COASTAL BRITISH COLUMBIA

The rich coastal waters off the the coast off British Columbia, Canada’s most westerly province, have long been high on my personal bucket list of destinations to fish. The seemingly limitless opportunities here to catch the various species of Pacific salmon, huge halibut, the fearsome lingcod and the plethora of different types of rock fish that inhabit every patch of reef seemed too good to miss. I finally got to realise my dream this August, thanks to an offer to join Doug Olander, editor of American based Sport Fishing Magazine http://www.sportfishingmag.com on a trip to fish out of two lodges north of Vancouver.

My first coho, a modest though perfectly conditioned 7 pounder

My first coho, a modest though perfectly conditioned 8 pounder

Sadly my high hopes and anticipation prior to the trip were not met: actually they were exceeded by a somewhat considerable margin. Why sadly? Well as my wife Alison will quickly confirm, already next years diary is almost full to bursting point with dates set aside for various trips. Now I am faced with the problem of somehow squeezing in yet another week of fishing at an already congested time of year; yes I intend going back to British Columbia at the very first opportunity!

A solid mid-double chinook caught fishing with Central Coastal Adventures

A solid mid-double chinook caught fishing with Central Coastal Adventures

My trip started with a direct 9 hour flight to Vancouver with Air Canada, followed by an overnight stay at the conveniently located and truly sumptuous Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel http://www.fairmont.com/vancouver-airport-richmond/ The following morning we took the airport shuttle bus for the ten minute hop to the airports south terminal, where we caught our Pacific Coastal Airlines flight for the 350 mile flight north to Bella Bella.

Doug Olander displays a big 20lb plus chinook

Doug Olander displays a big 20lb plus chinook

Here we were met by Trevor Gustafson, who quickly transported us to our first base, Whiskey Cove Lodge, from where we would fish with Trevor’s family run sport fishing operation; Central Coastal Adventures http://centralcoastadventures.ca/index.php An hour or so later we went fishing, and within minutes of starting to slowly troll our lures I was enjoying a lively fight from my first coho salmon.

My biggest chinook of the trip, 28lb

My biggest chinook of the trip, 28lb

The next couple of days passed in something of a blissful rod bending blur during which I caught dozens of coho salmon to 14lb and chinook’s to 28lb, along with numerous halibut to 70lb and a bunch of lingcod and rockfish. At the end of our third day Trevor dropped us off at the impressive floating King Pacific Lodge where for the next few days we would be hosted by George Cuthbert at West Sport Fishing

Doug with one of the many salmon we caught during the trip

Doug with one of the many salmon we caught during the trip

http://www.westsportfishing.com An impressive operation, to say the least, where guests are flown back and forth from Bella Bella airport by helicopter, King Pacific can only be described as a 5* lodge offering superb accommodations and gourmet food. West Sport Fishing run a a huge fleet of extremely well equipped sport fishing boats, there is no need to take any fishing tackle, with guests having the option of either fishing with a guide or, as we did, fishing self-guided.

A very nice 14lb coho salmon

A very nice 14lb coho salmon

Sport fishing fleet at King Pacific Lodge

Sport fishing fleet at King Pacific Lodge

Guests arriving at West Sport Fishing's impressive King Pacific Lodge via helicopter

Guests arriving at West Sport Fishing’s impressive King Pacific Lodge via helicopter

Cheney Point is the salmon hotspot in the area, and its located a mere five minute run from the lodge, perfect for getting out to fish at first light, which is absolute prime time for the biggest chinook salmon that invariably are caught fishing within yards of the kelp strewn rocks. Doug proved the first light point perfectly by taking our biggest salmon of the trip, a stunning 30lb 8oz fish that inhaled a plug cut herring within moments of setting it on the down rigger to fish.

Daybreak off Cheney Point, prime time for big chinook

Daybreak off Cheney Point, prime time for big chinook

That fish was just one of dozens of salmon, both coho and chinook, we caught during our three day stay. I thought I was in salmon fishing heaven, but everyone told me that the fishing of late had been ‘kind of slow’, which begs the question, just how good is it when the fishing is really good?

A nice early morning chinook salmon off Cheney Point

A nice early morning chinook salmon off Cheney Point

Aside from salmon we spent some time offshore fishing for halibut, and once again found catching them was little more than a formality.

A nice Pacific halibut caught, as many others were, on a Storm Giant Swim Shad

A nice Pacific halibut caught, as many others were, on a Storm Giant Swim Shad

We got lingcod to almost 40lb, and a veritable smorgasbord of colourful rock fish including stunning yellow eye rock fish to 11lb. By the end of the trip I had added 15 new species to my personal tally. The staggering beauty of coastal BC really has to be experienced to be fully appreciated, truly this is a very special part of our planet.

George Cithbert with a near 40lb lingcod

George Cuthbert with a near 40lb lingcod

Aside from world class fishing the areas flora and fauna is both rich and varied. During our stay we watched numerous sea otters in classic repose, lying on their backs as they contentedly munched away at a sea urchin.

Doug holds a silver grey rock fish

Doug holds a silver grey rock fish

Daily we saw whales, both killer whales and enormous humpbacks, often within casting range of the boat. There are bears and wolves here, too, and the birdlife is equally spectacular with numerous bald headed eagles that sit on the highest outcrops of rock, patiently waiting for their chance to swoop on any hapless rock fish floating on the surface; they know an easy meal when they see one!

