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The Braided Wing

Conway Bowman & the IGFA Redfish Record

Posted January 18, 2013 Conway X. Bowman.

Conway Bowman & the IGFA Redfish Record

Conway Bowman is perhaps best known as the guy who stalks Mako sharks on the fly, but that's just scratching the surface. You may better recognize him as the current host of Sportsman Channel's popular Fly Fishing the World series, or as the former host of ESPN’s In Search of Fly Water, Primal Predator and Versus Network’s Dollar Wise Fly. He is also sole owner/operator of Bowman Bluewater out of San Diego, Southern California’s premiere saltwater fly fishing guide service, and principal owner of the Ragged Edge Fly Fishing School. His name has become synonymous with “extreme” fly fishing, while traveling the world in search of Atlantic salmon, steelhead, wild trout, redfish, bonefish, and tarpon. His exploits have been chronicled in various books and magazines including Flyfish Journal, Fly Fisherman, The Drake, Saltwater Fly Fishing, Field & Stream, Men’s Journal, and Salt Water Sportsman. He's an avid advocate for shark conservation, and aids researchers by raising funds for research and tagging Shortfin Mako sharks through his annual Flying Mako Charity Tournament.

What many folks don't know about Conway is that he holds the IGFA world record redfish caught on the fly. He shares the story about capturing the record here, which sets the table for his upcoming Stonefly Press book, 25 Best Places to Fly Fish for Redfish (Stonefly Press, 2013).

 

~Redfish world records and reflections on a great day of fly fishing~

 

The Biloxi marsh is a vast mind-blowing wetland that careens for miles out to the Gulf of Mexico. The bird life alone will keep you in awe for weeks on end. This complicated waterway is not for sissies or the inexperienced. A wrong turn down one of hundreds of misleading channels could end an angler’s fun, losing his or her way for days or perhaps even weeks, stranded in a wetland maze with no help for miles!

After a 50 minute boat ride we both took our places, Gregg on his platform and me on the casting deck.  Panning  the horizon as far as I could see, I could not believe my eyes - Huge redfish standing tails straight out of the water, as if doing some weird head dance, wiggling and lazily flopping over, as they gorged themselves on crabs.

I spotted a pod of redfish off the port moving from 11 o'clock to 9 o’clock. Cautiously moving within casting range, my fly rod at the ready, Gregg whispered  “Conway! Redfish, 120 feet, one o’clock.”

I panned to my right and there she was. A single redfish. A very large redfish, cruising swiftly, leaving a wake in its path. I made three casts at this fish. The first was perfect, but the giant red changed directions. The second cast, though good, failed to get a reaction as she passed right over it. Finally, finally I  placed my third cast  four feet in front of the fish. The fish moved into the fly. I stripped, letting the fly settle. The fish passed over the fly once again. In an act of desperation, I made a “long” strip to get the fly in front of the fish again. The fish saw the fly, turned, stopped, went up on her head, opened her mouth, tail out of the water. I watched, amazed, as my little purple and gold fly was inhaled, leaving just a cloud of mud and a giant redfish on the end of my line!

The fish, once hooked, rocketed to the stern of the skiff, at which point I thought I was going to lose her in the trim tabs. I quickly made my way to the skiff’s stern, passing my rod over the top of Capt. Gregg, who at this point was frantically vacating the poling platform in his attempt to steer clear of my flyline.

The fish made two incredible runs, of about 150 yards apiece, with the tug-of-war lasting 25 minutes. When I finally got the fish to the boat I got nervous. I thought I might lose my fish at the boat.  Gregg, however, made  a quick swipe with his boga grip and we were hoisting the giant red onto the casting platform within seconds. Gregg asked me to read the scale on the boga grip.  It read 44 lbs. Gregg yelled that I had just set a new redfish world record.

 

 

Returning to the landing, where we had launched Gregg’s boat earlier that day, we docked and made our way, redfish in tow, to a local market having a certified scale.  Landed on a 10kg tippet, the redfish weighed out at a whopping 41.65 lbs, now an IGFA certified world record on the fly.

 

Conway X. Bowman
November 2012