It's wintertime here in the Montana Rockies
and as much as I would like to be fishing, my time is spent
reading brochures, magazine articles and coffee table books.
The subject matter has been Bonefish and the warm
environment in which they live. I have already had a taste of what its is like to have
a rocket powered Bonefish on the end of my line and it is an
experience I'll not soon forget. As each day finds the
thermometer reading dropping lower and lower, thoughts
of Bonefish, fishing in shorts in warm water occur almost
My wife and I managed two tips to the Yucatan
and although I had tried to catch Bonefish in the Florida Keys,
I had yet to actually hook one. Therefore, my first trip was
specifically aimed at catching Bones. It would also be a learning
experience, but then again, what fishing trip isn't a learning
To be prepared, I read books on flyfishing for
Bonefish, watched videos, and talked to experienced friends,
all to be sure I would not look like the novice I was. So I was
assigned a guide who was about twenty-five years old and had
a fair command of the English language. At least he was far
better at speaking English than I was at trying to speak Spanish.
We started our first day by traveling through
several peaceful mangrove rimmed bays. I thought how easy
it would be for me to get lost here, since unlike using a
mountain top for reference when elk hunting back home, the
horizon among the mangroves all looked the same . . . to me.
Obviously, it was not a problem for our guide.
The hum of the engine began to slow as we
came into a very large bay and finally there was unbelievable
silence. The outboard was lifted out of the water and the
guide took his position on top the poling platform. I was
motioned to take my place on the bow. I unreeled several
yards of line at my feet on the deck, held my seven-weight rod
at the ready, and my crazy Charlie was gripped in my fingertips.
I was confident now. I did all the things I had
read about and as the guide searched the water for crusing
Bonefish, I awaited the command "Ten O'clock or Nine
O'clock" once the fish were spotted. It was very quiet.
There was the sound of the pole sliding through the hands
of the guide as he poled the boat through the water.
Birds made unfamiliar sounds as they flew
from mangrove to mangrove. I looked back at my wife,
Mary Ann who had come along just for the ride, and was
pleased to see the smile on her face. She had said nothing,
but was just enjoying the sights and sounds.
Suddenly the guide yelled out "Twenty
Feet South!" Twenty feet south? How the hell am I
supposed to know which way is south I thought. Again he
yelled, this time with some frustration in his voice,
Twenty Feet South!" I had no idea where to cast; I
was not prepared for compass directions.
Then I saw the Bones. Actually I saw the bottom
they churned up as they headed toward Cuba like a flight of
rockets. The guides next words were: "They gone."
It wasn't until the next pod of Bonefish was spotted that
I realized the guide was trying to tell me the firsh were twenty feet
OUT, not "south." This time he said; "Bonefish, 10 O'clock,
twenty feets out." I saw them and cast as he instructed. With my
fly now in the water the guide told me to wait then "Streep! Streep!"
So I stripped in line until there was a sudden stop! Then
all hell broke loose. The coiled line that was on the deck flew through
my left hand as the Bone screamed some forty years in the blink of and
eye. My rod was bent, backing was all I could see through the guides
on my rod and I had a real Bonefish on at last.
After a couple of runs I finally had the fish next
to the boat! I was prepared to see a fish of at least five or six
pounds. Instead, it couldn't have been more than two pounds.
It didn't matter what it's size was. I had finally caught a Bonefish
and it was as exciting as I had expected. Like a narcotic, I was
now hooked on Bonefish.
We returned to the same lodge the next year.
Ascencion Bay now appeared very welcoming, no doubt
because I was more familiar with it and knew what to expect.
I was assigned the same guide, and was happy to see that he
appeared pleased to have been assigned to me. Before that
week-long trip ended, I spent an entire day fishing alone with
him. I boated 22 Bonefish that day and felt we had certainly
developed a good line of communication between us.
The Bahamas have since attracted me.
The guides speak the same language as us, and there
are more opportunities for larger Bonefish there. If
the Yucatan Bones of three and four pounds can 'rip'
line the way they do, what would it be like to tie into
some five and seven pounders?
Now where did I put that brochure about
Bonefishing in the Bahamas?
~ Don Cianca