Here's the rest of the story on my husband's
Barracuda which I wrote about last time. It
really was a fighter, made four aerial leaps
several feet out of the water, some vertical,
some horizontal covering 10 to 15 feet, really
spectacular. After about 15 or 20 minutes it
was along side the skiff. Our guide that day,
Stanley (Jolly Boy) Forbes was attempting to 'land'
the fish. No net of course, after all this is
the Bahamas 'mon.
Stanley and Jim were carrying on a running conversation,
Jim asking if Stanley had a gaff, he didn't. How about
something to wack it, like a priest? Nope. The next
little sequence had to be seen to be believed. This
is a big fish! 5 or 6 feet long, and very big, very
ugly teeth. Stanley has his left hand on the bite
tippet, and grabs the fish from the top, behind the
head with his right. Then he lets go of the leader,
changes hands, (all this time the fish is wiggling
to say the least) and slides his left hand underneath
the throat of the fish. Then with his right rips out
one set of gills. The fish expires after bleeding out,
still in the water. No sharks around. Oh yes, the fish
wiggles loose the first three tries! That's why Stanley
looks so wet in the photo.
So now, the fish comes aboard. Stanley looks at Jim
and says, "Hey Jim, you gotta knife?"
Ya right, traveled through many airports lately?
Jim did have his Mini Leatherman, which he had packed
in with his fishing gear. The blade on the little tool
is about one and a half inches long. But it is very
sharp. (It's Castwell's what did you expect?) Stanley
decides where he is going to make the cut to get the
fish in half, takes the blade and scrapes a batch of
scales off so he can make a cut. He cuts away and
gets the fish almost in half. (It was not gutted
at this point.) Stanley weights well over 300 pounds
and is strong. He tries breaking the fish in half
by brute strength, no go.
So he puts the fish on the bottom of the boat, stands
with one foot on the middle of the fish holding the
tail in one hand and the head in another and breaks
the backbone to get it into two pieces. I get to hold
the big plastic bag and Stanley stuffs the halves in
and we finally get it into the big cooler.
Here's the fly I told you about last time. I have no
idea if it was intended for 'cuddas' but it sure worked.
You can see it hanging out of the cudda's mouth in the
A side note here, all of the lodges we have visited
provide a nice lunch. Usually a large sandwich per
person (one for the guide as well) sodas, fruit,
sometimes chips, fritos or such, (water is a necessity),
or even raisin pies - the Bahamian version of a filled
cookie. We had ham, turkey and tuna salad sandwiches.
Now, if you are ever bored with ordinary tuna salad,
I have a way to perk it up. You may already be making
it this way, but it was brand new (and a bit of a shock)
to me. If you chop up sweet or dill pickles to put in
your tuna salad, chop up a few jalapeno peppers and
add them too. Definitely not boring!
We've made several trips to the Bahamas, partially for
business and of course, for the bonefishing. We've
had many guides, and with the exception of one years
ago at Deep Water Cay who was "in training" and never
spotted one fish in a whole day, they all did a fine
There is a difference in guides, and a regional difference
as well. Some of the guides work from a platform over
the outboard motor. I don't know if it restricts how
shallow water you can traverse, but I do believe the
guide has a distinct sight advantage. The Bahamian
guides all have a 6th sense on seeing bonefish, and
while we've gotten pretty good at it, the guides are
Some guides will 'walk the gunnel' as they pole, some
just pole from the stern. Since the bonefish move in
and out on the tides, being in the exact right place
at the right time is crucial - it also means the angler
needs to have flies which sink fast for deeper water
and lighter flies for shallow water. Light colored
flies for light bottoms, and dark flies for dark bottoms.
Or in the case of nothing being taken at all, get out
Capt. Pauls' Junk Yard Dog. Worked this trip!
We've had guides who work very slowly, covering every
spot on a flat where they've caught or seen bonefish.
Some will work 15 or 20 minutes on a particular place,
tell the anglers to "roll it up, we've moving."
Stanley on this last trip, worked very methodically,
knowing where the fish should be when the tide reached
a particular point. We in fact, were anchored waiting
for the tide to drop having lunch when the cudda in
this article appeared.
If the guide knows of a 'resident school' of bonefish
on a flat, you may have an opportunity to wade for
bonz, and watching a 'v' wake of bonz coming toward
you is indeed a thrill. Pick a target and put the fly
in front of them. Strip, pause, and slow strip until a
fish picks it up. Raise the rod - fish on!
We had a situation on the last trip with wind after a
big storm, falling tide and a school of bonz.
Gary Francis got out of the boat and pushed it - he
could make more headway faster than he could poling.
We actually chased a school of fish that way - and
caught some nice fish.
We fished a secluded little island (cay) this last
trip with Stanley who knew there were big bonz there.
He hit it on the money - I missed shots at half a
dozen fish over 10 pounds. Little things like
dropping the fly in the middle of the school, hitting
one on the nose and lining the school. Stanley got
us back on them again and I did managed to hook one
and lost it after a couple of nice runs. The guide
did everything right. I blew it. But for me, that's
part of the absolute joy of fishing for this fish.
If I didn't get excited and go bananas it would be
time to find another fish which would produce that
kind of a rush.
Don't tell me please to try Tarpon - at least not
100 plus pounders. Been there, done that. After
the initial take and run it is strictly a matter of physical
strength, and I'm old and not interested in that any
more. So there. Baby 'poons' are acceptable however.
More on the latest trip next time. Our thanks again
to our host and staff at Emerald Palms, and
our guides, Gary, Jason and Stanley. All were
outstanding, of course. ~ The LadyFisher
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