GRAN CANARIA

In recent blogs I have written about trips to Iceland and the San Blas Islands off Panama’s Caribbean coast. If you found these interesting you might like to click on the following links that will take you to the excellent Sport Fishing Magazine website, where you will find photo galleries featuring additional images from each trip. Take at look at: http://www.sportfishingmag.com/iceland-fishing-excursions?image=0 and: http://www.sportfishingmag.com/panamas-spectacular-san-blas-islands

The beach and backdrop at Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria.

The beach and backdrop at Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria.

My most recent trip was to The Canary Islands, more specifically Gran Canaria to fish with Roger Burston who runs Reel Escape Sport Fishing Charters based at Puerto Rico. Easily reached with around a four hour direct charter flights from pretty much any UK or European regional airport, The Canary Islands have long been a popular destination with holiday makers from all over Europe. Consequently you will find a massive tourist infrastructure with a huge range of accommodations to cover all budgets, and near guaranteed sunshine.

The sport fishing fleet based at Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria, 'Reel Time' sits second from right.

The sport fishing fleet based at Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria, ‘Reel Time’ sits second from right.

I’ve been aware of various sport fishing operations throughout The Canary Islands for some time, though I thought mostly these concentrated on short tourist trips, and that the few billfish I had heard about were little more than lucky catches. My understanding was that the only serious sport fishing was based on the island of La Gomera, how wrong I was. Roger runs two excellent big game boats, both equipped with the highest quality Shimano Tiagra reels and rods.

Boats are equipped with quality Shimano Tiagra reels.

Boats are equipped with quality Shimano Tiagra reels.

The season starts in March fishing for tuna; albacore, bigeye and bluefin, with the first marlin, usually whites, generally showing in May. The main billfish season runs from July through until the end of September, when in addition to white marlin and big blue marlin, good numbers of elusive longbill spearfish are caught, along with dorado, wahoo with always the possibility of tuna. Take a look at his website: http://www.escapeforreelfishing.com

Big blue marlin are caught off Gran Canaria, along with La Gomera and other islands.

Big blue marlin are caught off Gran Canaria, along with La Gomera and other islands.

To give you an idea of just how prolific this fishery can be, a recent Billfish Report rated The Canaries as being the 10th best location anywhere to catch your first marlin, many of which average over 500lb. Last year Rogers boats caught 24 blues, biggest fish 350kg and 14 white marlin, along with a lot of tuna. Local commercial fishermen have landed fish well in excess of the I.G.F.A world record. The women’s 50lb class record Atlantic blue marlin was caught off Gran Canaria on August 9th 1986, and weighed 802lb, and both the mens 6lb and 8lb class records are held by fish caught off La Gomera. Further, both mens 80lb and 130lb class records for bigeye tuna, 392lb and 363lb respectively were caught off Gran Canaria, with the women’s 20lb class record, 173lb, being caught at La Gomera. Numerous I.G.F.A Atlantic spearfish records have been caught off Gran Canaria and La Gomera.

A selection of marlin lures.

A selection of marlin lures.

Not surprisingly I was eagerly looking forward to my first trip to Gran Canaria, especially as it was scheduled for mid-August, prime marlin season. I was looking forward to four action packed days out on the water, but if you travel to fish occasionally you must expect the weather and local conditions to completely disrupt your plans, and this was that trip. Very strong north-westerly winds resulted in day one being cancelled, and even though we managed to fish the remaining three days, often conditions were very rough. Choppy seas aside, the biggest problem was that the water temperature was several degrees below what is ideal for marlin fishing. 22˚c is regarded as being the minimum suitable for marlin, with 24˚c being the magic number. During my trip the warmest water we found off Gran Canaria was 21.8˚c, and all the time I was there only one white marlin was caught on another boat. A little over 100 miles away at La Gomera however the water was warmer, and the fishing excellent. One boat, we heard, had released over 20 blue marlin in 8 days fishing. I guess I’ll have to go back!

Reel Escape in the harbour at Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria

Reel Escape in the harbour at Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria

Package trips trips to Gran Canaria including flights and accommodation to fish with Reel Escape Sport Fishing Charters can be booked through Anglers World Holidays. This really is one destination offering serious blue water fishing a relatively short hop from Europe, along with plenty to do for all of the family. For more information Tel: 01246 221717.

PANAMA: SAN BLAS ISLANDS

Just home from a weeks fishing around the idyllic San Blas Islands off Panama’s Caribbean coast with Panama Yacht & Fishing Charters http://panamayachtandfishingcharters.com My trip came by way of an invitation from Doug Olander, my good friend and editor of Sport Fishing Magazine, with the rest of our crew including Bill Shedd CEO President of AFTCO, Marc Mills from Shimano US, renowned underwater photographer Jason Arnold, and David Morel, publisher of Sport Fishing Magazine & Saltwater Sportsman.

Tropical paradise, just one of countless white sand beaches you'll find in the San Blas Islands.

Tropical paradise, just one of countless white sand beaches you’ll find in the San Blas Islands.

We were based aboard the truly luxurious live aboard boat ‘Miss B’ Haven’, with a choice of fishing offshore aboard one of two excellent offshore game boats, or inshore from either a flats skiff or a small inflatable. Normally prior to an overseas trip I have at least some idea of which species I will primarily be targeting, along with which methods we will be using to catch them, but this was far from the case on this trip. Little is known about sport fishing around San Blas, other than this little fished corner of the Caribbean has close access to deep water, some magnificent reefs, and a plethora of rich flats from which to fish. In essence this was an exploratory trip, and prior to leaving home I had faced the somewhat unusual dilemma of not knowing what tackle to pack.

Home for the week, the truly sumptuous 'Mis B Haven'.

Home for the week, the truly sumptuous ‘Miss B Haven’.

Eventually I chose a medium spinning rod, a 20-30lb class bait rod and an 8wt fly rod, all multi-piece travel rods, along with reels to suit and a modest selection of lures and other bits & pieces. Other than the fly rod none were needed as Marc Mills had generously provided an incredible amount of Shimano product including dozens of rods and reels, in addition to a mountain of lures and everything else we might need to cover every conceivable eventuality. As things turned out the biggest problem was selecting a rod and reel and a few lures suitable for each fishing session, the choice really was immense; talk about being set loose in a chocolate factory!

Spoilt for choice!

Spoilt for choice!

The great unknown on any fishing trip is always the weather, especially on trips such as this one that by necessity are planned many months in advance. Late July and August in this sector of the Caribbean should have given hot, settled and sultry weather with occasional heavy afternoon rain showers, the rainy season having started in late April or May. This year the rains in Panama are several months late and rather than the grease calm seas we anticipated, we were faced with constant, strong, north-easterly winds, which were compounded by a hefty onshore ground swell. As a result our fishing options were almost always limited to fishing within the lee of inshore islands or at least inshore of the main barrier reef, then on occasion whenever conditions improved quickly changing tack and running offshore.

