Bonefish Log - December 10 - 13
Saturday December 10, 2005 – Tuesday December 13th, 2005
Weather: Partly Cloudy with scattered Sun
Wind: S & SW 2 – 8mph
LT 9:53am, HT 3:49 am, LT 9:58 pm
Outside Temp: 80
Fly: #2 Gotcha Clouser
Touched down @ Freeport International at 11:40 and were in the Rental car by noon. We had to make a choice between fishing Dogleg where the tide was high or the Mud flat where it was dead low. I was fairly certain that we could fish tails and wakes even with no sun on the mud flat, but the flat requires a trudge through calf deep mud and parking in a less than desirable neighborhood. Since we had all of our gear with us we decided to try Dogleg.
We arrived at Dogleg right around 1:00 and found it lit up like a Christmas Tree. Its been at least two years since I had seen that amount of sunlight when pulling up to that Flat. The tide was already ¾ of the way in and the only sandbars that were visible were located within 25 feet of shore. We had sun for about the first hour during which time I managed to land one fish, and hook another and have it spit the hook. Shortly after 2:00 we lost the sun and the wind shifted from the SW to the South. We moved toward the mangrove section of the shoreline, but the water was high and the lack of sun made it extremely difficult to spot fish. We did eventually get patches of sun again as we made our way back to the car, but the tide was at its high point and I could not find a fish to save my life. I had really hoped that I would have the opportunity to work out being able to fish (and be productive) on this side of the island at high tide, but it just did not work out. We bagged fishing and headed to B’s for some Conch Salad and Kaliks. After two or three Kaliks we did manage to get B to slip about a flat located on the other side of the island that was firm enough to wade – If I could locate it that would mean I could almost always have a productive stage of the tide to fish. Will have to break out the maps when I get home.
Location: Desitin Alley (plan A), East End (plan B)
Weather: Started out with scattered clouds until front and rain moved in
Wind: S am, SW noon, North pm – 14 mph
LT 4:30am, HT 10:56 am, LT 4:48 pm (plan A)
LT 12:30 am, HT 6:56 am, LT 12:48 pm (plan B)
Outside Temp: 77
Fly Selection: #2 Gotcha Clouser – Perry’s “Top Secret” Fly
We made it out of the house by 6:30 and made our way to the flat by 7:15. When we arrived at the flat it became clear that the DIY option would be useless based on the 2 foot seas crashing on the shoreline. After a brief huddle we decided to drive to McCleans Town, and try to catch Captain Perry Demeritte before he headed out for church. Our gamble paid off and we managed to interrupt Perry in the middle of breakfast. It took Perry roughly 1/10 of a second to process our request and respond with an enthusiastic “yes”!.
Perry had the boat in the water in thirty minutes and had us throwing at Bones by 8:45. The highlight of the day had to be when Pat spotted a Tailing Bonefish in the distance and successfully presented to it and set the Fly firmly in it’s mouth. The fish tore off, and about 80 yards into the backing Pat turns to the back of the boat looks at Perry and desperately asks: “Now what do I do?!”. Pat was convinced that fish was headed to Bimini with his Fly, Line, and backing. I immediately responded: “ Quick clamp down on the reel as hard as you can!”, Pat replied: “Who the hell do you think I am McMahon?!”. Shortly after that Pat landed a nice 6 to 7 pound Bonefish.
The weather went south after that the outside temp dropped by 10 degrees as the front passed and a light drizzle settled in, but that did not stop the fishing. Perry decided to work the lee side mangrove shoreline along Rummer Creek where we still had success spotting and landing fish even in the rain. Total for the day ended up at 5 fish which would have been significantly higher if we would not have blown numerous opportunities. We ended up back at the dock at 6:00 pm. Great Day even with the bad weather.
East End (plan B)
Wind: Who cares not a cloud in the sky!
LT 5:25am, HT 11:52 am, LT 5:42 pm (South)
LT 1:52 am, HT 7:48 am, LT 1:42 pm (North)
Outside Temp: 69 (Front has passed through)
Fly selection: Perry’s “Top Secret” Fly, Walkers Cay Special, and Super Gotcha’s.
