Sunday, January 29, 2006

Vinds !!!!!!

In a crisp elegant parlor of fashionable, turn of the century London, Prince Vlad ( "I am your servant") sits and waits for his beloved Mina (Elizabetha). His "lifeless" heart stirs and strains to feel hope, but a waiter enters the trysting place with a note on a sterling plate and offers it to the Prince. Hesitantly, he picks it up, unfolds it, and reads that his Love has left to cross the seas to join her once-missing, now newly-found betrothed, Jonathon. Bloody tears cascade from Vlad's eyes and stain the note as the pain of loss riddles his body. In but a minute, the pain of sadness changes to waves of rage. Suddenly, the Prince-now Count-Order of the Dracul-Vampyre'- jumps up, looks heavenward, and screams, " Vinds, Vinds,...Vinds!" In moments, a roaring blast of icy wind and dark clouds flies from his raging presence in all directions. London is enveloped first, yet the storm continues to radiate outward across the planet in a vaguely heart-shaped explosion that lays tribute to, and is fueled by the disappointments of broken-hearted lovers everywhere. It crosses the mighty Atlantic ....

In the placid Florida morning, an angler's dream of christening his new Challenger is realized as he hooks and battles the first bonefish of his vessel, Odyssey. Ever so slowly, the Gray Ghost gives in and gets released with gentle, reverential respect. As the fish swims out of his hands, the angler looks up to suddenly-darkening skies that seemed to have formed out of nowhere. His puzzlement changes to concern as the still heat of the morning changes to cool, then cold blasts of winds- this is not a good place to be! He turns the key of his little electrostart Johnson 35 Horse engine...blessedly, it fires up. He puts the engine in gear, jams the throttle, jumps on plane and is off, heading to port. Far across the seas, the Count plans his pursuit of Mina as she continues her own odyssey of safe reunion with Jonathon in an abbey just outside of the Carpathian Mountains.

There'll be more of this tale, Dear Reader, but have we not found the true cause of foul weather?


More Reddened Recollections of Curacao

I confess to great feelings of ambivalence about this island as a traveler and angler. I've some people I'm quite close to near Punda, so awkward obligation colors the mix. For the same reason, I've stopped counting the number of trips there. The fishing I've done here is based on making the best of my stay. The reason for this is the decimation of the islands' biggest bay by the oil industry. The numerous snook and tarpon I've caught on plug tackle and artificials actually smelled like chemicals! This comes close to my definition of obscenity. If I had a dollar for every plastic bag or chunk of paper on the ground or roadside on this island, my fortune would be assured. Perhaps the strength of my feelings is based on a sad realization of the lost potential of this island as an angling destination. One need only look at Curacao's sister island of Bonaire to see how the latter's wise choices and clean practices makes the difference between eco heaven or hell. The snapshot is of a friendly Curacaoan lady selling fish brought in by Venezuelan fishermen. She was delightful to talk with, but I couldn't help but wonder how long those grunts and balao had been sitting around without ice- let's just say the aroma was, as Billy Bob Thornton put it in "Sling Blade", loud! For the non-angling traveler, there's much to enjoy in Curacao, but if you fish, continue on to Bonaire!


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Livin' La Vida Buena en Miami !!

Yes, the folks that compared Miami to the Casablanca of Bogart and turbulent, slick, sick money-making deals in sallow shadows may be right. But one thing that has made this weird city not just bearable, but mandatory for me is its proximity to bonefish batallions. One churlish satirical writer was quoted or paraphrastically pinned down to have made the remark that the good thing about Miami was "its close proximity to the United States. " Ouch!

The truth is that Miami is a vital and virile port and portal to all the Americas and some truly great fishing on its very own shores. The whopper bonefish above was caught and released literally ten minutes from downtown Miami. Gamefish slide along the Magic City's beaches and seawalls, yet a quick hop on a jet will have you on a Caribbean island in one or two hours. Just a couple of days after this fish was released, the other snapshot was taken literally sunbathing on Goff's Caye offshore of Belize, post- rum and coke. For me, there's no other way!