Bill Shedd casts his lure into some interesting water from the fleet inflatable.

Bill Shedd casts his lure into some interesting water from the fleet inflatable.

A nice jig caught Nassau Grouper for me.

A nice jig caught Nassau Grouper for me.

And a fine dog snapper.

And a fine dog snapper.

Venomous Lion fish caught on a Shimano jig, these are now widespread throughout the Caribbean.

Venomous Lion fish caught on a Shimano jig, these are now widespread throughout the Caribbean.

Despite the problematic weather some good fish were caught each day. Popping and jigging produced some great snapper action- school master, cubera, mutton and dog, however when fishing shallow inshore reefs casting lures at range many, indeed most of the better fish were lost due to lines getting cut on the coral heads. Variety came by way of various species of jack, small tuna, barracuda and various reef fish. At least one tarpon was lost, again cut off on the reef, and several good sized bonefish were seen tailing on the flats. Big permit were seen at close range on several occasions, and during one of those brief trips snatched offshore our crew saw free jumping sailfish along with shoals of surface feeding tuna. If only the weather had been kinder to us!

Doug Olander hold a good Horse Eye Jack caught on a Shimano Orca stick bait.

Doug Olander hold a good Horse Eye Jack caught on a Shimano Orca stick bait.

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Marc Mills with a colourful Schoolmaster Snapper caught on a Shimano popper.

Bill Shedd & Marc Mills display a brace of bragging size Dog Snapper.

Bill Shedd & Marc Mills display a brace of bragging size Dog Snapper.

Dave Morel holds a fine Dog Snapper.

Dave Morel holds a fine Dog Snapper.

The thing was regardless of how any fishing session panned out, we knew beyond any doubt that as soon as we stepped back aboard the mothership we would be pampered beyond belief. Open the door and step inside the main saloon and we were greeted with a welcome blast of AC and our favourite cocktail. Trays of appertisers demanded our immediate attention; imported Spanish Palma hams, fine French and Italian cheese’s, paté along with numerous other culinary delights. Each and every meal was a sumptuous sit down banquet that would have impressed the most discerning of connoisseurs had they been dining at any exclusive 5th Avenue restaurant. Just how the ships chef, Erica, managed to single handedly produce such a huge range of memorable meals from her small galley defies belief, but she did-as my waistline can now bare witness!

Erica working her magic; guess whats for dinner!

Erica working her magic; guess whats for dinner!

One of several hard pulling Bar Jack's I caught on fly.

One of several hard pulling Bar Jack’s I caught on fly.

Truly Panama Yacht & Fishing Charters provide a world class and positively unique charter fishing service. We were based in the Caribbean, but the fleet regularly transit the Panama Canal and fishes much of the year amidst the time proven sports fisheries off Panama’s Pacific coastline including Pinas Bay, The Perlas Islands and Coiba Island. PYFC really must rank as one of the most amazing live aboard operations you’ll find anywhere in the world, the perfect choice for all members of the family. Meanwhile I’m off to the gym now to start trying to work off a week of over eating!

The locals made sure we never went hungry!

The locals made sure we never went hungry!

Kuna village on one of the islands.

Kuna village on one of the islands.

A family group of Kuna in colourful, traditional dress.

A family group of Kuna in colourful, traditional dress.

Gigantic japanese car carrier transiting the Miaflora Locks on the Panama Canal.

Gigantic Japanese car carrier transiting the Miraflora Locks on the Panama Canal.

For more information visit: http://panamayachtandfishingcharters.com Fishing trips to Panama along with numerous other Central American destinations can be booked through Anglers World Holidays. I am hoping to host a trip with PYFC in the near future, based in the Pacific, most likely The Perlas Islands. For more information Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv

ICELAND: JULY 2015

I have recently returned from my 10th or possibly 12th trip to Iceland, a location that undoubtedly ranks as one of the worlds great cold water angling destinations. I have fished in Iceland extensively over the past 20 years, and prior to this most recent trip I would have said that the fishing here is more about catching quantity rather than quality, with boat loads of small to medium sized cod, haddock and coalfish comprising the majority of most days fishing; how very wrong I was.

My first fish caught at Sudavik, a 30lb plus coalfish.

My first fish caught at Sudavik, a 30lb plus coalfish.

My trip had been arranged by ‘Iceland Sea Angling’ and began with a couple of days based at Sudavik in the far north-west of the country, a short 15 minute drive from the airport at Isafjordur. Guests stay in well equipped apartments and houses a short walk from the harbour, fishing aboard self-drive boats. A small pub and restaurant, and a well stocked shop are close by, and all necessary items of tackle can be bought on site. Rods and reels are available for hire, as are good quality flotation suits. Without a doubt the boats provided by Iceland Sea Angling are the most sea worthy, comfortable and well equipped self-drive boats I have fished aboard anywhere in the world, and I have fished aboard a lot of self-drive boats. Powered by 130hp Volvo Penta stern drive’s, the boats will fish four anglers in absolute comfort and safety, even as many as five or six. Each boat is provided with an automatically inflating life raft, 25 watt VHF-DSC radio with built in distress calling facility, A.I.S (Automatic Identification. System) tracking, a quality Garmin fish finder/chart plotter, and everything else you need for a safe day afloat.

The excellent self-drive boats as supplied by Iceland Sea Angling.

The excellent self-drive boats as supplied by Iceland Sea Angling.

Further, the company insist that each time you set sail you book out with the local coast guard, confirming the boat number, how many persons on board, and that you then contact them again on your return to harbour. Top speed was around 18-19knots, with an ideal cruising speed of around 15 knots. On our first session afloat we were joined by Henri Karier, the camps excellent head guide, who took us to a spot inside of the fjord just twenty minutes run from harbour. Here Henri and my friend Terry Thomas fished a selection of pirks and large shads in the usual style in 120m of water, while I rigged a 120g Storm Ultra Shad on a four-piece Shimano Blue Romance travel spinning rod matched with a Shimano Saragossa 5000 fixed spool loaded with 20lbBS PowerPro.

My Shimano Saragosa 5000 and 120g Storm Ultra Shad lure.

My Shimano Saragosa 5000 and 120g Storm Ultra Shad lure.

In no time at all lures fished near the bottom were catching decent cod weighing well into double figures, while my Storm Ultra Shad was almost immediately nailed by a fast running, deep diving fish that I quickly guessed was a decent coalfish. That first coalie weighed over 30lb and was one of five 30lb+ coalfish I caught in just two hours fishing, the best a new personal best that went 35lb 4oz. Henri soon switched to similar tactics to me and also caught some very big coalfish. A move inshore to fish bait on the drift over rough ground very quickly produced big wolffish, frozen squid are available at the camp.

