HELP! First Guided Bonefishing trip on boat (Castaway Cay - Disney Cruise)

jplee3

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Hey all,

Wanted to get some tips on what will I would consider to be my first guided bonefishing trip on a skiff/boat. This is a shorter 3 hour excursion at Castaway Cay (Disney Cruise Lines). Obviously, practicing casting and casting off-hand/backhand w/ a double-haul (and working on casting in the wind and eliminating tailing loops) is huge. But any other tips as far as line management, what kinds of flies and sizes, leaders/tippet/material, and other useful things to know. The excursion is planned mid June, so hopefully the winds will be down and manageable.

I was also curious, regarding line management on these skiffs, do you pretty much just keep your line on/in the boat? Or is it laid out in the water? And how much line are you starting your cast with? I'm planning on bringing my Allen Kraken size 3 reel with 8wff floating line ("Kraken" floating line also by Allen with a 40' head). I'm pretty comfortable picking up and laying down 35-40' off the grass but wondering if I should really be practicing picking up much less than that and shooting it out to get the 30-40' out. I've heard too many false casts isn't a good thing either, so I guess I'm just confused... this is all line management stuff I figure but I just don't really know what to expect fly fishing off the boat platform. As far as distance, I'm relatively comfortable getting 50' casts out (so shooting 10'-15' out on top of the 35-40' that I normally practice on the grass). If I'm really focused, I can make 70-80' casts but it's like 1 out of every 15 casts if that lol.


Oh yea, Disney doesn't allow fishing gear to be brought onto the ship (booo) but I've heard of a number of people just carrying their stuff on anyway. Some have gotten their gear confiscated (and returned at the end of the trip) after getting back on the ship from ports but it sounds like a YMMV type of thing. And it's a chance I'm generally willing to take. I was planning, at a minimum, to bring the Kraken and borrow the guide's rod(s)... of course, I have no idea what weight rod(s) he has but presumably he would have an 8wt most likely. I have a 5pc TFO BVK 9' rod I was thinking about taking but want to be as inconspicuous as possible. I figure if I just have a reel the staff will be less inclined to identify or know what it is versus a rod or pieces of a rod showing up in the x-ray or sticking out of my bag. I have a slightly beefier/faster Echo 3S too but it's 4pc and would stick out much more than the TFO BVK.

Anyway, just wanted to get some tips and help with preparing for this since I'm sure 3 hours will fly by and I really want to maximize the time as much as possible. I have casting/stripping gloves, a hat, good glasses, and clothing/sun protection so I'm good there.
 

denver1911

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Sounds loke this is a small part of a larger non-fishing trip .. tip #1: leave your rod/reel at home if the guide has stuff you can use. It will make your whole trip smoother.

Yes. The winds will die down. NOT! Tip #2: accept the wind. Don’t let it be a negative part of they day. It will almost never be calm. And if it is, the fish will detect you farther away and it kinds of negates the benefit. Just accept it.

Line management: watch some videos on youtube about the quick cast. Hold loops of line in your hand and drop them to cast. BTW, you won’t figure out how to do it in the three hour trip no matter how much you practice.

Failure will happen. It’s okay. Just enjoymthe trip for what it is .. your first time out. Smell the roses. Take in the beauty of the blue water.

Long casts are good .. if accurate. An 80-ft cast is worthless if the fish never sees the fly because it’s five feet to the left. Focus on accuracy at your comfortable distance .. in the wind.

Did I mention have fipun yet? That’s the most important part.
 

flyminded

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Practice casting accurately 40-50ft in the wind. A decent guide should be able to get you within this distance unless it’s a particularly unusual day you won’t need to cast further to catch fish. AND listen to your guide once you get the fly in the zone, if he says strip then strip, if he says stop then stop etc. it’s also worth clarifying before hand how long a strip is in his terms.