The Bonefish of Bonaire

If I had to pick one of my favorite destinations, it surely would be Bonaire, the jewel of the ABC Islands off Venezuela. By analogy and my personal view, Bonaire is to Aruba and Curacao as Abaco is to Nassau- less people- dense and much more fish-prolific. The diving in Bonaire tops the charts as well.

The bonefish on this island are everywhere- on the salinas near the south lighthouse, on the dropoffs between the island and Little Bonaire, and astonishly, cruising the dock lights of the resorts at night to feed on dining scraps. As to this last manifestation, my assertions of the Gray Ghost as opportunistic dock feeder were rebuffed until I starting producing snapshot images that simply would not lie. The bonefish above was part of a group that simply loved the chunks of hamburger buns and italian bread that dropped onto the water surface. With a twitch of their tails and a half-swirl, the bones made short work of the chunks in one gulp. I fully confess to thoughts of hiding a hook in a gob of bread!

The salinas to the south are actually squared man-made plots of salt production reclaimed by the environment. You'll see small pods of 1 to 4 pound fish tailing in the ever-present brisk winds. You can take them on standard bonefish flies as well as on ultralight spin tackle and live crabs. The best way to fish there is to use my friend, the multi-lingual, fishing genius of Bonaire, Captain Chris Morkos. Contact data is and email is


Friday, January 27, 2006

A Walk Amongst Sweet Memories

I have as little control over travel reveries as I do the torrent of words that spill out of my pen, pencil, or keystrokes, and all of it feels SO GOOD. Each image commemorates a moment with such specific flavors and character, like great tastes of fine wines. The proud flourish of the family man as he plops out the long accordian sleeve of wife and kid images from his wallet nudges me as I gaze on these snapshots. The first rooster off Cabo, another big fat Biscayne Bay bone, and my first trevally taken off remote Fanning Island deep in the Pacific with my guide Naan are the building blocks of experience where past, present, and future all join hands and blanket toss the gleeful image of the traveling angler's life skyward.

Let's hear it for the Boxfish!

Although one writer that I respect a great deal cautions folks to let the Boxfish alone to lead its
peaceful life, I simply can't! The reasons are two-fold. Firstly, the larger specimens run like freight trains. Secondly, I love to eat them, but I dress them out with the respect and caution of a fugu sushi chef, since I've heard you can get quite sick if you "pop the wrong prop."

Generally, I find the larger boxfish on the oceanside flats from Key Biscayne to Key Largo. I've caught them all times of the year, including Deep Winter. They usually find their way into my chumline on the flats. The larger boxfish sometimes swim and track into the chum more quickly then their smaller brothers, and the first impression is of a large bonefish. However the truncated form and the slowdown in the chum makes it clear that it is a large boxfish. Boxfish change colors in response to the arousal states of fear and hunger. I feel that they are far more beautiful than bonefish. The boxfish on the bow was one heck of a cat in the hat- it weighed in over ten pounds and ran over 100 yards on the first hookup. After that- and I can't get fried like Frey, since it's true- I ate it! Another unfashionable disclosure based on definite recollection and not a memoir. The pieces of meat I finessed out of the shell were cooked in butter and white wine and were superb. My guru, Captain Bill Curtis, and I microwaved some twenty years ago and it was delicious, too.

Big boxfish are easily taken on light tackle, so long as you're using a good-sized live shrimp. These fish have small mouths- wait for the shrimp to disappear into their mouths. If they peck the shrimp, pull it away to get them to gobble it out of arousal and frustration. When the shrimp disappears, take up the slack slowly until you feel the full weight of the fish. Then, strike the fish with a slow sweep of the rod. That way, if the bait pops out, the boxish will go after it again. Use only straight 8 pound mono and a 1/0 Gamakatsu live bait hook- this will give your presentation a natural look and good hookup potential.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

When Weather Also Means Whether.