A brace of 35lb+ coalfish for myself & Henri Karier

A brace of 35lb+ coalfish for myself & Henri Karier.

We fished at Sudavik for three days, with our boat and most others based at the camp catching impressive numbers of quality fish each day, notably big coalfish that were averaging well over 20lb, along with many over 30lb. Cod to over 30lb, lots of big wolffish, haddock and redfish were also caught. I had taken a few packets of frozen worms with me, and these very quickly produced nice dabs from the boat. Fishing from the harbour pontoons also produced lots of big dabs.

Hooked up in Iceland!

Hooked up in Iceland!

Halfway through the trip we set off on the three hour drive across the mountains to our second camp at Talknafjordur. It’s a beautiful drive during which you get to see some truly breathtaking scenery. The accommodation at Talknafjordur is 5*, guests staying in new and superbly equipped wooden chalets overlooking the fjord, perfect for families. Once again a restaurant and shop are close by, and the harbour is a two minute drive away, where guests fish from identical boats to Sudavik.

A big wolffish for Terry Thomas, one of many caught every time we targeted them.

A big wolffish for Terry Thomas, one of many caught every time we targeted them.

Beautiful Icelandic scenery on the drive to Talknafjordur.

Beautiful Icelandic scenery on the drive to Talknafjordur.

On our first days fishing we were joined by Kai Biala, the camp head guide, who took us to fish a patch of ground lying in 80-90m of water two hours run out to the west. Within seconds of our lures getting anywhere near the bottom they were taken by cod; invariably big cod averaging well over 10lb, with many better than 20lb and several weighing well over 30lb. Terry caught the biggest cod which weighed just over 38lb, but 50lb plus fish had been caught just the day before, and the camp record stands at over 70lb. I honestly don’t know how many cod we caught that day, but the number was considerable.

The boats fish four anglers in absolute comfort, and as many as five or six.

The boats fish four anglers in absolute comfort, and as many as five or six.

As soon as Kai, who is another truly excellent guide, revealed that the tide was right for coalfish I switched to my Storm Ultra Shad/Shimano spin outfit that had been so successful at Sudavik, and once again I was very quickly tight to a big coalfish. We boated several over 30lb, outstanding fish for sure, but Kai tempered our elation by saying the camp coalfish record is held with one that weighed 50lb, equalling the world record! As I have explained I have fished many times in Iceland, and these in addition to more than 30 trips to Norway, along with numerous others to Denmark, Sweden and The Faroe Islands, but never have I seen such consistent fishing for trophy coalfish.

A 38lb plus cod for Terry Thomas.

A 38lb plus cod for Terry Thomas.

Kai Biala holds one of many big, shad caught cod.

Kai Biala holds one of many big, shad caught cod.

The cod fish off Icelands north-west fjords is outstanding.

The cod fish off Icelands north-west fjords is outstanding.

The cod fishing I found in north-west Iceland is the equal of all but the very best days I have experienced in Norway, and I am reliably told by other anglers we met in Iceland, some of whom were on their forth or fifth trips with Iceland Sea Angling, that it can be much, much better. Considering the extremely high quality of the self drive boats and Iceland’s easy accessibility from the UK, I honestly feel that the north west Fjords are a strong contender for the title of Europe’s ultimate sea angling destination. Certainly this is a destination any serious sea angler must add to his bucket list. Of course I am going back, already we have reserved a week at the same time of year in summer 2016. If you are keen to join us on this trip or book a private trip then you should contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717. This trip is perfect for individual anglers and small groups alike.

A colourful Icelandic  harlequin duck.

A colourful Icelandic harlequin duck.

PEACOCKS & TARPON

At just about the time the rest of our Bud n’ Mary’s group were touching down at Heathrow Airport, Terry Thomas and I were climbing into the back of Capt. Mark Hall’s pick up truck. After a twenty minute run through the then still dark Miami suburbs we pulled off the main rod, and followed a rough dirt track down to a launch ramp leading into a narrow, weed choked canal running behind a large department store. Here we launched Capt. Mark’s skiff then ran a couple of miles through Miami’s extensive and complex system of inland waterways, eventually arriving at a large lagoon flanked by large and clearly very expensive waterside homes.

The colourful peacock bass, an introduced species that thrives in the freshwater waterways around Miami.

The colourful peacock bass, an introduced species that thrives in the freshwater waterways around Miami.

Terry & I had been given the option of either throwing plugs and other artificials on spinning rods, fly fishing, or free lining live ‘shiner’s’ on small circle hooks. Having been assured that the latter was by far the quickest and most reliable way to ensure our target species ended up in front of my cameras, that was what we elected to do.

Capt. Mark Hall holds a nice peacock bass

Capt. Mark Hall holds a nice peacock bass

We were fishing for peacock bass, butterfly peacock bass to be precise, a species native to the Amazon basis. These beautifully coloured and highly regarded sports fish were first introduced into the canals around Miami in the 1990’s, in an attempt at controlling the rapid rise in alien freshwater species that then, and now, proliferate throughout the region. With minimal tolerance to cold water biologists had assured there was no way that spawning peacocks could extend their range northwards throughout the state. The rest, as they say, is history, and today you’ll find a fantastic peacock bass fishery right in the heart of the city suburbs, and extending out west into The Everglades.

Terry Thomas & Capt. Mark with a fine brace of peacocks.

Terry Thomas & Capt. Mark with a fine brace of peacocks.

In no time at all I had hooked and boated our first peacock, a chunky 2-3lb fish, which seems to be the average size. Throughout the eight hours we fished we caught peacocks at a constant and steady rate, our biggest  nudging the top side of 5lb; double figure specimens have been caught. In addition to peacock bass we caught numerous largemouth bass, and several so called ‘alien species’ including Midas and Mayan cichlid’s and oscar’s, fish you’d typically pay a small fortune for at an aquarium shop back home.

How much would an oscar this size cost in an aquarium shop in the UK!

How much would an oscar this size cost in an aquarium shop in the UK!

