A promise is for keeping....Aruba malmok-site info. Part 1 [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: A promise is for keeping....Aruba malmok-site info. Part 1


arubaman
04-02-2007, 04:39 PM
A promise is for keeping…

After my last visit to Aruba I promised several readers on this forum to write down my latest findings. Just a couple of weeks after me another member of our forum went there and I think he actually had some benefits of all the tips. That’s why I decided to write it all down on this forum. I don’t say it’s the only way to get to some action on your vacation on my beautiful island, but it can be used as a guideline to explore a site that’s easy accessible for all visitors.

On earlier trips I discovered we have several nice places to check out. I believe Aruba is not the easiest place to get a bone, water runs just a bit to deep for tailing fish on most sites and blindcasting is not what I consider true bonefishing. The ritual of bonefishing also involves the search, the spotting, the adrenaline of seeing a fish before it sees you. Stripping in your fly, seeing it being charged by one of those silvery torpedo’s and then having that breathtaking take and run. That first run that will show out if the hook is set well, if you manage to control your nerves. My experience in other places would be that once you manage to hold a fish for the first run the drilling will be in your favour. In Bonaire for example, I fished a sandy flat and if I managed to win the first strike, then all of the fish were landed.

This contribution on fly-fishing won’t be all about the drilling tactics. There are much better writers who already wrote it all down. The most useful part of this writing will be a little bit of info on where, when and how.

As already said, my latest visit to “my island” I just focussed on one site. I had a target in mind, landing at least one bone on that site and discovering that much that I could to be more secure of at least having a chance on landing a fish each day I’ll fish it. Sounds easy, but bones are not that abundant in Aruba and I have had trips down there I would see maybe 3 or 4 bones in two weeks, without even having any chance on casting a fly to one of them. The fishing can be very though down there. But it makes the catch more special and I can tell you there’s no better reward than landing one of those Aruban bones after hours of searching.

A promise is for keeping…

After my last visit to Aruba I promised several readers on this forum to write down my latest findings. Just a couple of weeks after me another member of our forum went there and I think he actually had some benefits of all the tips. That’s why I decided to write it all down on this forum. I don’t say it’s the only way to get to some action on your vacation on my beautiful island, but it can be used as a guideline to explore a site that’s easy accessible for all visitors.

On earlier trips I discovered we have several nice places to check out. I believe Aruba is not the easiest place to get a bone, water runs just a bit to deep for tailing fish on most sites and blindcasting is not what I consider true bonefishing. The ritual of bonefishing also involves the search, the spotting, the adrenaline of seeing a fish before it sees you. Stripping in your fly, seeing it being charged by one of those silvery torpedo’s and then having that breathtaking take and run. That first run that will show out if the hook is set well, if you manage to control your nerves. My experience in other places would be that once you manage to hold a fish for the first run the drilling will be in your favour. In Bonaire for example, I fished a sandy flat and if I managed to win the first strike, then all of the fish were landed.

This contribution on fly-fishing won’t be all about the drilling tactics. There are much better writers who already wrote it all down. The most useful part of this writing will be a little bit of info on where, when and how.

As already said, my latest visit to “my island” I just focussed on one site. I had a target in mind, landing at least one bone on that site and discovering that much that I could to be more secure of at least having a chance on landing a fish each day I’ll fish it. Sounds easy, but bones are not that abundant in Aruba and I have had trips down there I would see maybe 3 or 4 bones in two weeks, without even having any chance on casting a fly to one of them. The fishing can be very though down there. But it makes the catch more special and I can tell you there’s no better reward than landing one of those Aruban bones after hours of searching.

The site.

Malmok is the name of the place, at least of the houses in that neighbourhood, so the site is called Malmok. The site runs approximately from Fishermans Huts (a surf school) up till the first part where the shore is starting to level up from the sea and the Baranca (rocks) start. The part of shore between the Marriott hotel and the Fishermans Huts can also be interesting, so if you are staying in the Marriott I would recommend to walk to the Malmok site.

One of the most typical marks to know you are in the right place would be a shipwreck, lying almost upon the shore. It is easily to recognize and on the shore, right in front of it is where most of my fishingdays started.
http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmokoverview.jpg
Overview of the site from google earth.

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok016.jpg
looking to the left you can see the High rise hotels, starting with Marriott

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok019.jpg
The right end is where the rocks (baranca) starts.



Time and tide.