One reason writers on assignment want at least three days on a trip is to cope with the "weather variation" that generally occurs over a span of of days. Usually, a three day span yields a fair, good, and bad day, according to that particular kind of thinking,although that certainly is NOT a certainty.

Yet the more time you have at a destination, the more options. The picture on top shows a massive storm system crossing Northeast Abaco, and was shot by me from my balcony at Bluff House in the predawn hours. Six hours later, the same storm system can be seen behind Captain Ricky Sawyer in the other snapshot as it moved off into the Atlantic Ocean. The time I had available gave us the fair weather window to really pound a small wreck loaded with surface and bottom gamefish. Any fishing vacation should include the same strategy- namely, enough time to allow the local weather to go through its natural variations. All of this is not considering the times and seasons of the year that yield more weather stability for inshore and flats fishing, like summer in South Florida and the Bahamas: it considers the vagaries of day to day weather.


Unfashionable Disclosures

No, it won't be anything like Frey's "memoirs", although an angling author could forget his own foibles and play journalist and interview one of his target gamefish-like a bluefish with an obvious binge-purge problem. We might call it " A Million Little Pilchards."

This disclosure, is, in fact, a real fact and thoroughly owned by me: I'm simply hooked on plug tackle. The old thumb and revolving spool setup with ten pound line and a bucktail has been my first choice for as long as I can remember. I have caught every flats species on this tackle, except the Indo-Pacific Golden Trevally and Milkfish, although with the latter species, I'm working up a hairball style lure (NOT!).

As my friends gaze bemuzed at this stubby outfit while they blast off 60 foot spin and/or fly cast presentations, I'm content with whizzing off a 40 foot presentation, which had done the trick with almost all species. I simply like the crisp feel and efficiency of plug tackle. It looks less impressive on TV shows or still images, so then I stick with a species that takes a surface swish plug like a Devil's Horse, pop it a few times and let the games begin! What is truly amazing is plug tackle's rarity in Florida's flats...why? Search me!


Friday, January 20, 2006

The Reasons I Dream about Fishing Exotic Lands

Yes, Freud certainly made it clear that what we dream of reveals a great deal about ourselves- not just our desires and fears, but the utility, purpose and payoffs of what we hold dear to our minds. The crude snapshot alongside His Majesty chronicles my actual explorations of St. Lucia, one of the most exquisite and beautifully lush islands of the Caribbean. At first glance of this image, I flash to the first time I made a sea approach to Moorea and Bora Bora.

It's not unexpected that my daydreaming really tends to spike in the wintertime when the cold fronts and higher winds hold me down to chairs instead of helms. Not only then, though: just as much as I fight the mice minions on I-95 or the worker bees blocking A1A as they build their tumurous concrete hives. Recollections and dreams of peak angling and explorations infuse my soul and bathe it in comfort and inspiration in times both good and bad. This works for about you?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I'm Missing Captain Ricky Sawyer and Green Turtle Cay

Green Turtle Cay Adventure

by Jan Maizler

Many offshore and flats anglers are all too aware ofthe excellent fishing that Abaco Island offers in the Bahamas. Although it is considered an “out island”, it is only a short one- hour flight from Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach available from multiple air carriers. Though anglers have many parts of this island to choose from, the best “side” for all the combined fisheries of this crescent-shaped destination is on the East side—this is where the deep waters ofthe Atlantic lie offshore only a short distance fromthe productive inshore flats.

The offshore barrier islands on the Northeast side of Abaco are literally minutes between the gamefish rich deeps and the flats- my favorite island is Green Turtle Cay.This destination is only a minute from the Treasure Cay airport. From there, a short ferry ride will take you a couple of miles to the Cay, and will drop you off at the dock of any resort or little home you desire.