Biggest salmon of the week, a 30lb 8oz chinook caught at first light

Biggest salmon of the week, a 30lb 8oz chinook caught at first light

A stunning 11lb yellow eye rock fish. These are frequently caught weighing better than 20lb

A stunning 11lb yellow eye rock fish. These are frequently caught weighing better than 20lb

To say I was impressed with BC would be a gross understatement, truly it blew me away. Not surprisingly already I am planning a return trip, probably August 2015. If you’d like to join the group I plan on taking then contact Anglers World Holidays on 01246 221717, places are limited. http://www.anglersworld.tv

A vermillion rock fish, one of 15 new species I caught during this trip

A vermillion rock fish, one of 15 new species I caught during this trip

BUD N’ MARY’S MAY 2014

Strong and unseasonable winds prior to and throughout the first few days of our annual trip to Bud n’ Mary’s, Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, resulted in a relatively tough weeks fishing, yet by the end of our stay everyone had ticked off several fish from their personal ‘bucket lists’, notably tarpon and permit, along with elusive sawfish; specimens to over 500lb of these prehistoric fish released at the boat on each occasion they were targeted. The tarpon fishing in particular had been affected by the winds, which came on the back of some late cold fronts at the end of April. A serious shortage of live mullet, again a result of the weather, added to the situation. As you would expect fishing early morning produced the most tarpon bites, with as many as three 100lb+ fish being released in a session when finally things settled down towards the end of the week.

Paul Bowen & Terry Thomas get the Capt jim Wilcox 'jungle experience'!

Paul Bowen & Terry Thomas get the Capt Jim Wilcox ‘jungle experience’!

A 6lb bonefish from the flat in front of Bud n' Mary's for Andrew Leaves

A 6lb bonefish from the flat in front of Bud n’ Mary’s for Andrew Leaves

Andrew Leaves with when of several Cape Sable snook

Andrew Leaves with one of several Cape Sable snook

Capt Bill Bassett with a nice little back country redfish

Capt Bill Bassett with a nice little back country redfish

In total our group caught an impressive 10 different species over 100lb during the week, which in my book is not bad for a ‘tough week’! These included: tarpon, goliath grouper, sawfish, stingray along with lemon, bull, blacktip, tiger, hammerhead and, of course, ‘nancy the nurse shark’! Fishing the mangrove jungles around the southern end of the Everglades up around Cape Sable, one of my personal favourite days on the water, produced redfish, snook, spotted sea trout, sheep’s head and numerous back country other species. Other species caught throughout the week included several good bonefish, lots of different species of snapper & grouper, etc, etc.

Cape Sable saltwater croc, not a good area to wade and fish!

Cape Sable saltwater croc, not a good area to wade and fish!

Of course by the end of our week the weather was perfect, which pleased me as after dropping the group off at Miami airport I met my wife, Alison, & we drove west for a week in Naples, followed by four days further up the coast on Sanibel Island. We have stayed at Naples many times, and when we do so I like nothing better than to get up early and fly fish the beach and mangrove flats and channels at Clam Pass, a few miles north of downtown Naples. Snook are one of my personal favourite species, and over the years I have been fortunate enough to have caught many while fly fishing at Clam Pass. This year the fishing was as good as ever and I caught snook on 5 of the six sessions I fished at Clam Pass, not big fish by any measure but great fun on a fly rod, and a very satisfying way to start the day. Unfortunately we had to cut our stay on Sanibel short & return home three days earlier than planned, so I will have to return again to experience what everyone tells me is the best shore based snook fishing anywhere…

Bill Bassett points out a crack of dawn tarpon while staked out fly fishing

Bill Bassett points out a crack of dawn tarpon while staked out fly fishing

A fly caught snook from Clam Pass

A fly caught snook from Clam Pass

Everyone has confirmed they will be returning to Bud n’ Mary’s in the near future, and already next years trip, leaving May 9th, is full. Such is the popularity and quality of fishing on this trip we are looking at the possibility of organising a second week next year. If you are interested contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717.

Paul Bowen's hammerhead shark alongside the boat

Paul Bowen’s hammerhead shark alongside the boat

One of several big sawfish caught this year

One of several big sawfish caught this year

Another 'mud marlin' is brought alongside the boat

Another ‘mud marlin’ is brought alongside the boat!

Paul Bowen fighting his hammerhead shark with Capt. jim Wilcox

Paul Bowen fighting his hammerhead shark with Capt. Jim Wilcox

Big stingray ready for release

Big stingray ready for release

I've decided to take up gator wrestling, well you've got to start somewhere!

I’ve decided to take up gator wrestling, well you’ve got to start somewhere!

ARCTIC NORWAY

Just back from a very cold, very windy, very snowy week based at Kokelv in the far north of Norway, a short distance from The North Cape. In reality the weather was nowhere near as cold as it can get at these latitudes in late March, but following a run of trips to exotic, tropical destinations it was certainly cold enough for me!

Chris Bett with one of many double figure cod, caught on a pick

Chris Bett with one of many double figure cod, caught on a pick

Kokelv is a prime location at which to intercept the annual run of ‘skrei’, the big run of outsize cod that migrate from the Barents Sea to spawn in the northern Norwegian fjords between February and April. The weeks prior to our trip the word from other key locations in the region such as Soroya, a short run from the mouth of the Revsbotn Fjord in which Kokelv is located, was that the fishing was incredible, with lots of 30, 40 and 50lb plus fish, and even bigger specimens up to 90lb having been caught. Local fishermen working jigging machines, we were told, had had to cut back from using 8 to 5 lures on their lines, as they were catching so many outsize fish!