I usually fished there from sunrise until I had to go home to join the family. This would be around ten or eleven most of the mornings, but some days I stayed out later. Why in the morning? In Aruba we have a nice windy breeze, it makes life a bit more comfortable, but it can be a true pain in the butt for a flyfisherman. Usually the wind will fall down a bit during the night so early in the morning there is less wind then later on the day. Less wind gives us a better chance to cast, and a better chance to see a tail of a fish breaking through the surface. On the other hand it makes the fish a bit spookier, not only the fisherman has the advantage of the quiet conditions. Tide varies throughout the month, I´ll get back on that later on, but the time is something you can easily make notice of.
The sun is another factor that makes mornings and midday fishing attractive compared to the sunset. If you stand on shore, in the morning you´ll have both the wind and the sun in your back.
The last advantage of the early morning is the fact there are not much windsurfers out there yet. This place is a very favourite place for people who practice windsurfing and once they start rushing their boards over the spot most bones will retreat and come back later.



The bottom

I can recommend everybody to bring some good footwear. Not the sandal type of place. The bottom of the site is rocky, with weeds and sharp pieces of stone and corals. Not nice and sandy as in other places around the world. So not only the bottom of your feet needs to be protected, your toes will get hit too.
Towards the Marriott the site turns sandier. At the starting point, right in front of the wreck the water will be from about a couple of inches up till your waist, depending on tide and how far you will go out. You´ll come across some weedy reefs and sometimes you´ll come past some fire corals. Be sure to be protected.



The fish.

We all want those really nasty hard fighting fish on the other end of the line. Incidentally there are people who caught nice jacks at Malmok, but the fish you are looking for will be Bonefish. Other fish I caught and have seen there are Yellowtails, Trunkfish, Trumpetfish, Palometas (the smaller brothers of the permit) and many other snapper type of fish. There are a lot of Needlefish too, but these are to small to be caught. To small to be caught, but yet annoying, they will go for your fly anytime.
Bonefish around here are strong!
http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november003.jpg
nice fish can be caught here

arubaman
04-02-2007, 04:44 PM
The rod.

For the four years I have been fly-fishing my casting improved a lot. It has always been my opinion that it´s better to work hard and use a lighter rod then to come along with a huge canon, it makes the drill less spectacular. For bonefishing in Aruba I tried several weights. On days with not that much wind a #6 rod gives enormous fun, but considering the site and the fish it might be the reasons I never landed a bone on that #6. you do have to drill hard to prevent the fish from cutting of on to corals. An #8 rod is good enough, where I once used a #10 and felt really overrated. I would recommend a #7 or #8, maybe a #9 for the less experienced angler or the really windy days. Chances you meet anything bigger or stronger then a bonefish are almost nil, so you should take a rod that you feel comfortable with drilling bones in the 16-26 inch range.



The Flies.

To be honest, once the Aruban bonefish spot your fly I never seen one truly deny it. But it depends on the colours of the fly you are using. I once had the feeling my fly was neglected, that was when I used a common pink colour. As the bottom is rocky and with corals and weeds growing around, most of the flies I tie are darkish. Colours as olive, grey, brown, red and black al seem to work. The patterns all are easy to tie. Crazy Charlie, Clouser minnow style: Take a hook, tie on some hourglass or bead chain eyes. Then tie in a body of a dark colour (some dark coloured bucktail or dark dubbing) along the shank. Then a wing of the same colour or a bit lighter (buck- or calftail), add some flash to the wing. This will do the trick. You might want to use several different weights, maybe even ad a bit of lead wire to your flies. This because of the varying depths and conditions. When the water is calm, you don´t want your fly to make a hard splash. When there is surge, you want it to get down quicker and the splash doesn’t matter that much. What you want your fly to be is an imitation of a crustacean that´s making the hell out of there because there is this huge predator (the bonefish) coming his way. And as the bottom is not nice and sandy but weedy with rocks most crustaceans will be darker coloured. I tie my flies mostly on size 6 hooks, sometimes size 8 and rarely on size 4. Even with a small hook you can still make flies up to 1or 1.5 inches.



The gear:

