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Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 05-30-2005, 10:59 PM
jeffm jeffm is offline
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Back From ARUBA

Back from our 3rd trip to Aruba way to short of a vacation as usual and this one was only 6 days instead of 8. Anyway, I still made a run at those elusive Aruba Bonefish 4 out of 5 possible days. I went armed with all of the information from all of the previous posts and the responses I received from my post from Juro, Steelboneguy and Arubaman thanks again for the info. Thank you Arubaman for all of your help while I was in Aruba. I only fished in the mornings as I had other vacation duties as assigned with my wife for the rest of the afternoon and evenings. Here is how things went although pretty boring and long with very strange and unusual weather for Aruba but I learned some things for the next time so I'm chalking this trip up to experience.

The first day I went out since I didn't have a car my plan was to get a taxi to take me to Malmok and I would walk back to the Wyndham. This walk ended up being about two miles maybe a little more from the beached wreck that is tied off at Malmok back to the Wyndham. There are always cabs at the hotel so not a problem with leaving right away and the fare was $10.00 one way. I left at about 5:45am everyday which put me on the beach about 5 minutes later as any of you who have driven in Aruba know the driving is quite aggressive to say the least. The first day I told the cab driver I wanted to go to Malmok and on the way he asked me if I was going fishing and what I was using for bait. Well I responded that I was going to be fly-fishing for Bonefish (Arashi) and he looked puzzled. He responded that I needed to float live bait below a balloon to catch fish. I thanked him for the information as he dropped me off were he thought I should fish in deeper water which was about 600 yards north of were I should have been dropped off. I quickly surveyed the area and determined that I needed to probably get down to where I saw a wreck that was beached and tied off in the shallows about 300 yards? or so off of the beach so off I went. When I arrived at the destination with the wreck it looked more like the areas that everyone described so I started looking for bonefish. While I was standing there another person was walking the beach north towards me carrying a flyrod. We started talking and he also was fishing for bonefish. He told me I was in the right place that from the wreck tied up on the flats on southward is where I wanted to be. He said in the last 2 weeks he only saw one bonefish and that it was better fishing at Christmas time were he had many bonefish in this spot. After some time talking to him It dawned on me that this individual was Arubaman from the forum. This was quickly confirmed and he said that he was only able to fish a couple of hours in the morning before going to work. He invited me to contact him via his parents phone number but I was unable to find it in the phone book. As we parted I started to blind cast to different areas and caught a couple of fish that were silver and yellow with black bars on their sides and some were just silver and with fins that were outlined in yellow. I don't know what they were but they chewed up a couple of my files and removed all of the hair. I stayed for about 3 ½ hours looking and blind casting and started the 2-mile walk back to the Wyndham. All the way back I was looking for signs of bonefish along the way.

The second day started out the same with a cab ride to the spot with the wreck tied off on the flat. The weather on this day though was not typical Aruba weather. There was very little wind and it was overcast. The grey overcast conditions made it tough to see into the water even with polarized glasses. I started to just blind cast again but I didn’t catch anything. While I was on the flat someone came up behind me to see if I had caught anything. It was a gentleman (Francisco) from New Jersey who was originally from Chile and he had a flyrod with him. Francisco said he saw me with a flyrod and thought that I was on to something. I quickly dispelled that myth and filled him in on what I knew about the area. He decided to fish on the flat with me and started about 75 yards north of where I was fishing. He was using the same flies that everyone suggested gotchas and charlies and started blind casting those on the flat. About 15 minutes later as I was moving North towards him he had hooked into something that instantly ran him into his backing straight out to the left of the wreck. Neither one of us ever saw that fish but needless to say it had broken off. If nothing else that was a very promising sign and instilled a little bit of confidence in the area. By this time the sun started to show through a bit so it made it easier to see onto the flat. My fishing partner stayed a little while longer but had to leave to get back to the Marriott as he was leaving for home the next day. I continued to fish to put in my 3-½ hours without any more action so I started the trek back to the Wyndham.

I skipped fishing on Sunday and just hung around the hotel and went shopping with my wife. The weather was still very strange for Aruba very low winds out of the west overcast again and it had rained the night before. Sunday evening at happy hour the weather started to get back to normal for Aruba high winds out of the east and sunny. I thought whatever disturbance there was in the area was gone finally.

