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Bonefish Camp

Here's the spot if you are looking for that salty piece of land. Fly lists, trip reports and tidbits of good travel information can be found here in Bonefish Camp.

Come, Mister tally man, tally me Bananas

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It has been long held that boats and bananas are not a very good combination when it comes to luck. Anglers have especially picked up on this superstition and many skippers prohibit even sunscreen named for this tropical fruit aboard their vessels. Legend has it that banana boats plying the waters of the Caribbean and other waters around the world would be plagued by many maladies caused by the presence of bananas in the ship’s hold. Venomous creatures having stowed away amongst the fruit  wandered the decks once the ship was at sea causing crew and passengers to swear off these seemingly harmless snacks.

I’ve been blessed to lead a mostly banana free life. Having declared myself allergic to this silly looking creation at a young age, and in doing so I have avoided any of the bad luck issues caused by bananas. A banana allergy is not as popular or trendy as the gluten variety, it nevertheless serves me well.

While in Mexico chasing Tarpon last year it was brought to my attention that someone had been hiding bananas in the gear bag of a fellow angler, and the culprit was relentless in his efforts to unhinge his target. A formal inquiry was avoided as the trip came to a close without the identity of the protagonist being revealed, yet the scars remained on the psyche of the banana victim.

Fast forward one year and I had gathered another crew to head off on an adventure to South Andros Island, Bahamas. Three members of this group had been with me in Mexico, one being the hapless victim while another being under suspicion of being the Mad Banana Tagger.

Now it should be told that Erv is not your average victim. A retired lawyer, angler, semi-pro Mexican wrestler and part-time animal impersonator, he can hold his own in a battle of wits. He is comfortable in his own skin and firm in his beliefs that luck has little to do with the path we walk on this earth. Yet even he is not one to tempt fate by sailing off with a banana.

To avoid scandal and the chance that Erv would once again fall afoul of the insidious banana bandit I had him teamed with me to share a boat in an effort to keep an eye on him. It did help that the supply boat was long overdue and there were no bananas on the island.

The trip started well as Erv and I managed some good results on the flats even under poor conditions. The Bonefish were plentiful and the weather, although miserably wet, did not dampen our spirits. We enjoyed our time on the water without any concerns of bananas or bad luck. Two days into the trip the weather turned beautiful and sunshine blessed us as the winds dropped to a gentle breeze. Life was good.

Back at the lodge Erv had struck up a friendship with the kitchen staff and treated them to an original poem after the evening meal. The gals seem truly touched by his efforts and young Jasmine asked if he would honor them by wearing a Bahamian good luck charm if they brought it to him in the morning. He promised to do so and went off to bed in anticipation of what the morning would bring.

As daylight filtered across the flat in front of the lodge we gathered for our morning meal before heading off to fish. Erv sat with his breakfast of pancakes and eggs untouched, awaiting the charm that would bring him untold success on the water. What would it be?

Like an angel appearing from nowhere, Jasmine stood next to Erv at the table with his new good luck charm. Erv turned to see what she held. In a instant his face lost it’s expression of wonder replacing it with one of shear terror. In her arms she cradled a full size Chiquita Banana suit. One size fits all. Dutifully, Erv put it on.

With Bonefish guide Burnt Ferguson on the poling platform, the giant banana took his place on the bow as the boat pointed into the sun. Only seconds passed before Burnt called out a school of fish at the 1 o’clock position. A single cast and the Banana Man was fast into a screaming hot Bonefish. I bailed out of the boat with my camera to record this historic moment and watched as Erv and Burnt brought the fish to hand then released it. Erv popped back on the bow and soon found himself attached to another fish. I continued to photograph the action, then slid back into the boat to congratulate him on his busting of the banana curse.

