This excellent Loxahatchee River District poster is one of a number of essential and very clear posters in a series that includes tarpon, Nassau grouper, coral reefs, seagrasses, and several more. Concise and informative, with wonderful illustrative artwork by Dawn Witherington, you can catch them conveniently collected together HERE, with a link to their website.
EARLY CATCH AND RELEASE: THE 5 ESSENTIAL TECHNIQUES
(based on experience, and not necessarily to be taken too seriously…)
I am very keen on the principles of ‘Catch and Release’. So keen that I have developed my own specialist methods (designed for bonefishing with barbless hooks) using what might be termed ‘Early C&R’. These may include some or all of the following on any given day:
- ‘THE PHANTOM CATCH’ As the fish follows the fly, and the instant before it commits to a lunge for it, abruptly whisk the fly away from under its nose with a sharp reflex ‘trout-strike’. This will ensure that both the fish and your fly remain untroubled by actual contact. This is the most advanced form of Early C&R.
- ‘THE BIG MISSED TAKE’ As the fish takes your fly firmly in its mouth, become preoccupied by the fact that your left foot is planted firmly on a horrid tangle of line around your feet. You will feel the solid take, but instantly realise that your retrieve is hopelessly compromised. With some relief, you feel the line go slack as the fish shakes itself free…
- ‘THE REEL THING’ Hook the fish. Feel the weight on the end of the line. It’s heavy. Nice one! Turn in muted triumph to your boat partner to shout excitedly “Got One”. As you do so, allow the line somehow to snag round the rod handle and the reel simultaneously. Before you have even begun to figure how to sort this out, the fish will have released itself and be heading for the horizon.
- ‘THE STICKY SITUATION’ Hook the fish. Reel in confidently, keeping the line taut and the fish under your masterful control. Allow it to run if it wishes. Proceed with the same efficiency until you notice a single mangrove stem sticking out of the water 30 feet away. Using your skill, ensure that the fish suddenly has the chance to move to the other side of the stick, winding the leader or line (either will do) round it. Prepare for the ‘twang’ when the inevitable break occurs. Your fish is away.
- ‘THE MANGROVE SWAMP’ Hook a fish. Play it competently until the moment your boat partner or guide gives you some word of encouragement or (worse) praise. Immediately, permit the fish to make a fast break for the nearest clump of mangroves even if it is over 100 feet away. The consequent entanglement round the myriad stems will be sure to lose you the fish and your fly. NOTE: all third party encouragement will diminish after this form of EC&R. Praise will not be repeated.
For bonefishing-related articles, click the link BONEFISHING INDEX
ABACO BONEFISHING CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
To see the selection of beautifully tied flies I have agreed to try out on Abaco, click HERE
You can see the results of the challenge (hint: not good!) HERE
A demonstration of catch and release without touching the fish at all
OUTSTANDING VIDEO FOOTAGE FROM THE BONEFISH AND TARPON TRUST ON RECENT RESEARCH INTO BONEFISH SPAWNING AGGREGATIONS