Wednesday, July 3, 2013
The Best Bonefish
It wasn’t the first bonefish. It wasn’t the biggest. But it was, without question, the best. The best because there was no one around to see it. Markk said it would be like this, the day we arrived. We smiled and nodded in earnest agreement, but we hadn’t a clue how right he would be. This DIY stuff hadn’t completely sunk in.
Pinky calls it Do It Yourself bonefishing, but it’s more than that at the Long Island Bonefishing Lodge. More like Do It With As Much Help From Friendly Experienced Guides As You Need And Want Until You’re Ready And Comfortable Enough To Do It Yourself. I guess I’d call it DIY too, as the acronym DIWAMHFFEGAYNAWUYRACETDIY is perhaps a bit cumbersome.
Here’s how it worked for the four of us:
Day one, we split into pairs, a rookie and second timer on each skiff with Pinky and Markk at the helms. Our hosts took us out to the expansive flats, anchored the boats, and walked for a while with each of us newbies; insuring that we were capable and prepared, helping us understand what to look for, where to look for it, how to be ready, what flies to use, how to present, and how to respond when one of the silver finned rockets decided to eat. Pinky and Markk grew up on these flats - more knowledgeable guides I could not imagine – and with Pinky at my side I brought to hand my first bonefish. It was damn good, but not the best.
For the most part, we are competent anglers so the fledging was brief and light-handed. It’s tailored to the needs of the individual, making Pinky’s lodge a great place for bonefish beginner and expert alike; providing each the environment they’d require for a satisfying fishing experience. Preparing you to be successful, whatever level of fisherman you might be.
And once prepared, you're turned loose.
Each day, after the first, we’d pair up again, switch the day’s fishing partners, and bounce between Pinky and Markk, then skip through the Cays to one of the endless flats spread out along the beautiful west shore of Long Island. Rocky Cay. Gouldin Cay Bank. Grandpa’s Fishin’ Place. Once on the grounds, we’d step off the skiffs, radios in pocket, and strike off on our own, choosing to fish side-by-side with our partner or wander apart as our fishing styles, or mood, fit. The skiff, and our guides, stayed in the neighborhood, tucked out of site in the Cays, or moved on to the next rendezvous point, usually well and abstract in the distance, but always, if needed, in touch by the walkies which doubled as comms between anglers. A large pod coming your way, bro. Three o’clock. Be ready.
This fit my style well for I’m a mover on the water. Wading and searching for fish is a joy and as often as not it seemed that the flats were my own. Miles of shin-deep, shimmering, salt without a soul in sight, only the wind to be heard. Alone to fish or cut bait with no one to impress. No pressure to succeed but my own. And it was during these times that the best bones were caught. No celebrations. No high fives. Just me and the flats and the fish. Quiet and deep satisfaction. I'd done it myself.
Markk was right. The best.