A light breeze on shore is 15-20 mph once you get on the water.
 

sweetandsalt

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Gorda Cay (renamed by Disney) is a quality fishery. Yes, an 8-wt. is appropriate and from a flats skiff you will strip your line into the cockpit while you stand on the casting deck. You will strip somewhat more line off your reel than you can cast. Ask permission of your guide to make some practice casts so both you and he can see what you can do. If he is willing to instruct you some, let him. Do I presume correctly that Disney is arranging the guide for you? It would be good if they would identify him and his contact info. so you could determine he has tackle and flies for you to use. If you want to use your own gear, I would consult with Disney about their storing it for you in a secure area prior to and post fishing.
 

jplee3

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Gorda Cay (renamed by Disney) is a quality fishery. Yes, an 8-wt. is appropriate and from a flats skiff you will strip your line into the cockpit while you stand on the casting deck. You will strip somewhat more line off your reel than you can cast. Ask permission of your guide to make some practice casts so both you and he can see what you can do. If he is willing to instruct you some, let him. Do I presume correctly that Disney is arranging the guide for you? It would be good if they would identify him and his contact info. so you could determine he has tackle and flies for you to use. If you want to use your own gear, I would consult with Disney about their storing it for you in a secure area prior to and post fishing.
Thanks! I'll let him know my comfort level and that it is my first time, and see if he can help identify issues with my casting beforehand. Disney is arranging the guide - from what I've heard it might be just one guy but there could be 2 or 3. The other caveat is that there could be someone else signing up for the excursion and they may have no experience fly fishing, which would take additional time away from fishing. I contacted Disney Cruise Lines and they are not very helpful about any of it - they simply prohibit fishing gear and will tell you it will be stored at the cruise terminal and you can retrieve it upon returning back at the end of the trip. Also, they are not able to put me in direct contact with the guide. From the few others who have fly fished Castaway/Gorda Cay on this excursion, they seem to employ the "don't ask for permission" rule and just casually bring your gear... when asked just explain "it's for the fishing excursion" - I think at that point either the crew doesn't know about the prohibited items list and or they don't care as they understand it's a silly thing to prohibit when they won't prohibit golf clubs and gear (I think the main issue they have is that some idiot will try to fish off the balcony or off the side - but how often would this have had to happen in order for them to add it to the list of prohibited items?!). Either that or you'll run into a stickler who will confiscate the gear and put it in the ships hold for the remainder of the trip.

flyminded said:
Practice casting accurately 40-50ft in the wind. A decent guide should be able to get you within this distance unless it’s a particularly unusual day you won’t need to cast further to catch fish. AND listen to your guide once you get the fly in the zone, if he says strip then strip, if he says stop then stop etc. it’s also worth clarifying before hand how long a strip is in his terms.

A light breeze on shore is 15-20 mph once you get on the water.
Thanks - it's tough around here as it doesn't get all that windy (SoCal). It was a bit windy yesterday so I decided to try to take advantage. The wind blew in multiple directions but it died down a lot - it was good practice however. Do the tradewinds not settle down in the Abacos in June and after? I thought I read that they did...unless "settling down" means dropping down to 15-20mph lol. Those are conditions most guys here in SoCal won't dare venture out into even with lighter spinning gear!

Sounds loke this is a small part of a larger non-fishing trip .. tip #1: leave your rod/reel at home if the guide has stuff you can use. It will make your whole trip smoother.

Yes. The winds will die down. NOT! Tip #2: accept the wind. Don’t let it be a negative part of they day. It will almost never be calm. And if it is, the fish will detect you farther away and it kinds of negates the benefit. Just accept it.

Line management: watch some videos on youtube about the quick cast. Hold loops of line in your hand and drop them to cast. BTW, you won’t figure out how to do it in the three hour trip no matter how much you practice.

Failure will happen. It’s okay. Just enjoymthe trip for what it is .. your first time out. Smell the roses. Take in the beauty of the blue water.

Long casts are good .. if accurate. An 80-ft cast is worthless if the fish never sees the fly because it’s five feet to the left. Focus on accuracy at your comfortable distance .. in the wind.

