[report]I've been standing at the back of the room for awhile, but a move to a new city and away from friends has left me seeking new connections with those who fish. So I figured I'd try to add something of value.
The youtube embed function keeps giving me an error so https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQdDGpixO6I
It would be cool to say this trip was a year or two in the making, but in reality I think it was hatched when my buddy and I were half in the bag after a few Founders IPA's, holed up at a bar during the type of January storm that makes me wonder why I live in the midwest. I think our conclusions that night were that the snow sucked, and we both wanted to catch a bonefish. Normally these half baked trip ideas don't make it past the next morning's hangover, but once in awhile they stick and few months later we were boarding a flight for the Bahamas - hungover again, as is tradition.
The wild card of our group is an esox fisherman by nature, connoisseur of light beer by preference, and a painter by trade, but tray table highlighter sketches aren't out of bounds.
We all made brief eye contact in Nassau after our charter pilot showed up in flip flops and jeans, but at the same time it seemed to be just about what you'd expect.
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After landing we learned that he had recently gotten his license back after wrecking two planes. We were assured that it was mechanical issues and not pilot error by an Australian who claimed to have flown through a hurricane with the guy a few years back. I asked if he'd been wearing flip flops then too.
The local brew of choice was named for the sound of a cow's bell. It tasted like Corona and would do just fine.
We rented our lodging for the week from a couple of island residents. She was Jamaican, he was whatever you call someone from Alabama. Alabamian?
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We had an argument about how to pronounce conch. I was convinced it was pronounced the same way it's spelled, my buddy insisted it was conk. He almost got spit on once at a fly shop in Maupin for saying Oregon like "Ore-gone" so I didn't believe him. He ended up being right according to Naldi, the owner of a small road-side conch salad stand that had the same salt and sun-weathered look as the rest of the town. Naldi was also sort of a one-stop shop for the island's finer items, offering locally grown goat peppers and a beautifully mellow strain of wild growing pot which reminded me that somehow it's been almost 10 years since I graduated high school.
After adding an assortment of small snappers to the mix we had a fantastic dinner with plenty of tequila between bites of mango and apple banana cut from trees around the property.
The local bar had a pretty consistent crowd of drunk sailors from the nearby US Navy base and as far as we could tell, served the finest lobster bites and conch fritters in the Caribbean.
We like to do our trips freestyle, without the inherent asterisk that comes along with hiring a guide, but in this case we made an exception and hired local legend Benry Smith and Shawn Riley. We learned more about catching bonefish in one day than we could've in five years spent stubbornly pissing into the wind on our own.
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I read once that catching a bonefish in the Bahamas is only an accomplishment if you're blind or Canadian, but to four pale white boys fresh off the plane, staring out at a few square miles of ocean flat and leaning into a 20mph wind, we might as well have been blind. Or worse, Canadian. After flubbing multiple attempts I connected with my first bonefish, a lightning-fast two pounder.
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The other guys had success as well, and we rode that high through the next couple of fishless days busting around the worn out roads in our worn out rental car trying to do what Benry and Shawn did so easily for us, all by ourselves.
On day four it started raining, we started catching fish, and neither really stopped for the rest of the trip.
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The trip ended like most of them do, with booze, bullshit, and a late night trip to a beach bar that was rumored to be the favorite hangout of some female British graduate students on the island for some sort of a biology study. One of my friends has a strange accent fetish and wanted to get one of them to say "aluminum" which started an argument about the correct way to pronounce aluminum. The rest of the night faded into a blur and the next morning flip flops flew us back to Nassau - hungover again, as is tradition.[/report]