DIY Bahamas Bonefish, with the Family

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Leaving the wife or girlfriend behind, with or without a number of restless kids, while you slip away for a little fishing almost always ends in, what my brother calls “Hot tongue and cold shoulder,” no matter how delicate your presentation. It makes landing a permit look like child’s play. My last attempt, however, came off pretty well so I thought I’d share some of what made it a success.

My wife and I hade a great time in the Bahamas and you can too, but first here’s a pile of disclaimers.
1. Sharing your fishing time with family means compromising. What we’re talking about is a decidedly soft core fishing trip. I spent an average of two hours per day fishing. It worked for me but I’m confident in my ability to find and feed bonefish on my own. If you have never bonefished or are just learning you will need to tweak the strategy.

2. If you are new to bonefishing there is no replacement for the total immersion you get at a fishing lodge. It shortens your learning curve immeasurably. That said, in terms of both time and cost, it’s not in the cards for everyone.

3. I elected to fish on my own, without a guide. Lots of guys prefer to fish on their own and there’s nothing wrong with it. However, it is impossible to overstate the value of a good guide, especially when fishing waters far from home or unfamiliar species.

4. A good measure of the credit for my harmonious marriage goes to my wife. She is blessed with patience beyond belief.

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10 Tips For Spotting Permit

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Maybe it’s not your thing but if there truly is a fish of ten-thousand casts, it’s the permit. There is enough to catching permit to fill a bookshelf or magazine rack. It’s a complicated game, but where it starts is simple. To catch a permit, you must find a permit. And to find a permit, the angler must know what to look for. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to help you spot a permit.

Have the right glasses
This is stupid simple but it really is the most important piece of equipment for the saltwater angler. There is no replacement for quality polarized sunglasses. Good saltwater glasses have a rosy color to the lenses. Pass on green or grey. Copper, rose or brown will offer better contrast. A lighter tint to the lens is valuable on darker days and a frame that shade your eyes is a plus. Glass lenses offer the sharpest vision and, unless you have a heavy coke-bottle prescription, that’s what I recommend.

The long, graceful forked tail of the permit is its most distinctive feature. It is black in color and stands out when the fish shows its profile. Often the permit’s broad, silver body disappears completely and it is the black double sickle tail that gives him away. This sight is never more exciting than when the tail is held up out of the water. Called ‘”tailing” this happens when the fish feeds off the bottom in shallow water. This means that the fish is actively feeding and the chances of him eating your fly are good.

The permit’s long, sickle-shaped dorsal fin will often give him away. When the fish is

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It’s Ok to Ask for Help on the Water

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A lot of fly fisherman of both sexes get a little hesitant when it comes to holding hands or locking arms with people that aren’t kin. Don’t be Haphephobia when you’re wading in and around trout water that’s challenging to navigate, in remote areas off the beaten path or during cold weather. Making the mistake of trying to do everything on your own when you know darn well you need assistance can turn out to be a very dumb decision and put you in harms way.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Fly Casting on the Flats

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About ten years ago, I embarked on my first international saltwater fly fishing trip, with a couple Texas boys I’d previously met while chasing peacock bass in the Amazon. The saltwater trip took place down in Mexico, specifically the Ascension Bay area. Our primary target fish were bonefish but we kept a constant lookout for permit and tarpon. The two born and raised Texas boys had grown up fly fishing in the salt, and they both had more than enough testosterone, ego and skill to handle the demanding fishing conditions. I on the other hand, had never experienced first hand the difficulties that saltwater fly fishing brings. I really struggled with spotting fish in an unfamiliar environment and managing my presentations in 25 mph winds. I’ll never forget the humbling feeling of defeat after our first day of fly fishing on the flats. My counterparts landed a dozen bonefish a piece while I only managed to catch one. Just about the entire trip I was plagued with the feeling of being under-gunned on the water. The wind totally kicked my butt and I missed numerous opportunities because I couldn’t cast far enough to consistently get my fly to the targets my guide was calling out.

At the time, the only problem I saw in my fly casting was I didn’t seem to have nearly as much power in my casting stroke as my buddies. That was true, but the real problem was I didn’t have the competency to diagnose what I was doing wrong and neither of my buddied did either. All they kept saying, over and over to me, was that I needed to work on my double-haul.

