Birthdays, Bonefish and the Bahamas

Birthdays, Bonefish and the Bahamas

     When my son was first learning to fly fish near our home in Utah and in the endless habitat of his birth state of Montana, I told him I’d take him bone fishing if he stuck with it. Fast forward to June of 2020 and being in the midst of the pandemic, we thought his 16th birthday trip slated for March 2021 was all but cancelled. Then I had a heart attack. 

As a fit 55 year old who swims and runs most every day and eats well, it was a shock. And for many, would have put the birthday trip to the Bahamas on the back burner. Not for us. It reinforced the need for us to share the experience that is both chasing bones and being in a place like Eluthera. Two days after my heart surgery and being released from the hospital, we booked our trip. And go we did. We fished with one of the nicest and best guides I’ve met in the form of Capt. Paul Petty. And after a bit of time on the bow, my son Fischer found his rhythm and caught his first bone fish. 

Fast forward to last week, and we were back in the Bahamas to celebrate another year around the sun for my now 17 year old son. This time we were armed with some salt water experience and two new Tom Morgan Saltwater rods. Not to mention we were back in Capt. Paul Petty’s skiff. We had booked two days with our friend again and much to our joy, the weather was perfect. Zero wind on day one which allowed us to shuffle around to the ocean side and into the most beautiful cove I’ve ever seen. We were in a picture perfect postcard setting as we got an early start with the sun hitting the beach at 7 am. The other worldly blue water of the Bahamas as the primary color, gave me pause and only a few minutes to thank the fishing gods for the remarkable conditions. 

Just as I was finding my zen, Fischer stepped up to the bow and within minutes was in to his first bone of the day. A promising sign for sure. Then it was Dad’s turn. I hadn’t been on the front for more than 2 minutes and Paul says, “Sir, two tarpon at 9 o’clock,” which caught all of us off guard. As I turned and cast, I was shocked at how close they were to the boat. I cast a bit too far but still managed to feel the hit on my fly and I strip set whatever was on the other end. Ends up that a school of baby permit were just beyond the tarpon. We spent 30 or so minutes catching a half dozen or so of these fish that look as though they are from another planet. Not the Mama or Papa we all dream of catching at some point, but still very fun. And perhaps a bit of training for the “real” thing sometime down the road. 

We ended up having a stellar morning and late afternoon with a solid tally of bone fish. And along the way a few stragglers in the form of a barracuda, some snappers and a few little jack trevallies. 

Day two did not disappoint as we ventured further south. The wind was slated to pick up and we knew of a few spots that would shield us from the gusts that were sure to come. Capt. Paul and our handy new TMR 8 and 9 weights helped deliver another memorable day. Fewer but larger fish. With my son Fischer landing the biggest of the entire trip late in the afternoon.

The lesson learned was best said by the late great Hunter S. Thompson – “Buy the ticket, take the ride”. We never know if we’ll get a second chance to do the things we have dreamt of since our youth. Let alone share those moments with the ones we love. I was lucky in getting another chance. So my default answer when asked “Do you want to….” Is “YES!”. So buy the ticket and take the ride. You and yours will be glad you did.  


Bob helps manage our digital efforts. He cut his online teeth with the likes of Orvis, Black Diamond Equipment and Easton Baseball. When not connected, he does his best to visit us and fish the waters of SW Montana. With the occasional trip south to chase bones with Fischer thrown in for good measure. 

If you would like to contact Paul Petty about bone fishing on Eleuthera, call him at 242-557-7269.