My Most Memorable Bonefish

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The release shot of the most memorable bonefish of my life. Photo By: Louis Cahill

By Kent Klewein

Isn’t it funny, how certain fish we catch during our fly fishing trips can end up providing us with ten times the satisfaction over all the others.

Sometimes, the size of our catch has little at all to do with the amount of reward it brings. I love catching big fish just as much as the next guy, but for me at least, it’s often more about overcoming the challenges along the way that’s what really makes one catch end up standing out amongst all the rest.

For example, my most memorable bonefish to date, only weighed around four pounds. I’ve landed much larger bones over the years, but what made this particular bonefish so special to me, were the extremely difficult fly fishing conditions I had to work through to hook and land it. Before it all unfolded, and I found myself feeling that special fish tugging on the end of my line, I was holding onto the last remaining tidbits of hope I had left inside me for dear life. I thought success was just about impossible. Never give up when you’re out fly fishing. For when you succeed when everything is stacked up against you, it will provide you the feeling of complete bliss.

I’ll never forget that day of fly fishing in the Bahamas. It started off beautiful. The water was calm as can be, and there was barely a cloud in the sky. Louis and I were both confident it was going to be our best day of bonefishing for the week. Forty-five minutes later though, that all changed. That’s when it looked like we had a perfect storm developing on the horizon, and it was threatening to swallow us up. Our guide tried his best to out run it with the boat, but no matter what direction he headed, the storm system found a way to encircle us. Then the sun vanished, as the dark mat of clouds choked it out. We went from being able to spot bonefish eighty feet out, to barely being able to see them fifteen feet off the bow.

Louis had first dibs that morning. He gave it his all, as he always does. He managed to pull off some superman casts directly into the wind, and even hooked a couple bones, but he wasn’t able to land either of them. There were quite a few inflamatory words shouted on the bow that day, by all of us, and they were all well justified. That day of fishing was down right some of the most brutal saltwater fly fishing conditions I’ve ever experienced. Louis kept telling me to get on the bow–that it was my turn, but I kept saying, “Give it a few more minutes”. When fishing is tough, Louis always seems to be able to get something going for us. If Louis can find a way to catch a fish when we’re in the dumps, it always provides us the momentum we feed on for the rest of the day. That day, however, for some reason or another, he wasn’t able to get the job done. Worn out, and drained from his valiant efforts, he finally gave in, and told me, “if we were going to catch a bonefish, it was going to be up to me.” His tank was empty and I respected his request to bow out.

I stepped up onto the bow stripping line off my reel, and got into my ready position. Moments later, a gust of wind hit me broadside, nearly blowing me off the bow. As I struggled to recover my balance and composer, our guide Freddie, shouted, “bonefish 55 feet, 12 o’clock.” Somehow, despite all the water churned up from the waves, a bonefish had managed to swim across the only tiny patch of clear water we had, and for a welcome change we could actually see the target we were aiming for. I made what I thought was a perfect presentation, but the 35 mph wind blew it off the mark by twenty-five feet. I had no chance of catching that bonefish with that cast, and the bonefish vanished. It was by far, the best shot we had been blessed with the entire day and it was heartbreaking.

Even our guide Freddie, who’s always giddy, had the wind blown out of his sails on the missed opportunity. He was being such a trooper that day, doing his best to not let the horrible fishing conditions ruin his positive attitude. As we all let our our frustrations out from the previous failed attempt, Freddie told us we had time to fish one more spot before we had no choice, but to head back to the docks (our safety was in jeopardy). Freddie poled hard towards the spot, doing his best to keep us from running the skiff aground and in position. All three of us scanned the water with as much focus as we could, but none of us really had much hope left at this point we were going to see anything. All we really cared about is giving it our all to the very end, that way we could head with our heads high.

We were literally down to the last twenty or thirty feet of this tiny island shelf when I spotted a bonefish a couple feet of shore seventy-five feet away. I immediately presented my fly to the bonefish as quickly as I could and began my strip. With the skiff drifting so fast, I had only a couple seconds to get the attention of the bonefish. Thankfully, that bonefish spotted my fly in all that choppy water and aggressively tracked it down and chomped on it. I set the hook and we battled that bonefish to the boat and hand with all of us cheering. We all felt like we had pulled off a miracle, and we drowned that skunk. I’ll never forget the reward that bonefish provided us. Freddie felt like the guide of the year, and I felt like a hero. Somehow we had pulled of a 1 and a 100 shot and I bet I’ll never forget it until the day I die.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “My Most Memorable Bonefish

  1. I hear that. I once fished in howling wind on a river in SW Alberta where I was fighting too much wind with too light a rod and trying to get a decent drift over way too many conflicting current. The two trout I was casting to were eating tiny ants falling off the cliff face. I was also very hung over. It took me over 4 hr to hook and land them both. Afterward releasing the 2nd fish I packed up and drove home. It was mission accomplished.

    Great read Kent.


  2. Kent, Jeff in OR here.

    My “most memorable” fishing experience is an absolute no brainer. I remember it like it was yesterday, a bright perfectly still early morning on an awesome ranch pond in TX that I KNEW had some lunker large mouth bass. I had got the gear ready the night before, a light spinning rod and a top-water lure that had enticed and landed lots of bass in that very pond.

    Once on the pond and a few cast up next to some cattails and sure enough WHAM, a big ol’ bass hit the lure. It took some pacing up and down the bank of the pond to finally get the bass close enough to where I could net it.

    The fish wasn’t huge, maybe 3 pounds. What really made this fish so special was that the whole thing from the casting to the fight to getting it in position for me to net it was that it was all done by my 9 year old tomboy daughter catching here very first fish “all by herself” and all Dad did was to run the net.

    Man, I tell you that NOTHING I have ever experienced during LOTS of fishing years since then has been able to match that moment. That tomboy daughter is a grown young woman now with a daughter of her own and she has done a darn good job of teaching her to enjoy fishing and being outdoors “just like Grandad does.”


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