This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
March 26th, 2007

Careful What You Wish For

Our first ever trip to the Carribean was on assignment to write a fly fishing story for Fly Fishing in Saltwaters. The publisher contacted the resort and made it official. Under usual circumstances the resort would have 'comped' just me, but they footed their own bill for accommodations, food and guiding for both of us. Very gracious. Of course they would get the benefit of the article. If you've ever wondered about that, yes, it does pay off for the resort big time. Our only real expense was the transportation.

A problem for those of us who live on the left coast, flying anywhere 'back east' is darm expensive. A flight for the two of us, not including private plane transportation to this lodge which is on a small island ran about a grand. That was nearly ten years ago.

We keep telling the Bahamian Tourism folks they really need to get a flight directly from Ft. Worth, Dallas - any big airport in Texas. It would cut a full day of flying off the limited time most have for a holiday. In turn, the difference of not having to fly to Florida to get to the Bahamas would increase tourism from the west coast tremendously. It has been in 'process' for a couple of years, but I guess these things take time. We sure would like to see it happen.

Like everyone who makes their first trip to chase bonefish, we read everything we could. Set the date for a neap tide week, started gathering up clothing and flats shoes. Dinner at the lodge was a social event, dirty fishing pants not acceptable. More clothes. My dad used to say, "take half the clothes and twice the money." Good advice, especially when you must haul your luggage from the commercial carrier to the chartered plane service (actually in another building.)

The one thing which after many years still stands out was the flight over to Deep Water Key in the chartered plane. As we dropped altitude to land at the private air strip at the lodge, the surrounding flats were lite up in amazing colors. Varying shades of deep blue, turquoise, purple, lavender and streaks of white coral swirled through like a fine opal. I hadn't ever seen anything like it - including the hundreds of photos of the flats. None really do justice to the color.

The fishing was wonderful; we caught lots of bonz. Once our guide spotted a large fish by itself and JC got out of the boat and stalked it. One nice long cast, one ten pound bonefish caught. What a neat thing to see. I caught several bonz as well, but nothing as big as the ten pounder. In fact the first ever bonefish I caught was small and I was absolutely astounded at its strength and speed. There was a wake following the fish and the sound of the line in the water was similar to tearing a piece of fabric. Just great fun.

We had a fine time, a small cottage on the beach to ourselves, excellent food and all the services one could ever hope for.

Over the years we made two more trips to the same place. One trip was a disaster, JC caught one fish, the weather was awful, and guides we had become acquainted with were gone. Seems a dispute about pay ended badly. Some lodges set a flat fee for guide service which they collect as part of your bill. This particular lodge also made it very clear the fishermen were expected to tip the guide not less than $35. per day. As it turned out the lodge was keeping the guide's fee for themselves and the only pay the guides got was the 'tip.' So the Pinder family which guided for the lodge had quit, moved to Grand Bahama Island and were guiding for the Pelican Lodge. JC had the pleasure of running into them when he was down there for the International Bonefish Tournament.

All in all we've made I think six trips to the Bahamas. We aren't wealthy people and it is a lot of money to spend on a week or ten days.

So why do we go back?

We love bonefish. Bonefishing is absolutely addicting. We've caught many species of fish, and unfortunately for us, bonefish are the favorite. There just isn't any comparable game fish. (You can certainly have your favorite too, but if you haven't caught a nice bonefish I don't want to hear about it.) Catching an eight-inch trout just doesn't compare.

In fact, bonefishing has spoiled us - and probably nearly ruined our fishing for most anything else.

The saving grace is we have a Fish-In coming up in Ephrata, Washington in early May and the fish there in Rocky Ford Creek are lovely, big rainbows. No, they aren't as strong a fish - but it is sight fishing with a dry fly and that counts.

If you haven't been bonefishing yet, you might keep this in mind; it may spoil you and leave you wishing you were fishing in the Bahamas.

Be careful what you wish for. ~ The LadyFisher

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