Woke up at 4:45 and looked out the window over my Bed and saw nothing but stars! You know those days when you wake up and just have that feeling everything is just going to fall in place, well this was one of those. I run into Pat’s room and start jumping up and down on the bed while pulling off the sweetest rendition of Zip-a-dee-do-dah ever bellowed in the pre-dawn hours on this young island nation. Pat informs me that he is seconds away from tearing out my Esopogaus, I’m pretty sure that he is kidding, but I finish the song in the back yard just in case. Pat eventually wakes up two hours later and we head off to McCleans town for another day of fishing.
Since we fished almost exclusively from the boat yesterday I ask Perry if he can take us to a flat to wade. A couple of highlights stand out over the course of one of my best Bonefishing days ever.
The first, Started when Perry pointed out a cove that was filled with no fewer that twenty tails spread out along a 60 yard portion of the shore line. I left Pat and Perry and made my way over to the cove. My plan was to work the fish on the far side of the cove. My plan was to hook the fish on the outside edge of the cove in the hope that the fish would run with the tide and away from the other tailing fish. As I made my way up the flat, I spotted what looked like two sharks moving slowly to the right. As I get closer I realize that these are two of the biggest Bonefish that I have ever seen. No tails shining in the sun, no splashing, just two monsters who appear to be crawling along the bottom with their dorsal fins erect. At this point I revert back to a Lemaze class I took 13 years ago with my wife in order to control my breathing. The fish are still not spooked and somehow I manage to get off a decent curve cast that puts the fly four feet in front of and right in between the two fish. The one on the left charges it and scoops it on the run. While I would like to say I landed that fish it would probably be easier to just say that while my curve cast has improved my line management skills still have a ways to go. I still manage to pick up two fish out of the cove but none come close to the size of that first one that broke me off. We fish that side of the Cay until 11:00 and walk back to the boat where I pick up another tailing fish that was so close I had to make the shot while kneeling.
We get back in the boat and head to a nearby creek and start to work a mangrove shoreline while we wait for the tide to go out. Perry and I get into an interesting discussion around Muds as he poles down the shoreline. Perry insists that fishing Muds do indeed count as sight fishing when executed in shallow water in the manner that he practices. Perry will spot certain muds and pole until he sees fish in the mud – not flashes of fish but actual fish. I call BS, but sure enough after poling alongside a mud for 10 minutes Perry instructs Pat to lay a cast out forty feet at 9:00. Pad obliges and hooks up immediately. I do not know if I buy this but there most definitely was a fish exactly where he told Pat to throw (and no it was not at the head of the mud).
Perry announces that the tide is right and we head across the creek to fish the opposite side of the Cay that we fished earlier. We anchor the boat on the edge of the flat and Perry pairs off with Pat again and they proceed to walk roughly 60 yards in front of me. I position myself in front of a series of potholes and the Bonefish start coming in waves – I pick up three cruisers/occasional tailers in a span of about 20 minutes. It seems like Bonefish are moving towards these shallow depressions from every direction. I switch to a yellow “Walker Cay” special and get several refusals. Since I have already lost two of Perry’s “Top Secret” flies I am afraid to ask him for another one so I switch to a #4 Super Gotcha and immediately hook into a another fat Bonefish.
Things slow down and Perry tells us to get back in the boat so we can go back to the other side of the island and finish the day off fishing tails. As we motor down the channel Perry looks to the left says “man, we can’t leave that many fish on this flat. I look over his shoulder and it looks like someone has placed hundreds of mirrors across the entire flat. The mirrors turned out to be tails as far as the eye could see!. Let me be clear here – when I say hundreds of tails I am talking several hundred tails. I had never seen anything like it.
