When I began my career in fly fishing I never considered traveling to far off places. The thought of traveling to far off places or even getting on a plane was not realistic for me.
I have said before the notion of fishing in those now familiar places were a childís dreams and nothing more.
I had someone suggest to me that I might host a trip to one of these places to lower the cost of my travel or even get it paid for. So thatís what I decided to do, host a trip.
However, now I had to make a decision on where to go. I had fished in saltwater as a kid, dad took me to Florida to reef fish, and I loved it. The most exotic thing I could think of was fly fishing in saltwater and specifically for Bonefish.
It was a fish I had seen Larry Dahlberg fish for, and I thought that would be a fish I would really like to catch. So after a little research I decided on Belize and specifically Turneffe Island.
We got a group together and went. I remember the first day walking the flats and seeing my first school of Bonefish. There were probably 200 of them in a school about 40 feet from me. It was exhilarating!
I remember casting to the front of the pack and having one run over and eat the fly. It took off like someone had shoved a red hot poker up its backside. It was into my backing in an instance.
I was hooked, so to speak. An obsession with saltwater was born that day and I knew I was in trouble.
Itís like the salt had seeped through my pores and into my blood. A year later I took my dad and he got the same bug. It started a love affair with Bonefish for him that I think surpassed my own.
I should mention however that after landing my first Bonefish that it didnít go so well the next couple of days for me or my best friend Eric. I thought after catching my first Bonefish that this wasnít nearly as hard as everyone said it would be.
After that first fish I didnít even hook a fish for the next two days. I saw hundreds of them and got a lesson in Bonefishing humility.
I have since fished in Mexico, the Seychelles off the east coast of Africa and all over the Bahamas for Bonefish. I have to admit I have had an almost love-hate relationship with this fish.
Itís mostly love but sometimes hate.
I have had huge Bonefish over 30Ē tease me only to follow a fly 30 feet and refuse it. Conversely, I have had days where I caught 40 and got so bored I fished left handed for them. By the way, those days are few and far between.
So at this point some of you may be wondering, why Bonefish? Some of you may not have even heard of this fish.
Bonefish are a fascinating animal and really not much is really known about them. They are one of the few fish that have a larval stage. We know they live most of their lives in very shallow water and like to eat shrimp and crabs they dig out of the sand.
Pretty good life, huh? They are, however, the most favored food of both Barracudas and Sharks. So, they tend to be somewhat spooky and wary at times.
They are a sleek fish and basically a muscled torpedo. When you feel their head it is if it is encapsulated in a clear case. Everything about how God built this fish was about speed and escape-ability. They are about as fast a fish you will ever hook.
I have had Bonefish tear off a football field length of fly line and backing in mere seconds. This is why when you catch your first Bonefish it is all over for you as an angler.
You will never hook anything else that electric. You will always find yourself in need of the next flats trip. My next flats trip will be my 18th.
The other thing that Bonefish has given me is stories. From Belize to the Bahamas there have been stories.
To stowing away on Peter Pulitzerís yacht in a nasty scary storm to dive bombing ride in an airplane that forced a guide to jump off the platform of his flats boat. By the way we felt bad about that.
As I write this I am preparing to travel to my favorite flats destination in the world Grand Bahama Island. I know that doesnít sound very exotic in light of my other travels to the Seychelles, Mexico, Belize and other parts of the Bahamas.
It is though where the biggest Bonefish in the Western Hemisphere reside. It is also the home to Greg Vincent; Greg is from Wales but lives in Freeport Grand Bahamas.
The Welshman has won the Del Brown Permit tourney 3 of the last 5 years. Greg is more than likely the best flats angler in existence today, owns H2O Bonefishing and also happens to be a dear friend.
This trip the plan is for me and Greg to spend some extended time together in the boat. It is a rare opportunity for anyone to get the chance to learn from Greg. While we are dear friends I am going to be a willing student. To put this into perspective getting a lesson in flats fishing from Greg Vincent is like getting a golf lesson from Jack Nicholas.
I will return in the next column with a story or two Iím sure.