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Bonefish off Starboard Bow

Afternoon Bonefish

It isn’t often I get bow time on my skiff but a quick afternoon trip with my buddy Jason was exactly what I needed to scratch that itch. It started out like any successful afternoon does, light winds, sun, cigars, and a little bourbon in hopes of a celebration cocktail. We started off with a long run with a plan to work our way home on a few different flats. The feeling of having everything to yourself is hard to put into words.

Our first stop we were into fish almost immediately. To say they were uncooperative is an understatement. Fish came and went for the first hour with no connections, so we needed a change.

We didn’t have to go far and were back in the fish. This stretch offered two shots, one at a quick moving permit and another shot at a pair of bonefish. Surprisingly the permit seemed to cooperate more than the bonefish but he just wouldn’t commit. Sometimes you get lucky with a bonefish and other time the permit are well, permit.

Bonefish Reward

Stop number three started slow but we were rewarded with persistence as it just felt right. I thought about moving two separate times over the course of 30 minutes but something told me to stay. I must admit it might be a case of being lucky rather than good but either way, I will take it. A pair of bonefish creeped in from my off-hand side and since we had good vison the way we were facing, I opted for a backhand presentation rather than spinning the boat. I was a little short but since the fish were coming right to me they were on it as soon as it entered their field of vision. One hop and the lead fish pinned the fly and I came tight. It was an impressive first run for the fish of this size. I like a bonefish with a little attitude. After a little back and forth, the fish came to hand. Quick photo and off she swam.

Bonefish No. 2

I had barely enough time to get back on the platform and line stripped out before Jason called out a group of fish. This small group was crossing from right to left and appeared happy. They were meticulously picking their way across the flat and my fly was exactly what they ordered. Two fish broke from the group, tracked the fly for maybe five feet before pinning my shrimp imitation. I was tight and on cloud nine. Jason landed the fish, I unhooked her and grabbed a quick photo right before she swam away.

After seeing a good number of fish and bringing two boat side it was time for a little nip of bourbon, light the stogies and take it all in before breaking for home. Cheers to a successful afternoon of bonefish in Biscayne Bay.

Thankful for a little bow time and cooperative bonefish. Just what I needed before a few upcoming trips.

From The Endless Flat,
Capt. Chris

A Tarpon Short of a Slam

Permit and Bonefish

It was a typical late spring day in Biscayne Bay, a light concentration of clouds and a pretty good breeze. Jason Foss was in town to chase to chase the usual suspects. We started out early with a long run ushered by an incredible sunrise. We came off pad to an unexpected pod of tarpon rolling in the area. Jason pulled a jig I tied the night before and although the first cast went unnoticed, the next cast was on a dime and Foss was hooked up immediately. The fish took to the air after a lighting quick 40 yard run and the jig was sent flying right back at the bow. Jason turned to me and just started laughing, “That was all I could do.” We spent another 30 minutes with those tarpon, jumped one more and as the sun peeked over the first line of clouds, we split.

A nice permit

As we poled into the next spot, we had a single permit slide into range. Jason dropped the jig just ahead of the permit’s path and the fish immediately turned. With a few turns of the reel the fished nosed down and smoked the jig. Foss was tight and the fish headed for the horizon. It was a good fish. Those larger ones just have a higher gear than their smaller siblings. I was down off the platform and had the motor cranked before the fish’s first run was over. After a pretty good tug of war his permit was boatside. A quick photo of Jason’s fish and we went our separate ways.

With a quick shot, we decided to stay in the area, but our efforts went unrewarded and decided to look elsewhere. A short ride later we found ourselves in the fish again. Two pairs of smaller permit passed us by like they had somewhere more important be so, we gave the finger and kept pushing. As the next group approached, we could see a mix of both small and large fish as they marched our way. You know how this story goes… a good cast, fish look interested, two larger fish lead the way and then… the smallest fish steals the show. I immediately started laughing as Foss let a few expletives fly. Apparently, as the fish headbutted each other to reach the jig, the hook point missed its mark and off they went.