Perry shut down the boat and parks it back on the flat again. I make my way towards the protected shore where I see another fifteen to twenty tails. Along the way I take six or seven shots at fish crawling in three inches water but I am not successful. As I get closer and closer to the shoreline I start to sink to my calves in Mud. I am within 60 feet of the nearest group of Bonefish, so I decide to take my time and change my Super Gotcha back to an un-weighted “Walkers Cay” special. I work the first group but end up lining an unseen lead fish. That group blows out, but the group behind them is not fazed in the least. I eventually get off a nice shot (at least as nice as it can get when one is standing calf deep in ooze) and land a 5 pound bonefish. Of course this is only after sprinting through sometimes knee deep mud in order to untangle my line from a series of Mangrove shoots. As I am doing this pods of Bonefish are exploding away from me in every direction (Pat would later tell me that he asked Perry why I was running, stumbling and falling across the flat, Perry responded by pointing at the mangrove shoots in the distance and saying “Mangroves – nothing good can come from that!”) . I release the fish, and drop to my knees in order to catch my breath. I also contemplate whether or not to proceed further in the ooze in order to go after the other 100 tails towards the back of the cove (This actually is what Hell probably looks like – hundreds of tails just out of reach!). Perry makes the decision for me when he yells for me to come back to the center of flat. Perry later tells me that the flat is very soft as you move further into the cove. I respond that I was aware of that since I caught the fish while standing in calf deep mud. He then laughingly tells me that I was actually on the firm portion of the flat, and that If I had proceeded I would have ended up in mud up to my to my chin.
As I make my way back to Pat and Perry I watch Pat hook a nice Bonefish while Perry busies himself launching Conch shells at a three foot Lemon shark who has already dispatched a Bonefish that Pat was fighting and was presently looking for the second course on the end of Pats line. I put my rod away for the moment and snap some pictures of pat fighting the fish with my zoom lens. As I follow them across the flat I end up landing two more Bones including my biggest fish of the trip after I launch a 60 foot cast twenty feet in front of a V wake (I told you it was going to be one of those days). What a perfect way to end the trip: My reel screaming, the sun setting in front of me, and still tails and nervous water almost as far as the eye could see!
Totals for the day: Landed 10 fish, and lost another three or four to either spit hooks or break off after the fish ate the fly. Pat finished with 5 fish and lost 1 to a shark and another 2 spit the hook.
Location: Henry Morgan Flat
Weather: Clear as a bell
Wind: 8 to 12 mph
HT 6:15 am, LT 12:44 pm, HT 6:32 (South)
Outside Temp: 66 high
Bonus day – Although our flight was moved to a 2 pm departure we still planned on getting a couple of hours on the flats before takeoff. It was chilly when we got to flat – If Bonefish depart flats once the water hits 68 we were in trouble. As noted in my last log this flat has changed significantly since I first fished it for two weeks straight two summers ago (three Hurricanes will do that). It is now truly a big table top type of flat, with very few cuts or swashes intersecting it. This should be a good flat during high tide – but based on my success to date with high tide I would take that speculation at face value.
The tide is up when we arrive, but the wind is down (at least it was until around 9:00). Visibility is limited with the sun low and directly in front of us. I see seven tails (and this water was calf deep) – so the fish that I saw were big. Could only get in position for one shot the fish ate the fly ripped out the line laying on the water – then suddenly turned and charged me!. The fish stopped three inches in front of me and I frantically reeled my line in but it never went taunt again. This was another good sized fish, but nothing like Bonezilla yesterday. I saw two more tails and one pod of eight fish moving away as the tide dropped. Did not see another fish for the next hour and half. My guess is that they were waiting for the tide to come in and heat up the water. We ended up zeroing for the day (perhaps I need to quit referring to this as the bonus day). We boarded our flight a little after two and arrived back in Tampa a little after 7:00. Over all a great trip.
Observations, Random thoughts, etc…
Guides: Fished with Perry Demeritte out of Mcleans town two of the three days. While Perry’s last name might not carry the same pedigree as the Cleare, Rolle, Mackay, Smith, or the Pinder name, this is one of the best guides that I have fished with anywhere. Perry clearly loves what he does and we had to drag HIM off the water on Both of the days that we fished him. Both nights we got back to the dock after dark simply because Perry was having such a great time and did not want to quit guiding. As a matter fact he complained that although December was a great time of the year to fish (Biiig Fish) he did not like it as much as other times since during the summer & early fall he could fish much later! With the addition of his new Maverick Flats Boat Perry now has a boat that matches his guiding skills.
Rental car: Once again We drove, A LOT. We covered over 650 miles in between Saturday and Tuesday. We rented a Taurus this time – bad from a gas mileage perspective, but it was great to fold down the back seat and keep the rods rigged for the entire trip. Its also nice to see that they are repairing the road in between the Oil storage tanks and the east End – No more Pot Hole Dodging!
