Fly Fishing “The Ghost of the Flats”
Today’s Blog comes to you from Ron Young of Fins & Feathers.
I’ve been working part time at the shop for the last three years, which falls perfectly into our early retirement plan. Another part of the plan is to do a winter fly fishing trip every year preferably in the tropics. This year with the approval of my wife Kathy, we headed to Long Island in the Bahamas. I was hoping to get into some bigger bonefish and Kathy was anxious to see the wildlife and beaches.
I purchased a Helios 2 9ft- 9wt saltwater rod with a Mirage V reel from the shop last fall and tied about a hundred bone fish flies and was all ready to go, I thought. We arrived at Stella Maris Resort and met our guide Docky Smith. Checking my gear he did not like my textured line (too much noise when stripping); the color of my fly line (did not match the bottom); my perfectly tied amnesia fluorescent butt section (too bright); and knotted leader (knots spook fish). He also did not care for my casting technique. He said he will make my flies and casting work. Docky, being a well-respected guide, I knew I was already behind the 8–ball, although my thinking was these are only bonefish so how hard can it be. Wrong.
The first day out was a calamity of errors with noisy stripping (one finger, not two!), wrong clock direction, sloppy casts and dropping my fly into my fly line loops along with very spooky fish wading the flats. I did manage to catch some fish but missed a lot of opportunities. I also had a shot at a nice permit but he did not take despite a decent cast. To sum it up, this bone fishing is like fishing a spring creek with a nine weight.
The next two days of fishing got a little tougher, although we found and tracked some bonefish. Yeah, I mean bonefish tracks, like you are tracking an elk herd. Bonefish leave tracks in the mud/sand and Docky could tell which way they were travelling. We found them and I got into them with some success although again missed a mess of fish that could have taken me into the double digits count. The bones were averaging in the 3 to 4 pound class, although I saw and had chances for bigger fish.
Kathy and I got into a routine where we would head to the beach for a swim after fishing, played a couple of games of pool, ate a very good dinner and then spent the rest of the night watching the Olympics. Long Island has beautiful beaches, friendly people, and plenty of bonefish flats. We did rent a car one day to look for some pink flamingos. Although the flamingos were in the mangroves building nests and could not be seen, we did find a neat lunch spot on the ocean that was basically a plywood shack that served up fresh conch salad that knocked your socks off.
The last day of fishing I wanted to put everything together from what I learned from Docky. Unfortunately it did not turn out the way. I sort of choked, although I had my best day of fishing. It was ultimate bone fishing in ankle high water hunting and sight casting. It was tough fishing and I managed to catch several nice bones, although I missed several good fish that could have exceeded the 5-6 lb. class, maybe even bigger. Fishing for big bones is a challenge and you need to stack the odds in your favor as much as you can. I caught 20 plus bones this trip, including several breakoffs, but had the opportunity for 3 times that many. As Docky summed it up every day, “It’s all good, man.
It was good to get home and see the dogs and put another log in the fireplace. Kathy is already talking about exploring Andros Island next year. Now we’re talking!