Andy Griffith with a near twenty pounder

Andy Griffith with a near twenty pounder

Like most Norwegian fjords Revsbotn offers a good amount of shelter, offering a lee shore from which to fish given all winds other than those blowing out of the north-west. Of course the wind during our 6 days was almost exclusively a nor-wester, and it was so strong that on our first day we were unable to fish, not the best start to any trip. We did get out each day for the rest of the trip, with conditions varying from a rough to relatively calm sea, along with frequent, heavy snow storms. Guess what the weather was like the day we left? Yes you’ve got it, perfect, the sea mirror calm beneath a clear blue sky with similar conditions forecast for the next week!

Gary holds a 20lb plus cod

Gary Haysom holds a 20lb plus cod

Yes the fishing was tough, very tough at times, but by the end of the trip our biggest cod was 44lb, we had caught at least 4 fish over 30lb, 20 over 20lb and a lot of double figure fish. Variety came our way with some decent wolffish and haddock and at least one big halibut was lost, so all in all, given the conditions, a fair weeks fishing.

At times conditions were challenging!

At times conditions were challenging!

The thing is, these days Norway has become a victim of its own success. Too many anglers traveling here on their first trip have convinced themselves that the fishing is going to be easy, and that they are ‘guaranteed’ to catch lots of fish including fish up to the 40-50lb range. Well the reality is it’s not that easy and while the fishing can be truly spectacular, even ridiculously easy at times, the fishing in Norway can be as fickle as the fishing anywhere, and nobody can control the weather.

Time for coffee I think!

Time for coffee I think!

Early season trips such as this one do offer your best ‘chance’ of hooking a massive cod, a fish in excess of 50-60lb, but my advice to anyone planning their first trip to this amazing sea angling destination would be to book a trip between late May and the end of September. At this time of year there are a lot more fish around, including plenty of cod in the 20-40lb range, and aside from an improved chance of getting favourable weather, you have a lot more hours of daylight to work with if the weather is against you. One of the highlights of this trip for me and those clients who joined me, were skidoo trips into the mountains above Kokelv, to fish through the ice of the many frozen lakes for arctic char and trout. This is a great way to get a true feel for the remote vastness and beauty of arctic Norway, and fishing through a self-drilled hole in the ice certainly has its own special appeal!

Me and my skidoo!

Me and my skidoo!

Fishing aside, roaring across a vast expanse of virgin snow at speeds of up to 80kph is a real adrenaline rush, a combination of ‘Easy Rider’ meets ‘Frosty the Snowman’ with a pinch of ‘Mr Crabtree’ thrown in for good luck!

Sam fishing for char. Not the scoop, essential for clearing rapidly forming slush out of your hole!

Sam fishing for char. Note the scoop, essential for clearing rapidly forming slush out of your hole!

Arctic Char caught through the ice

Arctic Char caught through the ice on maggots and squid

Anglers World Holidays were the pioneers of saltwater sport fishing in Norway here in the UK, and today represent many of the very best camps. If you are interested check out their website at: http://www.anglersworld.tv or Tel: 01246 221717.

An arctic char is hauled through the ice

An arctic char is hauled through the ice

Norwegian fish finder!

Norwegian fish finder!

ST LUCIA & 100+ CLUB!

Just home from an enjoyable week in St Lucia, but no fishing this time, just an excess of sun, sea, sand and very good rum! St Lucia is a beautiful island, and the people are genuinely friendly and helpful to visitors. There’s plenty to see and do, with a trip to the rain forests an absolute must. I had hoped to find some inshore fishing for tarpon, snook, jacks and possibly bonefish, but all of my prior research had ended in a blank and having now been there I, too, must conclude that if such fishing is available then it is being kept a very closely guarded secret, certainly it is not a realistic option for those on a typical Caribbean

Secluded beach on Pigeon Island, St Lucia

Secluded beach on Pigeon Island, St Lucia

island holiday.

Cable car ride through St Lucian rain forest

Cable car ride through St Lucian rain forest

There is, as I discovered, some excellent blue water fishing offshore. Boats here catch reasonable numbers of small to medium size blue marlin, plus occasional white marlin, along with good numbers of sailfish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, dorado and all of the other usual blue water pelagic species. Several companies book game fishing charters, two of the best I found are B.B.C Yachting and Exodus Boat Charters, both who are based at Rodney Bay Marina, conveniently close to some of the most popular hotels and resorts. They can be contacted through their respective websites at: http://www.bbcyachting.com and http://exodusstlucia.com

Exodus Boat Charters Cabo game boat

Exodus Boat Charters Cabo game boat

Rodney Bay Marina

Rodney Bay Marina

Mrs Lewis, 'Alison', finally finds a way of going for a swim without getting her hair wet!

Mrs Lewis, ‘Alison’, finally finds a way of going for a swim without getting her hair wet!

Visiting St Lucia was for me something of a milestone. I have travelled extensively all of my life, especially since leaving home at 16 to join the Merchant Navy. For some years now I have had a hankering to reach 100 countries and qualify for membership to the ‘Travelers Century Club’. In order to qualify for membership to the TCC you need to have visited 100 different countries and overseas territories from an internationally accepted list of 324 locations. Each of these locations are defined by various criteria, but essentially they are all geographically, ethnologically or politically separate. You can find the list on the Travelers Century Club website at http://travelerscenturyclub.org

Following interest generated by this years trip to Rio Indio Lodge in March, check out the previous blog if you missed it, there is a possibility we might be booking a return trip to this amazing location next March. Aside from the excellent fishing we experienced this year, and reports from the few weeks since we got home have have confirmed the fishing has been even better, I for one am especially keen to revisit at the same time next year. A March 2015 trip will be either instead of or in addition to the one previously advised for October 2015. Sept/Oct is regarded as being the very best time for tarpon fishing the twice annual tarpon run off Central America, but March is, as we witnessed, a very close second. Additionally the jungle fishing peaks in March, as its the dry season and fish tend to get congregated, and as we experienced the snook fishing in March can be phenomenal. If you think you might be interested, please get in touch.