It was my turn on the bow now as Erv sat and relived the Bonefish battles pondering the silliness of his Bananaphobia. He could hardly wait to tell Jasmine and Kathy of his accomplishment with their banana talisman. Burnt commented as he pushed the boat that CNN would love this story or maybe the BBC. Erv wondered out loud where the girls could have possibly found a banana suit on an island in the Bahamas. The guide and giant banana started singing Harry Belafonte’s "Day O," calling for the tally man to tally their bananas.

I scanned the water ahead and prepared to cast at a fish moving to the left from the mangroves. Speaking to no one in particular, but loud enough for all to hear I smiled and said, “Best 35 bucks I’ve ever spent.”




Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Work all night on a drink of rum
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Stack banana till de morning come
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Daylight come and me wan' go home

A beautiful bunch o' ripe banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Hide the deadly black tarantula
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day...
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Day-o, day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
Me say day, me say day-o
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Day O from David Gilchrist - 4G Productions on Vimeo.

Bonefish Basics Fly List

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, August 05, 2009

There are as many bonefish fly patterns used today as there are anglers using them. With that many options it’s hard to choose what you need for your trip unless you’ve been there before or know someone that has. If this is your first time bonefishing or twentieth, here’s a list of the flies that should be in your box no matter where you’re heading. Start with this selection and add specialty patterns as needed. Remember you need to have a good selection of sizes and sink rates. This is what I call…

BONEFISH BASICS

Mini-Puff                                                       size 4, 6       Old standby, still works

Tan Puff                                                       sizes 6, 8      My personal favorite

Marabou Shrimp                                            sizes 2, 6      Tan

Crazy Charlie                                                 sizes 6, 8      Pearl, pink, tan, root-beer

George Bush                                                 size 6, 8       Stupid name, CIS without Dazl Eyes 

Clouser Minnow                                             size 2-6        Tan/White, Gray/White

Clouser Minnow w/bead chain eyes                  size 4-6        Same colors, add a weed guard  

Gotcha                                                         sizes 2, 4, 6  Lead and bead chain eyes

Gold Gotcha                                                  sizes 2, 4, 6  My killer Abaco fly

Christmas Island Special                                 sizes 4, 6, 8  Orange, Pearlescent, Pink

These are the basics. You could travel anywhere and catch fish with these patterns. You’ll want a good selection of sizes and sink rates. Make sure you have plenty for your fishing partner too! Now take a look at suggestions for specific destinations.

Yucatan Fly List

Joel La Follette - Monday, November 10, 2008

If you’ve stocked your box with the Bonefish Basics, just add a few of the following flies for your trip to the Yucatan. This destination requires smaller patterns in sizes 6 and 8, mostly 8s. I like the Tan Puff as a go to fly, but also find small Tan or Olive Clousers tyed with bead chain eyes to be handy. 

Swimming Shrimp                                         size 6           Good for deeper, darker flats

Super Swimming Shrimp                                sizes 8          

Tan Mini Shrimp                                            size 8           Must have

Tan Mini Shrimp w/o bead chain                     size 8            

JT Special                                                     size 8           A marabou mess, but it works

Turd                                                               size 8           Cool Name

Cuzan Special                                                size 6           Very good on mud flats

Bonefish Bitters                                size 8           Hermit or Olive

Exuma Mini Puff                                            size 4           Tan or Pink

Marabou Shrimp                           sizes 6         Tan

Golden Mantis Shrimp                                    size 4-8         Another “go to” fly

Grassy Wonder                                              size 8           Odd looking fly for the turtle grass

You’ll also want to have a few Permit flies handy as this is a fantastic location for a shot at the Holy Grail of fly angling. Here are a few good patterns that should do the trick.

Rag Head Crab, Tan                                        size 2-6

Blue Crab                                                      size 2

Fleeing Crab                                                  size 6

Del Brown’s Merkin                                          sizes 1/0, 2

This last pattern has caught more Permit than any fly tyed for them. If you tye your own, have a few tyed very small on good hooks.

