I love fishing with guides, because a day spent with a great guide can teach you lessons that are far more valuable than the day rate, or the photos taken of the fish you actually land. Many of my favorite guides live and work in the Bahamas. Granted, it’s hard not to be enjoying the moment when you’re wading the Bahamian bonefish flats. But these guys are the masters of keeping things low key and relaxed, even in some of the most challenging casting and fish spotting conditions in the world. And their advice is always slap-the-forehead simple. For example, you might remember the best wind casting advice ever, from Torrie Bevans in South Andros.
I just got back from an astounding bonefishing trip to Bimini, where I stayed at Bimini Sands, and did a lot of do-it-yourself fishing, right off the beach nearby. The thing about Bimini is that it’s so close to Florida, I had always flown over it, assuming I guess it wasn’t exotic enough to offer the kind of bonefishing I was looking for. I was wrong. Hemingway was right about the fishing scene in Bimini when he wrote about it decades ago, and from my perspective, it probably hasn’t changed much.
The highlight of the trip (which you’ll hear more about in coming weeks), was a day spent with “Bonefish Ebbie” David, working the inside and outside flats with an 8-weight and a simple Gotcha pattern. I caught 10 fish. Saw them all eat. Caught one eight-pounder, and another that was 9-plus. In all, I’d say the total weight for the day was pushing 45 pounds.
Ebbie has been working those flats for 30 years. He will sing for you as he poles the boat (if he likes you). And he will spot you fish that most people cannot see. But when I asked him what his secret was, he said it all boiled down to three things:
“You have patience with yourself. Self esteem must be high in order to catch bonefish.” In other words, let the bad casts roll off your back, and remember the good ones.
“God gave man dominion over the earth and everything in it…so don’t let the fish beat you. You take the action to the fish. Be aggressive.”
And, “You gotta keep the fly moving once it hits the water and sinks. That’s what it’s all about. Keep strippin’ baby. Right up until the fish eats the fly, and you can’t strip no more.”
Trust me. You can take Ebbie’s advice to the bank.