New Plymouth is the main town of this small 4-mile long island, and it offers wonderful museums,craft shops, and other historic sites. The resorts and guest homes spread out across the entirety of the island and are reachable generally by the ever-present non-polluting golf carts. My favorite place when I stay on Green Turtle is the Bluff House. Bluff House features great food, activities, and libations. Their rooms are varied and often offer a great view from a cliff- side suite on the sea of Abaco, as well as beautiful furnishings ( Their phone is 1-800-745-4911. No stay there would be complete without having at least one or two Tranquil Turtles with your dinner meal - have one and you’ll understand the basis for the name.

Although I carefully planned the trip to occur between the hurricane season and the cold fronts, a late season storm by the name of Wilma wrecked my plans and postponed it for a month…now, no hurricanes, but heavy fall weather instead. I arrived in the deep of night on the Treasure Cay runway, was scooped up by a taxi to the ferry dock, ferried over to the island in 25-knot winds amidst showering balao in the harbor, and was deposited at Bluff House dock.

I quickly called my guide, Captain Ricky Sawyer, to discuss my arrival and the weather conditions---it was windy and cloudy, and tomorrow should be the same: not surprisingly, our choice was to go! I retired that night into a room with a view of a starry sky and quarter moon: the winds sang a song that sent me into a deep sleep. After a great night’s sleep and a sumptuous Bluff House breakfast of pancakes, eggs, fresh Caribbean fruit and deep-roasted coffee, I walked down to the dock to see Captain Rick idling up in his 17-foot Maverick and Yamaha 4-stroke engine. We shook hands and our battle plan with the lowering windy skies was to fish the wrecks between Green Turtle and the Abaco mainland.

Rick mentioned that the proximity of the cay to the offshore grounds and the multiple passes brought all kinds of offshore fish into this bay-like area.It was clear that we’d have to ease our way to our target area. Rick’s Maverick performed ably over the open water as he took out his handheld GPS which led us to within 100 feet of the wreck and his eyes took over from there: not that spotting it was a problem,since balao were showering everywhere over our target.Periodically, both cero and Spanish mackerel would go airborne in their pursuit of the baitfish.Ricky was sure to get way upwind of the wreck and let out lots of anchor rode in all of that wind. As soon as we stopped, he baited one of my Spro white bucktails with a balao strip and told me to toss it into the melee of splashes. I opted for six-pound spin and a fifty-pound fluorocarbon leader, since the action was so fast…one cast, one rodjerk and a hookup was instantaneous. After a good fifty-yard run, and subsequent shorter ones, we boated and released a nice 6–pound cero mackerel. Suffice it to say that in the next 2 hours, we caught a load of mackerel,yellowtails, mutton snappers, and groupers.

By then, it was raining in the presence of freshening winds. Tomorrow was another day with more chances at who knew what. I was smitten with the prospect of lunching on conch fritters and some ice-cold Kalik.After this action, who could ask for more? Tomorrow would turn out to be a flats fisherman’s dream, but that’s another story.

Ricky's contact data are:
phone: 1-242-365-4261

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Johnny Burnett sung, " keep right on dreamin'..Till my dreamin' comes true"- thats good enough for me, and more! As the fronts comes through, I have to pick my fishing days. On days I stand down, I've always relied on adventurous anticipations- the breakfast foreplay of traveling angler-champions to see me through. Two focal dreams congeal on Naden Lodge ( on Queen Charlotte Island off British Columbia and Deadman's Bonefish Adventures ( on Long Island in the Bahamas. Yesterday's pleasureable recollections of jacks, bones, and pomps make way for adventures that are yet to unfold.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Wintertime, Frontal Strategies, and Jimmy Todd

