March 25th, 2002

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Heaven's Flat
By Don Cianca, (Uncle Don) Butte, Montana

With some luck, twice in my life I have had the opportunity to pursue Bonefish in the waters known as "The Jolters." The second time was just this last February of 2002. Located on the north end of Andros Island in the Bahamas, channels known by the local guides allow passage of skiffs to flats that extend for miles and miles. Hard white and tan bottoms allow wading for feeding Bonefish that once hooked, can take a flyfisherman into his backing before he can say his full name.

Like any day fishing, the weather can be as much of a challenge as trying to hook a fish. With very few obstructions to block or slow the wind, it is important be prepared for steady winds that make accurate casting close to impossible. Yet, I learned that your satisfaction can double when a Bonefish that was hooked resulted from a forty or fifty foot cast into the wind. I have been amazed when watching a Bahamian guide face and cast an entire flyline directly into the wind. It is also obvious that they take great pride in doing so. (So would I!)

My guide Herman Bain launched his boat as I assembled my nine-foot, eight weight Italian flyrod (Gatti). Oh, it felt so good to be back here again where I had enjoyed some of the best days ever on the flats fishing for Bonefish. While the wind did not appear to be blowing stronger than during my last trip, the air was definitely much cooler. That caused me to don my rain jacket so it would work as a windbreaker as we snaked through the channels to our destination. While the flat toward which we headed was only five or six miles from our launch, we must have covered twice that distance. It reminded me of traveling at home. Since I live in the mountains, it is almost impossible to go anywhere "as the crow flies." Mountains or canyons require routes that often more than double the distance from home to any destination. Likewise, Herman made many turns in following channels until his engine slowed and we came to a stop.

Anchoring the boat is important. Fishing the flats involves timing with the tides. If the tide is going out, you don't want the boat to be caught high and dry. Well, we were to fish on the falling tide, so Herman anchored his boat for an easy exit later on. We cleaned our polarized sunglasses and stepped off the boat. Ahead, the sun was unobstructed and the bottom of the flat was lit like a jewelry store showcase making it's treasures visible. It would even be easy for me to spot Bonefish on a day like today.

"This is Heaven's Flat Uncle Don," Herman said with a big smile on his face.

Uncle Don and Bonefish!
He told me that since my last trip fishing with him here, he now refers to this place as Heaven's Flat. He reminded me how I had enjoyed a remarkable day here catching several feisty Bonefish. As we walked back to the boat toward the end of the day, I told Herman that if there was Bonefishing in Heaven, the flat there would look just like this one.

If there is a map of the Jolters you may see a few of the cays named, but you will not see the name Heaven's Flat. If I were to describe it to you, I'd tell you that from one end to the other, you could make out the curvature of the earth. You would see nervous water as schools of Bonefish moved from place to place. What might look like a sailboat regatta, would actually be a school of tailing Bonefish. And, if you see a laughing guide named Herman and a short Montana fisherman, rod bent and reel screaming, either you are on Heaven's flat in The Jolters off Andros Island, or you have died and gone to Heaven. ~ Uncle Don

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