Fly-fishing Voices

In search of the Gray Ghost

Photo Credit: Don Oliver

Taking one’s own advice can have great results. My last column spoke about how to dress for cold weather fly fishing. I tried that. Then I went to my last suggestion and headed for the Bahamas, in search of the gray ghost, aka, bonefish. If only it had been that easy.

I started by asking she who must be obeyed, swmbo, if she’d like to go to the Bahamas. Needless to say, she said sure. Next, I asked my friend, John, if he and his wife would like to go? Same response. So now John, I, and they who must be obeyed, twmbo, needed to find the perfect location. Since John had never fly fished for the gray ghost, and twmbo were more interested in non-fishing activities, some research was required.

I suggest if you’re planning on a fly fishing trip that has you using your passport, you start by asking questions at your favorite fly shop. Many of the professionals in the shops have ventured out to saltwater destinations, and are able to give you some good suggestions. After talking to these professionals, I highly recommend you contact a company that specializes in arranging trips for people wanting a fly fishing experience. For this trip we used Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures. They did their usual good job. There are other companies that specialize in fly fishing adventures, just use one that comes highly recommended.

After explaining to the professionals at Yellow Dog that we needed a lodge that was good for a first time ghost-chaser, his fishing partner that had experience, and a place that offered lots of fun non-fishing activities for twmbo, Small Hope Bay Lodge, on Andros Island, was suggested. John thought it sounded great. And, once I made sure that the Wild Bunch’s education and inheritance funds could take this hit, we booked it.

Small Hope Bay Lodge was comfortable, had a friendly staff, served great meals, had an open bar, allowed cigar smoking, and had great fly fishing guides. Also, it did not have Denver T.V. so we felt right at home.

As I mentioned, John had never cast a fly at a bonefish. Therefore, I felt it was my duty to give him three pieces of advice; listen to your guide, listen to your guide, and listen to your guide. He did, and within thirty minutes of casting at his first gray ghost, he landed it. I barely had enough time to light a cigar. Over the next four days we developed a game plan to put us on bonefish. John would be the first on the casting platform, I’d light a cigar, and we’d soon hear our favorite phrase, “Bonefish, ten o’clock, forty feet, cast.” That was followed with, “Pick it up, cast again, fifty feet, nine-thirty. He moved off, bring it in.” As I, having some bonefish experience, and John having none, were reminded, they’re called the gray ghost for a reason.

The guide, who sees them every day, is perched on a casting platform five feet above the deck of the boat. He has a much better view of what is headed our way. As he is pointing out where the ghost is, we are looking onto what seems an endless stretch of ocean. Finally, when the ghost rolls a little, the sun reflects off him, and like magic, fifty feet, at two o’clock are multiple fish. Now a fly fisherman only has to make a cast that doesn’t spook the group of ghosts that his guide has worked very hard to get him within casting range. It’s a great theory that once you’re close to the fish, casting to them is easy. But, with four days of practice, spotting the ghost, and not spooking him with our casts, then actually catching him became easier.

So, next winter I’m going to skip dressing for cold weather to fly fish around here and just go straight to where the Gray Ghost lives.

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