Actually the chap who owns the house at this point came out to greet us (we’d met him previously). He stated that there’d been a massive shoal of bones there for almost three weeks and nobody had ventured to that part of the beach with a fly rod. We soon put that straight, the final score being 6-4 to me – for the first time in a few years I won our first bonefish wager, so Tracy now owes me an Indian takeaway. There was some debate over the score as I think it should be recorded as 6-3.75 as you can see in one of the photos below. We’ll be back for the cuda responsible! This was a fun way to get used to strip striking and clearing the line, but not the most challenging of fishing.
Today’s fishing was a bit more taxing, we visited two spots looking for ‘proper’ bones. At the first we only saw a couple and these were moving away from us. I did manage to pick up a nice bar jack with a very fast cast as I saw it running past me – so long as you get the fly in front of them they’ll take it more often than not. As with almost all jacks these fight well beyond their weight and if you can find one of 3-4lb then expect to see a lot of backing. At the second venue we found a few more bonefish but these were very spooky. Tracy managed to persuade one to take her fly and shortly afterwards had an eat from a better fish. Unfortunately this fish made a bee-line for a nearby clump of mangroves and the moment it reached it, the tippet parted company with the fly. Mangrove roots are invariably covered in barnacles so I think you’re best pulling to the maximum of your set-up in this situation. Sometimes it works in stopping the run, sometimes it doesn’t.
I even upped the score with a bonefish of my own before we entered an area that we were expecting to hold quite a few fish based on previous experiences. At the top of this flat is a creek area that allows the water to flow off (it’s fed by another inlet where we exit). At the top end of the flat is a slight depression, probably scoured out by the water picking up speed as it leaves, and in there sat a nice sized barracuda facing the flow (and probably hoping for a meal to be swept down towards it). I positioned myself to the side of the fish and made my first casts at it (I’ve written many times about how my fly fishing for cuda can involve many casts). Unfortunately things didn’t go exactly to plan and the fish moved to a position that made it impossible for me to see due to the direction of the sun. However Tracy was on the other side of the depression and still had a perfect view of the cuda. With her guidance I was able to continue my ‘wind-up’ until anger got the better of it and it smashed my fly. One cuda targeted, one landed. (This ratio won’t last obviously – if it’s 10-20% by the end of the trip I’ll be happy).
There weren’t huge amounts of bonefish on the flat although we did find some tailing towards the bottom end. This is one of the flats that I had in mind for the weed-guarded flies that I tied, so I was especially happy when a rather nice bonefish had no hesitation in pouncing on it. The fight was pretty fraught as there were lots of opportunities for it to run into mangroves, weed beds or just to snag the line on the submerged sand hills, but things went my way and after a quick photo it was released.
Changing the subject to casting, last Saturday saw the first BFCC competition event of 2019. As I predicted I did extremely badly – I suspect I was subconsciously protecting my elbow with us flying out the next day (well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it). Many congratulations to the event winners; Dean, Toby and Tracy. Tracy’s win, in the #5 competition, is the first time a female has won a distance event at the BFCC (she has previously won the accuracy though). Her casting on the day, in difficult conditions, was sublimely smooth and well deserving of the win – she was also leading the ST27 until pretty much the last cast of the competition knocked her into 2nd place. Hopefully this will compensate for the loss of her ‘first bonefish’ title.
With luck, they’ll be more fish next week,
All the best, James.