A largemouth bass for Terry, one of several we caught

A largemouth bass for Terry, one of several we caught

A Midas cichlid, one of several 'alien species'  common throughout the system

A Midas cichlid, one of several ‘alien species’ common throughout the system

It was a thoroughly enjoyable and hugely productive day, a day easy to schedule into any trip to southern Florida, as Capt. Mark will happily pick you up at your hotel then drop you back either there, or as he did with us, directly at the airport. Best of all this is some of the best value guided fishing you’ll get in Florida, with a full day, including tackle hire and bait, costing just $325. For more information visit: http://www.flyfishpeacocks.com

Contact Capt. Mark if you are travelling through Miami, you'll not be disappointed

Contact Capt. Mark if you are travelling through Miami, you’ll not be disappointed

After saying goodbye to Terry at departures I grabbed a coffee and wandered downstairs to arrivals. I was just in time to meet a travel weary Mrs Lewis for two weeks holiday, starting with three nights at Fort Lauderdale, followed by 5 nights at Orlando, finally ending with a week on the beach at Sanibel Island. After 8 days solid fishing I was ready for a break during the first week, but by the time we checked in at our hotel on Sanibel I was ready for another cast.

My original intention had been to fly fish at day break for trophy snook in the surf along the white sand beaches on Sanibel’s Gulf Coast, but strong onshore winds had churned the water to a milky soup. Luckily I had a plan B, which involved fishing throughout the plethora of mangrove channels and lagoons that are easily accessed via the four mile wildlife drive running through the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Once again snook were high on my target list along with redfish, speckled trout and ‘hopefully’ tarpon.

Hooked up to a lively fish!

Hooked up to a lively fish!

A self-guided fly caught tarpon from the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge

A self-guided fly caught tarpon from the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge

As much as I love fishing with good guides, I find most pleasure from finding and catching my own fish, especially with a fly rod. Over the years I have caught a large amount of self-guided snook, bonefish, trout and many other back country species, but never tarpon. The first morning I drove into the Ding Darling refuge I found a small bay tucked amongst the dense mangroves with dozens of fish rolling on the surface, fish I could clearly see were tarpon.

Near 10lb of fly caught tarpon, outstanding sport on a fly rod

Near 10lb of fly caught tarpon, outstanding sport on a fly rod

Grabbing my fly rod I hastily tied on a home tied cockroach fly and started to cast. I got a solid hit on the second cast, not a tarpon but a welcome snook. I got my tarpon a few casts later, a perfect little specimen of around 6lb that fought magnificently on my fly rod, spending more time in the air than the water. As the sun got higher the rises became fewer and farer between, but by the time I drove home for breakfast a little over an hour later I had caught and released a brace of tarpon along with a couple of snook. Hoping to get a redfish to complete a backcountry slam I went back in the evening. I didn’t get a red, but consolation came by way of a third, near 10lb tarpon. Needless to say for the duration of our stay, most mornings saw me first first in line to access the refuge when the gates opened at 0700!

Few areas are easier to access and fish as the J.N.Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island.

Few areas are easier to access and fish as the J.N.Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island.

FLORIDA MAY 2015

Regular readers of this blog, and apparently there are one or two of you, will know that each year around April and May a group of us travel to Islamorada in the Florida Keys, for a weeks back country fishing out from Bud n’ Mary’s Marina. As the dates for this years trip approached, May 9th, I watched the weather patterns affecting The Key’s and local fishing reports with great interest. Due to a very mild winter the main tarpon run had started unseasonably early in February, with excellent sport experienced right through March. April, traditionally the start of the main push of fish in the Middle Keys, saw several unseasonable cold fronts pushing down from the north west, followed by severe storms, both of which impacted severely on the fishing. Luckily by the time we arrived the weather had started to settle down, and the good news was that the fishing was getting back on track.

Gotcha! Big tarpon are the number one attraction during spring time in The Keys

Gotcha! Big tarpon are the number one attraction during spring time in The Keys

On the first morning Andrew Leaves and myself fished with Capt. Jeff Beeler, starting our day using live crab at iconic Channel 5, and by 0900 both of us had released a good tarpon. That first day the rest of our crews reported mixed fishing with some boats scoring well on tarpon and sharks, others not doing so well, which the local captains attributed to the crazy weather in the weeks before we arrived. This pattern continued throughout our week but as per usual by the time we headed back up Route One to Miami everyone had experienced a couple of good days, and some outstanding fish were caught.

On another day Andrew and I fished with our old friend Capt. Bill Bassett, who was keen to run us way back to a spot that had been producing an unusually large number of hammerhead sharks, a species he knew I was keen to chalk off my bucket list. During all of the years I have been escorting groups to The Keys only two hammerheads have previously been recorded, so you can imagine I was not overly excited when within the hour I was tight to what clearly was a modest shark.

My first hammerhead shark with Capt. Bill Bassett, just need to find a thresher now...

My first hammerhead shark with Capt. Bill Bassett, just need to find a thresher now…

Thinking it was a lemon, bull, black tip or one of the other more commonly caught sharks, you can imagine my delight when finally a lively little 50lb hammerhead appeared alongside the boat. In total around 8 hammerhead were caught this year, the biggest a monster estimated at 500lb+ caught by Dave Brady. Andrew followed up my success with a decent tiger shark estimated at 400lb, he caught using a Shimano Stella 8000 and four-piece travel popping rod he had brought for tarpon fishing.

Andrew's big tiger shark alongside the boat

Andrew’s big tiger shark alongside the boat

On another day I started off well releasing a 120lb tarpon, closely followed by a 250lb bull shark, then a 150lb bull shark, all within the first hour or so of fishing, while Andrew sat back and watched. Then the tide of luck changed, and Andrew started catching. First off was a truly monstrous sawfish that was easily well over 500lb, and this was followed by a couple of bulls similar to mine in the 150-250lb range. Next came a 100lb+ black tip with Andrew finishing an exceptional run of big fish with a 120lb spinner shark; all on his Stella/spinning rod combo.

Andrew puts his Stella 8000 4-piece rod to the tests: it passed with flying colours!

Andrew puts his Stella 8000 4-piece rod to the test as Capt.Bill prepares to grab the leader: it passed with flying colours!

For the rest of the week Andrew and I concentrated on light tackle sight fishing, with Andrew boating two good bonefish one day, caught casting live prawn to fish cruising in skinny water. Quite a few bonefish were caught by other group members during the week, which is always good to see. On another day a long run back into The Everglades saw me chalk up a release on an 8lb snook on fly. All in all despite less than perfect conditions another decent trip, but we are all thankful we never arrived a week or two early when things would have been really difficult.

Andrew & Capt. Bill pose with a decent bonefish

Andrew & Capt. Bill pose with a decent bonefish

All too soon I was dropping the majority of the group off at Miami airport, leaving just Terry Thomas to join me for cold beer at a local Cuban bar, as the next day we were going fishing for something very different in Miami, after which Terry would fly home, Alison, my wife, would arrive, and I’d continue for another couple of weeks of Florida sunshine; full report in the next blog. For information on fishing in the Florida Keys contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717.

Without a doubt the best fishermen in The Keys; an osprey!

Without a doubt the best sight fishermen in The Keys; an osprey!

