Ladyfisher

This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

October 14th, 2002

Boning Up For The Bahamas


JC, my husband, received an invitation. It came by email, seems real mail is no longer in vogue for such things, but nevertheless it was in invite to compete in the "International Bonefish Tournament," being held on Grand Bahama Island, the first part of November.

Before you get all excited for him, I need to tell you I am not in favor of fishing tournaments. I know they are popular in places, and some big fund raisers for charity. I'm not in favor of the Bass Tournaments either. I would hope that every person who competes in such tournaments knows all there is to know about catch and release, and as they say, "no animals were harmed in the filming of this episode." But sadly that isn't always the case.

My dislike of fishing tournaments is also because I feel they foster and promote the idea that how many fish you catch, or on how small a rod, how light a leader, or the size of those fish, somehow makes you a better fisherman or person! Fly fishing is an individual avocation, a frame of mind, a challenge, a solace for the weary mind and soul. It is a place where we each judge our success or failures on the basis of our own personal experience. The rewards are being there - not the numbers game.

There has been a Bahamian competition for Bonefish Champion for some time, each island sends its best to compete against other guides each year. It's pretty obvious that being the/a Champion can have a great influence on the guides income for the next year. So for them, it's a big deal, and I would hope all who compete do know about proper release of their fish, since it is the continuing health of the fishery which is their livelihood.

But since neither of us has ever competed in such an event, we may have an unfair bias. The decision was made.

JC and friend JC is going. He has his plane reservations (we paid for the airfare) and once he gets to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the Bahamian Tourism people pick up the expenses for everything else. It's not cheap to fly from SeaTac airport to Florida, but on the other hand, he does have some actual FAOL business which needs to be handled while he is there, so I guess that can be justified.

The competition will consist of invited anglers, and the winners of the five island's competition. The indiviudal island contests will be held on Thursday October 31, and the Championship on Friday November 1st. The invited anglers who have confirmed are: Bob Stearns, Al Pfluger, Sandy Moret, Jim Birkholm (JC), Bob Nauheim, John Cave, Chris Clarke and Raz Reid.

A set of rules for the competition was sent, and while it seems to contradict itself, the gist of it is a combination of number of fish over a certain size, and the largest fish. Most interesting is all casts must be to spotted fish, no 'blind' casting, only fish measuring 22" (from lip to fork of tail) shall count towards scoring, and only 2 fish may be caught from any school. Tippet material must not exceed 8 pound test. There's more, but that's the important info.

Once the decision was made, all sorts of things kicked into gear. What rods, reels, lines, leaders, flies, clothing, all that necessary stuff to make the trip a success. There's no point in competing if one doesn't intend to give it their best shot. Does he stand a chance against the best of the Bahamian guides? Could happen. The luck of the draw on which guides, where one fishes, wind, weather all sorts of things can affect the outcome.

Those who know JC understand he is very logical. The logic started with the selection of rod, two Sage TCR 8wt, 9 ft. (one of them is mine). The reels, two (one mine) Finnor 8/9 Fin-ite II, lines, both Cortland and Scientific Anglers newest bonefish lines, one on each rod, backing on the reels is Cortland 20# Micron Teflon. A call to Seaguar and they responded with 9ft, 8# fluorocarbon leaders and tippet material to match. We don't know if any wading will be part of it, but to be covered, the Chota Flats Boots go, the suplex pants and shirts, a Cortland flats hat, JW Outfitters Belt Pack, BullFrog SPF-30 sun screen, Ultrathon bug dope, JC's favorite Micro Leatherman tool and from Stu Apte, goggles. He should be prepared to do battle with the best.

Al Campbell Bonefish Flies

Al's Flies

Did I mention flies? Got to have bonefish flies! The really important part! McKenzie is sending some, JC has some from previous trips to the Bahamas, and Al Campbell sent his special collection. You may recall Al tied up some very successful flies for his trip to Belize.

Last but not least, the camera, Nikon Cool-Pix 775 Digital and it's waterproof AquaPac goes. I hope he will have a personal story on what really happens at one of these tournaments, maybe some good photos of the events (and a fish or two) and when he gets back, I expect to hear about both sides of what this event really accomplishes. It's obvious to me at least it gets the name Bahamas, and the word bonefish out to the public. That may be it.

But attempting to be open minded, I'll listen. Hope you will too. Stay tuned. publisher@flyanglersonline.com ~ LadyFisher

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