This is why I am so keen to get back to Nicaragua ASAP!

This is why I am so keen to get back to Nicaragua ASAP!

 

This is why I am so keen to get back to Nicaragua ASAP!

NICARAGUA-TARPON, SNOOK & MORE!

Whenever and wherever in the world you travel to fish, always you must be prepared to accept both the good and the bad. Regardless of how much time you spend in researching the optimum times of the year to fish, prime moon phases and a host of other variables, or even how much you are prepared to spend on any particular trip, when you arrive at your chosen destination you simply have to take what nature throws at you. In my last but one blog I wrote about how our week in Sri Lanka was severely impacted upon by unseasonably strong north-easterly winds, which simply was bad luck. I have just returned from a week at Rio Indio Lodge in Nicaragua, a trip when we experienced that all-too-rare combination of ideal weather plus outstanding fishing.

Jim Butler & Rito  with one of many rainbow bass

Jim Butler & Rito with one of many rainbow bass

Once again we flew to Central America via the USA, spending a night in San Jose before taking the short flight across the Nicaraguan border to Rio Indio Lodge. This was our second group trip to this amazing jungle lodge. During the last trip, January 2013, we focussed on the prolific snook spawning run, and you can read about how we got under the Memorable Trips section of this site.

Within an hour or so of arriving at Rio Indio we were fishing. We started off working light lures amongst the dense vegetation flanking the various rivers and creeks in the area, and first cast I hooked and lost a fish, probably a small snook. During the next hour or two myself and boat companion Jim Butler pulled together a respectable haul of various freshwater species including rainbow bass.

Doc Khanna with a chunky rainbow bass

Doc Khanna with a chunky rainbow bass

Jim Butler with a nice light tackle snook

Jim Butler with a nice light tackle snook

About an hour before sunset our captain, Rito, suggested a move to the mouth of the river near where it flows into the Caribbean, saying that this area had produced some big snook in recent weeks. Those of you who know me will know I am passionate about snook fishing, and given the choice I will target these premier league gamefish before most others. Over the years I have caught plenty of snook at locations throughout the Caribbean and Central America, but never caught one better than 10lb, which had remained a lifelong goal. Well to cut a long story short Rito rummaged through the box of lures I had brought with me, selected a home tied chartreuse bucktail jig and indicated the optimum area to cast and work it. Within 10 minutes I hooked up and following another 10 minutes fighting what clearly was a very big fish, it made several spectacular jumps, Rito slid the net under what my certified Boga Grip confirmed was a 21lb snook-not a bad start to the trip!

Fish of a lifetime, my first day 21lb snook!

Fish of a lifetime, my first day 21lb snook!

For the rest of the week I elected to alternate between fishing the jungle back country for big rainbow bass and snook, and the ocean outside of the river mouth for tarpon. March is the second best time of year to target migrating tarpon off the coast of Nicaragua, with September/October being regarded as prime time.

One of many good tarpon caught by Jim Butler

One of many good tarpon caught by Jim Butler

A nice tarpon is brought to the boat, note the circle hook

A nice tarpon is brought to the boat

That said, during our trip the area within a short run of the lodge was thick with tarpon, with our group releasing as many as 11 fish in a day, and losing many others . The killer technique was drifting both live and dead baits rigged on circle hooks, which always give you your best chance of getting a solid hook up in a tarpons hard mouth. In addition to tarpon each day we caught plenty of 20-30lb jacks, sand sharks and barracuda.

Rito removes the hook from a good fish

Rito removes the hook from a good fish

Jim & Rito with one of many 20-30lb jack crevalle

Jim & Rito with one of many 20-30lb jack crevalle

The average size of tarpon caught was between 80-120lb, but bigger fish were both caught and lost. This trip my personal luck really was on something of a role as aside from that first day snook of a lifetime I got my biggest tarpon, a massive fish that Rito estimated at at least 180lb. I have had numerous tarpon guides have called 150lb, but this fish was much, much bigger, certainly nearer 200lb than 100lb, and I feel 180lb was a fair call.

My biggest ever tarpon, estimated at 180lb

My biggest ever tarpon, estimated at 180lb

The rainbow bass, aka guapote, fishing was excellent. March is the dry season, though we did experience a few short heavy down pours. Dry season is prime time for bass fishing in the jungle interior as when the flooded interior starts to dry out the fish naturally drop back into the deeper channels. Casting into the darkest holes and overhangs using a selection of light lures we caught plenty of bass up to a solid 5-6lb, all of which fight hard on light spinning rods. I had brought a couple of limited addition Rapala ‘Angry Birds’ lures with me to try out as something of a joke, and the bass loved them!

Tiger bass caught on limited addition Rapala MaxRap Fat Shad Angry Bird

Tiger bass caught on limited addition Rapala MaxRap Fat Shad Angry Bird

Angry Bird scores again!

Angry Bird scores again!

As you will see from the images illustrating my previous trip to Rio Indio, last trip while casting for snook I got a big bass on a light spinning outfit in Lake San Juan Negro in the middle of the jungle. They say history never repeats itself, well it did on this trip! Casting a Rapala Skitter Pop in Fire Tiger in almost exactly the same spot I hooked up with another big tarpon on my light bait casting rod. For me it was the fight of the trip, with the fish cartwheeling around the spectacularly beautiful and becalmed lake for 30 minutes before I brought her boat side for Rito to grab the leader and hold her for a brief photo-session. She was a gorgeous fish that we estimated at 50lb.