COSTA RICA & NICARAGUA MARCH 2015

In my last blog I wrote about my self-guided flats fishing around Boca Paila in the Sián Khan Biosphere, Yucatan, Mexico. I explained how having swum through the narrow mangrove channel that accesses these productive flats I saw a large croc basking at the mouth of that channel, and that later I heard from locals that the area was now deemed very dangerous. Since then I have found a video of a croc attacking a swimmer at the exact same spot; take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jOWGLQ61Ds Over the past few years I have spent an increasing amount of time fishing throughout Central America, a truly fascinating and immensely beautiful part of the world that from my experience boasts some of the very best saltwater sport fishing on the planet. I have just returned from my latest trip during which I fished both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, a most memorable 12 days adventure during which I had the pleasure of introducing my son Luke to the many delights of Latin America.

One of Crocodile Bay Resorts fleet of Strike 33 sports boats heads out to sea.

One of Crocodile Bay Resorts fleet of Strike 33 sports boats heads out to sea.

Luke is not a hard core fisherman, but his fishing CV would match that of many a saltwater angler. Luke caught his first shark off the coast of Co Kerry, Ireland, on his 7th birthday, and closely followed it with his second and then third while the rest of the crew were all incapacitated with sea sickness; young Luke remaining unaffected. He was not much older when he joined me on a trip to Iceland catching numerous large cod and haddock, likewise on several trips to Denmark. Together we have fished for striped bass and bluefish off Nantucket, numerous species throughout Florida, bonefish in The Turks & Caicos Islands and billfish in Kenya. Occasionally we have wetted a line together closer to home, too!

The pool at Crocodile Bay Lodge, Costa Rica.

The pool at Crocodile Bay Lodge, Costa Rica.

For the Costa Rica section of our trip we stayed at the world famous Crocodile Bay Resort, located on the southernmost tip of the ecologically magnificent Osa Peninsula, take a look at http://www.crocodilebay.com For many years this magnificent sport fishing lodge has enjoyed a reputation for offering the highest standard of world class fishing, backed up by five start accommodations, gourmet food and service. It has long been on my bucket list of ‘must visit lodges’, but sadly I have to report that it did not meet my expectations. Why sadly? Well actually it didn’t just meet my expectations but greatly exceeded them at every level, which means that now I am struggling with the ever increasing problem of trying to schedule a return visit back there at the very earliest opportunity.

Hooked up off Osa!

Hooked up off Osa!

For the first couple of days we fished offshore, and despite some very unseasonable wet and windy weather we had our shots at sailfish, and soon enough Luke was hooked up with a fast running, high jumping eighty pounder.

Luke preparing to release a nice Pacific sailfish.

Luke preparing to release a nice Pacific sailfish.

The rest of the fleet were catching, and releasing, several sails per boat per day, along with a few blue marlin, dorado and wahoo; and that was during ‘tough conditions’. In the past I have fished these waters on several other occasions when conditions have been far more favourable, and I can tell you that the blue water action off Osa is truly world class. Trips to Crocodile Bay Resort can be booked through Anglers World Holidays.

Inshore fishing off Osa.

Inshore fishing off Osa.

A nice Pacific jack crevalle caught inshore off the Osa Peninsula

A nice Pacific jack crevalle caught inshore off the Osa Peninsula

Rooster fish are the other big attraction off Pacific Costa Rica, and the rich inshore waters off the Osa Peninsula are one of the very best places to hook up with this most iconic species of sportfish. Numerous roosters, Pez Gallo in Spanish, were caught every day during our all to brief stay, along with plenty of snapper, pompano, tilefish, jacks and several other other species.

Fishing for rooster fish off the Osa Peninsula.

Fishing for rooster fish off the Osa Peninsula.

All too soon we were checking out of this sport fishing paradise for the short flight up to San Jose, a night in town including a great dinner & excess of local rum at the Hard Rock Cafe, and an early morning flight across the border to Nicaragua.

Luke takes the controls for the short 30 minute flight from San Jose to Nicaragua.

Luke takes the controls for the short 30 minute flight from San Jose to Nicaragua.

This was my fifth trip to Nicaragua and my third to Rio Indio Lodge, an amazing jungle lodge that despite its remote location somehow manages to offer an equally high standard of fishing, accommodations, service and food as Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica http://www.therioindiolodge.com . I have stayed at many outstanding fishing lodges all around the world, and Rio Indio is one of my all time favourites.

Rio Indio Lodge; one of my all time favourite fishing locations.

Rio Indio Lodge; one of my all time favourite fishing locations.

Located right in the middle of pristine rain forrest near the confluence of the Rio Indio, ‘Indian River’, and the Rio San Juan, you have the option of fishing both the the inshore waters of the Caribbean plus the plethora of jungle lagoons and back waters: you can read about my past trips to Nicaragua under the ‘Memorable Trips’ section of this site.

Nicaragua certainly ranks within the the worlds top three tarpon destinations.

Nicaragua certainly ranks within the the worlds top three tarpon destinations.

Target species are tarpon, snook and rainbow bass along with numerous other species, both fresh and saltwater. So far as tarpon are concerned I would rate the fishing off the coast of Nicaragua around Rio Indio Lodge as certainly being in the top three tarpon destinations in the world. Undoubtedly Florida offers the most accessible tarpon fishing for European anglers, and in terms of the large numbers and the impressive average size of fish caught in Florida, along with the abundance of outstanding guides, the Sunshine State would probably rank as the worlds greatest all round tarpon fishery.

Luke 140 pounder takes to the air.

Luke’s 140 pounder takes to the air.

Nicaragua, however, offers a completely different tarpon fishing experience. Here you’ll be fishing in a remote and very little fished part of the world, set amidst a National Geographic jungle backdrop. The fish are big and plentiful, and during my three trips to Rio Indio I have never seen another sport fishing boat, other than those based at the lodge.

Tarpon, the worlds number one inshore species of sport fish.

Tarpon, the worlds number one inshore species of sport fish.

To give an example of the high quality of fishing available, one afternoon we fished for less than five hours barely a 15 minute run from the lodge dock. Working a combination of bucktail jigs tipped with various soft plastics and live bait we enjoyed spectacular action. Luke hooked his first tarpon almost immediately, on a Sabiki rig while trying to catch livebait, but the end result was both inevitable and quick. His next fish came on a livebait fished on a circle hook, and following a near thirty minute tussle he had the estimated 130-140lb fish alongside the boat and ready for release. This he followed up with three fish in the 60-80lb class, all caught on jigs, with another very big fish lost due to a straightened hook and two others ‘jumped’. Our pre-dinner rums that night were especially sweet!

Luke & Rito pose with one of the four fish released that special afternoon.

Luke & Rito pose with one of the four fish released that special afternoon.

