And Sometimes, A Fly Fisher Must Self Time Out..while Bonefishing

by Rebecca on April 20, 2011

in Fly Fishing for Bonefish

Day 1: Deneki FIBFest, Guide Ellie– fishing partner Bjorn of Bonefish on the Brain...

When my red toenails stepped up to the deck of the boat for the first time,
Bjorn said, “Watch, you’ll catch a bonefish on your first try. Beginners luck is on your side..

Red and a bit of Beginners Luck

One single cast, a few panicked strips of my line, one marginal strip set and BAM….I caught a bonefish on my first try. As my line peeled away I distinctly remember Bjorn behind me saying, “clear your line!” followed quickly with, “beginners luck!”


As I reeled in that first bonefish my thoughts jumped between thank you bonefish hot damn, that wasn’t so hard.

I had accomplished what I came to do with one cast. Clearly a successful fly fishing adventure. A breeze. No problem. All that worry for nothing…

In hindsight, if I had just sat out for the rest of the day things would have looked pretty nice from my view. I could have sat back, sipped on diet cokes from the cooler, managed Bjorns fly line and observed his magnificence while basking in my personal glory. I had caught a bonefish after all. Life was good.

That is, until Bjorn caught another bonefish and it was my turn for the deck again.

So there was this wind thing going on. Not hurricane standards by any means, but enough that casting distance into it proved problematic–for me. This was largely due to the fact I quickly discovered my double haul was a quadruple failure. Bonefish were swimming by at rapid speed that my untrained eyes couldn’t zero in on or cast too. So basically, our guide Ellie was calling prime shot opportunities that I blew over and over for what felt like hours. (Was it like 45 minutes from glory to meltdown Bjorn?) What followed will go down as my #1 Fly Fishing Angler Meltdown of all time.

I may have displayed a few un-lady like behaviors. Maybe some stomping of the red toenails and such before I took that final plunge into the depths of my meltdown. My uncontrollable fly line basically secured the anchor around my confidence and pretty soon the whole party (mine) floated out to sea. I became one of those cluster..umm…messes. So it was either swan dive off the front of the boat to cool off or put myself in angler time-out. There was 3 or 4 sharks circling the boat and although I deserved a good mauling by them,  I opted to pull my buff up over my ashamed head and sat down in angler time-out.

Dr. Bonefish Shrink ~ aka Bjorn

Dr. Bonefish Shrink ~ aka Bjorn

Thankfully Bjorn said he would take one for the team and fish until I was ready to try again. I could tell this extra fishing time would be a burden for him, but like a good fishing buddy, he sucked it up (tried to hide his excitement) and took the deck. He had bonefish on the brain after all….

I have to say, Bjorn was a wonderful first day fishing companion. For one, his excitement to be out bonefishing was something to behold. It made me grin just being near his happiness. And two, while fishing double shifts, he took the time between fish catching to provide some much needed encouragement to me. Miss Meltdown. As he reminded me over and over, I had caught a bonefish on my first day out. Ever.

He became my Dr. Bonefish Shrink and eventually when I had my mind back to a calmer level, I decided to try it again.

I won’t say things went great, but they were better. I did manage to catch two more bonefish and as the day went on I started to get the hang of things.  Ellie was a fantastic guide, patient with me and even had a chance to catch a bonefish himself. By the end of the day I was excited to try again the next day. I have no doubt my self imposed time out was needed and I don’t think Bjorn minded the extra deck time…that much.

Photos courtesy of myself and Bjorn


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Brett ColvinNo Gravatar April 20, 2011 at 10:22 am

Zippy – while your time out would have been vastly more comfortable with a set of FlytoWater chaps, it is most impressive you tagged a bonefish on your first saltwater day ever. I’m guessing you now have the bug.


BjornNo Gravatar April 20, 2011 at 10:34 am

It was a case of the Outdooress being way, way too hard on herself. First shot, first fish… spectacular. The casting… it isn’t something that most trout or steelhead anglers have to do… it is a new skill-set and it takes time to learn.

You were better on day 2 than on day 1 and better on day 3 than on day 2 and that’s the way it goes. Everyone has to start somewhere and that somewhere is usually the beginning… you seldom get to cut in line, although having such good guides and good teachers around is a bit like being in the Priority Access queue.

I was honored to be out with you on Day 1, to be there for your first bonefish (and second and third) and to coach you (from the casting deck) through your implosion of confidence. You are a better angler for it today, I have no doubt.


KirkNo Gravatar April 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Sounds like you developed a sudden case of B.F.A.D.D. I would tease you about losing composure and coming unglued, but I would have fared no better. And remember, when you have red toenails, it doesn’t matter how well you double haul.


DanNo Gravatar April 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

There’s a really old movie called “Breaking Away,” (I think) about a kid who’s infatuated with cycling and one of the big Euro teams…maybe France or Italy. Anyway, Bjorn living in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California dropping by the local fly shop sharing his passion for bone fishing in salt water over 3,000 miles away reminded me of that movie from the 70′s. Very cool. The fly shop’s no longer in business.


Fontinalis RisingNo Gravatar April 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Oh Rebecca- you did great, and we really enjoyed being able to follow along with you. I was really pleased with myself last fall because I was punching some 70′ casts streamer fishing. I went out while you were on your trip and tried to do some surf casting and couldn’t throw 40′. I quickly gave up, sulked all the way back to my truck, got my chuck n duck rig and promptly caught a steelhead. I have a spot and stalk carp derby coming up May 21 and am very concerned- the teams will be by drawing, which amps up the mental pressure even more than if I were to cast crappily in front of my buddies. Sounds like you weathered it and moved forward. Great job on the new directory by the way.


BjornNo Gravatar April 21, 2011 at 8:25 am

Hey Dan, sounds like we’ve met, eh? Frank moved the shop down toward Sacramento… sad that it has left, but then, so did I. Living down in San Jose now… but the bonefish are no closer. I am kind of… excited about them in general though.


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