Sometimes there is nearly no wind at all, this situation is perfect for a nice 6 weight rod, if there´s wind I use an 8wt. The rod part I have written about above already. I always use a weight forward floating line. Due to the bottom a sinking line won´t be so good around here. At the end I have a 9ft leader, usually with a strength of 14 or 12lbs. To this end of the leader I´ll attach another foot of my tippet material. I use 8 or 10 lbs fluoro carbon for this part, but I have to admit that I only land 1 out of 10 fish I hook. The other 9 fish I loose due to breaking off. It´s not the strength of pulling, the problem is the fish cuts you off. You´ll need a good reel with a good drag. I set my drag before I start fishing by attaching it to something strong and then testing it until it breaks my tippet. Then turn it back just a bit lighter. If oyu hook a fish here, remember not to play with it, but drill it as hard as your material allows you. Every feet it gets of your reel makes the chance of breaking of bigger. Maybe 16lbs strength material would be better to land more fish, but hey, it´s a sport, so that´s why I like the challenge.
Make sure you have your clothing right. I fish with neoprene dive boots, a closed shoe would be preferable. A longsleeve won´t be too much either, when the sun starts burning everything that´s covered saves you some blisters. Don´t forget to put a nice thick layer of suntan on unprotected parts at home, then wash of your hands so the suntan won´t get on your equipment.
To improve the vision I always wear a cap and Polarized sunglasses, maybe think about a lighter one for that sunrise and then a dark one for later on. Sunglasses do not only improve your vision, they protect your eyes from the fly your casting. Everybody thinks it won´t happen to them, but with the wind and the weighted flies you´ll never know. It´s better to have broken sunglasses then a real clouser-minnow-popped-out-eye.



Lets start fishing:

I always try to leave home before sunrise. In the sunrise you want to be at the spot, all ready to go and usually I´ll just sit next to the water watching. Take your time, make sure everything is all set to start fishing as soon as you want. I park my car in front of the wreck and walk to the sea. Then I will look to the reef and a bit to the left, but also to the shoreline. All these things can give you a lot of useful information about how the day is going to be and where the chances will be best.
Things I look at upon encountering the spot are:
1.The reef, is it peeking out of the water? That means the tide is very low. Also look to the shoreline to see what kind of tide it is. The reef also is a nice barrier the waves will break on to and so it gives you information on the swell.
http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok018.jpg
the reef in between the wreck and shore gives good info on swells and tide

2.Then look to the left, this water is usually less affected by the surge. Is it murky? If it is you will already know that from that point on up till the Marriott it will be hard to spot fish that are not tailing. I would recommend to focus on your right side most of the day then, unless the tide is low. Somehow the part to the right stays clearer. (all lefts and rights are when you face the sea)
Piece of the "reef" and water that can be murky.

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok015.jpg
is it murky to the right?

3.Look at the shoreline. With high tide the water comes right till the white sand, but if the tide is low you´ll see the first 20-40 feet of the shore covered with rocks on your right side.
4. Now look to the left, there´s a frame of some tubes laying there. If the crossing of these tubes is under water the tide is pretty high, if the crossing of the frame is above the water surface the tide is low. These tubes are next to a small kind of dam, that runs into sea for about 10 ft.
http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok013.jpg
the frame

So now you know a bit about the tide and the conditions. The first couple of hours I will usually walk on the shore or maybe go out a bit, but never deeper then my ankles. Very early in the morning the bones are still feeding almost on to shore, entering the water and wade will spook more fish then you imagine. The first 2 hours the way I will fish depend on the tide, after about 9 o´clock the pattern changes.



Low tide (sunrise till about 9am):

If the tide is low I´ll have a quick glimpse to the right side of the line from the wreck to shore (right of the start position). In this area you have to look in the white water of the waves and look to the entering waves. Try to focus on the first 50 or 60 feet of water from shore. Not seldom you´ll have the luck to sea not only a tail but also the dorsal fin and the back of a bone that runs in on a wave and feeds in ankle deep water. Due to all the turbulence of the waves these bones are difficult to get to see your fly. I always try to figure out which way his direction is and then place the fly about 3-5feet in front of him. Then just wait for him to come along and start stripping when he is not more then about a feet away. If he is further away, never strip towards the fish, it will scare him. Also make sure he doesn´t have to come across your line, because even the touch of your nylon leader already makes them spook. Don´t forget to make sure he is alone. Although most fish don´t come in big numbers, couples (2 or 3) do cruise around together and if you overcast or incidentally spook the not seen fish you will end up spooking both of them.
After this quick glimpse it´s time to start patrolling on the beach on your left side. When the tide is low you can be sure you will see a bone tail if he´s feeding in the area. Remember not to go out, stay on the shore or very close to it. At this time of the day they are closer then most people imagine. Just look over the water, from shore up to 60 or 70 feet. It´s manageable to overlook this without entering the water. Then start your patrol, walk towards Marriott. (your left side when facing sea). I usually patrol this area from the point right in front of the wreck up to a place where a tree/bush comes so close to the water you´ll have to wet your feet to pass it. There I´ll turn and walk backwards. I patrol this stretch of beach in about 15 minutes, up and down is half an hour. Usually I do this a couple of times. Don´t forget to look back every once in a while, it can be rewarding. This is my daily routine when the tide is not so high.