Did I mention have fipun yet? That’s the most important part.
Good tips - I think I read about/saw the Quick Cast before which sounds like a useful tool both for wading and off the boat. As far as gear the guide has, I've heard not so great things about it. One person who recently went said the guide was just unwrapping a brand new Orvis rod but I'm not so sure on the reel selection and fly line condition. If the fly line sucks, wouldn't that be frustrating fishing with? This is why I was considering at least bringing my reel with my own fly line on it. Or perhaps I can bringing some line cleaner, but that won't do anything if I borrow their reel/line and their line is still in bad condition to begin with. I'll continue getting outside and focusing on accuracy. At the park the other day I was trying to practice more accuracy and faster pickups/lay-downs. I figure it's going to be very different with water since I can water-load more. I first got used to fishing on an intermediate sink tip in the surf so getting out of the habit of having to roll-cast all the time to bring my line up is a bit refreshing lol.
 

denver1911

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I am not in any way, shape, or form trying to belittle you. Please don’t take this that way: if this is your first time sight fishing the flats, I suspect gear concerns will be the last things on your mind. Seeing fish. Doing what the guide excitedly tells you to when your adrenalin is pumping, the wind is blowing, and your brain tells you to do something different. Making an on-target cast (with any gear .. even the best made) in the few seconds you have before the fish detects you as you drift toward it in the wind. These will be your concerns. Now, if you can take your own gear .. great! But if you can’t, I doubt that will diminish your experience.
 

jplee3

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I am not in any way, shape, or form trying to belittle you. Please don’t take this that way: if this is your first time sight fishing the flats, I suspect gear concerns will be the last things on your mind. Seeing fish. Doing what the guide excitedly tells you to when your adrenalin is pumping, the wind is blowing, and your brain tells you to do something different. Making an on-target cast (with any gear .. even the best made) in the few seconds you have before the fish detects you as you drift toward it in the wind. These will be your concerns. Now, if you can take your own gear .. great! But if you can’t, I doubt that will diminish your experience.
Sounds stressful lol! I've done a couple waded guiding trips and the last one I did in Hawaii (in waist to chest high swells at times) was pretty stressful. Although it was less about sight fishing and more about blind casting to areas the guides knew held fish, so as to maximize time. My casting sucked and trying to find a good rhythm with swells and current knocking me off balance was a challenge. The guide in Hawaii ended up fishing with me and hooked up on a 10lb fish - he handed the rod over to me and I landed it but that was a lot of fun. I imagine being on a boat is a very different experience and stressful in different ways..
 
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denver1911

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Sounds stressful lol! I've done a couple waded guiding trips and the last one I did in Hawaii (in waist to chest high swells at times) was pretty stressful. Although it was less about sight fishing and more about blind casting to areas the guides knew held fish, so as to maximize time. My casting sucked and trying to find a good rhythm with swells and current knocking me off balance was a challenge. The guide in Hawaii ended up fishing with me and hooked up on a 10lb fish - he handed the rod over to me and I landed it but that was a lot of fun. I imagine being on a boat is a very different experience and stressful in different ways..
This is my point exactly: It can be stressful. Choose not to let it! Recognize up-front that this is a hard game and this is your first time playing. Recognize that things will go wrong. Let them. It’s okay. Nobody there but you and the guide. He/she won’t care if you don’t perform like a champ. You shouldn’t either. Just have fun! Learn from the experience. Celebrate the achievements you do have. Don’t let the failures bother you. Did I say have fun?
 

moucheur2003

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If Disney is arranging it and doesn't allow you to bring your own tackle, I would assume the guide must provide everything you will need. Hopefully you can confirm that ahead of time. A decent guide can help you with your casting, but it wouldn't hurt to practice double-hauling with an 8 weight ahead of time. Leave the rod and reel at home, but just to be safe, you might bring along some 10 lb fluorocarbon tippet and some Gotchas and Veverka's Mantis Shrimps (or similar patterns). If you have a few in sizes 4, 6, and 8, some with heavy eyes and some with lightweight eyes, they should work almost everywhere.
 

