Fish With Benefits

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Who’s My Buddy? Photo by Louis Cahill

I was asked the other day what was my favorite species of fish.

That’s a really tough question for me. Sort of a Sophie’s choice question. After thinking about it for a long time I answered trout, for a host of reasons, but I quickly added, “and bone fish”! For some odd reason I then felt like I had to defend that answer. I had said trout and I had just finished talking at length about a tarpon trip I had just been on and here I was blurting out bonefish. Why? I went on to explain using a rationale I have used for years. “The bonefish is just right. It’s hard enough to catch, usually because of the conditions, that you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile but it’s not impossible like a permit. When you hook them it’s a great fight, but not an ass beating like a tarpon. They’re the just right fish”.

That’s all true and I believe it but inside I knew there was more. It ate at me, why do I love bonefish so much? I think I’ve come up with the answer. I love the fish but what I really love is bonefishing. When I think of bonefish I think of the Bahamas and when I think about fishing the Bahamas it’s a whole different feeling.

When I’m headed to the Keys for tarpon, for example, I’m excited, hell, more than excited. I know that I’m taking on a huge challenge and that something truly awesome may happen, and then again it may not. I may catch the fish of a life time or I may get schooled. The challenge is exhilarating. I love challenging fishing. I love challenging myself as a fisherman, but it’s a different me that goes to the Bahamas for bonefish.

In the Bahamas there is no pressure. I’m not concerned about being a hero or a zero, I’m just there to have a great time and I always do. Sometimes the fishing is better than others but it’s never bad. In fact it ranges from really good to unbelievable. I know that I’m going to catch fish, relax on a flats boat with guides that I’ve come to know and like and spend my evenings drinking rum or gully wash and listening to fishing stories. My islands never disappoint.

So when the beautiful little trout turn their noses up at my flies or the steelhead stand me up or the tarpon burn my fingers and blow me a kiss goodbye, I know I can always go running back to the bonefish and they will have me. Even if my eye wanders and I philander about with all kinds of fish, my bonefish will always be special to me because like a good friend, they are always there. Bonefish are my fish with benefits.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Fish With Benefits

  1. On my first day at Kiritimati I caught five Bonefish and one Milkfish. I fell in love with shallow flats fishing. Since then I have caught another 340 Bonefish and seven 1200mm (47″) Milkfish and Milkfish are my favourites. Since I caught my first Bonefish I have caught another 45 species of saltwater speedsters.

  2. I love trout because unlike bonefish, they are so individually distinctive…colors, shapes, sizes, and habitats. I appreciate bonefishing for all that it is, the whole experience. But my heart belongs to salmos, chars, and oncorhynchuses.

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