For the rest of our stay at Rio Indio Lodge we alternated between fishing the jungle for bass and snook, tarpon fishing, and going on escorted walks through the jungle. We witnessed a fascinating selection of wildlife while ‘Rito’, our guide for the week, gave us a fascinating insight into the rich flora and fauna of the region.

Rito holds a jack crevalle, a frequently caught species when targeting tarpon.

Rito holds a jack crevalle, a frequently caught species when targeting tarpon.

Welcome to the jungle! Heading off into the rain forest.

Welcome to the jungle! Heading off into the rain forest.

Luke drinking water from a vine held by Rito.

Luke drinking water from a vine held by Rito.

A colourful poison dart frog.

A colourful poison dart frog.

My first trip to Rio Indio Lodge was in late November, planned to coincide with the annual snook spawning run, which offers outstanding light tackle fishing for large numbers of fish. The last two trips have been in March, the dry season, focussing on the rainbow bass and tarpon run offshore. We have caught tarpon on each and every trip, but everyone at the lodge has insisted that the very best tarpon fishing, and especially fly fishing, is to be experienced during September and October. Last year at this time Rito released a huge fish that when after a two and a half hour fight was finally brought alongside the boat was accurately measured at 110” x 48”, putting it at well over 300lb; a possible world record. Unfortunately the fish was fought by three persons so would not have qualified, and in any case they were unable to get the monster aboard. 200lb fish are ‘regularly’ hooked and especially at this time of the year.

Luke getting to know the locals in San Juan Del Norte, formally Grey Town.

Luke getting to know the locals in San Juan Del Norte, formally Grey Town.

Taling it easy in the jungle!

Taking it easy in the jungle!

Consequently I am planning a trip to coincide with this period for October 2016, a trip during which the emphasis will be focussed on tarpon both in the ocean and jungle. We will be fishing lures and bait, and especially focussing on fly. I am told the winds are very light at this time of the year, and if the stories of the large numbers of fish caught then are only half true, we will be in for some amazing action. If you are interested contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717.

Luke fighting a tarpon; I think he'll be back one day!

Luke fighting a tarpon; I think he’ll be back one day!

MEXICAN BONEFISH

I’ve just returned from a week staying at Tulum, a truly delightful Mexican town conveniently located about a two hour drive south of Cancun and, most importantly, right at the entrance to the Sian Ká-an Biosphere. I first visited and fished the amazingly productive flats located within the biosphere a couple of years ago, a trip during which I enjoyed some superb self guided wade fishing on the white sand flats around Boca Paila, check out my earlier blog.

A nice fish from the Boca Paila flats

A nice fish from the Boca Paila flats

Keen to put a bend in my fly rod I headed down to Boca Paila on the first afternoon of my trip. It was really good to see that the road had recently been regraded, so the trip to the flats from our small hotel was a little over half an hour. The flats were just a beautiful as I had remembered, but a relentless 20 knot north-easterly wind and intermittent cloud cover made spotting bonefish a challenge.

Another self guided bone caught on my albino Gotcha

Another self guided bone caught on my albino Gotcha

I broke off the first fish that ate the fly just as I was lifting off to recast, but throughout the course of the next few days I enjoyed some great fishing, catching as many as three bonefish in a few hours fishing, which was all the more satisfying given the testing conditions. Top fly of the trip was a home tied albino Gotcha, consisting of a wing of white craft fur tied on a size 4 Tiemco 811S hook, with brass eyes and just a minimum of flash. I am sure most of the standard Gotcha and Crazy Charlie patterns would have worked, but once you find a fly that does work, why change?

The successful fly

The successful fly

As before I had to walk through dense mangroves and then swim a short distance through a deep channel to access the best flats inside the lagoon, which was not especially difficult indeed given the relentless heat was actually enjoyable. One afternoon as I returned to my hire car I spotted a group of tourists on the Boca Paila bridge clearly excited as they watched something in the water. Thinking it was probably a manatee I strolled up with my camera, just in time to watch a 12-15ft saltwater crocodile ease its bulk from a sandbar into a deep channel; the channel I had just swam through barely 100 yards upstream!

The channels at Boca Paila, nopt a great place for a swim!

The channels at Boca Paila, not a great place for a swim!

Enquiries at the hotel confirmed that yes, recently at least three crocodiles had moved into the area, and one guide I spoke to confirmed that a few months previous a local fisherman had been killed by one. As you can imagine that kind of took the edge of my self-guided swim/wade trips on the flats. Alison was with me when the guide offered this news, also adding that signs had been erected to warn of the dangers of crocodiles, but that they had been removed. “Why don’t you book a guide for a day instead”, she suggested, “I can spend the day enjoying the beach and the hotel spa”? Well, if you insist my darling!

Eduardo with my first fish of the day.

Eduardo with my first fish of the day.

The following morning I met Capt. Eduardo Gomez who guides for Sian Ká-an Fly Fishing, and we set off on what turned out to be one of the most enjoyable days fly fishing for bonefish I have ever experienced. Eduardo clearly knew the plethora of flats and mangrove islands within the biosphere with an intimacy that can only come from many years of first hand experience. With great skill he consistently positioned the boat in the optimum position to provide shelter from the worse of the wind, the best angle of light to spot fish and, most importantly given the strong wind, give me the best shot to cast my fly.

Another great bonefish caught with Capt Eduardo Gomez

Another great bonefish caught with Capt Eduardo Gomez

We caught fish at a steady rate throughout the day, beautiful bonefish fish with a respectable average size of between 2-4lb. Mostly we found them in small groups of two, three or four fish, frequently tailing in shallow water. It was a day of classic sight fishing for bonefish, and my nine hours passed in no time at all. This experience alone is enough to ensure I will be returning to Mexico to fish the Sian Ká-an biosphere at the earliest possible opportunity. For more information contact Sian Ká-an Fly Fishing on Tel: +521 9841845871 or email: bambi_020@hotmail.com

This is one area where you really can combine some first class fishing with a great family vacation. There’s lots of things for all of the family to do, with several historic Mayan sites located within a short distance, one of the nicest being right on the coast at Tulum itself. Downtown Tulum has loads of small funky hotels, we stayed at and recommend the perfectly located Hip Hotel: http://www.hiphoteltulum.com The hotel has a good restaurant, and there is a great choice of places to eat out or sample the local tequila, all within easy walking distance.

Last one to the top buys the donuts!

Last one to the top buys the donuts!

Watch out for the local tequila, it does strange things to your head!

Watch out for the local tequila, it does strange things to your head!

