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The infamous Anderson luck kicks in

April 15, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

If you do much saltwater fishing, particularly fly fishing, you soon learn that weather is the factor that will set the agenda for every day on the water.

I personally have been "blown out" with the best of them. Fly fishing trips all over the coastal U.S. have been ruined by weather, but you roll the dice and hope for the best. You know that when the weather is good, the fishing is usually really good.

This past week was another example. For years I have wanted to fish the bonefish flats of the Grand Bahamas with the Pinder Brothers. The Pinders are second generation flats fishermen and have a tremendous reputation for putting clients on the big bones that prowl their fishing area.

This was to be a combination vacation and fishing trip with only two days of fishing. I was concerned with only scheduling two days, but I was assured that mid-April is prime time and the weather is the most stable of the year.

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The infamous Anderson luck was about to kick in.

The first day on the water was brutal. The weather featured winds of around 25 knots and it was partly cloudy. The key in flats fishing is to be able to see the fish. Ideal conditions would be little wind and a bright sun to help you see the fish and make a good presentation. It was tough fishing that day. We tried to get out of the worst of the wind, and actually saw a lot of bonefish. But it was usually after they had spotted to boat and were heading for Miami at about 70 mph.

It was also really tough to present a fly to the fish we did see in time. You had to apply some wind calculations and try to get the fly close but not too close. This, combined with the fish being constantly on the move, made for some sporty casting.

We also learned that the weather fronts moving through had the fish acting unusually spooky. Really spooky in fact, so you had to land the bead-eye bonefish flies at least a few feet from them and hope they spotted the fly. I learned this the hard way after seeing a few fish take off when the fly plopped down too close. Joseph Pinder said this was usually not an issue, and guessed that the weather fronts had the fish unusually alert.

Day 2 was not any better weather-wise. The wind was still there, and so was the cloud cover. In fact, the afternoon was punctuated with a fast-moving rainstorm that ran the boats off the water. The score after fishing some of the best bonefish waters in the world for two days was not pretty. Several half-hearted follows and takes, two solid hook-ups and no fish landed.

One of the fish hooked dived into some mangroves and parted the leader. The other hooked bonefish, which might have been over 10 pounds, was headed for open water at a high rate of speed when the fly line (which had been blown off the casting deck by the wind) wrapped around a deck cleat and the leader tippet popped.

The next day was a nonfishing day for me, and as I predicted, the morning dawned with perfect conditions - no wind and bright, sunny skies. In the late afternoon I ran into two fishermen in the hotel lobby and they reported that they had hammered the fish all day long.

And so it goes with saltwater fly fishing. You pick your days and hope for the best. And, to paraphrase the old saying, even a really bad day of fishing beats the best day at the job.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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