The next day (Monday) I got up grabbed a cab and off I went to the wreck to try again. The weather appeared to be somewhat normal at least it was clear but again very little wind. I keep reiterating this because anyone who has been to Aruba knows that it is very windy all of the time so this is somewhat unusual. When I arrived at the wreck at 6:10am Arubaman was already on the water about 100 yards to the south. Also much to my surprise further south in the Wind surfing area and by the fisherman’s huts I could see 2 other individuals who appeared to be fly-fishing. This had to be a record for Aruba 4 people fly-fishing at the same time is bordering on being crowded. This must be the Aruba equivalent to the opening day of trout season crowds. I spoke to Arubaman this morning before he left the flats to go to work and he gave me one of his parents business cards with the telephone number. I told him I tried to look him up but was unsuccessful and that I was leaving the next day. Maybe on the next trip if he is there we can get together and fish some different areas. Anyway, I continued to blind cast all morning again until about 10:30am but didn’t get anything. On my way back to the Wyndham I stopped to talk to one of the other 2 people fly fishing by the windsurfing area. He introduced himself as Sammy and said he was a fishing guide from Colorado visiting a friend who has a house on the island. He was told by his friend to fish out in front of the buoys in the windsurfing area so that’s where he was spending his time. He said he only had a couple of hits but didn’t land anything. While we were standing on the flat talking he had his gotcha in the water not more than 4 feet from where we stood and a small fish took off with it. That ended up being his first fish that he landed in Aruba. After talking with Sammy for awhile he told me to go down and talk to his friend Clint who lives in Aruba whom he was visiting. So off I went heading south again toward Clint who was fishing down in front of the windsurfing trailers. I stopped and introduced myself and we talked about the bonefish in Aruba. Clint pretty much confirmed what Arubaman had told me that the fishing has been off as far as the bonefish were concerned. Clint said in the last 45 days he hadn’t seen or hooked many bonefish at all. He did tell me that we were all fishing in the correct spot. He also told me that I should walk the beach in front of the hotels early in the morning and look for bones on the way to Malmok. Clint said that when he and his wife walk first thing in the morning from his home down to the Wyndham and back they often see them in close to shore before the swimmers come out. I decided when I left Clint on the way back to the Wyndham that would be my game plan for the final day of fishing would be to start at the Wyndham and walk and fish up to Malmok.

Well this was it the last day to fish for the Aruba Bonefish as we were leaving in the afternoon. I hit the beach in front of the Wyndham at about 5:50am it was cloudy again with no wind at all. As I started up the beach looking for fish I started seeing quite a few small baitfish and stingrays about 3 feet out from the beach. I haven’t seen stingrays in this area on my previous trips to Aruba. They were all about 15 inches across and seemed to be concentrated around the piers and the marina by the Holiday Inn. When I arrived at the marina by the Holiday Inn I saw some activity next to the far left hand side of the docks. Being that there wasn’t any wind the water was flat and I could see fins and tails periodically breaking the surface following the baitfish. Maybe they were snooke or barracuda I didn’t know but they were good size fish and moving slow so I took a couple shots at them with the fly I had tied on. They ignored my offerings and kept on following the baitfish around the area. I should have tied on a deceiver and stripped it through there but I didn’t, as I wanted to keep looking for the bonefish. I did make a note to specifically visit this marina on the next trip early in the morning and evenings with the proper flies. I think this would prove to be a productive area for hooking up some decent sized fish. I kept on moving and ended up in front of the fisherman’s huts when I saw some movement on the other side of a weed bed about 10 yards out. I cast over to that area and instantly a fish grabbed the fly, unfortunately not a bone but hey it was a fish. I think it was a small jack but I’m not sure. I caught a few more of these as they were schooled up and moving slowly to the north. I moved a little further north just casting and looking but I was running out of time so I decided to start back. On the way back a guy sitting on the beach at the Holiday Inn stopped me to ask if had any luck. He told me last year his son came down with him and paid a guide $250.00 for a half day of guiding for bonefish. And guess where this guide took him for his half day? It came to no surprise that this guy pointed right at the wreck on Malmok and told me that his son didn’t catch or see any bonefish that day. Maybe there’s some extra vacation money to be made by the Aruba Bonefish Club members? Thanks again to everyone for their help maybe next time I will have better luck.
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Old 05-30-2005, 11:53 PM
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juro juro is offline
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Fantastic report! sounds like a regular "clave"

I doubt the fish left the island for Venezuela so they were probably in the lagoons or down on Barcadero, or maybe cruising Baby Beach, etc. Having them at Malmok is a gift allright but I think those oceanic bones just pass thru for a bite and keep moving.

The population is less dense, the habitat is unaccomodating for the angler, and the fish seem to behave more like the ones that inhabit the ocean side of islands in the trade winds - hence I believe there's a lot of luck involved in the pursuit of Aruba bonefish. My experience has been that they are very willing on encounter; that's the hardest part.