The beautiful Mayan ruins site at Tulum

The beautiful Mayan ruins site at Tulum

A good quality pair of sun glasses are an essential item of equipment for any flats trip, and over the years I have tried most of the best quality brands available. I am a huge fan of Costa Del Mar glasses and this trip I wore my new Costa Permit green mirror glasses, which are fitted with Costa’s industry leading 580 glass lenses. As I have said at times given the prevailing conditions spotting fish was a challenge, and I am absolutely convinced that on this trip those sunglasses helped me spot fish I certainly would not have seen had I been wearing some of my other polarised glasses. If you are planning a trip to the flats be sure to check out these and other glasses in the extensive Costa range fitted with 580 lenses. For more information visit: https://www.costadelmar.com

My Costa Del Mar Permit sun glasses: amazing!

My Costa Del Mar Permit sun glasses: amazing!

BRITISH COLUMBIA SALMON & HALIBUT

Just added the full article I wrote following last years excellent trip to fish off the coast of British Columbia with Doug Olander, editor of American based Sport Fishing Magazine. You’ll find it under the Memorable Trips section of this sight or by clicking: http://davelewisfishing.com/memorable-trips-2/canada-bc-salmon-halibut/ http://www.sportfishingmag.com/gallery/2015/02/double-shot-salmon

One of many chinook salmon caught on this amazing trip.

One of many chinook salmon caught on this amazing trip.

Check out the trip photo gallery published on the Sport Fishing website by clicking on the link. This really was one of the most memorable trips I have been fortunate enough to have undertaken in recent years, certainly a lives ambition fulfilled. I can’t wait to go back, & I am planning on taking a few groups to fish this spectacular fishery for Anglers World Holidays. If you would like to join us contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717.

Also, for more information on general vacations in British Columbia, perfect for all of the family, visit:

http://www.hellobc.com

Another big halibut caught on a Storm jig.

Another big halibut caught on a Storm jig.

PANAMA JANUARY 2015

Rooster fish, ‘Pez Gallo’, are widely regarded as being one of the worlds great species of inshore gamefish. Distributed on the Pacific coast of central and South America between Mexico and northern Peru, Panama is widely regarded as being one of the very best places to hook up with one of these fast running, hard fighting and most beautiful species of fish. Paradise Fishing Lodge, located in Chiriqui District northern Panama, is just a short run from Coiba National Marine Park, which consists of Coiba, the largest island in Central America, and 37 surrounding islands. I had previously been told that if you want to catch rooster fish, lots of rooster fish, big rooster fish, then this is the area to fish. Now, having just spent a week fishing there, all I can say is that my intel was absolutely correct.

One of several 30-40lb roosters caught during the trip.

One of several 30-40lb roosters caught during the trip.

Prior to this trip I had caught a fair few roosters over the years during previous trips to Costa Rica and Panama, but never a really good one, say a fish over 40lb. Well, when we returned to the dock at the end of our first day I had personally boated, and released, 3 fine roosters for an aggregate weight of 100lb, individually estimated at weighing 20lb, 35lb and 45lb; I was delighted. Further, my two boat companions, Derek ‘Del’ Elliott and Ray Jennings had both boated there first roosters.

'Del' with the best fish of the trip, a 55lb+ rooster.

‘Del’ with the best fish of the trip, a 55lb+ rooster.

Releasing a great rooster fish.

Releasing a great rooster fish.

Relaxing at the lodges pool bar, snacking on tasty tuna bake appetisers while ‘rehydrating’ on ice cold bottles of Balboa, we soon learned that everyone of our group of 11 had enjoyed a great day, almost all having released at least one rooster. The two most popular techniques of catching rooster fish in these waters are either popping, or very slow trolling using livebaits, usually blue runners. I found my Shimano 20-30lb SpeedMaster STC 4-Piece, Talica 16 combo loaded with Power Pro was the perfect combination for live baiting using 7/0 Owner circle hooks. Also my new Shimano Wild Romance STC Pelagic Offshore 4-piece popping rod with Twin Power 10000, again loaded with Power Pro, was perfect for casting the small to medium size poppers and stick baits we mostly used.

My best rooster of the trip, estimated at 40-45lb.

My best rooster of the trip, estimated at 40-45lb.

Of course it wasn’t just rooster fish we caught, these rich waters teem with a wide variety of different species. Over the course of our week a good number of cubera snapper to an estimated 60lb were caught, along with plenty of bluefin trevally, Pacific jack crevalle and horse eye jacks, again both on live baits and lures. Even more variety came by way of mullet snapper, African pompano, sierra mackerel, several species of shark, yellowfin tuna, amberjack, bonito and a few others. Black marlin and sailfish were caught offshore every day we fished.

A brace of nice cubera snapper for Del & Ray.

A brace of nice cubera snapper for Del & Ray.

By the end of the week everyone had released rooster fish, with bragging rights for the best fish of the trip going to ‘Del’, with a stunning 55lb+ fish he boated using a stick bait. I was stood alongside him as this fine fish was hoisted aboard, and I think my right eardrum has just about recovered! The following day I witnessed John Phillips hook and almost boat an even bigger rooster. This fish had taken a live 4lb bonito and John almost had it at the boat when it threw the hook. It was easily 60lb+, and I managed to catch the look of shock on John’s face at the exact moment to hook pulled! Luckily John went on the boat a 40lb cubera and a nice African pompano along with plenty of other fish.

Nice mullet snapper for Simon Powell.

Nice mullet snapper for Simon Powell.

Ray fights a good rooster off Coiba Island.

Ray fights a good rooster off Coiba Island.

The moment John lost his monster rooster!

The moment John lost his monster rooster!

John's 40lb+ cubera snapper.

John’s 40lb+ cubera snapper.

And a great African pompano caught on a stick bait.

And a great African pompano caught on a stick bait.

Originally we had planned a possible return visit to Panama for early 2017, but it wasn’t long into this trip before we started kicking around options for an earlier trip. Consequently plans for trips booked to other destinations in the early part of 2016 have been put on hold, and we will be returning to Panama Fishing Lodge in February next year. As things stand it looks very much as if this trip, max 12 fishing three per boat, is full, but if you think you might like to join us or would like to book a private trip to this truly world class operation, I suggest you contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717 ASAP. For more information on the lodge visit: http://paradisefishinglodge.com The last time I blogged I ended with a short review of the new Buff light weight fishing gloves, which are perfect for fly fishing and general protection from the sun. This trip I tried out the heavier duty version of these gloves, designed for regular casting with finger slicing braided lines. Finished in an eye catching dorado pattern, these gloves feature extra padding just where you need it for casting protection, while providing excellent grip and extremely useful patches of toweling that are perfect for wiping sweat and sun cream out of your eyes while fighting big fish.

The new Buff heavy duty, SPF protecting, fishing gloves.

The new Buff heavy duty, SPF protecting, fishing gloves.

