Conversations About First-Time Flats Fishing
When we talk to guests about their first flats fishing trip to Andros South, we always get a lot of questions about angling skill.
“Is it really that hard to see bonefish?”
“How far do I have to cast?”
“What about casting in the wind?”
So we explain that the fishery on South Andros is super productive and pristine. We tell them they’re going to have plenty of shots, and a lot of the shots will be at really close range, and that they don’t need to worry about catching bonefish. They’re going to catch bonefish – if you have the physical aptitude to make your way onto a flats skiff, you’re going to catch bonefish on your trip to Andros South.
But then, for folks who are used to freshwater fishing, we like to talk to them about their attitude.
Not Catching Fish in Freshwater
Here’s the thing – in most freshwater situations you don’t see the fish before they eat. If you fish through a run for trout or steelhead and don’t get any takes, that might be for any of the following reasons:
- There were no fish there.
- There were fish there but they weren’t going to eat no matter what you did.
- There were fish there but you had on the wrong fly or amount of split shot or sinktip.
- You did something wrong.
So if you look through that list, you notice that there are a number of reasons that the fish didn’t eat that didn’t involve you doing anything wrong. If you’re a normal human being and you fish through a freshwater run and nobody eats your fly, you’re probably going to conclude that there were no fish there, or they weren’t going to eat, or you had the wrong rig.
That’s totally cool – you’re not going fishing to blame yourself. Go out there and have fun, and don’t worry about it!
But…that’s not how it is on the flats of South Andros.
You Know What You Have to Do
After just a little bit of time on the flats of South Andros – once you’ve cast to a few bonefish, and you’ve gotten to the point where you can see the bonefish every once in a while – you realize that, if you get your fly in front of our bonefish and move it reasonably, the fish is probably going to eat. Our fish are not pressured, and that’s a really cool thing about our fishery – you do your part and the fish are probably going to do theirs.
But that’s the rub! You can see the fish and you know that if you get your fly in front of them they’re probably going to eat…and when you don’t do your part, you know it. On the flats, all of sudden you’re painfully aware of every mistake you make, every day.
You can’t claim that there were no fish there (you saw him). You can’t claim that they weren’t going to eat (they generally do). You can rarely claim that you had the wrong rig, because we’re talking floating lines and fish that aren’t that picky when it comes to fly selection. It basically comes down to getting your fly in front of the fish and moving it reasonably, and guess what – sometimes you’re not going to do that!
No matter how great of an angler you are, you’re going to see a bonefish, and know that all you have to do is make the shot, and you’re not going to make the shot.
And that’s totally cool! Nobody makes all the shots. The more you fish on the flats the more often you’re going to make the shots, and that’s a big part of what makes flats fishing so addictive.
The key to having fun on the flats is to be humble. You’re going to have lots of cases where there’s nothing to blame but your missed shot – it doesn’t matter who you are. Don’t expect to be perfect, because no one is. Don’t expect to have something else to blame, because a lot of the time it’s going to be on you.
Who cares? Fishing is fun! You’re on vacation. Blow as many shots as you want, and don’t get mad. Laugh it off and be ready for the next one. Know that you’re in a really cool fishery that’s going to provide you tons of opportunities. Take it all in, be OK with being humble, and have fun out there.