Thursday, 12 March 2009

Comfortable Bonefishing - Los Roques Day 4

I started thinking about this post through the day as it struck me that I now feel more comfortable than ever when spending a day on the flats. The trick is to fish light of course but when wading away from the Pangas it is imperative to think about the flies you may need and all the other accessories required to ensure you can make quick changes. For example a few days ago I happened upon a few Permit and yesterday a Cuda. These fish require alternative flies and in the case of the Cuda, a wire trace.

The best way to go about carrying the items required is in some kind of pack. The guys on this trip have packs of all shapes and sizes. Watching them fish I would say most are too big and overfilled. Carrying your pack on your waste also puts strain on your back, so today noticing that the guides sling their packs across their back, I followed suit. Why haven't I before! Far more comfortable and you can wade deep without giving all your hard earned flies and tools a bath. That aside my next tropical saltwater trip will be with a fully waterproof pack, far more sensible.

So pack on my back I am comfortable. But what is in it? Well as discussed, flies and leaders for a variety of species. Lip block ... a must! Spare leaders, tippet, forceps, lens cleaner, reel oil, spare sun block and on the outside a set of nips. This leaves room for a water bottle. On average I will aim to drink a bottle an hour at least.

Another revelation for me during the trip has been Costa Del Mar sunglasses. I am sold on Maui Jims but I find the Costas glass 580 lens truly awesome on the flats. The copper lens comes highly recommended but I have been using a blue mirror version and they are outstanding. The fact that all the guides use them offers further reassurance so I am glad we are adding them to the range in the shop very soon.

So I can see just fine (and today we saw plenty of fish on the pancakes), my pack is dry and not straining my back while dehydration is not an issue and any fish who dares cross my path has a fly waiting for them, all be it they may decide not to take it! But what about the sun? On the advice of world wide traveller and photographer Henry Gilbey I use Bullfrog quick gel which unfortunately is not available in the UK. An amazing product, I am very fair skinned but with just one application a day I do not burn. But there is another secret that Henry let me on years ago, Buffs.

All the guides wear them here and I have an ever growing collection, plus of course we sell them in the shop. A fairly nondescript looking piece of material this amazing garment will shield your neck, ears, nose and face from the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day. Granted we all now look a little like Ninjas wading across the flats and even had one tourist shout "take me to your leader!" as we passed them on a beach today. A convoy of us striding to our next destinaion sporting hat, sunglasses and Buff I can see the reason why we may look a little alien on a sandy beach! Alasdare has become named the invisible man due to his white buff and big black sunglasses incorporated with a sunhat! Today, a way off in the distance I was frantically calling him as we were about to had to a new location. I was shouting loudly thinking Alasdare had his back to me but in fact he was staring straight back! Such is the power of the buff to cover the face.

There are all sorts of other little things I am learning to help make a day on the flats as enjoyable as possible and most of them seem to assist quick changes of tactic and above all comfort. Feeling very comfortable I was really pleased to pick up an early fish of 4lb on a pancake flat which charged off the side and tried to do me on the coral. The light was perfect and there was just a gentle wind, but the fish were very tough. All the guys reported spooky fish and I watched today as 3 separate fish followed my fly and then turned away. If things stay the same tomorrow I am going to break out the 7 weight.

Fishing with Alasdare and Sam we had yet another action packed day with Cayito who took us to some seriously interesting terrain including a lagoon where Sam picked up another 5 Bones to add to his day 3 tally. Alasdare and I came across a few fish but it wasn't until we headed to a beach that the fun really began for us. Fishing Gummy Minnows on the drop we hooked a number of Bones to 4lb by wading out, banging the flies as far as we could and then stroking them back in. Watching Bones pick off Minnows stunned by Pelican attacks it an awesome bit of sport as we threw at nervous water waiting for a hit at any given moment.

The other guys all got Bones today but the general consensus is that it has been tough. Low wind does make for easier casting but the fish spook far more easily and gentle presentation becomes paramount. There has also been a lot of changeable conditions this last few weeks and we don't seem to be seeing large groups of fish, possibly because they are out in deeper water? Most important is that all the party are catching and having a great time. It was certainly not easy fishing today, but it is very challenging and a bit of effort is rewarded.

Writing this at 10.15pm I am the late one up, the guys have been knackered after all the excitement out on the flats and are all in bed by 9pm most nights! I had better head off too. Apologies there are no photos to accompany these posts, I have plenty and will load up a photo essay to show the highlights from the trip upon my return to the UK.

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