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Archive for the ‘Bahamas’ Category

DIY – Bonefish Exumas

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One of the flies that got a lot of attention, our Polar Gotcha.

polar gotcha IMG_1328

Some do it yourself, hints and ideas for bonefishing in the Exumas.

Guides – Recommendation – Garth Thompson

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One of the two doubles that Garth got us into, and I believe this was Judy’s best fish of the trip.

I still believe in guides, to help you understand the fish, water, how to see, the water, et cetera. So with this, I can highly recommend Garth Thompson whose instructions are well timed, his directions clear and his sight is amazing.

Guides – NOT – Stevie

Stevie (bonefishstevie) – In a display of territorial aggression Stevie charged me in his boat at speed, I was on my feet on the flats so I was at a significant disadvantage. Once the unfriendly encounter was done, he roared out, ensuring our spot was ruined for the day.

Judy’s note, “he is probably a good guide, but just not a good person”.  See TripAdvisor, but, please note Bahamas regulations limit the number of people on a guide’s boat to 2.

stevie review

Enough said, but I dislike negative reviews, but several indicated it was worth noting on this occasion.

Next time when I see a boat charging me, get the camera out, video tape and post it on YouTube.

Kayak or SUP

Yes, a kayak will substantially improve your access, as often there is a deep channel at the shore, before it opens up the cays and flats. In our case, the channel in front of our stay in the middle of the Airport Flats is walkable, though deep.

In the past, I have found kayak’s painful – literally – and this was no exception. Next time, I am bringing an iSUP.

view in the morning IMG_1271

The view from our front step, as the sun rises at high tide.

Logistics – Car – a necessity

Simple: Berlies Car Rentals and if you are looking for a larger car to move kayaks, consider a Jeep and bring your own ropes.

Berlies is located just outside the airport, they will pickup you as you exit the small airport and drop you off.

Logistics – Flights

The Exumas is an out-island, so the infrastructure is downsized. Daily flights from southern Florida or Nassau are present, but otherwise few long-haul flights are available.

In our case, we flew in by Air Canada from Toronto (that comes in-out on every Saturday) to George Town on a small jet. To make the early morning flight out easy with reduce risk (de-icing, weather), we arrive the night before and stay in Toronto (at the Airport Alt Hotel).

Logistics – Food and Alcohol

Yes, we are on an out-island, where the food comes in by ship on Tuesday or Wednesday, so if you land on a Sunday (Air Canada), expect limited food availability.

We stayed at a very nice cottage on the Airport Flats, booked through VRBO, with a small but complete kitchen, so what were the essentials we brought or should have brought:

  • Cliff’s Oatmeal Bars – withstand the heat well, when you are fishing!
  • Ground Coffee and UHT Milk – we even bring our steel French press.
  • Asian Noodles – Breakfast with Poached Eggs (bought at the convenience) . Alternatively, any canned-dry goods you want for 2 days if you arrive on the weekend – Peanut Butter, Granola, et cetera

And when the week comes, you can go to Prime Island Meats north of George Town, and then swing back through George Town to Exuma Market to pick up anything else. When stocked, you will fine better greens and fruits at the Exuma Market, but the Chicken and Crab salad at Prime Island makes great sandwiches.

Kalik is a great beer. I would note for Canadian’s – Beer is more expensive, but alcohol is cheaper than what I can buy in Ontario. Like Ontario, Alcohol sales is controlled and there are limited retailers, we acquire ours south of George Town at the turn off to the old airport (before Cheaters)

For restaurants, definitely recommend ….

    • Santana’s (get the Grouper), also stop next door into Mama’s Bakery on Little Exuma
    • Shirley’s north of Georgetown (get the side dish of fried plantain)

shirleys IMG_1322

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plaintain IMG_1262

Oh yes, my preference was to stay have dinner at the cottage, letting us fish the flats to sunset.

Logistic – Maps

Google Earth is better than Google Maps, as Google Earth Satellite shows the unmarked roads!