Perfect for safely handling fish.

Perfect for safely handling fish.

Fleet of large, fast, spacious & comfortable sport fishing boats based at Paradise Fishing Lodge.

Fleet of large, fast, spacious & comfortable sport fishing boats based at Paradise Fishing Lodge.

The perfect place to end a tough day on the water...

The perfect place to end a tough day on the water…

And don't forget to maintain your fluid levels!

And don’t forget to maintain your fluid levels!

DSC_0488

See you next year!

They are perfect for safely handling strong fish, most of which have either spikes, spines, sharp teeth or all three. One tip, after handling fish in the tropics remember to wash them out thoroughly before packing . I didn’t and the resulting smell in my luggage was unbelievable, as the DEA sniffer dogs at the airport would be able to testify! For more information on these and the wide range of other Buff products visit: http://www.buffwear.co.uk

BELIZE FLY FISHING

Just back from my latest trip to Belize, seven days fly fishing based at ‘Clive’s Place’, Monkey River, Toledo District, in the southern part of that most beautiful country. The weather when we arrived was absolutely perfect, but we were warned things were set to change and that we should make the most of our fishing on the first few days, which is exactly what we did.

One of an estimated 50 bonefish caught on the first day

One of an estimated 50 bonefish caught on the first day

Andrew & George stalk a small school of bonefish on Nicholas Caye

Andrew & George stalk a small school of bonefish on Nicholas Caye

Day one I fished my lifelong friend Andrew Leaves and, as always, local guide George Garbutt, who over the years has also become a very good friend. This was Andrew’s first real attempt at fly fishing for bonefish, and I was keen for him to experience the truly superlative sight fishing Belize is rightly famous for. We started off out on the Sapodilla Cayes, Nicholas Caye to be precise, and it wasn’t long before Andrew was sporting an ear to ear grin as his first fly hooked bonefish rapidly zipped the fly line out through the rod rings. We had a great day and by the time we hit the dock back at Monkey River between us we estimated we had caught around 50 bonefish between 1-3lb, plus a few other bits and pieces, including two strong trigger fish to my fly rod.

George poles Andrew across the flats at Ranguana

George poles Andrew across the flats at Ranguana

Day two we ran north to Tarpon Caye to fish for tarpon, and it wasn’t long before we were casting to cruising and rolling fish up to about 50lb. We had a few fish follow our flies but could not get any to eat, other than one fish that smashed violently at my fly and rather than inhaling it knocked it aside in a bulge of water. After a few hours we ran south to Ranguana Caye, and it wasn’t long before once again we were both catch plenty of nice bonefish up to 3lb+. Ranguana is a tiny caye yet it sports a few huts offering overnight accommodation and a small bar, perfect for a thirst quenching Belikin beer or two at the end of a great day on the water.

A cold Belikin, the perfect end to a 'tough' day on the flats

A cold Belikin, the perfect end to a ‘tough’ day on the flats

Casting to a bonefish off Ranguana

Casting to a bonefish off Ranguana

As promised on day three we woke to a freshening breeze and a heavy sky that promised rain. No chance of getting out to the Sapodilla Cayes, we elected to work the plethora of channels, lagoons and secluded mangrove backwaters that extend north from Monkey River up towards Placencia. I love this sort of challenging fishing, fishing that involves accurately casting flies, lures or baits right under the mangroves, often to laid up or rolling fish. As things turned out the weather was not too bad, and by the end of the day I had released two small tarpon and a snook on fly, with Andrew boating 5 nice snook caught on a lure.

Fly caught snook

Fly caught snook

Small tarpon caught on fly near Placencia

Small tarpon caught on fly near Placencia

Days four and five were tough, wet and windy and while a few odd fish were caught there’s nothing much to report, other than the fact that the weather is it’s own boss and there’s really not a whole lot you can do about it.

Another nice fly caught snook

Another nice fly caught snook

Day six dawned with broken cloud and a much lighter winds, so we elected to run offshore to the Sapodilla’s to catch more bonefish while conditions held. It’s a 22 mile run from Monkey River, 22 miles of butt slamming, spray drenching discomfort, given the prevailing conditions, but at least once we reached the flats conditions were comfortable. At first fishing was tough, the previous days of strong wind and heavy rain had coloured the normally crystal clear water, and appeared to have pushed the bonefish out of shallow water. Until the sun got high enough sight fishing was next to impossible, but when conditions did improve George quickly found us some fish. Once again we were both soon hooked up to fast running bonefish, along with various jacks and some very nice yellow tail and Lane snapper added variety.

Working the mangroves for snook & tarpon

Working the mangroves for snook & tarpon

A nice Belize bonefish caught on a heavy 'Gotcha' variant.

A nice Belize bonefish caught on a heavy ‘Gotcha’ variant.

Day seven, out last day, once again looked like being wet and windy, so we stayed inshore. I boated a couple more small tarpon and a nice horse eye jack and Andrew had a tarpon, all on fly, so a good end to the week. When we got back to Monkey River Ray Jennings and Dave Brady, two of our group of five, soon followed us in with beaming smiles that told of a great day on the water. Right at the death in the last hour of the trip fishing just five minutes from the lodge they had caught the best trophy fish caught during the entire week, a fine brace of snook weighing 13 and 14lb respectively. They made an excellent last night dinner!

Ray & Dave fishing Monkey River for snook.

Ray & Dave fishing Monkey River for snook.

A fine pair, no I'm talking about the fish!

A fine pair, no not Ray & Dave, the fish!

For many years I have been a huge fan of ‘Buff’ headwear, which are the perfect garment to wear in the tropics to protect against the sun and ever present lip cracking winds. Obviously the affects and risks of repeated exposure to UV rays are well known, and aside from the face it is your hands that often get too much sun.

Buff UV protective gloves

Buff UV protective gloves

This trip I got to trial a new pair of UV protective fishing gloves from Buff, which aside from offering sun protection ensure a firm grip on the rod and protect your stripping finger from constant abrasion with the fly line. They were very comfortable to wear and absolutely perfect for what they are designed for, I highly recommend them. For more information on these and the full range of Buff products visit: http://www.buffwear.co.uk

Perfect for fly fishing the tropics

Perfect for fly fishing the tropics

Of course I will be returning to Belize in the near future, and if you think you might be interested in joining me for what undoubtedly is the best value flats fishing anywhere in the Caribbean, contact Anglers World holidays on Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://www.anglersworld.tv

Tools of the trade, a favourite fly reel: Ari T Hart Mach III custom bonefish

Tools of the trade, a favourite fly reel: Ari T Hart Mach III custom bonefish, Sage RPL+ 7wt combo

Welcome to the jungle!

Welcome to the jungle, mangrove fishing in Belize!