BACKCOUNTRY PACKRAFTING IN THE BAHAMAS IN SEARCH OF BONEFISH

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MARK SIREK
MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 313

Words from Sadie Ford @sader-tooth, Photos by Jeremiah Watt @miahwatt

Four friends set out to explore one of the more remote islands in the Bahamas in search of absolute hogs of bonefish, tropical giggles and wild times.

My neck, my back, my raft I like to pack.

Jeremiah (@miahwatt), our fearless leader and troop silverback, had the idea that we would spend a few nights paddling to some off-the-beaten-path cays to stalk our coveted bonefish in the morning/evening light in complete solitude and peace. Boy, did we.

Miah is a veteran and knew exactly how/where to catch said squiggly critters, which was assuring for someone hailing from mountainous regions and nervous as a flatlander.

After spending a few days hiking into spots we picked out on satellite images, we got our feet under us enough to feel prepared to venture into the backcountry. Jac Summers and I got the nack of site-based fishing and large double haul casts at last. A quite different experience from our alpine trout fair-weather-weenie missions in the sweet summer child cascades of Oregon. The broad squad had the salt we needed to be successful (literally and figuratively). Fishing for bonefish requires you to stalk the fish you see in knee deep water like a lioness going for a gazelle. It requires knowledge of how the fish behaves and how to mimic their prey, which takes time to learn.

Practicing at a hike in delta. The Vice Versa was perfect for quick access items.

Kyle explaining mysteries to me.

Bulls**t break.

Club President.

We were ready to pack up and head out for a few nights. Having a boat to haul stuff is convenient in that it allows you to camp with luxury food items such as tinned fish, pop tarts, rum and cans of your very favorite beef stew. Hyperlite items take up almost no space so you have to fill the voids with something, right?

Packing up for a few nights out.

Absolutely glorious day.

A valuable lesson I learned is that it takes a seven mph wind to blow away mosquitoes and no-see-ems. Which we noticed IMMEDIATELY, being feasted on the second the wind subsided. A saving grace was the bug net insert, which is compatible with the UltaMid tent.

En route to our first camp spot, we were able to spot and stalk on several sand bars. Sting rays, schools of snappers, and occasional small shark.

Rum break.

Whiskers twitching at camp.

Gearing up for the evening.

Nest.

Once situated at a camp spot. The light began to turn pink. As we sat on the sand bar relaxing, 30 feet from us was the typical signage of a feeding bonefish in shallow water–the v-shaped disturbance in the surface as they move forward or the more obvious indicator of a triumphant tail or fin raising out on the water like the flag of the enemy.

"Go get it Sadie!!" My friends chimed at me, being the only one who had not caught a bonefish yet.

I began my quiet, retrained stalking of the bonefish. Careful not to raise my feet out of the water or make any noise.

POV: you're about to catch the funnest fish of your life.

A lesson in patience: stalk a fish beast in the shallows for 30 minutes while the light fades. One move too forced–too hasty–and it's over. Relax as it is. It's a transformative experience to simply pause instead of filing of up space with action. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.

SUCCESS!

Bye Feesh.

WAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!

Focus and patience paid off. Deeply satisfied, the rest of the trip exhibited a veneer of reverence and playfulness at the biome around me that was teeming with life.

Basking in morning light.

A married American gothic farming couple.

The end.