Best interactive map of key locations around the Exuma is courtesy of a unknown person who created > https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rWCO5UyeQGR4OLZ1VVdpjI6YQJg&ll=23.438098271246115%2C-75.60763117177737&z=13

Cameras – GoPro 5

Just before the trip, Judy’s GoPro 4 died and we bought a replacement GoPro 5. The images from this camera is amazing and I hope to post some of her videos soon.

If there is any negative we found with the camera, is that the GoPro 5’s audio does not work well with Gimbals.

Fishing the Airport Flats – Leaders

Go with long leaders – 10-12′ – with a 8 lb or 10lb fluorocarbon.

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Judy was using a traditional Bonefish Line with a 10+’ leader and did well. I was trying a clear tip line with an intermediate poly-leader. I do not believe there was any benefit with the clear tip (it still have mass), but the setup still work.

Having dealt with good and bad fluorocarbon, I now only use Seaguar Blue.

Yes, there is wind, but with a 8wt rod, we were fine.

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Fishing the Airport Flats – Tides

The tides are about 90-120 minutes behind those reported at Steveston and George Town.

Fishing the Flats – Walking

The flats are mostly sand, so you can walk barefoot; and when the bottom is more mud than sand, it is better to walk barefoot as the feedback help you to respond so much better to the changing conditions.

My SIMMs booties with neoprene socks continue to serve we well.

As noted last year, Judy as a smaller women can not find a boot from the traditional fly-fishing OEMs that will fit her. Last years Ski-Doo boots died within 3 days, but this year she found some Akona boots at a Dive Shop that worked.

Please remember to cover your feet when you are out in the open (out of the water), as burn feet are not fun.

walk flats DSCN0955

Fishing the Exuma Flats – Flies

Light colour flies, as most of the sand is white with a grey tinge, I would suggest white to a light ecru.

Images of flies in a water, with sand from the flats under.

flies in water IMG_1344

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flies in water IMG_1343
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Judy’s last fish of the trip.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2018/03/31 at 22:52

Posted in Bahamas, Saltwater, Vacation

Rigging an 8wt Silk Line

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As I preparing for my next bonefish trip, I have added a Phoenix Silk WF 8wt Line. This is very atypical, but there are many properties of silk that appeals to me in these fishing conditions ….

  • Line is thin, so it will cut through wind
  • Intermediate, slow sink – not planning to treat it to float.
  • Colour is straw and a natural colour, like a flat (though more yellow)

Unlike our modern plastic lines, there is no loop – so you either have to nail knot your leader on or add a loop. Trying and testing different combinations (nail knots slipped off), I settled on

  • Using Miracle Braid, Albright Knot onto the Silk Line
  • Leader Loop, Perfection Loop

MBraid Phoenix DSC1526.jpg

For the rear of the line, repeat with Albright.  You can put in a Perfection Loop or created a knotless loop – YouTube Miracle Braid Loop. I keep to the perfection loop.

Last, a couple of shout-outs:

  • Making silk lines is a craft, done by a few artisans. Thanks to Mike and Jean at Phoenix for continuing this tradition.
  • Tim Rajeff the lead at Airflo USA is a class act. Provides good products and good support. I have been a returned customer for 2 decades now.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2017/12/24 at 21:11

Simms’ Flats Boots

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First and last: Recommended, but you must fit your boats in a store or be prepared to ship back boots!

I pick these boots up for saltwater fishing, but having using them extensively as my water boats launching, handling et cetera, Judy’s boat this summer, I have had enough time to “bond” with them. With the neoprene socks (ordered separately), they are great.

I would note that Judy’s Seadoo boats did not last 5 days in the Bahamas before they fell apart, but mine dp show some wear, but are in great shape, protect my feet, easy to walk in, and keep the sand out.

Any warnings or disappointments:

  • As others pointed out, Simms sizing is way out to lunch!  I usually fit in a size a Size 10 to 10 1/2 wide shoe.  In this case, I am in a Size 13 Boat and a Large thin Simms Neoprene sock.
  • Availability – though I live near a city of a Million People, there was no store that had any. I was able to get my, while travelling through Dallas last year at a Bass Pro.
  • Size again, no-one makes a boot for a small lady (my wife, hence the try with the poor Seadoo boot).

simms boats_DSC0436

Yes, this is a great boot and sock combination, but as others noted, the sizing information does not reflect what you may be wearing in shoes, boots, waders, et cetera. Find a store.

