I have been trout and salmon fishing for many years, and I would consider myself to have a pretty good handle on it. Last year my good friend David Anchell invited me on a trip to the Bahamas to fly fish for bonefish. Having never fished for bonefish before, and in fact done very little saltwater fishing here in Ireland, I was really excited about the prospect. The whole system of searching for fish, being poled along by a guide etc was so different, that the only 2 constants that I was used to were spotting fish and being able to cast to them.
On Saturday the 8 of February we flew to George Town Exuma via JKF and Atlanta. When we arrived the weather was very pleasant in the mid 20s. We went to our hotel - Peace and Plenty in George Town. Checked in and I was keen to get fishing. We had no guide booked so one of the party- a seasoned bonefish addict Bob, offered to show me the ropes on some nearby flats. The scenery on Exuma is breathtaking, wish amazing beaches and views. The water is shallow, warm and crystal clear.
We got our gear together and went for a walk along the flats for a few hours looking for bonefish. None were found, but Bob gave me some great tips on casting to them and what to look for.
On Monday morning our Guides arrived - JJ and Reno. Both guys are amazing characters and really know their home waters. On the first day I was out with David and our Guide JJ. David was up first as I wanted to see what it was all about, how to hook one, what to look for and how to play these amazing fish.
Within a short period of time we were put onto a school of bones by JJ. David was into a fish quickly, and boy did it run. I had heard about how bonefish fish, but until you see it first hand it is hard to describe. The fish which was not big about 2lbs took David straight to the backing.. I was offered the next go, but I wanted to see more, so David landed a few fish then it was my turn.
I would consider myself an accomplished caster, but the first few casts I did mess up. I think it was the excitement of seeing so many fish together. Then one good cast and I was in.. or for a few seconds anyway.. being a trout angler I lifted the rod and struck him.. not the thing to do.. I should have strip set. There I was a bundle of nerves.. know I know what it feels like when I guide my clients and I give them grief over not hooking fish! This was the first time I had been guided in many years, and being so used to giving the instructions it takes a while, a long while I may add to get used to receiving instructions.
After what seemed like hours I finally got one.. a nice fish about 3 or 4lbs. After this I had several more and started to really enjoy the fishing - the pressure was off!
Later we retired to the bar to tell our stories of the day, we had quite a few fish that day, and I have to say these are amazing fish to fish. None of them were large, but they were impressive fighters!
The next day I was out with Everett Sharp from Alabama in the US, a great jovial guy full of enthusiasm and some amazing fishing stories. We fished hard for the day and before lunch Everett hooked into a large bonefish which was at the head of a school. At first we reckoned it was maybe 7/8 pounds but then it started to tow our boat around. I got out of the water with the camera as I wanted to get some good shots of the fish. When we Reno eventually landed it we reckoned it was well over 10lb, we later found out he was almost 13lb! A 10lb fish is a fish of a lifetime in bonefish terms, however Everett managed a second one a few days later.
Fly Fishing for bonefish is amazing, I loved the skill and accuracy required, plus the ability to spot these beautiful fish.. the ghosts of the flats.[gallery ids="2843,2844,2845,2842,2838,2837,2836,2835,2834,2833,2832,2831,2830,2829,2828,2827,2826,2825,2824,2823,2822,2821"]
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