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The Bahamas is Open for Business

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By Louis Cahill

The Bahamian borders have opened and there are still a couple of spots open in the Jan 2021 Bonefish School!

Many of us have been holding our breath since the Bahamian government closed its borders in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. With three weeks booked in January, I’ve been holding it tighter than most so I was thrilled to here that the world’s best bonefishery is once again accepting visitors.

Bahamians are still being very cautious. Travelers are required to show a negative COVID test, taken within five days of travel, to enter the Bahamas. Some airlines are using the same requirements. Fortunately, it’s easy and fast to do a home COVID test without a doctor’s visit. The Pixel test from lab corp is easily accessible and covered by most insurance. The folks at Bair’s have used this test to enter the country with no issues.

Get your test here.

The crew at Bair’s Lodge are hustling to get ready for arriving anglers now. They are working on lodge safety protocols to insure a safe trip for everyone. While safety measures are important, I personally feel reassured knowing that everyone on the trip will be tested and in good health. 

If you’re like me, you are seriously ready to put 2020 behind you and get on with living the dream. If that sounds good to you, shoot me an email to to reserve a spot. 


2 FOR JAN 16-23 2021 AND 2 FOR JAN 23-30 2021.

I expect these spots to book quickly so call a friend or spouse and book your spots. If January is not in the cards for you, I will be holding another Bonefish School June 6-13 2021.

The cost of the school is $4995, a savings of almost $2000 over a normal week at Bair’s. The price includes all meals and drinks, shuttles on the island and all the instruction you like. The only thing not included in the price are tips and tax. You can find tons more info by visiting our hosted trips page.

I look forward to fishing with you in the Bahamas!

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2 Ways to Determine the Sex of a Trout

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Here are two ways to determine the sex of a trout.

Over the years, I’ve found that the majority of my clients have a hard time determining whether a trout they catch is a male or female. Below are two ways to quickly identify the sex of a trout.


One of best ways to distinguish the sex of a trout is to examine the mouth. Female trout all have a short rounded nose or upper jaw, while male trout have a more elongated snout. If your trout has a lower jaw with a kype, it’s a male for sure. Although the mouth of a female trout will grow larger as it ages and increases in size, the mouth will never grow a kype (hooked lower jaw). Upon becoming sexually mature, male trout will begin to grow a pronounced kype. At first, it will just be a tell-tale sign, but as a male trout ages, its kype will become more pronounced. It’s important to point out that even for trout that aren’t sexually mature, an angler can look at the mouth of a trout and see either a uniform mouth with a short rounded nose (female), or a elongated snout with a slightly longer lower jaw (male).


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Light, Composition and Action

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A technically perfect image is worthless if it doesn’t capture the eye, and the imagination, of the viewer. Unfortunately, most new photographers get so wrapped up in the science of photography that they totally miss the art. There are as many aesthetic choices to be made when shooting a photo as when building a house but a hell of a lot less time to make them. It takes time and experience to master designing a photo on the fly but to help you get started there are three element so crucial to a great photo that they deserve your attention every time you lift the camera. They are: light, composition and action.


Light sets the mood. When you sit down for a romantic dinner do you turn on the overhead fluorescents? No, you light a candle. When the police interrogate a suspect do they do it by candle light? Probably not. Of all the choices you make, light has the biggest impact on the emotional tone of the finished photograph.

You may be thinking, “How is light a choice?” I have been a studio photographer for more years than I like to discuss. In the studio I control my lighting by moving the position of my lights and changing their intensity. Shooting on the river you don’t have that luxury but you do still have choices. You can’t move the sun, but you can

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Working a Steelhead

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I had the opportunity to watch my friend Jeff Hickman work a shy Steelhead the other day and his effort was exemplary.

Swinging flies for winter steelhead is a game of numbers, very small numbers. It’s a given when chasing winter fish that there may be limited numbers of fish present in the river. Even fewer of them will be willing to eat a swung fly. You can not afford to miss putting your fly in front of every fish. These fish are on the move so you never know where they will be. You have to be methodical and know that it could happen at any time.

