1. Cast a Fly into the Wind
Wind is a universal problem in salt water fly-fishing, as much of a hassle when casting from a Rhode Island jetty as on a Bahamian bonefish flat. Beating the breeze can get you fish, but takes a little forethought. These tricks will help.
>If casting into a headwind, throw a high backcast, which a strong headwind will fully straighten behind you. A fully straightened backcast then facilitates a powerful forward cast punched downward, into the wind, toward the water's surface.
>If dealing with a tailwind, try throwing a low, sidearm backcast, keeping that portion of the cast down and under the wind. Then bring the rod back to vertical for a high forward cast, in which case the tailwind helps carry the delivery.
>Crosswinds are a different problem. If the wind is coming from your casting-hand side, it will blow the line and fly into your body with a conventional cast. Try turning around and casting so your backcast becomes the delivery cast, in which case the wind will be blowing the line and fly away from your body.
2. Vent a Fish
Reef species with spiny fin rays have closed swim bladders that help produce sound and maintain buoyancy, plus they hold nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide. When these fish are reeled rapidly to the surface, the gas molecules expand and rupture the bladder. The escaping gases then fill the body cavity, forcing the eyes to bulge, the intestines to pop out of the fish's anus and the stomach to protrude from the mouth. If the gases aren't released (or vented), the fish can't submerge, which makes it an easy target for predators.
Based on extensive studies by Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory and other scientific groups, reef fish caught in water depths from 70 to 200 feet have excellent survival rates if the swim bladder gases are vented. To vent properly, follow these steps:
>Step 1: Use a small hollow device like a hypodermic syringe or sharpened basketball inflation needle for a venting tool. Stainless steel is hygienic and resists rust.
>Step 2: With wet hands or a towel, lay the fish flat on top of a cooler or the boat's covering boards. Gently push the pectoral fin flat alongside the fish's body.
>Step 3: The venting area is in the middle of the trailing edge of the fin, in the fatty muscle tissue. Using a slight forward angle, slip the venting tool point under the scales and with moderate pressure, push the point barely inside the body cavity.
>Step 4: You will see the belly deflate and hear the gases escape after the tool is inside. Take care not to puncture the stomach or intestines if they are protruding. Once the pressure is released, the fish will retract them.
NOTE Don't use a solid object like an ice pick to vent. The gases won't fully escape and bacteria may be introduced. Rinse the venting tool after use to clean it so that it is ready for the next fish.
-Capt. Dave Lear