cinematography and narrative, and you get Drift, a fly fishing film that hits its mark.

(Here’s the trailer on Youtube.)