High tide (sunrise till about 9 am):

With a high(er) tide the water on your left side (when standing on the starting position, right in front of the wreck) is not that attractive in the early morning. The sun is not yet high and strong enough to spot cruising fish. It´s the parts of the fish that peek out of the water that I am looking for in the first hours after sunrise. Off course one could be lucky, I have seen fish tail almost on shore it seemed, but after the first 10 feet from shore the water will be deep enough for fish to pass by without you noticing them. With high tide I tend to focus more on the right side (from start to the baranca), where it is always a bit rougher. The waves are not blocked by the little weed reef and in the rolling waves and white waters you´ll have good chances of spotting a bone that´s chasing something that got pulled away from it´s shelter by the surge.



The later part of the morning:

After the first hours the light is turning better. The sun gets up higher and gives you a better chance to spot fish that are not tailing. Somewhere between 8.30 am and 9.30 am this part of the morning starts. If you walk left from the starting point you´ll come up to a slightly deeper part, with not such a shallow reef (in between marks A and B on the map) in front of it. This part starts about 100 hundred yards before you reach two poles with flags on it that stand in the water, on the other side of the road is a apartment place, I think it´s called “sailboard vacations”. The flags are about as far as you should put your focus. This part of the morning I still stay a shore, if your standing on shore you got better height and this gives you better sight. Walk across the shoreline (I walk just a little more up the beach, to position even higher, and scan the water from shore up till about the distance the flags are standing. Don´t be shocked if suddenly you see a bone cruising. Sometimes you think you see one, but when approaching it happens to be a trunkfish or a trumpetfish. If you see a bone, prepare to cast, always look very good if there´s not another one nearby. Bones on Aruba don´t come in large schools, but I had it happen to me a couple of times I got locked and focussed on that one fish, not noticing 1 or 2 others that were swimming closer to shore/me. As this water is more then a foot deep, cast the fly about 4-6 yards in front of the fish, they have an angle of about 45 degrees of the middle line in which they´ll see it immediately. Let the fly just get down and start stripping it, if the bone doesn´t react, wait for it to get a bit closer. Pulling out the entire line and making a new cast is something that will almost certainly spook this fish.
In this area you are now fishing the water usually is calm, so the fish will be a little bit spokier then in the other side, where there is more surge.
Usually I´ll do this for about an hour or an hour and a half, if you haven´t seen any fish in that time, chances won´t be big they´ll show up at that place that day. Then it is better to change focus to the other part of this site. Logically if you do see fish, stay there and get it!

There is one big if to this part of the morning…. IF the water is murky, I wouldn´t spend time on trying to spot cruising bones, that is way to hard, even for more experienced fisherman. If the water is murky in between the point A and the starting point I would recommend on putting the focus on the part between the start and the “baranca”, just like the later part of the day.



The latest part of the morning (or other parts of the day when you still got the sun very high):

This part of the fishing was almost always good to spot something. The sun is higher and burning, but the light is just perfect, coming from maybe a bit behind you or right on top nearly always the part of the area right from the starting point to the baranca is good (clear enough) to spot fish in deeper water (1 till 2or 3 feet of water). At this part of the day, depending on the tide I would walk into the water and start making walks over the area. I would enter the water at the starting point and then look for fish while walking in the direction of the baranca. At the end of the area I there´s a weedreef (marked D on the map). I would exit the water there and walk back for another session of wading from start to D. At the deepest parts of that area you´ll see some orange or yellow balls of coral (mostly brain coral). They are not real big and I think there´s 3 or 4 of them lying on the route your wading. Look for shadows or the blue-green backs of fish. I usually use a little bit heavier fly here, because the water is deeper you want it to sink a bit faster.
http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november015-1.jpg
walk out a bit further (on the map the purple line)

Casting 2-8 feet in front of a bone will usually be enough for them to see it. Don´t be shocked if they strike it immediately. Be aware of the described corals, they cut you of in a blink of the eye. I would/could continue fishing here for hours. When it´s midday this is the best part to be on because windsurfers don´t pass here so often as to the leftside of the starting position. When there´s a little swell the waves can roll up against you, they are not that big or strong, but the splash can wet you up till the head, so keep that in mind if you go out there with electronics or other stuff that is not water resistant. If suddenly you see a lot of splashes in the area, always cast your fly to it, usually the splash are Palometas or other Jack species, freaking out on little baitfish. These jacks all are fun to catch.

arubaman
04-02-2007, 04:47 PM
Maps:
http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmokstart-baranca-tekst.jpg
This is a overview of the Rightside of the site.
The red line marked with 1 is where you should be looking on the earlier part, this part can be overlooked from shore and in the sugre/white waters you can see bones tail.
The purple line is the distance from shore where I would be wading from start till D for the later part of the morning/day
D is a weedbed.


http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmokleftside.jpg
Overview of the leftside.
I would almost always try to spot fish from shore on this entire part of the site.
from about the middle between A and B up till C earlier in the morning, In between A and B from about 9 o´clock till 10.30 or 11.