As a reference, this year, I also purchased a new pair of walking shoes (Merrell’s size 10) and dress shoes (ECCO, size 44 (10 1/2)), and the SIMMs are 13s.

I hope this helps.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2017/09/22 at 00:01

Scott Meridian 8wt

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I have not posted for some time, with the rain this summer and the deer eating my garden, I have little to post on the usual subjects. Never-the-less there are some updates, which I like to share.

I bought the Scott Meridian 8wt last winter as a backup rod for bonefishing, and now it is my preferred rod for Saltwater, Pike and Bass. It has displaced a 20+ year favoured Loomis GL3 and a more current Winston BL5.

Why has it gain such favour? It is light, responsive and I can really feel the load in the rod, allowing me to time my cast well. It is fun!

It does not have the stiff body as my older Sage RPLXi, where you need to over-line the rod to feel it, but feels alive with the designated line weight. Being responsive, you can apply some complex setups with ease.

Like my new Meiser 13668 (previous post), and the Guideline in the picture below, it has exploited the new fast recovery graphite’s available to the rod designers.

As I get no gain or advantage et cetera with any posting, I share my thoughts, as a individual with no pressure to produce, but forcing me to solidified my thoughts. Hopefully a reader or two will benefit.

I do recommend (like the many fly fishing pundits), if you are looking for a 8wt, fresh or saltwater, get a Scott Meridan.

I did buy a second rod, for Judy and I.

 

rods_DSC0437

Is there any concern? Small one, maybe as a result of the mass of the flies, maybe an error in production or my cast, my sections do come lose after a few hours. You can use the standard spey two-hand long-rod technique of some wax, a little tape. or keep an eye on your rod.

meridan_DSC0440

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It is a light rod, so I encourage you to look for a light reel.  As I self declared earlier this spring, I prefer the engineering and supply stability from Danielsson, so on my rod is a L5W 8twelve, suited for the salt and any other other challenge I can put on her.

Right now, I am using the Airflo Beach 8wt for Bass and Pike. Once you get the head to the tip, the line just flies over the water.

airflo

And yes, I am using a Streamside Furled Leader. In some of the forums, I see debate (often not so kind and focus on the flotation issue) from several of the furled leader manufacturers, but Mike Moline at Streamside lays low and just delivers a very nice leader MADE TO ORDER, and suitable for a 8wt.

Judy more than I likes how these leaders cast too and presents a fly.

So another set of recommendations for my Meridian 8 wt – Airflo Beach and Streamside Furled Leaders

On furled leaders, if dry fly fishing, may I suggest you use the Phoenix Braided Leader and use a little Red Muclin to support it if you feel it is necessary. I would also contend, a leader that is under the surface and NOT dragging your dry fly under is better than a mono-leader on top when fishing slick water for trout. Maybe I have not spent enough time dry fishing on slick water to get annoy about leaders not floating and prefer the subtle look of a furled leader in the water.

All of these recommendations-comments has been based on months to years of use, so hopefully this helps, if you are searching for a new rod for Bonefish, Bass or Pike.  The Meridan is a great rod, for fresh or saltwater.

Oh yes, the 11wt Guideline RSi Rod in the above picture is new, and has not seen the same usage as the Meridian. I like it, but it has not seen the same level of punishment as the 8wt, so I reserve any recommendation until it has seen a season or two.

Last comment for today and to close up the opening message. It has been a cool and wet year, so it has been a banner year for our local tree frogs.  I scared this one our of my Lemongrass pot on the deck, in the back.

tree frog_DSC0446

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Written by raspberryfisher

2017/09/20 at 02:17

Light and small crab bonefish flies

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700 Crabd Weights_DSC8681.jpg

Most commercial crab fly patterns for bonefish are big and heavy – great to cast off a boat into 2-6’s water.  And yet, when you are walking on the flats in shadow water, when the fish are spooky, you need something that is small, light, still sink and will lay down softly.

