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A Story About Stripping

Posted on September 08 2011

Bonefish - Louis Cahill Photography
Flats wolf. Photo: Louis Cahill

Ha, fooled you!  Sorry, it’s a fishing story – about when to strip your fly when you’re bonefishing.

Mike Sanders, Deneki GM, wrote up some wisdom passed on by Josie Sands at Andros South.  We think you’re gonna like it.

To Strip or Not to Strip

It’s serene and beautiful up top no doubt, but what lies under the water’s calm surface of the flats we fish at Andros South is one of the most savage dog-eat-dog environments imaginable. Critters that live on the flats live every second of their lives trying to kill something to eat, all the while trying to keep from getting eaten themselves. They have to be on top of their game to survive to eat another day. One screw-up and bang – they’re dinner for the next link in the food chain. Big fish do not get that way because they are stupid.

I like to fish on Josie Sands’ boat. He keeps things turned up a notch. I want to be on top of my game with him and that’s a big part of the fun.

One morning on the big man’s boat I had a shot at a good size bone at 10 o’clock, quartering to the right and away from the boat. The cast was long enough and the fish big enough, that I didn’t want to be short or spook the fish. So I led the fish about 6 feet wide and about that far long.

“Good cast”… (I think everyone loves to hear their guide say those words)… but just as I started stripping the fly back toward the fish I hear… “No mon… don’t strip… let it sit there”.

No? Don’t strip? What the heck? I thought I was doing everything right. Holding back the twitchy urge to strip, I watched the fish swim closer and closer to my fly that was just sitting there on the mud. Was I going miss this fish? What did I screw up? Just as I thought the fish had passed my fly, the command “strip!” blasted out from the poling platform.

That fish turned and hammered my fly as it skittered off the bottom, just inches into the first strip. Over the sound of my reel singing I asked Josie why he wanted me to let the fly sit so long rather than stripping it back to the fish sooner.

Through his big smile he shared some words of flats wisdom that I’ll never forget. “Big fish are smart, mon.  It’s not right for the lamb to run to the wolf… he always runs away”. Perfect.

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