50lb tarpon caught on light spinning outfit in Lake San Juan Negro

50lb tarpon caught on light spinning outfit in Lake San Juan Negro

Lunch time dermatological foot spa  treatment, included within the package price!

Lunch time dermatological foot spa treatment, included within the package price!

Tarpon caught on Rapala Skitter Pop in Fire Tiger

Tarpon caught on Rapala Skitter Pop in Fire Tiger

Of course we are going back next year, and this time we plan of going in October to coincide with the very best tarpon fishing, which sounds truly spectacular. Numbers will be limited so if you think you might be interested please contact Anglers World Holidays as soon as possible. This really is a very special trip based at a world class eco-lodge set within a totally unspoiled/un-developed National Geographic location. The food, guides and local flora and fauna are amazing, and after the first few nights you’ll even start to get used to the early morning wake up calls from howler monkeys!

A good machaca caught on Rapala Skitter Pop

A good machaca caught on Rapala Skitter Pop

Tarpon, the ultimate light tackle gamefish

Tarpon, the ultimate light tackle gamefish,  note the circle hook

Does this count as fly fishing!

Does this count as fly fishing!

PANAMA: JAN 2015

Two posts in a week, I must be getting the hang of this blogging lark!

After a little bit of swapping and changing finally we have confirmed I will be hosting a week in Panama based at Paradise Fishing Lodge in January 2015. This lodge has a first class reputation for providing world class sport fishing on the stunningly beautiful Pacific coast of Central America. Take a look at their website: http://www.paradisefishinglodge.com

Panamanian roosterfish, 'Pez-Gallo' one of the many species of sport fish we will be targeting

Panamanian roosterfish, ‘Pez-Gallo’ one of the many species of sport fish we will be targeting

Mullet snapper caught in Panama, one of several key species that take surface poppers

Mullet snapper caught in Panama, one of several key species that take surface poppers

Key target species will include rooster fish, yellowfin tuna, cubera and mullet snapper, amberjack and big groupers of various species. If you visit the lodge website, click on FAQ’s and scroll down to fish seasons/availability you will see that our trip coincides with absolute prime season for all of these species, plus black marlin and sailfish. Fishing aboard fast, centre console sport fishers techniques will include medium/heavy popping, jigging, light tackle spinning and live baiting.

Following a first night stay at Panama City we will transfer to the lodge early the next morning via road. This avoids the limited weight restrictions imposed by light aircraft. We will spend six nights at the lodge, to include five full days fishing.

Panamanian black snapper-'Pargo'

Panamanian black snapper-‘Pargo’

Panamanian Dorado

Panamanian Dorado

Popping off Las Perlas, Panama, in a typical pacific swell

Inshore fishing off Panama, in a typical pacific swell

Central America is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite fishing locations, and the rich waters off the Panamanian coast are about as productive as fishing gets. When I tell you already I am excited about this trip you will realise just how spectacular a week I am anticipating. If nothing else it will give me the opportunity to again hook into the stunning rooster fish, truly one of the worlds great sporting species. On my last trip to Panama roosters were caught to over 80lb, what I would give for a fish like that!

A nice roosterfish caught off Las Perlas, Panama

A nice roosterfish caught off Panama

Cabo is one of the best places in the world to catch rooster fish

Doug Olander, editor Sport Fishing Magazine, with a nice Panamanian rooster

Big Panamanian AJ

Big Panamanian AJ caught on livebait

A brace of big Panamanian amberjacks

A brace of big Panamanian amberjacks

Another nice mullet snapper

Another nice mullet snapper

Already the first six places on this trip are confirmed, but a few remain. If you think you might be interested I suggest you contact Anglers World Holidays ASAP on Tel: 01246 221717

African Pompano caught in Panama

African Pompano caught in Panama

Horse eye jack caught popping in Panama

Horse eye jack caught popping in Panama

Doug Olander with Sierra Mackerel

Doug Olander with Sierra Mackerel

Nice AJ caught on light spinning/jig outfitr

Nice AJ caught on light spinning/jig outfit

SRI LANKA

What a fantastic country Sri Lanka is! From the moment we arrived at the international airport in Columbo, which is as modern and efficient an airport as I’ve seen, our group were struck by the genuine friendliness we encountered everywhere we went; even the immigration officers were full of smiles! Outside of the airport we found the streets incredibly litter free, and while the traffic in and around the city along with the various villages and towns we passed through was chaotic to the point of insane madness, mostly we drove through beautiful green countryside, flanked by the Indian Ocean. English is spoken everywhere, hardly surprising as Sri Lanka was once the British colony of Ceylon.

STILT FISHERMEN IN SOUTHERN SRI LANKA

STILT FISHERMEN IN SOUTHERN SRI LANKA

The famous stilt fishermen who fish the numerous bays south of Galle are one of the iconic images of Sri Lanka. Sat gnome like upon a precarious stick ledge lashed midway up a stout bamboo pole, these historic fishermen manage to winkle out a mixed catch of invariably small reef fish using little more than a stick and fixed line. Well, I just had to have a go didn’t I! Yes before you say it they must be VERY strong poles to support my bulk but hey, how many of you can say you’ve been stilt fishing in Sri Lanka!

YES, THOSE BAMBOO POLES ARE A LOT STRONGER THAN THEY LOOK!

YES, THOSE BAMBOO POLES ARE A LOT STRONGER THAN THEY LOOK!