From left to right, we have

  • Wilson’s micro-crab – size 8 hook – 0.21grams
  • Commercial Blue Yarn Crab – size 6 – 0.80grams
  • Commercial Veverka’s Corsair Crabby – size 4 -1.44g
  • Commercial Borski’s Crab  – size 2 – 1.79grams

So what is important?

  • Small hook – Size 6 or 8
  • Body material that will shed water and not imped sinking – EP Brush
  • Trimmed wide body shape.
  • Small to medium bead chain eyes

As this is for shallow water, with the expectation the fly is being pulled away from the bonefish, one needs to consider the view will be low and from the back.  If necessary, you can trim the top flat, but as I saw many crabs position themselves up, I did not believe this was a critical feature.

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So what is the recipe:

  • Size 8 Hook
  • Pink Thread
  • Krystal Flash – Optional – think hybrid shrimp-crab pattern
  • Grizzly Hackle Stripped – Optional  – length of body
  • Hen Hackle splayed open – natural – similar to fly
  • Small-Medium Bead Chain Eyes – Consider Black – mounted at back of fly and such that the hook rides up
  • Small Hen hackle – Yellow , Orange, Pink or Chartreuse – Wrapped around shank.
  • Prepare shank with a tapered body of pink thread.
  • EP (Shrimp Dub) Brush tightly wound from back to eye.
    • Trim body to shape
    • Trim base flat

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I would like to have a lighter colour Hen Hackle.

crab 700_DSC8631.jpg

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shrimp 700_DSC8611.jpg

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Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/02 at 09:41

Light Bonefish Flies – some Principles

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So I have been doing some experiments, since our return from the Bahamas. A couple of lessons learnt was:

  • The common and promoted synthetic “Craft Fur” is lifeless in water.
  • I need, as DYI fisherman walking the flats, a greater selection of light flies.

So I wanted to know how light can I got, so some experiments were under-taken.  My conclusions:

  1. Stay with the traditional size saltwater hook – size 8, such as a Daiichi 2546.
    1. I tried tubeless and found it is possible to tie a fly too light (it floated). Eventually, I got to a sinking fly, but I saw no advantage gain with a tube fly, so I reverted back to a traditional saltwater hook with the small bead chain eye. (no picture)
  2. If using anything more than a few hairs, use a bead chain weights. The final target dry weight for a spare fly should be 0.28grams.
    1. If you want to use no weight, stay with feathers!
  3. In experimenting with eyes, I will continue with my homemade eyes – lower cost and better looking. (See picture, and you judge for yourself).
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  4. Rabbit will have more life sitting in the water, but it will float on a lightly weighted fly, until it is soaked.  So, if you are holding a fly in your hand, as you scan and hunt for bonefish, you maybe casting a fly that will not get to the sea floor.

So what will I tie for small and light spawning shrimp, other than using Rudy’s:

  • Daiichi 2546
  • Small bead-chain weight
  • Black Pupil Eyes – splayed
  • fine crystal flash – 4 strands
  • tailing feathers – 3 pairs stagger in length
  • hair casing, such as deer tail

A fly in construction in my vise, showing the splayed tailing feathers.  Two changes in the final build is smaller bead-chain and use my own black pupil eyes.

small fly midbuild 700 IMG_5191.jpg

More pictures and some weights.

Dry – from top left:

  • Shrimp – Craft Hair casing – 0.47g
  • Deer Hair casing with medium bead-chain eyes – 0.30g
  • Rabbit Fur casing with small bead-chain eyes – 0.25g

small flies 1 dry DSC8343.jpg

Same flies, but in water and looking into the fly, as would a chasing bonefish would look.

small fly 1 wet _DSC8348.jpg

 

Some other flies – dry and reference dry weights – from left to right

  • Pop’s Bitters with medium bead-chain and epoxy head – 0.45g
  • Gorel’s (?) Feather Hackle with large bead-chain – 0.47g
  • Rudy’s Spawning Shrimp with small bead-chain – 0.37g
  • Small Antron Crab with small barbell weight – 0.76g

 

small flies - dry DSC8353.jpg

and a Daiichi 2546 Size 8 hook weighs 0.10g.

