A First Look At Abaco, Bahamas

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Abaco, Bahamas is a fly fishing destination that’s been on my radar for a long time.

Like most anglers, I have my home waters. Places I know well and can find fish without starting from square one, and like most anglers I tend to spend a lot of time fishing those places. Since I fish in, and write about, the Bahamas a lot, folks assume I’ve fished every inch of it. I wish that were true and I’m working on it.

An island that I’ve consistently heard good things about over the years is Abaco and it took me way too long to get there and check it out. I finally made it and, as is often the case, now I’m asking myself why it took so long. Abaco has quickly become one of my favorite destinations and I’ll be spending a lot more time there.

HERE ARE A FEW REASONS WHY ABACO IS TOPPING MY LIST OF SALTWATER FLY FISHING DESTINATIONS.

Abaco first caught my attention when I started hearing about the diversity of the fishing. A friend of mine was fishing there regularly and catching permit on every trip. Permit are all over the Bahamas but not always in numbers high enough to target and on many of the islands the guides don’t know how, or don’t care to target them. Abaco seemed to be different on both counts.

When I got there I found that the opportunities exceeded my expectations. I asked to fish permit and was consistently put on permit, in good numbers and size. I hooked a 40-pounder and you can read about the HERE. Permit were not the end of the story. The guides easily put me on tarpon as well, making Abaco a legitimate destination for a grand slam.

Bonefishing is of course the big draw for any Bahamian fishery and Abaco certainly doesn’t disappoint. There are a couple of unique opportunities for my favorite species. The Marls is an expansive system of keys and soft flats which offer consistent and interesting bonefish action. The average fish on the Marls runs 3 to 5 pounds with outliers in both directions. Unlike many Bahamian fisheries where fish travel and feed in huge schools, Marls fish are found in small packs. Not only does this make for more interesting fishing, it means more shots at fish. It’s much more fun and rewarding to cast to 500 fish in 100 packs of 5 than one school of 500.

There are large fish on Abaco, too.

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The 5 Essentials Of A Good Fly Cast Revisited

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Let’s take a minute to look at the 5 essentials of a good fly cast.

I was giving a talk about saltwater fly fishing the other day when i mentioned the 5 essentials. I was shocked to find that no one in the crowd knew what the 5 essentials are, or that they even existed. I’ve never written on the topic because I thought it was common knowledge. Apparently I was wrong.

I did some research and was even more surprised to find that there is a good bit of variation in what has been written on the topic and there is some of it I don’t agree with. That said, understand that what I’m about to set out for you are the 5 essentials as I learned them and as I believe they are best explained. They are roughly equivalent to the 10 commandments for the IFFF and there will no doubt be some who consider any variation sacrilege. I encourage you to read the original and take both as good advice. https://thelimpcobra.com/2012/11/27/fly-casting-instruction-2/

The 5 Essentials are the work of Bill and Jay Gammel. Their article on the subject was written in 1990 and while it’s important work, you should bear in mind that it pertains to single hand, overhead fly casting. Many of the ideas apply to other casting styles, but not all. I have discussed this version with some of the most knowledgeable IFFF casting instructors I know and am very confident in it.

The 5 Essentials of a good fly cast

The first thing I learned about the 5 Essentials was that there are 6 of them, so you can see that I’m off to a good start.

THERE SHOULD BE A SMOOTH, ACCELERATING APPLICATION OF POWER.

Lefty Kreh described this motion as feeling like throwing wet pain with a brush. If you start too quickly, the paint will fly back on you, so you start slow and speed up as you go. The casting stroke should do the same, start gently and accelerate smoothly, stopping at its fastest point. This leads us to essential number 2.

2. THERE MUST BE AN ABRUPT STOP

Here is where I first deviate from much of what is written on the topic.

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Sunday Classic / 8 Common Mistakes Anglers Make Fighting Trout

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By Kent Klewein If I looked backed on my early fly fishing days and had to grade my fish fighting skills, it would yield a discouraging report card. I lost way more fish than I actually landed during those first few years after picking up a fly rod. I’ll never forget how tense and anxious I was every time I’d find myself hooked up with a nice trout. It seemed like every second of the battle I was terrified that I was going to lose my trophy. In turn, I constantly second guessed my fighting instincts, I wouldn’t follow after my fish if it swam upstream or downstream of me, and I knew very little about the correlation between rod position and applying fighting pressure. Furthermore, I was really clumsy when it came to clearing my excess fly line and reeling in the fish. I always had a hard time figuring out when it was a good time to do that. When all said and done, I bet I only landed one or two fish out of every five fish I hooked during my rookie days. That’s not so hot, probably a D average if I was grading myself extremely leniently. We’ve all been there at some point during our fly fishing career, some of us may even find ourselves with that D average right now. Here’s the positive outlook though, most trout that are hooked and lost during the fight can be linked back to a handful of common mistakes. Yet, most of the time, they all can be easily avoided if you pay close attention to what you’re doing when you’re fighting a trout. Mistake #1 – Not being in the hook set ready position I know it sounds elementary, but during my early days, I would often … Continue reading

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Saturday Shoutout / S.C.O.F. Is Back

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It’s time for some Southern Culture On The Fly.