We were based at Krinda, midway upon this island nations south coast, an area devastated beyond belief by the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, which killed 100,000 people in Sri Lanka alone. If you look you can still see the remains of buildings destroyed all along the coast, but what is remarkable is just how well this coastal community has recovered. Certainly this is as scenic a tropical coast as you’ll find anywhere in the world, a great location for a holiday. We stayed at Krinda Beach Resort which was perfect in every way. I hope to revisit soon with my wife, which is as strong a recommendation as I can give.

ACCOMMODATIONS AT KRINDA BEACH RESORT

ACCOMMODATIONS AT KRINDA BEACH RESORT

And so to the fishing. Yet again we were faced with unseasonable weather conditions, which impacted negatively upon our sport. This time it was strong force 4-5 occasional 6 north-east winds that from around 1100 each morning turned the ocean to a maelstrom, especially in the vicinity of the shallow reefs we mostly intended to fish. It was as tough a week as I have spent fishing anywhere, a week when for much of the time staying on our feet was a major challenge, let alone casting or jigging. Luckily our hosts Game Fishing Asia run two fine boats with experienced skippers, but even so by early afternoon most days the smaller of these had been forced back to port.

MT BEST FISH OF THE TRIP, 40LB GT CAUGHT ON A CHARTREUSE 250G WILLIAMSON ABYSS JIG

MY BEST FISH OF THE TRIP, 40LB GT CAUGHT ON A CHARTREUSE 250G WILLIAMSON ABYSS JIG

Throughout the five days we fished we steadily pulled together a somewhat modest haul consisting of GT’s to around 50lb, yellowspot and bluefin trevally, various groupers and reef fish and a lone 30lb+ dogtooth tuna for Darius. Fish of the week was a chunky 40lb plus king mackerel, one of two caught on a surface popper by Simon Powell; what a take! Yes we struggled to catch fish, but as we all know there is nothing you can do about the weather, the strong north-east monsoon winds we were experiencing should have ended in early January. Certainly there are plenty of fish here, the boat sounders frequently marked dense schools beneath us, I guess we will have to go back to catch them!

40LB+ KING MACKEREL CAUGHT ON SURFACE POPPER BY SIMON POWELL

40LB+ KING MACKEREL CAUGHT ON SURFACE POPPER BY SIMON POWELL

A DOGTOOTH TUNA FOR DARIUS

A DOGTOOTH TUNA FOR DARIUS

A GOOD GT CAUGHT ON A STICK BAIT FOR RAY JENNINGS

A GOOD GT CAUGHT ON A STICK BAIT FOR RAY JENNINGS

Krinda is located just 12km west of  Yala National Park, and part of our package included the option for either an early morning or evening game drive, something most of us took up, especially the latter once we had been forced back to port in the afternoon aboard the smaller boat. Yala is Sri Lanka’s second largest game reserve, noted for its large population of leopard, which I managed to see on each of the three game drives I went on. There are plenty of elephant, spotted deer, water buffalo, wild boar and lots of other animals including the elusive sloth bear. The bird life is truly staggering with lots of wild peacock, vast flocks of colourful wading birds, and exquisite kingfishers and bee eaters that positively glow in the rich evening light. Fishing aside, I’d go back for the game viewing alone.

WILD PEACOCK ARE EVERYWHERE, INVARIABLY YOUR EARLY MORNING ALARM CALL!

WILD PEACOCK ARE EVERYWHERE, INVARIABLY YOUR EARLY MORNING ALARM CALL!

ELEPHANT AT YALA NATIONAL PARK

ELEPHANT AT YALA NATIONAL PARK

In summary Sri Lanka is somewhere I fully intend to return. This is one destination that is perfect to take your wife or family, giving you the opportunity to escape for a day or two tropical popping and jigging offshore. This really is one of the most impressive ‘developing world’ countries I have visited, with daily direct flights from the UK only adding to Sri Lanka’s overall appeal as the perfect holiday/fishing destination.

BEAUTIFUL CHESNUT HEADED BEE EATER AT YALA

BEAUTIFUL CHESNUT HEADED BEE EATER AT YALA

Most trips we have a client or two burnt to varying degrees by the sun. Over the years I’ve heard all of the excuses as to why this has happened, the bottom line being the victim has not used sufficient high factor sun cream. One of the most overlooked and painful places to get burnt is the tops of your feet. I have seen cases so bad the client has been all but bed ridden for several days, one case I heard of in Namibia resulted in a three week stay in hospital for skin grafts. One of our Sri Lankan group got badly burnt, take a long hard look at the pictures, yes it was as painful as it looks. Remember this image when next you pack for a tropical fishing trip. You need cream/sun block of a minimum of SPF30; if you are fair skinned SPF50 is better. And remember you actually have to squirt the stuff out of the tube and apply it to your skin in order for it to be effective!

SUN CREAM DOES NOT WORK IF STILL IN THE TUBE!

SUN CREAM DOES NOT WORK IF STILL IN THE TUBE!

Trips to Krinda and a few other locations throughout Sri Lanka with Game Fishing Asia can be booked through Anglers World Holidays, Tel 01246 221717

For more information visit: http://gamefishingasia.com and

http://yalawildlifebeachresortsrilanka.com

JAVEA SPAIN & FUTURE TRIPS

In my last blog I mentioned one of the ‘clients’ on our recent group trip to Belize had been involved in an accident requiring hospital treatment. Actually it was Bob Clements, not a client, but a very good friend. On the night of November 13th Bob became seriously ill, fell from a first floor balcony, and was knocked unconscious and sustained then unknown injuries. We had to immediately evacuate him by boat from Monkey River, first to Independence, then Dangriga and finally on to hospital in Belize City, where he was placed in the hospital ICU ward on a ventilator. There Bob remained in a coma for two weeks, and sadly he never recovered.