Oh yes, use fluorocarbon tippet and wonder if a intermediate airflow leader would assist.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/26 at 06:21

Bonefish Flies – Acklins, Bahamas

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The following comments reflect what I learnt about the specific conditions on Acklins we found.

  1. Sand and Tan is the dominant colour, and add a splash of orange or pink to the fly.
    1. The need for green, brown, orange and olive is limited.
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  2. For DIY – focus on ightly weighted or no weight.
    1. On the boat have weighted flies.
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  3. Focus on shrimp and then small crabs patterns.
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  4. Despite its wide historical use for Bonefish flies, forgo synthetic craft hair, for it has no life. I would consider it as a body in a streamer for its shape, but for small flies, move to natural hairs from rabbit, squirrel, deer, fox or other!
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  5. Bonefish are easily spooked, but they are more receptive to flies than trout, so selection of a fly is simple ….
    1. Minimize the splash down.
      1. Lightest weight fly that will get to the bottom in a seconds,.
    2. Then select a fly the colour of surroundings.
    3. Sharp debarb fly.
    4. If Bonefish refuses, change colour of fly.
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  6. Sharp hooks!  The mouth of this fish is tough and will not spit out a fly quickly, like a trout, so the hook set is done after it has started its run, but the hook must be sharp to penetrate their hard mouth.

The Flies

First up, the only pattern I fished that I did not tie.  A fantastic tie by Rudy at Hidden Hook Fly, and do recommend it, but place your order early, as he may be out some adventure fishing. (Oh yes, in the video from Rudy, this is also Fedel (our guide and teacher)).

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A fly that shall a lot of action is this Wilson variant of the spawning shrimp. I would consider a few notes …

  • Replace the craft hair with a natural hair (see next fly).
  • Reduce the dark mouth band, id est few darker hairs mixed with white hairs.
  • Eyes are perfect .. created using 12b hard mono with a burnt end, plus amber bead and over-coated with epoxy.

Blog 4 DSC8271.jpg

Another spawning shrimp is below with the above pattern, adapted from my crawfish pattern for smallmouth bass. I had one hook-up with this pattern, but lost the fish about 30 seconds in the fight on his first run.  Was this a poor hook-up on my part or a function using the jig hook?

Other than the lost fish, I like the feather front with polar bear hairs and the deer hair wing.  In this case, the deer hair also provides a mild weed guard, as it is pushed up by the “bushy” chennile body.

Blog 4 DSC8273.jpg

And a darker variant showing the fish’s view, with a clear illustration of the feather front.  The chennile is finer, so the wing (squirrel tail) rides lower and provides less weed-fouling protection to the hook.

Blog 4 DSC8282.jpg

Though, I am mentioning weeds, Acklins does not have many weed or turtle grass beds.

Another spawning shrimp variant – Petersen’s – showing the larger weight variant with the light small shrimp, but using fox.  Typically tied with rabbit, but here I am using fox.

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and then another successful fly, Petersen’s tied with Rabbit.  I will be tying more.

Now a shout-out to Henrik Larsson who took a few flies and hope they brought him good luck, but as a good fisherman – he does not need luck!  Henrik of Göteborg also stayed with Fidel Johnson on the Acklins, so we enjoyed dinner, conversation on fishing and my home away from home – Sweden.

large tan DSC_7969

As noted, I was not thrilled with synthetics, for wings, but there was one exception – EP Saltwater brushes that become a fine veil, like a grass shrimp, when wet. Below is a picture of the fly dry and wet, and also teaches a lesson when tying with this material, pay attention to how the body will look when wet.

Blog 4 DSC8304.jpg

 

The only crab pattern we fished was the Pop Bitters.

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And a pattern I had and liked, but never fished as it was too dark was my pheasant top crab fly. So I like to create additional flies using this recipe, but I must find a light top shell feather with the right marking, maybe from a silver pheasant or a hen.

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And what was missing in my box? Answer, I needed some small light flies. These size 8 flies would have been fine if they had light bead-chain eyes. So next trip, I would tie 9 of these flies with light eyes and a lighter tan body.

Blog 4 DSC8295.jpg

Writing these lessons learnt help me, and may some one else to.

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Written by raspberryfisher

2016/12/20 at 02:21