When you really think about it, the mathematics of the system are remarkable. For those not familiar, the idea is pretty simple. You cast across the current far enough to cover any possible holding water and swing the fly down and across until it hangs directly below you. Strip in your line, make the same cast with exactly the same amount of line, step down stream the length of a fish and repeat. Granted, this is a gross oversimplification of a very nuanced technique but that’s the general idea. If you take the time to draw a picture, using a drafting compass you will see that the concentric circles your swinging fly makes cover the water with amazing efficiency. It’s a bit like Tai Chi. You are always striving for perfection.

After hours, or days, covering water in this way it can be heartbreaking when you find a fish who’s interested but won’t commit. Often a single tug is the only evidence that you have found a player. I had the opportunity to watch my friend Jeff Hickman work just such a shy player the other day and his effort was exemplary. Here’s how it went down.

Jeff was fishing through a run and got a timid pull on a purple and black fly. He immediately changed flies rather than show the fish the fly he had rejected a second time. A good call in any type of fishing. He went to a pink fly. The water had some

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Fly Fishing Tips for Stocked Trout

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My first memory of bringing a trout to hand with a fly rod took place back in the spring of 1990, on a seasonal trout stream, located 45 minutes north of Atlanta, GA. It was a far cry from a trophy trout at 10-inches, but that freshly stocked rainbow trout, touched my eleven year old fishing soul to the core. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt watching that stocker chase down and eat my olive woolly bugger at my feet. It felt really good for a change, not relying on that plastic blue can of worms to get the job done. From that day forward, I never looked back, and I’ve moved on to become a respectable trout guide in my area and I’ve fly fished for trout all over the world.

A lot of fly fisherman would laugh at me if I brought that fishing memory up in conversation. Many wouldn’t be able to look past the fact that I was fly fishing for stocked trout that weren’t naturally born in a stream or river. If you happen to be reading this post and you’re one of those fly anglers that I’m referring to, just remember that we aren’t all blessed to have easy access to wild trout. For many of us, wild trout populations are so low (because of poor conservation and land management), it’s not even feasible for us to strategically target them, and if it wasn’t for stocked trout, we’d have no trout at all. If you’re fortunate to be blessed with wild trout populations where you live, don’t forget how that special that is, and please don’t make fun or belittle others who take pride in catching stocked trout. You just make yourself look ungrateful and worthy of having wild trout.

Before I get into my fly fishing tips for stocked trout, I’d like to take a moment to mention a couple of reasons I feel stocked fisheries can be good for the sport. For one, they’re a great place to introduce kids and newcomers to fly fishing for trout. Timed correctly, an angler with zero experience can have great success catching trout. Secondly, put and take trout waters provide great locations for anglers who like to harvest trout, to do so without having to illegally poach on special regulation or wild trout fisheries.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

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It seems he has been sorting through some of the belongings that my grandparents left behind. In an old dresser he found this list in my young handwriting. My guess is that this dates from about the time I was ten. I believe I had just read “The Old Man And The Sea” for the first time. For those who can’t make it out, I’ll translate.

Fishing List

1000 yards strong rope
Case of dynamite
Take pistol

A few of my favorite points to this list are these. Dynamite appears twice. I’m not sure if this was meant to imply that a case might not be enough, or that dynamite was so key to my plan that I couldn’t risk forgetting it, or possibly just a testament to my enthusiasm about dynamite. There was no need to find a pistol, just the need to remember the one I had, at ten. And best of all my reverence for the regulations. We wouldn’t want to ‘fish’ without a license.

It occurred to me that maybe I harp on the catch and release thing a little heavy from time to time and it would only be what I deserve to share this with my readers. None of us, I suppose, start out as catch-and-release anglers but few, apparently, start as far from it as I did. In my defense I’ll say that this proves my views on catch and release are not an unconsidered opinion. I tried it the other way!

When I shared this with my wife as a glimpse into the mind of her betrothed when he was only a child she smiled, laughed a knowing laugh and said,

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I guess I’ll always be ten at heart. At least when I go fishing.

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