Atlantic Bonito on the lo-fli
This past summer, water temperatures off the tippy top of Cape Cod (Herring Cove Beach, Provincetown) created conditions favorable enough for an invasion of of micro-sized Atlantic Bonito, both in offshore waters and tight along area beaches.
As a native Cape Codder, I had never heard of such a thing occurring in my life, and apparently neither had any of the Outer Cape old timers. I obviously needed to sample this wonderful oddity with the lo-fli system, a no brainer. An emergency trip was planned leaving me with a few hours to gather/tie some flies for these little green speed demons.
I was under the assumption that these
little guys would eat some teeny tiny
grass shrimp patterns, the likes of which I'd been using since my days as a 14 year old casting my $20 Martin 60 tuna can combo at shore break porgies and Northern kingfish like a half-assed flats guide. I tied a handful of these bead-butted shrimp on the smallest streamer hooks I had available and shoved them in the gear bag.
A short time after completing packing my gear I was informed by a Cape Codder pal of mine that he had noticed an abundance of orange-ish/pink clouds of tiny shrimp while flats fishing in the bay that morning. We agreed that they were most likely mysid shrimp and that they were probably the reason for the sudden influx of baby bonito. I headed back to the vise, found some #16 nymph hooks and created these bombproof mysid shrimp flies.
I drove to Provincetown, parked at Herring Cove Beach and made my way to the water.
The conditions were glassy calm, punctuated by the frantic shimmer of school after school of hand length bonito speeding along the shoreline.
They behaved much like their larger counterparts in that a cast into the fray would often be ignored, while a fly dropped a ways in front of a pod would receive a great deal of attention. This fishing occurred in less than a yard of water, and was for the most part a flats-style sight fishing game. As with all flats fishing the lack of water resulted in hooked fish, even with their abbreviated size, to sprint with great zeal toward deeper water. This proved to be a load of fun considering the lack of drag on the fixed action spool. As designed, guiding the line out sideways from the spool allowed for the effortless unfurling of extra line as needed, not a single fish was lost during a run.
These fish were eager to hit both patterns, though the tiny pink mysid took twice as many as the grass shrimp. The pods often cruised with their dorsal fins and tail tips leaving wakes across the surface. This behavior meant that my fast sinking grass shrimp pattern fell quickly out of view of these roving fish while the pink mysid shrimp barely sank at all and would often receive multiple strikes from multiple fish before the hook was set. Their toothy mouths destroyed and made away with all but one of the pink mysids, which has since been relegated to winter trout fishing.
All in all, a fun afternoon of fast action, tiny tuna, and a chance to test the lo-fli's line dumping ability during a unique micro-sized sight casting fly fishing opportunity. If they show up again, ever, I'd make that drive again for certain. Who knows, maybe next year it'll be tiny albies.