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Craig_S

Exuma Report

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Craig_S    0
Craig_S

I've no ability for trout. But believe I've stumbled on fly fishing heaven. I've said it before and will say it again. Toss your pocket change in a jar every night, and you too can Exuma. I'm just an ordinary guy. But my priorities have changed.

Use caution, because you'll never be the same. Make sure your spouse is steady. If she is, she'll soon be begging a return.

Seatbelts fastened, curtains open, and seat back in the full upright position, we're going to Exuma.....

Mon, that was fast. Took me 15 hours in airport and plane. but you're here. Everything is fine. 78 degrees, the sun has set. Nice. But Wifey's bag hasn't arrived. And my old favorite Redington rod and reel were stowed in there too. No problem Mon. I spread the gear amongst the bags so there's fishing gear enough. But Wifey seems in poor humor. Let's go to bed.

It's 6:00 AM. Time to string a few rods. Mid way through, Cleaning Lady pays a call. She says, "you a bonefish Mon? Bring me a bonefish Mon." I say, "That's against the rules. Those bonefish are worth much more money swimming in the sea than in your belly." She say, "Bring me a bonefish Mon." I leave her a two dollar tip for extra towels instead.

Rods.jpg

Wifey's a little edgy. Bag still hasn't arrived so I take Kiddo for a wade in Bonefish Bay. That's the real name and right in front of the hotel. We find a few 'cuda that snap off my flies. And a few treasures too.

Starfish.jpg

And this one, I call a sea slug. No idea really. Creature is about 8" long. Freaky.

SeaSlug.jpg

Wifey joins us and we find a hidden beach. Nobody for miles. And she relaxes a bit.

ShadyTree.jpg

By night fall, still no bag. She's really edgy now. After a lobster and conch dinner, I head to the front desk with intent to get that bag or kill the messenger. The bag is there. No problem Mon. Tomorrow is a fishing day. I prepare for Reno.

Reno.jpg

And he's the best. I've learned so much from guides past, I think there's little more Reno can teach. But I'm wrong. You never quit learning about this thing. It's truly a life long pursuit.

My fishing buddy is ready.

buddy.jpg

And soon we're on the bones. It isn't easy. Super high tides, lack of sun and gale force winds follow us for the trip. Not for amateurs. I'm not an amateur any more. Reno poles with certainty. Wind over my left shoulder. There's a break in the clouds. Reno: "Bone 11:00 40 feet." Craig: "I don't see em." Reno: "Cast now Mon. Good. Strip. Strip. Strip. He's on it. Long strip." Reel scream time. You simply can't imagine the power of these fish.

BonefishGuitar.jpg

Conditions are tough. But in the next few days we score some serious bones. Other "sports" are getting skunked. And that makes dinner time real special since we all talk at dinner. They want my flies. They want my guide. They want. Truth be told, they don't have anything I don't other that confidence and determination. Some don't even fish a whole day. Too rough. Too bad.

Bruiser.jpg

That one's a bruiser. Maybe 6 pounds.

AnotherBruiser.jpg

And that one pushes eight. Almost unheard of in Exuma. There were a dozen or so others. Some smaller, some bigger. Each a trophy in it's own right.

I've only one regret. Kiddo didn't get a bone. Not that he couldn't, but conditions didn't allow. Hooks in the ear weren't on my agenda in that wind.

But he did get a good look at how it's done. He said, "Dad I've got a lot to learn. I'll practice even harder next summer if I can come again."

I wouldn't go without him. He's the master of clearing line from under my feet. On one fish I wrapped the line around my left leg of all things, and made a real disco move to free it. My son apologised for letting it happen. He was serious about his work. It wasn't his fault. It's just the "bonefish dance."

15 more hours in travel and we're back home. It's a little good to be home. Sort of.

I've got a little gold in my pocket. Those memories might not last the whole year. So I've stashed enough frequent flier miles and cash for a dash if I need it. Alcoholics stash booze, I stash bonefish. I'm not sure I can make a whole year without my stash.

Go if you dare. You'll never be the same.

Craig

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45acpshooter    0
45acpshooter

Great post, great photos. Thanks.

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turiprap    0
turiprap

Craig,

With the winter storm of the year due in beginning this evening, I have only this to say: WOW!

Well, actually, I do have more: First, I'm insanely jealous. Second, great photos and great text.

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Questor    0
Questor

Craig S.

The experience of bonefishing like that ruined me too for a number of years. I love that kind of fishing. It's so much better than anything we have around here.

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Stiff    0
Stiff

Ok - I admit.... That looks like more fun than ice fishing. grin.gif

Thanks very much for the great post.

~T

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Scott M    3
Scott M

Did you see a lot of sharks out there? Just got done reading about a Bahamian catch and release fishery and that in places with lots of sharks something like 35% of bonefish that were released were eaten (too tired to swim away fast enough). Just curious. Got your trip and date planned for 08?

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WxGuy    0
WxGuy

Good to read this report again...

Going again Craig?

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Craig_S    0
Craig_S

Sorry, busy spreading extra testosterone over on the hunting forums...

Abso freaking lootly! I'm telling you, Once you go flats, you're never going to quit.

We're booked with Pelican Bay Bonefishing on Grand Bahama again. Greg Vincent, the fishing manager weighed in on my FM trip story a few years ago. First class guy, and featured on "Chasing Silver, Destination X". It's a fly fishing for tarpon show - sometimes on Verso (versa?) if you get it. Stunning. And a truly great guy.

It'll be our third trip with Greg. And gonna be great! Count on a report.

Grand Bahama is getting ripped by tropical storm Noel as I type. And each of the last two times we were there, we were preceded by hurricanes. Wilma and the remnants of Katrina I think. Good people in the Bahamas. Give them a prayer.

Craig - Here's Grand Bahama, and That's my boy!

Boy.jpg

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Craig_S    0
Craig_S

da_chise31 -

Yes, you see a lot of sharks on the flats. Mostly lemon sharks, but some bonnet heads (like hammerheads) maybe a bull or two.

It's an incredible ecosystem. Truly dog eats dog. I've had three bonefish that I can remember absolutely ripped apart by sharks. That's probably about three out of over 100. So nowhere near 35%.

The guides recognize the value of those fish. Every effort is made to release them unharmed. I've even been told to pull them free when a shark is looking interested. Better to snap a tippet and lose a fly than kill a fish.

That's the Bahamas. There are places (Cuba, Mexico, the Pacific)where netting bonefish is pretty widespread and takes it's toll on the fishery. People have to eat. I can only hope that tourism catches up with the need for protein. These fish are special.

Craig

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