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Old 05-31-2005, 11:04 AM
SteelBoneguy SteelBoneguy is offline
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Great REPORT! Thats why they call it fishing and not catching. That was strange weather, could have for sure affected the bonefish swim and eatting patterns. Even though you didn't get a bone, a vacation to Aruba is amazing. I love that island.
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Old 05-31-2005, 11:51 PM
jeffm jeffm is offline
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We've loved it to since the first trip in 2000 and have been hooked ever since. I think the hurricane that hit Central America that week was why the weather was off for Aruba.
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Old 06-06-2005, 05:24 PM
arubaman arubaman is offline
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Hi there folks,
I left Aruba like two weeks ago, going for three weeks of practice in Bonaire (yeah, I know,life's so hard if you're a veterinary student who's almost finished)
Like Jeff allready stated, bonefishing was poor on Aruba. The we ek after Jeff left it was perfect for fishing, no wind at all due to a hurricane in the atlantic. I fished everymorning and a lot of afternoons. It didn't do much. The day before I met Jeff I hooked up one Bone (it was the first I saw on my trip there) off course on the Malmok site. He was of a nice size and asknown very strong. On the third run he cut off on something, the leader was totally "sandpapered"(fluoro carbon). But hey, that's what makes the fishing good. Never beeing sure wether to catch something and it takes a lot of once mind to get out there and try every day. In the other week I saw one more Bone at Malmok and didn't even get a chance to cast at him.
That was about it for Malmok, I was there every morning, didn't see more than 2 bones... The afternoons I focussed on other parts of the Island. Barcadera, my favourite flat didn't give me anything, not even seeing a tail, I personally think the water is to hot there this time of the year. You can feel it, if you step into the water it will be like a nice warm shower, instead of a little bit cool.
On other afternoons I checked out some other places. The water in Baby Beach felt even warmer, so I guess they won't be there at the moment. But I also went to the small Laguna next to the governors house. (you'll have the boulevard with crystal casino and harbour town, next to harbour town there's a park and next to it lies the little Laguna). Walk along the beach from here to surfside,it must als be a potential place. One of these days I had my second encounter with the bonefish. I was walking right from the laguna as I saw a bone, three foot from the shoreline, easily cruising in my direction. I didn't even cast, he was so close... I just released the fly from my hand and with 4 feet of fly-line out managed to drop it about 5 feet in front of him. He saw it, struck it and off to the racings!
Stupidly enough I didn't hook him good (I guess),because after taking of with my flyline and about 35 yards of backing the pressure was gone. I had the flie stillon the leader, guess he spat it out.
That was all for the Bones on Aruba. But..........
2 weeks ago I came to Bonaire and the day after my arrival I had 2 free daylight hours after work. At work the locals gave me some good tips, the fish is called Warashi by the way. i went to the illegal spot (bonefishing is considered tresspassing there) and had the surprise of my bonefishing-life. After wading for one hour I hit a spot where it was crowded with bones. I landed 2 fish (not big ones though) and had to stop because it turned dark. The pictures are on a dutch article I wrote on a dutch website. is the link.
Was it luck??? The only thing I can say for now is that Bonefish looks easier here, but for the little bit of experience I have I find them less strong then the ones I had on the line in Aruba.

The last thing I can state here is that no one should get huzzled on Aruba. There are no real Bonefishing guides down there. I considered if I would guide people for money, maybe even starting something on Aruba. But I thought it would be no fun for people, paying money not catching anything. I can not even guarantee you will seethem. Conditions and fish are not abundant, made me think it won´t be any busines. I prefer to just be a flyfisherman by heart for now and just share my wisdom with the other one´s around. So whenever going to Aruba, don´t hesitate to send me a mail, I don´t frequent this site,so messages won´t be read that much. Malmok is well described, Barcadera and Surfside would be my other advices.

Tight lines, Arubaman
ps. real name is Sander van der Wal, my parents are in the Turtugaruba organisation, the organisation that protects the sea/turtles.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:56 AM
MajorGeek MajorGeek is offline
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Sounds like it's getting crowded on the Aruba flats. Have you seen my report from a couple years ago?
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:37 AM
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petevicar petevicar is offline
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Hi MajorGeek
If you look you will see that the report is also from a few years ago.

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Old 11-12-2007, 02:14 PM
arubaman arubaman is offline
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Hi Major,
do a little search through this forum and you'll find my little contribution in the ABC. It's a description of the spot you have been to and you mention in your report (which off course I already seen a lot of times).
Cheers, Sander
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:53 AM
MajorGeek MajorGeek is offline
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Hi Arubaman,

Sorry for bumping this old thread, but for some reason, maybe the increasingly cold weather here in the Pacific Northwest, I did a Google search on Aruba bonefish to see if there were any important discoveries since my visit in 2002, and a couple of the hits were in this forum. I don't visit this forum very often. It's been so long, I had to look up my password.

Some of the names in the threads were familiar. I've been in contact with Juro. I think I have found his in some other forums as well. I was just wondering if Jeffm had seen my 2002 report, because at that time I felt like I was one of the pioneers. But it sounds like you're a key contact. It sounds like I stumbled onto the best flats right at Malmok where I stayed. I was close to discovering Barcadera, but turned north to the airport and was driven off by junkyard dogs. Looked pretty snooky. What about Arashi Beach? I wanted to try the south end spots but didn't make it. Have you run into that Doctor from Massachusetts?
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