It’s back and as irreverent as ever, with Warm Water Conspiracies, Choko Three Ways and Whiskey Stones. Oh yeah, and more of Dave’s famous tramp stamps. Still the coolest E-Mag in the biz and still free.

CHECK OUT S.C.O.F.

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It’s All In The Wrist

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Watch the Video!

If you’re confused about how to use your wrist for a better fly cast, you’re not alone.

Plenty of anglers have been told not to use their wrist when they cast. The truth is, you cant make a good cast without using your wrist. It’s all in how you use the wrist and when. Knowing how to apply power successfully, using your wrist, will take your casting to a whole new level.

IN THIS VIDEO TIM RAJEFF SHOWS YOU HOW TO CORRECTLY USE YOUR WRIST WHEN FLY CASTING.

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Don’t Be Like This Guy

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I hope this is so obvious it needs no explanation.

There we are staked up waiting for migrating tarpon when this guy rolls up, jig at the ready. I’m sure he thought we were on fish. His kids huddled down in the floor of the boat and he wouldn’t even look at us. His wife at least had the decency to say, “I’m sorry.”

On the bow my buddy Scott offers an enthusiastic thumbs up. One of the reasons I love fishing with that guy. Nothing ruffles his feathers. I’d have likely put a hook in his ear. Scott was paid back karmicly by jumping a 150 pound tarpon that afternoon. It broke him off but it was still awesome. Wish I had a photo. I was on the phone with my mother. If you’re a mother, you call at the wrong time. It’s what you do.

Anyway, a picture is

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Streamer Fishing For Trophy Browns: Is Your Streamer Big Enough?

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The other day I was talking with a friend about streamer fishing for trophy class trout. Specifically we were debating what’s the best size streamer for catching trophy browns. My buddy confidently proclaimed the biggest of trout will eat a three inch streamer just as fast as they’ll eat a five or six inch fly. There’s no doubt that plenty of gargantuan trout have been caught on smaller streamers by fly anglers all over the world, so I didn’t argue with my buddy even though I didn’t agree 100% with him. That being said, I do think location and food source availability does have a lot to do with what size fly pattern you should be fishing if you’re after the biggest browns in your home waters when it comes to streamers.

Where I live and guide in North Georgia, big wild brown trout are few and far between. Of the thousands of miles of designated trout water in my area, only a handful of streams and rivers support the caliber of wild brown trout that truly turn heads. The large majority of big browns that are caught each year, usually don’t end up being wild brown trout, but instead hold overs that have been previously stocked by our DNR. Lucking up and landing a twenty plus inch wild brown trout here, is a rare feat that’s not easily accomplished, regardless of how high the skill level happens to be by the angler wetting a line. Our streams arent’ that fertile so biggest of trout are more times than not, forced to eat juvenile trout to maintain their size.

I’ve always told my clients that brown trout seem to carry an overwhelming wiseness to them, when you compare them to other species of trout. They seem to always hangout in places where it’s extremely difficult to present a fly, and they’re the first fish to go running for cover when they sense the slightest bit of danger around them. The other day guiding and enjoying my time on the water mentoring one of my favorite clients (Gary Rogers), we came as close as we could possibly get to landing a giant wild brown trout. We had chosen the right location, a small wild trout stream that’s known for holding good numbers of wild brown trout. A year prior, almost to the very day, Gary had landed a huge 26″ brown. We’ve never stopped talking about that rare catch, and both of us yearned to witness a catch like that again together. As we waded up to S-bend in the stream that held a perfect undercut bank, we focused as a team the best we could on the task at hand. Both of us knew without speaking out loud, that if there was going to be a big brown anywhere in this stream, it was going to be found right here in that bend. Gary waded into position and presented his nymph rig off the back of the shoal leading towards the S-bend, and a few seconds later, he set the hook on a trout. It was approximately a 12-inch wild rainbow, and as the rainbow tried vigorously to shake the hook loose at the end of Gary’s line, I saw a big brown jolt out from the undercut bank and take a swipe at his rainbow. It was easily 24 inches or better, and as quickly as that trophy brown showed itself, it disappeared out of sight.

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An Enigmatic Trophy

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By Justin Pickett

So here I am. Streamside. Spankin’ new Epic 686 in hand.

The anticipation of tossing the first bits of feather and fur into a fishy run with this stick is more than I’ve been able to tolerate. I can’t wait to put the first trout on this glass! I barley cinched my boots down before I started my hasty march towards the water. I’ve wanted so bad to put a bend in this rod since it hit my doorstep, still just a collection of thread, glue, and fiberglass tubes. The last week has been spent working in as much time as humanly possible in order to form these materials into what I hope to be nothing less than a fish slaying saber.

Guides in place. Wraps tight. Resin cured.

It’s Go Time!

