Another stand-out feature of our trip this time was the weather – it’s by far the windiest fishing trip we’ve had. For the first four weeks the weather forecast was for 30 kmph steady winds with increased gusts, real ‘blow your cap off’ conditions, in most of our photos we have our buffs up over our heads purely to stop us from having to chase down wayward headwear (no, I haven’t put on 5 stone in weight in the photo – that’s the wind billowing my shirt!). Bonefish tend to appear in absolutely the wrong direction in relation to easy casting – I remember one particularly windy day (bearing in mind that 30 kmph had become our norm) falling short on a 30ft cast, I suspect many ‘less practiced’ anglers would fail to get the fly even in front of themselves in similar conditions. I’ll remember this the next time I get into a conversation about distance casting being useless. By far the most common cast I used was a back-hand across/into the wind, typically to about 50ft. I much prefer a back-hand cast when flats fishing compared to an off-the-shoulder effort, mainly because I’m usually carrying a second rod (for predators) which sticks out to the left – I don’t want my heavy fly going anywhere near that.
Tracy suggested that one of the reasons we were so successful was that not many others were bothering to go out fishing in such extreme conditions, hence the pressure on the fish was lower than normal. Perhaps she has a point, certainly in the last week, when the wind finally dropped, we saw many more anglers, hence the ‘plan B’ exploring option that we employed. It could also be that the bonefish were simply less inclined to notice our presence with waves crashing around them – certainly we had a high number of fish at very close range, with some notable ones being struck with the leader connection already through the tip ring – very unusual for Bahamian fish.
I felt that this trip marked a fitting end to the life of my wading boots. Most people would have retired them years ago, but they had a good fishing mojo so replacing them became harder as memories were built up. I did think about giving them a Viking send off, soaking them in lighter fluid and floating them out, burning, into the Caribbean Sea – however they were so full of holes they would have sank immediately, so I binned them.
On our return we’re straight into duty manning the BFCC stall at the Sportfish annual show, supporting the instructors who no doubt will be kept very busy. This is really a great event, so if you’re in the area you should pop in (it’s free entry) – be sure to come and say hello if you do.
All the best, James