The FIBFest epilogue I wish I didn’t have to write

FIBFest has come to its conclusion. The standard response to this would say something like we caught a bunch of fish, drank too much beer, had a lot of fun, the trip back was long and tiring, and that Deneki Outdoors’ Andros South Lodge is so awesome that I can’t wait to go bonefishing there again.

While that may all be true, I woke this morning thinking just one thing: I already miss the people I met there. I now find it necessary to kiss a big pile of ass thank them, as I know for certain that if I never picked up a fly rod again I’d still feel my life in fishing was made complete. They are THE reason.

First and foremost, the management team at Andros South

  • Andrew Bennett – You picked a damn fine crowd, and run a damn fine operation. I wish you much continued success – if any group has 1/10th the fun we had, you’d still be the best gig in any town.
  • Rick Sisler – Your family rocks, your attitude rocks, and your management style rocks. Me thinks you’ve got all the bases covered, and I am jealous. Have a great time in Alaska!
  • Matt Hynes – You are a gentleman and a scholar. Thanks for putting up with my gear repair requests (and calling that pair of kings you didn’t know I had). Best wishes to you and your gal in Alaska!
  • The guest new friends list

  • Dick Pitini – Your one liners are so grand you should pick up a retirement gig as a stand-up comic.
  • Mike White – Thanks for not calling my all-in on that flush draw. I’ll show you the cards next time too, but only if you fish with me first.
  • Bruce Smithhammer – I am so grateful to have shared that outrageous day far down south with you. The memory of the shark attack, the bonefish rodeo, and the skies that broke over that sandbar as we hooked yet another triple will remain etched in my mind for eternity.
  • Kirk Deeter – Flyfishing is metal, baby. I’ve got a lot more to say, but…I’ll see you next week!
  • Johnny Spillane – Keep on fishing, and keep on skiing. You do many very proud, but some of us have seen and heard your bongo drum play, and think that’s even better!
  • Sam Spillane – See you on the Yampa, my good man. Sam Spillane dot com awaits the world!
  • Pete McDonald – I sleep more soundly now that I know Fishing Jones is so much more than a mere online identity. Hope our next outing is lengthier, and please remember…the stingray is your friend!
  • Louis Cahill – A little air was released from our bubbles the moment you disappeared. Hope to see you again, and soon!
  • The guides who put up with my inability to change casting direction on split second notice

  • Torrie Bevans – Everyone should fish with you their first day out. Gotta get the skunk off early, don’t ya’ know!
  • Norman Rolle – We ripped plenty of lips even when I unraveled. Best wishes with the club!
  • Freddy Dames – You should be the sidekick in Dick Pitini’s comedy troupe (when you’re not being such an incredible guide)!
  • Josie Sands – I’ll listen to you anytime. Anywhere. And every time!
  • The lovely ladies in the dining hall

    I fished all day, everyday, and still managed to gain eight pounds! I wish I could cook half as good as you all.

    About that schwag

  • Smith Optics – a pair of Backdrops in black Polarchromic Copper Mirror did not leave my face all week. With good reason.
  • Sage – 790-4 Xi3/6080 – I caught fish on this rig despite myself. Review to follow once my notes dry out.
  • Rio Products – The Tropical Clouser WF8-F never tangled on deck, and made it through plenty of mangroves without a scratch. Can you say love?
  • Steamboat Flyfisher – The site of every local in a South Andros Island night club with logo’ed regalia on was all the image I needed.
  • And finally…

    Short, simple thank yous go to Scott Fly Rods (S4S rods in 8 and 10), Waterworks-Lamson (Litespeed reels in 3.5X and 4.0), Simms (shade hat and wading boots), Rio (for the flouro stuff), P-Line (Adaro pliers), and Buffs (how did anyone ever do without). Additional thanks go to Trout’s Fly Fishing, Orvis and Discount Fishing Tackle (for fly tying materials) – with the exception of a single weighted crab pattern which I used on the West side on the last day out, I cast my own flies all week (and caught an awful lot of fish). I lost count on the third day, where doubles and triples became the norm, but I’m certain the totals were more than anyone could ask for in a single trip.

    Finally (finally), special thanks go out to my next door neighbor, who took me to the airport even though his family was in town when I left, and the two young ladies who took care of my collie dog while I was gone.

    I ain’t going to miss you FIBFesters one bit. And damn my lip hurts!

    The story ended way too soon. But it was a heck of a good one just the same.

    MG signing off (to get back to work…ugh)

    UPDATE: A few more folks that deserve thanks: LaVado McPhee, Camp Hand/Maintenance; Ethlyn Smith, Kitchen/Housekeeping Manager; Tiffany Johnson and Joanne Gibson in housekeeping; and more thanks for putting the pounds on me with that outstanding chow go to the kitchen staff…Essie Holbert, Gloria Brown, Karen Rolle, and Maggie Rodgers.


    Bjorn says:

    Well written thanks there MG. Thanks for outblogging the whole bunch while you were there so I could keep up to date on the good times being had.

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bjorn Stromsness, Michael Gracie. Michael Gracie said: Undoubtfully lasting memories -> The FIBfest epilogue I wish I didn’t have to write: […]

    Deeter says:

    It was an honor to fish with you, my friend. We’ll pick it up next week, as you say… The Gracie Nation should know, however, that you are a shameless sandbagger… a “vacuum” on the flats. Yes, fly fishing is metal… Ozzy has nothing on you…

    […] a stellar wrap up by Michael Gracie akin to an Oscar acceptance […]

    Pete McD says:

    You neglect to mention that you’re the only one who left the lodge with a profit margin. I should have known when you brought your own monogrammed decks and chips.

    @Bjornorama – Thanks for following along – made the whole project all the better.

    @Deeter – Likewise, Rolling Stone.

    @Pete – Let us note that I left those chips and cards at the lodge – maybe I should charge a vig for their use? 😉

    For more shots from Andros South take a look at:
    All the photos are downloadable – but it would be pretty weird to have photos of the FIB guys on your wall.

    I hope I’m not sending this as a repeat – did not seem to work first time.

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