March 1st, 1998
The Best of the Bones
It's been said a writer should write about things he
knows about. I do know this; we are flying back from Andros Island, in
the Bahamas, it is nine p.m. eastern time, and I am at about 39 thousand
feet above somewhere, U.S.A. In about six hours we will be home from a
fantastic bone fishing trip. I am trying to write this on the plane. My mind is
still sorting out what seems to be reality and the events of the past week. I
will fill you in on them as time goes on. Suffice to say, I have never caught
more and bigger bone-fish, nor had a better time doing it. If I tell you we had
fish from four to eighteen pounds you would probably not believe me; well,
we did. And not a few, schools of them, and were on them for several hours.
More on that in future columns.
Till next week, remember ...
At the possibility of boring you, my point this week
will be the ability to cast. Sure all of you can cast, and probably well enough
to get done any fishing you need to do. But, I just came from a camp where
there were nine going after bone-fish every day. Two could cast well enough
to reach all the fish the guide put them on. Seven could not. This makes things
a bit tough for the guide. It can be a bit frustrating for the casters too. And it
cuts down on the catch ratio.
Let's say you spend a big gob of bucks on a trip and
find that the guide when he said "bone-fish at eleven o'clock," really meant
there was one at nine o'clock but knew there was a slight breeze from the right
and your cast would blow with it from eleven to nine? Make you feel great?
How about getting excited and forgetting to wait till
the back-cast straightens out and you smack the fly on the side of the boat,
scattering the school of perhaps hundreds? The guide will not usually ask for
a 12 o'clock cast, the back-cast would hit him; and you hit him anyway? OK,
so you're not going bone-fishing, fine; but what would be wrong with getting
better at casting so you could someday? You might go? What do you need
to get better?
For one thing, the double-haul. Notice here that Simon,
either right or left handed, pulls way back with the off hand on the double-haul.
Second, a darn good side-arm double-haul. Third, know your equipment. Know
that for shallow water you need a long leader and flies with bead-chain eyes that
do not hit like a brick and scare everything. That for deeper water you need a shorter
leader and dumbbell eyes to sink faster. Learn that if you had only one fly it should
be size four. Learn to cast when the wind is blowing. Not just cast, but get the fly
where you want it.
If you can't learn by yourself, get help. Look, the guides
are people too. They do have feelings. They are some of the finest guys on earth.
Don't make them baby-sit you. Let them come in and say things like, "Boy, what
a great day, these guys can cast and I got them on fish! And they knew how to
handle the rods like second nature. I am going to take them to the 'honey-hole'
tomorrow. I think they are ready for the big ones!"
Sure, I know you are not all going to get to go for bones,
but, those of you that will, make it a terrific trip. Yes, you can catch bone-fish
with a short cast, but you will do a lot better if you can handle a long line. Get
to be the very best you can, you will be glad you did; so will your guide.~ JC