jplee3

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This is my point exactly: It can be stressful. Choose not to let it! Recognize up-front that this is a hard game and this is your first time playing. Recognize that things will go wrong. Let them. It’s okay. Nobody there but you and the guide. He/she won’t care if you don’t perform like a champ. You shouldn’t either. Just have fun! Learn from the experience. Celebrate the achievements you do have. Don’t let the failures bother you. Did I say have fun?
I'm sure I'll get frustrated regardless haha. Oh and I *hope* it's just the guide and myself... there's a chance that someone else may sign up for the excursion and I'll be stuck with someone who is completely unfamiliar with fly fishing :( I guess the best case scenario (at least for myself) is if I get stuck with someone else and the guy (or gal) is an FFFCI certified casting instructor LOL!!! I might get double-charged for *that* trip hahaha
 

mtboiler

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Best advise I got before my first flats trip, learn to cast better. I know everyone can cast. But, being able to change directs, "pick up put down 10 ft out and to your left" are not normal things for freshwater fisherman. I put a bunch of lawn dart rings throughout the spare lot beside us at varying lengths. I would practice 45, 50, 55 and 60 feet. Two or three rings at each distance but spread out so that I had to pick up and move 20 ft or so to hit the next one. Adding 10 ft to a cast at 45 feet is more difficult than you would think. Once you get that down, go to a local pond and practice with a heavy fly! Remember casting yarn in the yard does not have the weight of a charlie or clouser. Do it for a couple hours a day. Your arm will thank you. I actually tied a fly that I cut the hook off of so it would work on grass as well.
Finally, practice a bit with your left hand. Best thing I ever did. I could hit rings at 35 and 40 feet. So as the day went on, I would switch hands from time to time for shorter casts. Made a huge difference at about 3pm after 4 hours of casting!!
 

jplee3

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Best advise I got before my first flats trip, learn to cast better. I know everyone can cast. But, being able to change directs, "pick up put down 10 ft out and to your left" are not normal things for freshwater fisherman. I put a bunch of lawn dart rings throughout the spare lot beside us at varying lengths. I would practice 45, 50, 55 and 60 feet. Two or three rings at each distance but spread out so that I had to pick up and move 20 ft or so to hit the next one. Adding 10 ft to a cast at 45 feet is more difficult than you would think. Once you get that down, go to a local pond and practice with a heavy fly! Remember casting yarn in the yard does not have the weight of a charlie or clouser. Do it for a couple hours a day. Your arm will thank you. I actually tied a fly that I cut the hook off of so it would work on grass as well.
Finally, practice a bit with your left hand. Best thing I ever did. I could hit rings at 35 and 40 feet. So as the day went on, I would switch hands from time to time for shorter casts. Made a huge difference at about 3pm after 4 hours of casting!!
Thanks for the advice on casting. I have some pie tins so may have to just use those haha. I've been tying a piece of pipe cleaner to the end of my leader for practice. I have some barbell eyes so I could probably tie those on + the pipe cleaner for visibility. What sizes/weights specifically are you talking about when you say "heavy" flies? And generally what range of oz/g am I looking at here?
I'll have to tie up some flies. I don't have a ton of material. Any suggestions on patterns or tutorials on flies that are pretty easy to tie up and with few materials?