 

Bob accompanied me on over 20 long haul fishing trips, during which time he became an integral and much valued member of our groups. Always a delight to travel and fish with, I have many treasured memories shared with Bob, time spent at various locals around the world, including north, south and central America, Africa, Asia, various Indian Ocean and Caribbean islands and here in Wales. Many evenings were spent sat beneath a star spangled tropical sky sharing a glass or two of rum, Bob invariably puffing away on a Hamlet to keep the mosquitoes away! Bob, we are all going to miss you.

 

Bob Clements about to set off on a dawn balloon ride across the Masai Mara, Kenya

Bob Clements about to set off on a dawn balloon ride across the Masai Mara, Kenya

Recently I spent three days fishing out from Javea in Spain with local skipper Dani Maestre. Previous to this trip I never really knew just what to expect, as like many European anglers I was under the false impression that the Mediterranean Sea is all but fished out. During the trip we caught dorado, bluefish, amberjacks, baby bluefin tuna and numerous other small species. I was shown many images of huge, 600lb+ bluefin that are caught here in the summer months, along with albacore, spearfish, dentex bream and monstrous amberjack. You can read the full account of my trip in the current issue of Sea Angler Magazine, issue number 501

JAVEA, SPAIN

JAVEA, SPAIN

 

Clearly this is an exciting sports fishery in the earliest stage of development, and I for one am going back on several trips this summer to try and establish just how productive the area is. Javea is reached via a one hour drive from either Alicante or Valencia, both of which are serviced daily by various budget airlines from most regional UK airports. Certainly here is an affordable destination where a two or three day trip targeting a big bluefin or other species is a real possibility. Further, I am going to be visiting and fishing from two other exciting new ports in the region where I am told the fishing is as good or even better than Javea, watch this space!

TROLLING FOR AMBERJACK & DENTEX IN SPAIN

TROLLING FOR AMBERJACK & DENTEX IN SPAIN

CHRIS NORTHMORE WITH BLUEFISH CAUGHT OFF JAVEA

CHRIS NORTHMORE WITH BLUEFISH CAUGHT OFF JAVEA

 

For more information and to book a trip you can contact Dani Maestre at ‘Área Náutica’ at info@areanautica.com or Tel: +34 607 380480 or +34 653 87521. More information is available on the Área Náutica website, though at time of writing the fishing section is under development: www.areanautica.com

CUTTLEFISH LIVEBAIT; GREAT EATING-TOO!

CUTTLEFISH LIVEBAIT; GREAT EATING-TOO!

CHRIS WITH ONE OF THE DORADO WE CAUGHT OFF JAVEA

CHRIS WITH ONE OF THE DORADO WE CAUGHT OFF JAVEA

 

Now is a good time to get your name down for our annual trip to Bud & Mary’s Marina, Islamorada, Florida in April/May 2015. This is by far our most popular and fish productive trip, and with strictly limited availability the trip fills fast. Check out my blog following previous trips along with the various Florida related threads under the ‘Memorable Trips’ section of this site and you will see just why this May some clients will be joining me on their 6th or 7th trip.

BABY BLUEFIN TUNA CAUGHT OFF JAVEA; MONSTERS ARE CAUGHT THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER MONTHS

BABY BLUEFIN TUNA CAUGHT OFF JAVEA; MONSTERS ARE CAUGHT THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER MONTHS

 

There is a possibility we might have one place left for a return trip to Belize in November 2014, check out my previous blog for information on what to expect. We now have several names confirmed for a hosted group trip to Christmas Island in January 2015, popping & jigging for GT’s etc, plus fly fishing for bonefish and various other species. Finally there is a possibility I might be hosting a few trips in Northern Norway this year. For more information on any of these trips contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717.

MONKEY RIVER, BELIZE NOV 2013

‘Eventful’ is probably the best word I can use to describe our recent group trip to Belize. This year we were based at ‘Clive’s Place’ in ‘Monkey River’ village, as our previous base for these trips, ‘Stepping Stones’, has been sold. Clive’s is a very basic, motel style accommodation, but what a truly delightful and friendly place it is! The food is traditional Creole, tasty and varied and while the fresh iguana curry is optional, though I strongly suggest you try it, the fresh conch fritters are amazing. The beer is cold, the local rum outstanding; what more do you need for a weeks fly fishing in the tropics?

THE NUMBERS OF BONEFISH YOU CAN CATCH ON FLY DURING A WEEK IN BELIZE IS TRULY AMAZING

THE NUMBERS OF BONEFISH YOU CAN CATCH ON FLY DURING A WEEK IN BELIZE IS TRULY AMAZING

 

CLIVE'S PLACE, MONKEY RIVER

CLIVE’S PLACE, MONKEY RIVER

Our arrival coincided with a couple of days of unseasonably heavy rain showers but true to form our guides, all of whom are now good friends, still managed to put us on fish each and every day. Throughout our week the weather got progressively better, and for the second half of the week it was perfect.

LUNCH IS SERVED, DON'T FORGET THE HOT SAUCE!

LUNCH IS SERVED, DON’T FORGET THE HOT SAUCE!

