Tracy&James | Thursday, 9 May 2019
DiY flats fishing can be tough at times and the trip Tracy and I have just returned from was one of our toughest. In retrospect, perhaps it felt tougher because last year’s trip was such a good one where we had one of our best bonefish catches to date. We didn’t expect to beat this total, but we also didn’t anticipate struggling to the degree we did.
There’s a lot of wading through essentially barren areas whilst DiYing. Sometimes it’s quite possible to walk a number of miles without seeing a single fish worth casting at, but you still need to keep the concentration levels up as there’s nothing worse than wading for a couple of hours only to spook the first bonefish you come across. Obviously knowledge of the flats should help to reduce the number of miles per fish, and indeed we’ve improved on each successive trip to the island, however this time things were somehow different.
Although we found bonefish where we were expecting to find them, mostly it wasn’t in anything like the numbers we’ve previously encountered. We did find large numbers of fish on a couple of days; once when exploring (after finding our known flat almost devoid of fish) we observed fish way back into the mangroves – I did cast at one, a nice fish of about 4 – 5lb, but inevitably the fight was very short lived as it ran me instantaneously into roots. In hindsight casting at bonefish in such tight spots is completely pointless (you know how much I hate losing flies!). The second time we saw lots of fish was on a flat that we’ve previously had some fantastic days on, however this time it seemed that every fish on the flat was schooled up together. Once we waded up to them the cause was obvious – sharks, it really was predator central there (no really big ones that were worth casting at though). Unfortunately sharks sometimes learn that there’s an easy meal to be had by shadowing wade anglers – they just wait for someone to hook a fish and when it’s sufficiently slowed down they move in for their attack. Once this behaviour is observed there’s only one thing you can do – leave and fish elsewhere! This isn’t the easiest decision when you’ve had days of not seeing a lot of fish and then running into hundreds of them, but it is the right thing to do.
All that said we did both catch quite a few bonefish. Tracy unfortunately lost a whopper which ran more backing from her reel than anything before it – attested by her fingers being dyed green by gel-spun that’s never seen the light of day before (we gently nudge the backing line with our fingers whilst retrieving it in order level it out). She was also unlucky with the barracudas that she hooked – losing them all due to a minor error in how she plays them (definitely a lesson learned). She did, however, finish the trip with the largest fish – a beauty of a lemon shark. She was actually stalking up on a slightly smaller fish when a larger one swept on to the flat and took her fly first cast. The 100lb plus shark target will have to wait for a future trip – I had three good shots at different fish in this class, but despite all three following the fly, none took it. I’m beginning to think these larger fish want a bigger mouthful, so next time I’ll be chucking bigger flies. Flavio tied me a mullet fly that looks perfect (about 8 inches), however I didn’t get another opportunity with a big shark on the trip.
This weekend is the Sportfish show in Theale, Berkshire. This is always a great event with demos, lectures, tackle to try, good food and real ale. It’s free to attend and park and the weather forecast looks ok. The BFCC will have a presence there with instructors offering top class tuition and Tracy and others on the stall, so if you’re going, pop by and say hello – don’t mention cudas to Tracy though, it’s a bit of a sore point.
All the best, James.