Video Hatch: “Itu’s Bones”

Itu (pronounced ee-too) Davey, a native of the Cook Islands, once made a living netting and selling bonefish.  But when a movement to declare the bonefish a “sports species” started, Itu was asked if he wanted to learn to be a guide.  “Itu’s Bones,” which is ready to hit the shelves, tells the story of Itu’s transformation from a subsistence gill-netter to catch-and-release fly fishing guide.

The new DVD is produce by the very talented Carl McNeil of On the Fly Productions, who brought us “Once in a Blue Moon” and “Casts That Catch Fish.”

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  • Mark

    A buddy of mine just returned from the Cook Islands, specifically Aitutaki offering a very different observation than those in the above video.
    The guy I’m talking about has been bone fishing the world for the last 40 years so I trust his judgement when it comes to such observations.
    Bottom line is the island is still heavily netted, primarily within the only pass that allows boats and fish in and out of the reef (when tide will allow it) that surrounds the entire island.
    He went on to say that the netting continues as most of the islanders are related in one way or another and will not report netting activities to any local authorities.
    He fished for 3 days in good weather without one hookup and observed netting on a regular basis, after being told that all netting had been stopped before booking the trip.
    Investigate for yourself, just be wary of the hype that gets thrown around.

  • Having spent a total of three months living on the Island making this film I can tell you with absolute certainty that your comments contain more than a modicum of inaccuracies and mistruths.
    I’m also in weekly contact with government officials, fisheries officers and operators on the Island.
    Mark I’m not sure why you would post such negative comments about a fishery you obviously now nothing about.

    The Island is not “Heavily Netted” – and any netting that your friend may have seen would not be for Bonefish but for goatfish (quite similar) and the numerous small Trevally species around the Island.
    Netting for Bones is now illegal and well policed. The practice is actually quite difficult to perform and known only by a couple of families – it’s not not something you do by just rocking out into the lagoon and throwing out a net.

    The “main channel” you refer to is the main shipping channel into the Port, it was blasted through the Coral during WWII by the Allies, it is not on the Lagoon side of the Island at all and is not used by migratory Bonefish.
    There are many other channels on the lagoon side, open to the sea and used by many species of fish.

    Regardless, Bonefish netting is not done across open channels as you imply.

    Lastly, if your friend spent three good days without a hookup, I’d suggest he needed a decent guide. If you would care to watch the entire film you would be far better informed, and will see, quite plainly that Aitutaki lagoon is in great shape and has more than a few resident Bonefish.

    Drop me a line, I’d be happy to send you a copy.
    Carl McNeil
    Producer – Itu’s Bones

    • Mark

      Sorry for the late
      response to your comments, haven’t been back to check in a while. I read your reply
      and revisited my fishing partner to verify I got it right. I did.


      Having spent 30 years
      as a cinematographer and director /DP shooting movies, documentary films, music
      videos and more commercials than I care to remember…on film…and having owned my
      own production company for over 10 years I can understand your angst.

      You obviously carry
      vested interests in the video you recorded on Aitutak. When considering
      the cost of production and distribution I can understand how a piece
      recorded there (not a film as you claim it to be) would make one
      quite partial to the claims you offered on the island, especially when less than
      glowing feedback is offered from another source. 

      It is not my intention to
      degrade or mislead anyone about bone fishing conditions on the island but to
      offer some immediate feedback from someone who fished there three weeks ago and
      witnessed firsthand the activities affecting the bone fishing.

      As any experienced fly fisher
      would on unknown water my pal did hire a
      guide….for all three days. A guide who is both well known and
      respected on Aitutak.
       As well he talked to locals and other fisherman about the fishing
      “industry” in general on the island, and not just the sport fishing

      I may “obviously now nothing about” (as you wrote) the
      island having never been there but a fishing partner of over thirty years was
      there and he has absolutely no reason to relay any information other than what
      is accurate to me or anyone else considering bone fishing on  Aitutaki.


      I am sure as your
      advertising claims you are indeed “very talented”, but before
      offering  your unfounded observation that
      my “comments contain more than a modicum of
      inaccuracies and mistruths” you should make sure that any previous claims you make regarding the
      fishing on Aitutaki are
      without attachment…whether it be protecting a proclaimed reputation, a monetary
      investment or any other sort. 

      • Bob

        Mark, I visited Aitutaki for a month a couple of years back and the situation was exactly as Carl presents it in ‘Itu’s Bones’.  Controls on netting were just being introduced for the first time but netting for food was still being done in the lagoon. The bonefish is a traditional food for the local people so it would be a bit much to expect them to stop it completely.  What I do know is that a large portion of the lagoon is now off limits to netting and is enforced.

        I was guided by Itu (his first paying client he tells me) and Butch Leone.  I saw a lot of fish with both guides, blew plenty of good chances, and hooked up with quite a few. I also spent many days just wandering by myself on foot, and still got fish. I certainly didn’t have the trouble your friend had catching some real trophy bonefish either. Over two days I hooked up with nine, and on one day landed three over ten pounds. Those are serious bones. As a fly fishery, I rate it over New Caledonia, which can produce big fish too, but has all sorts of access and accommodation issues and is usually windy as hell.I know quite a few guys who have fished Aitutaki since then and, while any fishery has its off days, they rate it as a top destination for anyone looking for a really big bone on the fly. It’s a great holiday place too, even while still recovering from a devastating cyclone a year or so ago. My wife says it was the best holiday she’s had. The islanders are wonderful people. It’s got an old time feeling you can’t find anymore. We’ll be going back.Too bad your pal had a bum trip, but I’d say he just had bad luck is all.