Incredible treasures await the SoFla. inshore anglers that discover the chilly water sanctuaries of gamefish. You 'll have to learn the precise conditions that not only drive fish from their warmer water habitat, but also those factors that will put the fish someplace else. Oftentimes in winter, the cold fronts that drive bonefish off the flats cause these fish to seek the comparative comfort of the deeper channels- even if the channel bottoms have the same chilly water, life 15 feet down is calmer than 2 feet down as a cold front rushes over you. In a clumsy way, a bit also like heading for the cellar as a tornado approaches, Dorothy, or as birds hit the deck during hurricanes. These sanctuaries sometimes can be quite small in size, which means you might have probe- cast until you find the pocket of pearls, then remember the exact conditions to replicate your results. I've had bonefish absolutely pound a bucktail tipped with shrimp in 15 feet of water when it's cold. Yet those bonefish will mount the flats in strings and bunches, ignoring shrimp cocktail presentations in the chilly shallows. I'm still happy to see them, as I know that they'll be more responsive on the flats as the weather warms-they're not cold-hearted, but cold-blooded.

Jimmy Todd is a veteran shrimper in South Florida who has kept countless skiff livewells full of bait. I've known him and used his services and bait for over thrity years. Like Bill Curtis, Jimmy remembers when you could load your boat with mackeral only a hundred yards off the big Rickenbacher bridge. The other" Jimmy the shrimper" is Jimmy Luznar of Virginia Key. I know the latter, but not as nearly well as the former. Jimmmy Todd keeps his shrimp boats in the Grove. Jimmy is a Prince of Tides kind of shrimper-none of this Bubba Gump nonsense. He is the kind of American native whose daily hard work and toil forms the moral inspiration and platform for simply, good people. I saw him this morning struggling more than usual delivering a bucketful of live shrimp. He wished me Happy New Year and he offered his free hand. I suddenly realised how quickly the years and shrimp had flown by- he was grayer as was I and it all seemed to have happened so fast. In this predawn moment, along the water, it made me so happy to be alive to fish another day, yet it also made me sad. Perhaps these two feelings meet up, shake hands, and" keep company" as they keep us company as we journey into the autumn and winter of our own personal seasons. I've always planned to construct a personal cold water sanctuary composed of a life that could be looked back upon as fully-lived with recollections of many places traveled and many friends whose faces are sure to pop up when the time comes for the soul's camera to rewind.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Cold Front Diversions and Resolutions

There's a great deal for you to do besides fret as you sit out the forty degree air temps over Florida's flats. Firstly, you can go fishing if your angler's soul compels you. Just go in the afternoon, when the sun has had at least an even chance to warm the water. Since I'm morning-inclined, the winter frontal days will usually see me behind the word processor rather than the helm. With two cups of deep-brewed Colombian roast coffee under my belt, I'm ready to think lofty thoughts about the relationship between big bones and cold weather.

Other folks- myself, still included- will find other pastimes, diversions, and hobbies when the water temps. drop into the sixties. They might dig into scrapbooks and albums and dream and recollect warmer, younger days when the waters were more quiet and jet skis had not yet been invented.
Intead of watching the telly, turn on the one inside your head and play remembrances of things past. If retrospection is not your bag, turn that bad boy inside-out and gaze into the future- make some fishing plans for the Spring and Summer! How about far away places and distant shores? Something to look forward to- trip planning is an angler's foreplay.

The trick here is to recognize that so much of what makes fishing is not the fishing, but the feelings and you don't need water for that!


Cold Front Claims of the Caribbean and Bahamas

It's always best to take an empirical approach to the claims of flats fishing destinations that they are outside of the reach of cold fronts. Though you may hear certain Southeast Bahamian islands making this claim, the only sure bet in the wintertime Atlantic/ Caribbean basin are Bonaire and Los Roques off Venezuela. The cold front pictured here is sweeping the entire Bahamian nation. Although fronts of this severity and sweep are less usual, they happen! Keep an open mind with your wintertime flats fishing plans and try to take it really South in times of super-cold weather. If you have that luxury, you won't have to choose between front days, since they simply will not reach that far down. Though pictures are subject to interpretation, they are also worth a least a few, if not a thousand words.