August 3, 2014

An Attempt At DIY Flats Fly Fishing

I love family vacations.  There's nothing better than getting away and spending time with my girls.  As you might suspect, we tend to do things that (hopefully) will be enjoyable for all...and for Lilly, that usually means swimming.  Ocean, pool, it doesn't matter.  The kid loves the water.

Now, while family vacations are pretty much packed full of things to do, I usually get a morning to sneak away and get a line wet.  This year's vacation was no different, as I toted my rod and reel up to Barker's National Park in the hopes of finding a DIY bonefish.

Barker's is pretty remote to say the least.  No buildings, no "facilities," no nothing.  Barely any roads at all to get you to the various beach pull-ins, and those that are there are a mix of packed sand and stones and riddled with pot holes.  In retrospect, I'm not really sure how the tiny rental Kia successfully ran the gauntlet. 

Anyway, I arrived fairly early.  Maybe not at sunrise, but not that long afterward.  It was my understanding that the best shot at bonefish at Barker's would be in the early hours.

Luckily, after a half hour wading out into the turtle grass flats, I did see some tailing bonefish.  It was my first time seeing them in person.  I actually had to do a double take to make sure I wasn't seeing things.  Low tide was about an hour before I arrived and they were extremely shallow.  The water was hardly calf deep.  

A not very good picture of a tailing bonefish, a bit to the left of dead center

I wish I could say I had an epic day of catching bones.  I didn't.  I spooked a few on my first nerve-ridden casts and then just couldn't get them to take my flies afterwards.  I can't complain though, I waded the flats for about an hour and a half intermittently taking my shots until things really quieted down and pretty much went dead.

Another bad picture of a ray

Otherwise, I saw a ton of rays, a few barracuda (which I wasn't going to cast to, didn't want to lose my flies), and other assorted small fish.  I happened to avoid a skunking by catching a bluestriped grunt, which made me happy.  Yeah, it's kind of the equivalent of a saltwater bluegill, but something is better than nothing.  It's always an adrenaline rush when your line goes tight, even if you don't really need to crank down your drag to slow it down. 

Living in Florida, trips to the Cayman Islands really aren't that far or exotic as it may sound.  Flights regularly go out of Tampa & Miami (even though the island itself is expensive), so I figure if/when next time I head back, I'll look into getting a guide.  I always like to at least try the DIY route, as I really enjoy the challenge of scouting a new area myself, even though I know the odds of getting into fish would be much better with someone showing me the ropes.

In closing, here are some other pictures...


  1. Mike, I have never had the opportunity to fish for Bonefish. That being said, I applaud your DIY efforts. You were close it seems to success. Thanks for sharing some really good water with us wannabe's.

  2. Beautiful, Mike! Nice you can take some vaca time and wet the line in paradise. We had a second honeymoon planned for the Caymans, but 9/11 happened. Hope to get there someday.

  3. I refuse to pay too much attention to this post for fear of developing another more expensive bucket list.

  4. I agree with Howard. We can't keep adding on... What a great vacation though! Just beautiful...

  5. Very cool Mike. Still looks like a good time.