I’ve quietly staged upstream of one of my favorite runs in a small, heavily canopied, N. Georgia creek. My feet are settled on the bank as I release my fly from the frame of my reel. You guessed it. Streamer. A mix of natural, muted colors with a splash of fiery metallic used to pierce the dark waters of this overcast day. Stripping the line from my reel, I focus on the sound of the drag whizzing. I love that sound. I stare into the water as I play through my head the cast I am about to make. Tight canopy and the current is forcing a backhand presentation and it has to be on point. It has to land softly, almost on the opposite bank. I have to manage my line correctly and mend appropriately in order for the fly to swing down into the feed zone. If I want to pull the nice fish that I know lies here, I’ll have just one shot.

My mind is right. My rig is neat. The timing is right.

I relax my left hand, allowing my fly to swing away from me as I raise my rod tip. I lay the fly against the water’s surface, allowing the water’s force to pull about ten feet of line from my hands. Here we go. Loading the rod against the current, I begin my presentation. My fly disappears behind me, over my left shoulder. I’m so focused on my target, I’ve lost all of my periphery.

The rod reloads. It is prepped to transport its passenger to its destination. Next stop: Brown Town.

My right arm glides forward, beginning my forward stroke. I am poised to strike! Apply power….

“What in sam hell is”…..

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Finding the Hidden Carp

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By Dan Frazier

“FLASH YOUR BREAK LIGHTS A THOUSAND TIMES BEFORE WE TURN OFF OR THE CAR BEHIND YOU WILL SMASH INTO YOUR REAR END,” TREVOR YELLED THROUGH MY PHONE.

I was following him through downtown Denver at 50 mph on our way to a second spot to fish for the day. All of a sudden, his break lights lit up like a strobe light at a rave and I begin tap-dancing on my brake pedal. In what looked like a scene from a heist movie, Trevor suddenly veered off the road, not at an intersection, and comes to a screeching halt on a tiny patch of concrete under a construction sign. I put my rental car to the test, swerved without slowing and then laid on the brakes before I climbed up Trevor’s tail pipe. Had I not had antilock breaks the screeching tires and blue smoke would have made the slide-stop that more dramatic. Instead, I came to a quick but reasonable halt behind Trevor’s car. The black BMW missed rear ending me by inches and the driver screamed out the wind at me as he flew past.

We geared up and waited for traffic to clear, eventually bounding across the 4-lane road to get to the top of the wall. The water was 25 feet down as we hiked along, but it wasn’t directly below us. Ten feet down was a dirt ledge and another 15 feet from there was a sloping shoreline. The ledge was littered with the encampments of Denver’s homeless. We walked along, looking for carp. When we saw our first tailer, Trevor started taking off his gear and handed me his rod. He then lunged over the ledge into the crotch of a tree and shimmied his way down to the lower ledge. From there he could get a presentation on the fish.

Trevor isn’t the only master carp-on-the-fly angler that has taken me to spots that are insanely difficult to access; places that leave you scratching your head and thinking, “how the hell did he figure out how to get access here?”

John Montana has put me (and anyone that fishes with him) through the same paces. We’ve parked under overpasses and on unfinished off-ramps, slid down 60-foot scree slopes and bounded along railroad tracks. Both he and Trevor have taken me to spots that either currently were illegal to fish, or had been when they’d first been busted. Most you can sweet talk your way into getting permission… some you just get sneakier. Hell, I have places that involve crossing electric fences or parking at marginal pull-offs and hoping your car isn’t towed when you get back.

Until I was screeching to a halt with Trevor, however, this commonality had never occurred to me. We talk about carp being accessible to everyone and within walking distance of your house. And that’s true… carp are. But the guys putting up real numbers and big fish have spent hundreds of trips and thousands of hours scouting for both location and access. And they can be fiercely protective of these spots and access points. You

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Sunday Classic / Do fish dream?

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AH, THERE’S THE RUB, FOR WHAT DREAMS MAY COME IN THAT SLEEP OF FISH?

Have you ever been sight fishing to a nice fish and not gotten so much as a look at your fly? The fish just sat quietly finning as your fly drifted inches from its nose, like it was asleep. It may have been.

Do fish sleep? Undoubtedly. That’s a scientific fact that is well documented. They don’t sleep like we do and, in fact, different species of fish have very different ways of sleeping. Some sleep at night, some during the day and some are nappers. Some swim while asleep and some sleep so soundly that you can hold them in your hand without waking them.

Tuna, for example, rest motionless at night, suspended in the water. Bass and perch will sleep under or on top of logs. Reef fish seek refuge in crevices. Parrotfish build a cocoon of mucus in which to sleep. That sounds nasty, but maybe that’s the point. I wouldn’t eat something wrapped in mucus. Would you?

Although different fishes have different sleep habits they have a lot in common. Fish don’t have eye lids so they don’t exactly get shut eye. Their muscles relax, their breathing and heart rate slow, they become to some degree immobile and less sensitive to external stimuli. They also, to some extent, lose consciousness.

Fish do not live in as safe a world as we do and sleeping can be a risky proposition. For that reason most fish are never completely unconscious. Their brains sleep in shifts, resting different systems at different times. Shutting down nonessential bodily functions for periods of time. I imagine it’s much like day dreaming. Like when your brain is back on the beach in the Bahamas while your body seems to be looking over spread sheets at your desk. You’re not fully aware of your surroundings but alert enough to figure out that the sound you hear is your boss clearing his throat.

But what about those dreams?

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