Voices from the river

Voices from the River: Countdown to bonefish

By Eric Booton

I had my inaugural taste of saltwater fly fishing just over a year ago in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I was fortunate to find my first roosterfish on our half day guided trip and was surprised by the luck my (then) fiancé and I had catching fish, mostly of species unknown to us, in the surf right in front of the hotel.

With no previous experience or expectations, I was hooked the moment that rooster inhaled my fly and tore away on its initial run. As one may assume, the following months were full of fantasies, reliving a moment I never want to forget … the boat rocking in the surf, the taste of salt on my lips, the slight discomfort of my sunburn, and the sound of reels screaming.

I got married this summer. It was awesome. My wife and I have been in each others’ lives for nearly a decade now and I am pleased that she was eager to pick up a fly rod of her own to chase fish with me shortly after we moved to Alaska. If you are familiar with Alaska’s endless summer days and prolific fisheries, then you know only a fool would abandon such treasured light for a vacation. Likewise, if you are familiar with Alaska’s brief winter days where the sun is almost too lazy to even come up and say hello, then you know it’s a wise time to get the hell out and soak up some vitamin D at a more appealing longitude that is closer to 0.

Following this logic, we cheerfully planned our Caribbean Island honeymoon for the heart of the upcoming dark winter days of January 2018.

Fishing was no doubt a factor in selecting our destination. With bonefish and several other species on my mind, I was successful in getting two days of guided fishing on the schedule and found the perfect bungalow only a few short strides from the beach where one may assume a fish could be found. As the day light dwindles, the countdown continues. Forty days and counting.

Headed to a new destination with the opportunity to chase new species, there is a lot to think about and even more to daydream about. My saltwater fly box is lacking, and with the possibility of bonefish on the horizon, I have a fresh vein of flies and patterns to explore at the vise. Free time over the past weeks has been spent prodding friends and acquaintances for salty knowledge and seeking out appropriate materials in the frosty orth where members of the Oncorhynchus genus reign supreme. The excessive dark hours of the day are dedicated to honing my Clouser skills, exploring shrimp patterns, and scratching my head at crab patterns. Our honeymoon hasn’t even begun and I already feel we are living the dream.

More to come in January 2018…

Eric Booton in the sportsmen’s outreach coordinator for TU’s Alaska Program.

By Chris Hunt.