Thursday, February 25, 2016

On the Brain

He insured that the first rule was clear before we stepped on the boat. One could not have a beer until they caught a bonefish. To my great relief, we each snagged a ghost early so the drinking could begin.

The rest of the rules he made up as the day progressed.

One of the joyful perks of this whole blogging thing is the opportunity it provides to make connections. I've had the pleasure to meet and fish with a host of folks who share my combined passions for fly fishing, writing, and generally baring one's soul on the internet; a combination that pretty well insures some interesting connections. I've yet to be disappointed.

So I was thrilled to learn that my visit to Abaco Lodge would overlap with that of my left-coast pal, Bjorn Stromsness, Mr. Bonefish on the Brain himself. Better yet, we shared a day on the water; my last and his first of our respective trips. It was the icing on the cake for me and, I hope, a good start for him.

No surprise, Bjorn pretty well schooled me that day on the water, confirming that his blog's title is well earned. He's passionate about the sport and the environment within which it's enjoyed. He calls foul when foul needs to be called and he's unflinching in his advocacy of all things bonefishy. On top of it all, he's a mighty fine angler.

Bjorn and his buddy Aaron were to spend another day at the lodge and then wander off on a North Abaco do-it-yourselfer for the remainder of the week. Let's all keep an eye on his blog to see how it went. Given the participants, and the location, it had to have been a memorable adventure.

I wonder if they had any beerless days.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Dance

We dance with the winds. Play cat-and-mouse with thunderheads. Skip over the salt that swirls in the erratic patterns of spooked bonefish. We circle, circle, circle, to outflank the looming cataclysms, to hide behind keys, to sneak around stray sheets of showers in search of hidden blue skies, to simply get out of the blow that comes impossibly from all sides at once.

Tides shift in minutes, ignoring their lunar influence. Instead are herded like livestock, driven mercilessly by tempestuous phantoms, whipped to a bellowing froth. Stampeded across the mangroves.

Flats empty, then fill, then empty again. Whitecaps in eight inches of brine. Now five. Need to run but no depth to get it on plane. Rumble out slowly, painfully, the grey wall closing in behind. Find a depression and spin the skiff hard, pirouette, slingshot to speed. Escape. Run for the next tack, too stubborn to give in, too hard-headed to go home. The waltz goes on.

Boreas. Zephyrus. Eurus. Notus. They toy with us. No. That’s flattering. They couldn't care less of us as they romp amongst themselves for control of the empyrean. We’re collateral. Insignificant. The Marles are theirs.

But in between the skirmishes we find tails, waving in the chop like crisp silver flags. The bones don’t care about the firmament. It's just air and they have no interest in it. Noses down, not up. Get a fly to them, they eat. And they run. In defiance of it all we laugh and we celebrate our own small conquests, lesser gods that we are.

The winds note this hubris and we dance once again.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Opening Statements: Abaco

Let's get a few things out of the way, right up front:

No Bahamian residents were harmed in the making of the next few posts. A few bonefish, however, may have been temporarily inconvenienced.

There's something downright civilized about getting out of bed a little early in North Carolina and then being on an Abaco bonefish flat by two-o'clock that same afternoon; tipsy on Kaliks by four. One could get used to such days.

Sitting around the same fire pit shared by Lefty and Flip, Yvonne and Oliver, Thomas and Tom, is exhilarating. Fishing with the guides that regularly pole them around, a bit scary. I'll bet Marty doesn't have to keep telling Lefty, More String, mon. Give it more string!

Picking up a fly rod for the first time in twenty-knot trades can't be easy. Hat's off to the brothers from Minnesota who gutted out a tough couple of days and had fun doing it. Respect.

Fan of funk or not, you gotta love Freddie, on the platform, breaking out the KC and the Sunshine Band at every hook-up. That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it!, accompanied by a boogie-woogying drag. Buddy... Buddy...

Fly fishing can be a small world, made clear when you're in the islands and make a deliberately obscure reference to this "secret" Michigan brown trout stream that you've once visited and it turns out to be another guy's home waters.

And let's be perfectly clear, here. Sometimes, you just have to throw at the barracuda.

Glad we got all that straight. Now, let's get on with it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Keep Pounding, Panthers!

Photo by Chris Hunt

I'm not going to make the mistake of assuming I'm going to catch anything... rather, the opposite. I'm looking forward to casting to jacks and ladyfish... IF I get to cast to a rooster, I'll be thrilled. If I land a rooster, I'll run naked into the surf. (Dont' think I won't do it, either). - Text from Chris Hunt

Oh, I knew he'd do it. And I shared the sentiment, so it turned into a somewhat inverted bet. First to catch a roosterfish during our expedition to the Baja took the plunge. It ended up being me, though there was some question as to whether I had actually landed our target species. (That's a story for another time.)

Today, we wager again. This time, the one who doesn't get the prize has to go off the dock in Saskatchewan this summer when my Bronco-loving buddy and I get together again, up North, to chase big northern pike with flimsy fly rods. I'm thinking those Canadian waters might not be as hospitable as the warm Sea of Cortez, even in June, so...

Keep pounding, Panthers!

Post-game Update: Hats off to a truly masterful defensive clinic. Well done, Broncos. Dammit. And it's been a pleasure, Peyton. Seeing you go out on top almost makes this bearable.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Photo Bin - January 2016

January was a bust. Meteorologically. Photographically. Piscatorially.

The weather was miserable. The camera came out on just a handful of occasions. The fly rod, not at all. It's the first time in years that a calendar month passed without a line being wetted. And since nothing happened, nothing was written. I can't make things up (as I have no imagination), so if I'm not doing something, I'm not writing. The blog falls silent. Mea culpa.

So this month's photo bin is also a bust. I offer but a single image taken from the side porch one icy morning as a weak winter sun tried to melt the mess, in vain. It's all you get, sad to say.

But, on the bright side, unlike the entirety of January, the next few weeks are busting at the seams. The Fly Fish Expo in Winston, a week chasing bones on Abaco, the Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Asheville, an escape with Mary to the Keys (or some other point south), a weekend with good friends on a stream full of Appalachian brookies, and a hodge-podge of music, sports, and preparations for Spring.

I'll be a busy boy.

And busy is good for both the boy and the blog, especially after the dud that was January. There should finally be things to talk about. And photograph. It's about damn time.

Stick around.

What is a Photo Bin?