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november026.jpg
palometas are fun

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november025.jpg
but not that big

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/pampertjeflatmalmok002.jpg
rather small sometimes...

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november016.jpg
drilling a fish

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november007.jpg
nice smile!

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november006-1.jpg
support the fish before releasing.

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november009.jpg
Catch and release these precious fish.



Well, that´s about it....
Hopefully some people can have a benefit out of it. If so, would you be so kind to let us all enjoy some nice pics? If anybody has comments, other tips and data, feel free to put in this thread, so we can improve the information on this lovely piece of "my" island.

http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r184/arubamanprikbord/malmok10november005-1.jpg
This is why we make all that effort!

Ciao, Arubaman

juro
04-03-2007, 07:02 AM
WOW

This brought me right back there where I hooked several bones myself... and I agree with every detail especially the color preference of those bones on the reef/flat at the wreck.

The pictures are great, you must have a good camera.

Arubaman, you are truly an Ambassador of the Aruba Bonefish Club!

n1gdo
04-03-2007, 12:47 PM
Sander...

thank you very much for the detailed report... as good as I have seen...

Great job !

jimS
04-03-2007, 03:10 PM
Excellent report and most appreciated. My wife has longed to go to Aruba, but I usually find excuses for us to go elsewhere for bonefishing. Now, I can get some points and still fish.

Thanks again.

Rippin_Lips
04-03-2007, 03:34 PM
WOW,
Great effort!!! That had to take a while. Really liked the photos along with the report.
I think I might need to star planning a trip to Aruba.

Adrian
04-03-2007, 04:38 PM
Excellent. One of the most definitive guides to DIY bonefishing Aruba on the web. Thanks for all the effort in putting this one together :)

petevicar
04-04-2007, 01:06 PM
Great report Arubaman!!

It's one of the bonefish places I have not been to YET.

Thanks
Pete

shaialude
04-09-2007, 08:28 PM
Wish you had posted this in the beginning of February. I spent two weeks there from02/14-02/28 and fished Malmok. I found that it was too windy to find bones but caught many Palometas and Harbor Jacks. Took a whole bunch at Arashi and gave them to a native and his son. Might think I put a prime rib dinner on their table. Did you get to Baby Beach and will you be posting the results?

arubaman
04-10-2007, 12:02 PM
Hi all,
first of all.... Aruba definitely won´t be a very good bonefish location. But if you are there or are looking for a family trip the DIY posts here can help out making the vacation even better.

As I wrote, this time I only focussed on one site, being malmok. This is because it is my experience with fishing that knowledge of the place can help you catch fish. Spending days after days on one site will eventually help you in figuring out feeding patterns, tide patterns and other environmantal information you do not have when you first reach a spot. And so in my opinion it is wise to focus on one place for more then one day, because once you know the behaviour and the spot the fishing becomes more rewarding.

Still it is my opinion Malmok is not the only place and maybe not even the best. Things that are good to always do is look for signs how the tide is and when you see something remember the place and the time, also time related to tide. Write them down, read them over and the next time try to figure out if it was incidentally. My experience is based upon several different trips to Aruba where I fished mmalmok a few times and the last visit I spent almost the entire month being there everyday.

Other potential places like baby beach still have to be discovered. The problem with Baby Beach is the crowd. After 8 or 9 am the water is allready getting filled with people who come there to swim, hang out and snorkel. i think the spot is potentially perfect, but the crowding scares of a lot of fish.

If you are on Aruba and want to explore, try other places, for instance barcadera, mangel halto/pos chiquito or Santo largo. These places all have wadeable parts where you make a good chance on finding bonefish.

I have seen Bones on all these spots, so they are there...now figuring out the whole pattern is the key!

gustavo
07-20-2007, 10:54 PM
Arubaman:
Thanks for a great post. I am going to Aruba this week, and will be fishing Malmok. Will you be around? Since you seem to be an expert on Aruba fly fishing, it would be great to meet up and fish Malmok if you are around.

arubaman
07-29-2007, 05:41 PM
Hi Gustavo,
sorry, finally got lucky with a job in the Netherlands. This means I don´t have that much free days. I am stuck in Holland now. How has Aruba been? Offcourse we are interested in your experience, did you see or catch any bone?
Let us know!
Ciao, Sander