Our site this week features fishing the Bahamas for bonefish. Or as the
terrific G Loomis advertisement a while back said, "And you have an
appointment with Mr. Bonefish." Remember the ad? It had a line of guys in
3-piece suits at an airline terminal and one guy in a tropic shirt and shorts? We
have an appointment with Mr. Bonefish. The first week in
Joseph Pinder was our guide on our last trip to the
Bahamas. He is the son of David Pinder. David has been
written about in many of the articles and books on
bonefish. In fact, most of the guides who work for Deep
Water Cay have years of experience and family ties to the
Pinder family. David is the guru of the guides.
We did have an opportunity to have many
conversations with the guides on our last trip. Near the end
of the week when the guides got to know us they vented
their anger at the 'sleazy fly shops' and so called 'expert
Here is their beef: Very often a guest shows up with enough flies to start
their own fly shop. One group in particular had been sold 52 separate fly
patterns. And more than one of each pattern! Better have a spare!
If that's not bad enough, more than one dealer had "loaded" his customer
with fly rods in nine through 12 weights. For bonefish. Perhaps it was because
the dealer didn't know any better, or he was greedy. You make that call. I've
already made mine.
We caught the majority of our fish on a fast action 6-weight rod. We did
take 8-weight rods. One 8-weight was rigged with a crab fly in case we came on
Having the right equipment does help. We heard lots of horror stories
about broken rods on bones, and lost rods on airlines. We chickened out and
took too many rods, six. Since two people in a boat take turns casting, we used
only two rods, a 6-weight nine-foot and 8-weight nine foot - both fast action
rods. All the rods we did take could be carried onto airplanes and were not
Discussing rods with Joseph, we discovered they had a full line of rods and
rental equipment. In a disaster, rods were available right there. Deep Water
Cay has a fully equipped fly shop on premises.
Once the initial shock of catching my first bonefish was over, I spent some
time, (as Castwell was spotting fish,) peering over the side of the boat,
investigating the flats floor. Joseph was wonderful in answering my questions.
The guides look for humps of sand down there. Crab domes! A trickle of
dark sand from the top of the dome means someone is inside. A
silver-dollar-size indentation on the top of the dome indicates Mr. Bonefish has
been there. (That's the mark left when they blow a mouthful of water at the
dome - dislodging whoever is living there.) The domes appeared in a couple of
sizes, depending on who the inhabitant was.
Large number of tailing bonefish usually were smaller fish. Tails often
looked much like brown mangrove sprouts in the water. . . or a dead fluttering
weed. After a while I got "tailitis." Everything looked like a tail sticking up.
Back to the flies, we lost one fly in an entire week. Castwell lost that one to
a shark that appeared out of nowhere and took fish, fly and leader. It was the
only fish he lost all week. I lost one. It charged me! Moving toward me so fast
there was no time to react. Later I asked head guide David Pinder what I
should have done in that situation, but he just laughed.
We took a variety of Clouser minnows, Gotchas in a couple of colors, and
bought one we had not seen from Deep Water Cay's fly shop, a Mini- Pink
Puff. We changed flies very little. We never caught a fish on the Clousers. Size
eight was more productive than size six flies.
Working with a good guide is a wonderful experience. Pay attention, do it
their way, and soak up all the information you can! - ~ DLB
(November 3rd, 1997)