Good idea on practicing with the left - I'll have to try that too.
 

jplee3

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So I just checked the booking trying to see if anyone else booked the other spot and I'm pretty sure they did... so I have to hope that they are experienced and not a noob, otherwise the guide is going to have a lot on his shoulders haha.
Currently I have the 9:55am-12:55pm trip booked but there is an option to go out at 1pm-4pm (and it looks like neither of those spots are taken). I'm assuming the wind and chop picks up in the afternoon, so that may not be the best idea versus morning right?
 

mtboiler

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crazy charlies, gotcha charlies are the two I have always used. Shrimp patterns are the ticket. They can be dies with dumbbell eyes or chain eyes. Chain eyes for shallower water. I would practice with an actual fly.
One last thing...practice what I was taught as a sweep cast. You basically bring the rod back horizontal to the water side arm, than once the line is straight behind you you bring the rod forward over your head in a normal casting motion. You are bring the fly line back against the wind, and bringing it forward with the wind. I also learned to sweep forward. Almost side arm coming forward.
 

jplee3

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I forgot I had picked up several flies in Hawaii last time I was there and attempted to fly fish (skunked). I also have a few of my own that I tied (they're so ugly) but wondering if these would all work:



The four on the upper right-most are the flies purchased in Hawaii, if it wasn't obvious enough LOL
 

sweetandsalt

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Bonefishing is more tide dependent than time of day. Tan and tan with light olive might be your best colors in #'s 2 - 6. The last time I fished Gorda Cay (out of the settlement at the south end of Abaco) there were a lot of fish and good ones but a three hour window is tight. Practice your casting, count on there being wind, don't worry about blowing opportunities...if you don't you will be the first ever...and above all strive to remain calm, focused and have fun, it is a beautiful part of the World.
 

jplee3

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Bonefishing is more tide dependent than time of day. Tan and tan with light olive might be your best colors in #'s 2 - 6. The last time I fished Gorda Cay (out of the settlement at the south end of Abaco) there were a lot of fish and good ones but a three hour window is tight. Practice your casting, count on there being wind, don't worry about blowing opportunities...if you don't you will be the first ever...and above all strive to remain calm, focused and have fun, it is a beautiful part of the World.

Thanks and thanks all others for the tips! Unfortunately, didn't catch anything that day and you were right: a 3 hr window was tight. Translated to more like 1 hour of fishing between two people. I was joined by a fellow passenger who had no idea how to cast a rod so many opportunities and much time was wasted there. If not, I think I would have had much better chances at getting into some fish. Next time I'm going to 'reserve' the spot by booking both my wife and I then dropping her at the latest possible time to where there are no cancellation fees. Hopefully this will discourage other 'curious' passengers (who don't know what they're in for) from signing up. The guide said, in more or less words, that it's rare to have a passenger sign up who actually knows how to fly fish let alone cast. SMH...

Anyway, the other guy was on the bow when the guide spotted the first fish: a permit! He called it out and the guy started flailing his rod around and casting it like a rainbow as the permit slowly swam by. Finally, frustrated, he handed me the rod but by that time the thing was already 50-60' out and that's pushing my limits. Soon we were 80' out and too far gone. There were chances at 20-40' for sure, but the other guy had no clue what to do. After that, he sort of conceded to letting me fish more. The guide found some 'mud' spots that looked promising and anchored up but the clouds and sun were intermittent and he couldn't see that well all the time. So part of the time was spent blind casting towards general spots and others we were able to see the fish. It was pretty exhilarating but most of the time these fish were 50-60'+ out which was really testing the limits of my casting. I got a few good shots but most fell apart. Luckily, the wind was down or there was virtually none at times. I'm pretty sure I got one pick-up but the fish dropped it pretty quick...probably right between my strips so the timing was off. Same thing happened to the guide when he tried a few casts. Last cast I made was pretty good as we got within 40-50' and I got the fly right in front of a school. The entire school followed it but no takers. So I guess the fish were a bit finicky that day lol. I had fun and would do it again but I'd definitely employ the strategy to book both spots. And if someone else signs up I'd try to cancel. This time I decided to take a gamble and hope that the person who signed up knew how to cast, but after hearing the guide tell about past clientele off Disney cruises, never again....
 

flyminded

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When they follow, stop stripping let the fly sit and watch for one of the followers to tilt up on your fly, then strip, with luck you’ll be hooked up.

Learning to feed Bonefish is an art form, can make casting feel like the easy part on some days.
 
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