It seems like most of my adventures start with some sort of reference to art or an art project. The TV show “Hooked on the Fly” is no exception. We got a call one day from the show’s host, Chris Travis, who had just finished filming an episode in Key West and was told by his producer that the hat he was wearing was a trademarked design hat (The Black Fly) and he needed permission to wear it…this was AFTER the show had been finished. Chris called and before the conversation went too much further, we had made a deal to do a show for the 2011 season at Black Fly Bonefish Club in Abaco. If we were really lucky, we would try to catch enough fish for two shows…we’ll see. The real result of Chris calling was finding a new friend.
The TV crew arrived in Abaco while I was out fishing with our guests who were already at the lodge, author, Captain and friend, Jeffery Cardenas and Alan Keough from out west. Alan caught his first bonefish on this trip…and several more. We had a fantastic day, lots of fish, shots at permit and conch ceviche on the boat for lunch. Doesn’t get much better than that! We had a great time that evening, incredible food, telling stories, sharing some rum and catching up on life in the Keys.
The first day of filming was a little slow due to wind and clouds, which we have been battling since January. We caught fish but it was tough. Also on this first day we were joined by my old friend who I hadn’t seen in years, Sue Cocking, outdoor writer for the Miami Herald. I read Sue’s stories online and you should too. She’s one of the best in the business and a VERY good flyrod angler. So this was our crew.
Day two…. windy again but tolerable. Sue caught 2 fish for the day and us guys didn’t do as well. We in our wisdom decided to make a run up to the southern marls to go for numbers. It was the other way around…they had ours! The good thing about our lodge is that even if the fishing is slow, we eat very, very well. Clint Kemp, our general manager is also our chef until the main lodge opens next year. Clint always has a surprise for us at the end of the day. In fact, one of our recent guest said that never in all of his life while on a bonefishing trip did he quit worrying about catching bonefish around 3 o’ clock and start thinking about what Clint was serving for dinner.
Day three was epic or “Eptic” as they say in the Bahamas and we caught more fish than the previous days put together. One unforgettable event happened in the afternoon as Chris was on the bow and our guide, Paul Pinder (Director of Fishing Operations) spotted a huge permit feeding on a ray. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone who has ever fished for permit and Chris had a bonefish fly on. Chris was throwing at a big brown spot that he thought was the ray and didn’t see the prize not too far away. Finally Chris spotted the big guy and all along I was trying to hand him a permit rod that I had rigged for just such a moment. Chris didn’t want to take the rod thinking there wasn’t enough time to switch….anyway, the permit took off and Chris missed his fish. It was one of the biggest permit I’ve seen in a while.
We managed to get in some of the interviews that were necessary to pull the conservation concepts and the role of Schooner Bay together. Both Clint, Sue and I all talked about our ideas and our relationship to Black Fly, Schooner Bay and the concepts of sustainability in the world of fishing. Good stuff I think and timely for all of us.
Day four was critical as we had at least one show in the bag and we were working on maybe getting two out of the deal. Sue had a deadline to meet so unfortunately she had to return to Miami…her cat was sick too. I was fishing by myself with Paul and Chris was fishing with Tony Bain. Paul was working along his usual edges and we, or I should say I, had already spooked a few fish that should have eaten. this was not looking good. Then….. here comes my fish! I got the fly off quickly and it landed right in front of the fish…he took off to the right just like the others and we both were thinking the same thing…oh no, not again. Then, he just turned around and ate the fly, the “King of Abaco”…I couldn’t believe it. As the line was burning my finger I was thinking this was the biggest bonefish I had ever hooked into, Was this possible that I was going to catch this incredible fish…and on film! We got the fish in after about 20 minutes (I think) and I jumped into the water along with camera man Jeff to get the underwater shots done. None us had any sort of measuring tape or a boga grip but I could say for sure it was over 10 lbs and maybe it was more than 12, it doesn’t really matter.
Day 5 was not good for me because I was on a plane home and Chris was knee deep in bonefish the whole day. We definitely got our two shows for the 2011 season and Chris made up for the permit by catching an 8 pounder on his last day. It was a great trip and I can’t wait to do it again.