My First Bonefish

I had to laugh when I first read this great post from subscriber Jamie Dodd.  Not because the story is comical, but just how reading it took me back to my first trips and how”friggin hard” it actually was to catch a bonefish on my own.  Now it seems easy, but who knew, there were 18,000 things that could go wrong when you are out there wading on your own.  Just goes to show you what a great job, professional guides do.

 

“To say catching my first bonefish was a mission of perserverance is an understatement.  I am not proud to say that it took me 3 trips to the TCI to finally have one in the books.

Year one, a half day with Darin Bain and one shot in windy conditions.  I thought I’d catch ten.  No real pre-trip study except some heavy double haul practice that was useless.  On a whim the next year I bought an 8 piece 9wt. that I knew would easily go in a carry on and another excuse to splurge again and give it a go myself.  I spent 3 days wading around Flamingo Lake and actually got fairly good at seeing fish and how they move but had only a couple of shots.  Went another 1/2 day with Will Valley and again one shot from about 50 feet and another skunk.  Needless to say I was despondent.  Both alluded to the much lower success rate with 1/2 day vs. full day and I do believe that is probably very true.

 

JD 1

 So I read and vowed to go back.  My wife said I was stupid.  Twice I had to come back and tell all that I had been unsuccessful as I had told many I was going to catch a bone fish.  I have done as much stalking of fish by sight on streams and ponds as anyone over the last 40 odd years and had always caught fish.  I was famous for climbing trees on ponds and steams to locate fish and then score.  This couldn’t be that hard.
Time 3, I read and had been to your site many times and read the TCI info more than once.  Then I decided the answer might be to buy your book.  It was the best move I would make.  I studied all the sites and thought the flat on the south past Bristol Hill Lane would be my next focus along with the area around Flamingo.  It must be noted that my outings could not be too long  and were limited in number as this was primarily supposed to be husband and wife time and same with the previous 2 trips.  Flamingo day one didn’t see a fish.  Flat past bristol day 2 didn’t see a fish.  But parked in the big empty lot that you mention in the book and I had spied on google maps and spoke to a local on a bull dozer who said it was private property but go ahead and a very good place to catch a bonefish.  I remembered this.  It was very rough and windy that morning. 2 unsuccessful mornings at Taylor bay with the wife and not a single fish spotted and I had one morning left.  Decided I would try Bristol Hill Dr. area one last time.
Flamingo Lake

Flamingo Lake

Beautiful morning and met a young fellow form BC who had also been unlucky.  I told my story of woe as we stood there on that beautiful stretch of sand and comforted each other then he left and wished me luck.  I waded out onto the flat and was about a hundred yards out and a minute in when I saw 3 or 4 swimming straight at me. It was almost surreal.  I did exactly as you had described in the book and without a hitch dropped the tan Crazy Charlie about 2 feet in front of the lead fish.  I watched astonished as he just kept coming with intent and then tipped. I waited a spit second, strip set felt resistance, raised the rod tip and cleared line and stood and let the line take off.  I just chuckled to myself.  It was such a pure sense of accomplishment.  Then I realized he had birds nested me as my drag was set to loose.  As I struggled to get the mess out I bowed to him and moved towards him and quickly realized one more strong run and I was done.  Miraculously it never happened and I must say I skillfully played him without ever getting him on the reel.  I brought him to hand took a few quick shots with the cell and slipped him back in.  About 3 pounds but it didn’t matter.  I stood there and again chuckled thinking how hard it had been but I had finally done it.  And I give you a ton of the credit.  The book was terrific and I just thought my story clearly explains I would think why you wrote the book and should make you also feel a sense of accomplishment.  Some 50 some year old dude from Virginia used my book to catch his first bonefish.  I’m sure there are many more stories out there but I really just wanted to say thank you in a very long winded way.  Great work and I will always be grateful to you.”
Thanks for sharing a remarkable story of perseverance.
Flyfishing for bonefish is my passion. Over the last twenty years I've waded flats throughout the world and honestly can't wait to see the next one. Of the 3-4 months I spend in the tropics each year I divide my fishing time between lodges, independent guides and self-guided.
  1. Tim Seitzinger Reply

    I really enjoyed this story , Thanks for sharing this fisherman’s triumph !

  2. Paul Grindlay Reply

    Way to stick with it Jamie! Hopefully that fish is the first of many bones. As I read your story, I concur that TCI didn’t seem to be an easy score from the shore, although I did get into quite a few fish with Darin on two half-day trips blessed with near-perfect conditions (perhaps you read my blog post?). Tight lines… and no bird’s nests!

  3. Greg Reply

    Way to stick with it! That is an awesome feeling to get that first one and the monkey off your back!

  4. Mel Thomas Reply

    Great story, well written and totally inspiring …catching that elusive fish will be indelibly etched in your mind for ever…that I am sure.

  5. Pingback: DIY Bonefishing: My First Bonefish | FLATSWALKER

  6. Robert Chiasson Reply

    As I prepare for my first bonefishing experience next week on Cozumel Island with Carlos Vega, (after almost 40 years of chasing Atlantic Salmon, 25 as a guide), I’ve been sifting through as many YouTube videos and articles as I could for the last 6 months. From reading about the fundamentals of targeting bonefish, to the use of proper knots, to strip-setting the hook, I hope I am somewhat prepared for my upcoming challenge! Bottom line, I am looking forward to the experience!
    Thank you for all the tips, tricks and advice, I’ve truly enjoyed your informative website!! Tight lines!
    http://www.dryflysalmon.com

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Hi Robert, thanks for taking the time to comment. You will have a great time and that is actually a pretty good place to have your first bonefish adventure. I’m sure you will do well, but send me a short Guest Blog along with a picture of you holding your first bonefish. All of us here love to see an Atlantic Salmon fisherman cross over to the dark side……lol All the best and good luck.

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