Permit No. 2

As we pushed on, Jason spotted a group of permit floating, sicles high, relaxed, and happy. The first cast was right on the money and Foss was tight in an instant. After two short runs I tailed the fish for a quick photo and back in the water he went.

With the changing of the tide and increasing cloud cover we decided to have a look for bonefish. We arrived at the first flat a little early and did not see much so we went exploring. We lit a cigar for the run and passed by a few areas we rarely fish, until we had the ah-ha moment and stopped. A short push later and a pair of bonefish came in from our right. They were moving quickly and were mildly interested before taking off. Only minutes later another pair approached, and a well-placed cast had Jason tight again. As we fought this fish I could see a number of bonefish in the distance and I certainly ear-marked this for later.

Jason’s Bonefish

From The Endless Flat,
Capt. Chris

Trophy Hunting

In search of Trophy Bonefish

We have had a stretch of bad weather for at least a week. Rain, wind, more wind and clouds. Pretty much par for the course this time of year. Mother nature is fickle, we know this, and never more so than during her transition from winter to spring. Often we go from Winter to Spring to Summer in one week but March has been different. Finally, we got what seemed to be a small window and we just had to go. Jason joined me for a trip in which we had one goal, a trophy class bonefish.

We decided to take a later start and fish more banker’s hours since we knew there would be very few boats on the water, we were right. The wind was blowing, and it was going to be a bibs and jacket kind of day. I prefer less than perfect weather, less people on the water. Due to the wind direction Foss and I put together a game plan while we idled out. Once we reached that last marker, we battened down the hatches and let her eat.

Small Bonefish Warmup

Or first stop put us into fish. It was a little slow going but the numbers increased as we expected throughout the tide. Sadly, many of these fish were small but we are not about to turn our nose up at any fish. Jason used two of these smaller bonefish as a hopeful warmup of sorts. It is always nice to see smaller, active fish.

We pushed on. Approaching from a distance was a giant fish. It was one of those fish you think, no way, for a split second while your brain catches up to what your eyes see. Even Jason who is a cool customer was a little puckered up. I can’t blame him. If this doesn’t get you going, find a new gig. Jason takes his shot. It is on a dime, but the big bonefish just isn’t interested. Another 15 minutes and time to move.

Cigar Break

The middle of the day was slow. We made several stops and had a few shots but not exactly what we wanted. Nothing a little break and cigar can’t fix! I knew we had a limited time and only a few stops left so we had to pull out all the stops.

The next stop did not pan out, so we pushed all our chips to the middle of the table and made a run.

Tailing Bonefish

We pulled up to the last flat and began to pole. Almost immediately we were greeted by a pair of tails. They were crossing our bow but out at a distance, so I did not want to race up to them. We had a few close shots at little fish, but Foss really wanted his shot at the big bonefish, so we carefully worked around the smaller fish. There really is nothing like seeing tailing bonefish over lush grass. It is certainly one of the harder shots but worth it when it all comes together.

Three big fish approached, backs out of the water at 11 o’clock. “Foss, you got to play the wind on this one a little.” His first shot was a little too cautious, so he burned it back to set up his next one. A little side arm to keep the jig low was all he needed. The jig landed softly in front of the inside fish and with a bit of commotion, he was tight. All three fish lit of that flat. Exit hard stage right. The sound of line cutting in the water across the bow is just incredible.

I’m hoofing now, trying to guard against that fish leaving the flat. Thankfully, he stays up and Foss has his hands full. One long run followed by another. The cool water kept this fish energized and I closed the gap before hopping to assist with landing her. I grabbed the tape measure so we could get a length x girth on her while in the water. One quick photo was all we needed and off she went.

Big Bonefish in Hand

Foss got it done with a walk off. I still had half a cigar to properly celebrate on the way back to the ramp. The Bonefish Tarpon Trust calculator put her at 11.44lb which is Jason’s biggest to date.

A great day in less-than-ideal conditions really made for a great memory.

From The Endless Flat,
Capt. Chris