Take along a few Tarpon and streamer flies for Tarpon, Snook, Jacks and Cuda. Here’s a short list.  Hook sizes should be from 1 to 3/0

Keys style Tarpon flies in the following colors:   

Orange/Grizzly

Furnace/Squirrel

Black Death

Cockroach

Lefty’s Deceiver                          Red/Yellow, Red/White, Black

Cuda Needlefish fly

Bonefish Tackle List

Joel La Follette - Sunday, February 18, 2007

There are two rules to remember when packing for any adventure. Keep it simple and only take what you REALLY NEED. Of course knowing what you’ll need on any trip is in some cases a “best guess” but with experience you’ll find you can get by with much less stuff. Here’s a few things you shouldn’t forget when heading to the Bonefish flats...

Rods and Reels  (carry them on with you)

Flies    (check out my fly selections for suggestions elsewhere)

Leaders and tippet   (I use 0x and 1 x fluorocarbon) 

Nippers, pliers, knot tyer and a knife

Waterproof gear bag and Flats pack w/water bottle

Sunglasses w/cleaning kit

Camera

Flash light

Fix-Anything Kit   (see Fix-Anything Kit post)

First-Aid Kit

Sunscreen and lip balm

Handy wipes

Hat and sun gloves

Flats boots and wet wading socks

Zip-off wading pants  (two pairs)

Long Sleeve fishing shirts  (two or three)

Fast drying underwear   (two or three pairs)

Travel clothes

Passport   (carry a few photo copies in your bags)

Cash    (most places won’t take cards or checks)

A good book or two

Flip-flops and a good attitude

Casa Blanca

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 16, 2006

It’s always nice to back up a northern steelheading adventure with a trip to a warmer location. I find that tropical weather helps get my joints working again. Upon returning from BC I had a very short time to tye a few flies, pack my bonefishing gear, switch a few fly lines and fly off to Mexico for a visit to the world famous Casa Blanca Bonefish Lodge. Sometimes it’s tough being me.

Casa Blanca is located on a small island just inside the barrier reef on the southern end on Ascension Bay on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. When you see what the owners have created on this secluded patch of sand you’ll understand why Casa Blanca is one of the premier bonefishing lodges in world. I also heard the food is good.

Traveling with me on this adventure was a mix of first time bonefishers, some fairly new to the game of saltwater angling and a few non-fishing spousal units. Under normal conditions Ascension Bay gives up her secrets easily making it a perfect destination for anglers of varying skill levels. Schools of happy Bonefish, an abundant Permit population, plenty of cruising Tarpon and sneaky Snook make for a regular saltwater smorgasbord of fishing fun. I said under normal conditions. We didn’t have normal conditions. The freaky weather that brought early snow storms to the east coast brought dark clouds and stormy skies to this otherwise tropical paradise. Good thing the food was good.

Although fishing conditions were not the best, they were challenging. Bonefish were nervous and headed for cover even if you thought about making a cast. Tarpon and Snook hung close to cover and used it to their advantage. All in all it was a test of angler against the elements and the fish. It made better anglers of us all. Tough fishing does that. You have to bring your A game.

Fortunately Casa Blanca is one of the most comfortable places to wait out bad weather that there is. I’ve been to a few bonefish lodges that would have been unbearable under the same conditions. We all had comfortable rooms to nap or read before dinner after a hard day on the flats. The staff made sure we also had plenty of food and drink at all times. The service was second to none, and the food was great. Did I mention that?

OK so it wasn’t the most successful fishing trip I’ve ever had. I had a great time and made a few new friends. I caught some nice fish and fought many more. I made some great casts under difficult conditions that many anglers couldn’t have made. I brought my A game. Well, most of the time. I also hit a lot of fish right on the old bean when the wind grabbed my cast. That didn’t work. Pedro my guide never complained when I launched a cast into the mangroves and he had to pole over so I could retrieve my fly while Mr. Tarpon and Snook snickered. Oh well, at least the food was good. Now if the pilot can just figure out how to land on the runway...


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