 

During previous trips to Belize we have focussed on and caught plenty of bonefish on the fly, and once again this was the case. The very best bonefishing is out on the Sapodilla Keys, where the size of some of the shoals of tailing fish on the flats have to be seen to be appreciated. I honestly don’t know exactly how many bonefish were caught, but the numbers were truly staggering. On some of the flats you can stand and sight cast to bones over hard white sand pretty much all day without moving. The average size of bonefish in Belize is 1-2.5lb but each day you’ll get multiple shots at much bigger fish. I believe our biggest fish this trip was a five pounder caught by Ray Jennings.

RAY JENNINGS PLAYING A GOOD FISH ON THE SAPODILLA KEYS

RAY JENNINGS PLAYING A GOOD FISH ON THE SAPODILLA KEYS

GEORGE HOLDS A TYPICAL BELIZE BONEFISH CAUGHT IN SKINNY WATER

GEORGE HOLDS A TYPICAL BELIZE BONEFISH CAUGHT IN SKINNY WATER

 

Tarpon fishing, too, was spectacular with exciting shallow water sight fishing for fish averaging 10-40lb, great sport on a 9wt, along with occasional shots at much bigger fish; I’ll be taking a 12wt next time. Variety came by way of snook, various species of jack and the inevitable barracuda’s. Each evening if fishing north of Monkey River we had the opportunity to fish for immense shoals of surface feeding little tunny, and how they run when hooked all but next to the boat on a fly rod!

RAY JENNINGS & GEORGE WITH A 5LB BONE FROM THE SAPODILLA KEYS

RAY JENNINGS & GEORGE WITH A 5LB BONE FROM THE SAPODILLA KEYS

 

Of course Belize is one of the very best places to catch permit on the fly, and if you target them with bait they are pretty much guaranteed. Each day fly fishermen can expect plenty of shots at these spookiest of fish and one of our group, Darius Smulkstys, enjoyed a tremendous last afternoon fishing hooking three permit on fly, loosing one to a snapped hook and landing two. Sadly he could not catch a tarpon to complete his slam. That evening at the bar he was totally unbearable, but there is no denying he had earned full bragging rights!

DARIUS WITH ONE OF TWO PERMIT HE CAUGHT ON FLY

DARIUS WITH ONE OF TWO PERMIT HE CAUGHT ON FLY

 

On a sadder note halfway through the trip one of our group had an accident and became seriously ill, requiring immediate evacuation to hospital. I have hosted more than 70 trips to various locations around the world and I knew that one day I would be faced with just such a scenario, and I always hoped it would be somewhere with good communications and transport to suitable medical facilities. Monkey

JUST LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS SCHOOL OF BONEFISH, BARELY AVERAGE FOR BELIZE!

JUST LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THIS SCHOOL OF BONEFISH, BARELY AVERAGE FOR BELIZE!

River is about as remote as you can get in Belize, yet the efficiency and genuine concern of all involved in this unfortunate incident was absolutely first class. As a result our client was transferred to suitable medical facilities with minimal delay. Thankfully he was suitably insured, a timely reminder for all of us who love to travel and fish.

LITTLE TUNNY CAUGHT ON FLY, GREAT SPORT

LITTLE TUNNY CAUGHT ON FLY, GREAT SPORT

 

We are planning another trip to Monkey River, Belize in autumn 2014. Already we have several places confirmed so if you are interested an early enquiry is advised. Of course individual trips can also be arranged, contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717.

 

SRI LANKA & WALES!

Anglers World Holidays are pleased to announce that they are now working with Game Fishing Asia to offer packages to Sri Lanka, check out their website from the link on this site. I will be hosting the first group leaving at the end of January 2014, when I will be taking  6 clients who plan on focussing on the amazing popping and jigging that Game Fishing Asia have recently opened up at their base on the south coast of Sri Lanka. We will be targeting huge GT’s along with the other trevally species, dogtooth and yellowfin tuna plus all of the other popular Indo-Pacific species that are caught here, including billfish. If you are interested in organising either a private trip to Sri Lanka or getting involved in future hosted trips, contact Anglers World Holiday on Tel: 01246 221717.

Big dogtooth tuna are on the cards off Sri Lanka

Big dogtooth tuna are on the cards off Sri Lanka

Next years hosted trips with myself to Costa Rica/Nicaragua and Florida are now full, and such is the huge popularity of these destinations we are already taking names for our 2015 trips. A few places are available for our trip to Christmas Island in November 2014, for more information contact Anglers World Holidays.

The focus on this blog/website has always been on overseas fishing, but I am going to make an exception. It was 10 years ago this year, almost to the day, when I first fished with my good friend Andrew Alsop  off the Welsh coast for sharks. Andrew is now regarded as being the top shark skipper in the UK, if not Europe, and currently is enjoying an amazing run of success. As most visitors to this site are interested in big fish I am going to print my first two Sea Angler Magazine articles that first highlighted this amazing shark fishery, the first one was published in the November 2013 issue, featuring Steve Humpherson on the front cover. Of course these days everyone has jumped on the band wagon and is reporting on this world class shark fishery, but this is where the story began. You can read both articles under ‘Welsh Sharking History’ under the ‘Memorable Trips’ section of this site and be sure to check out the last paragraph, it took ten years, but we told you so!

Keith Arthur playing a fish for the cameras aboard 'White Water'

Keith Arthur playing a fish for the cameras aboard ‘White Water’

A few weeks ago we took Keith Arthur and a camera crew from Sky Sports Tight Lines fishing for sharks aboard ‘White Water’, and had yet another truly amazing day releasing 45 fish to over 160lb. I have used a few of the images I took to illustrate this blog and my article, but you can download a podcast of the program and watch the action at: http://podcasts.skysports.com/podcasts/tightlines/TightlinesPodcast130927.m4v