Weather – Despite mixed conditions Monday made the trip – now if I could just put four back to back clear sky days together (I can dream can’t I). We still managed to see and land a good number of fish even when conditions were windy and overcast by fishing tight to the lee side of various creeks. When we had clear skies we always had just the right amount of wind to mask our presence and keep the Bonefish comfortable.
Glasses: I got a chance to use my new “Freshwater Amber” (yellow), photo chromic lenses for the first time. I feel like I had a clear advantage both early, late and when fishing the ocher colored flats of the North/Eastside, and the lighter colored ocean flats. Before the purchase I was concerned with eye stain during periods of intense sunlight but the lenses automatically adjusted and were comfortable to wear all day (and night). I do not see ever going back to Rose or Clearwater Copper again.
Did I write this in my last log? “The more I fish the less I believe that the fly pattern is as important as how the fly is weighted”. If so I want to take it back. Clearly two flies offered a significantly higher take rate than others tried. The Gotcha Clouser and the Yellow “Walkers Cay” un-weighted fly had a number of clear refusals (Other than on the mud bottom in super skinny water). Whenever I put on The Super Gotcha w/ sillilegs or Perry’s “Top Secret” fly the fish went nuts. In this instance I feel that pattern & color (and not just weight) made a difference. I did managed to take the time to switch to unweighted flies on several occasions and each time it paid off.
Staking out a position and camping - Most definitely worked on the Flat on Monday. I positioned myself behind a series of shallow potholes and the bone were drawn to the holes when passing across the flat (I watched four or five groups swing out of the way to cruise through these shallow holes). As an added Bonus they are hungry when they get to the Holes as well!
Even during bad weather Perry was able to work the leeward side of a creek and spot fish, even when the light was low (and windy and raining)Bonefish could be spotted when looking for tails and focusing on the two to three foot area right off of the Mangroves.
Tides Part I- High Tide… I still have not solved it – The ocean side trough against the beach was piled with dead Seagrass. When the high tide comes in the Bonefish might be up there but I still cannot see them as the sea grass stains the water near shore brown. I zig zagged back and forth across the flat but found little if any fish. I need to hire a guide next August or September to fish the Ocean side at high tide or find a flat on the Northside that’s firm enough to wade. If not a good portion of the day is unproductive if the tide is in.
Tides Part II – Since most of my guided fishing here has taken place on the Northside of the Island, I was not as familiar with the tides on the North/South East part of the Island. Based on the locations we fished this area has the best of both worlds – high tide and low tides taking place within a quarter of a mile of each other. If you prefer wading or fishing tails - it just does not get any better than this as you can always find low water.
Temperature – Once the outside temp hit the low sixties at night the only fish I saw were big fish (Nof 7)– once the day progressed and the tide moved out I saw no fish on the edges of the troughs. Best time during a cold snap might be to fish during the afternoon incoming – Of course I cannot confirm this since I was not on the flat then.
New locations – Had a chance to visit to new potential wading locations:
The first near WD/40 Curve. Take a right all the way to fork, go left follow to second fork go left again follow it all the way down to beach. Great place to take Jen beach is secluded, beautiful, and goes dry at low tide.
The second is more populated but another good choice to visit wit the family. follow signs to Over the Bridge Beach – probably best at low tide.
B mentioned location on North Side – somewhere in vicinity of WD/40 Curve.
Last edited by mdbones; 12-17-2005 at 01:31 AM.
Fantastic journal! Thought I was reading a novel there for a minute. One question, where can I find a good map of GBI? I'm not real familiar with all the places you were talking about and would like to have a detailed map for future reference.
One of the best fishing reports I've ever read. I'm a total newbie to bonefishing and could follow your every move. Thanks for a great report. FishHawk
I wish that I could tell you a good source for Maps. I have purchased boating charts ,and searched the web looking for good road maps - they are few and far between. I can tell you that of the places I mentioned - the only person that would recognize any of the flats is me, as I give them my own names in order to shield the locations of the flats. Finding the flat on your own is half the game!
Great report! Thanks and nice images to accompany the story.
FFF Certified THCI @ 2005
Capeflyfisher Guide Service
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