Not long back from another hugely successful group trip to Puerto Rico, once again fishing with Caribbean Fishing Adventures and based at The Tarpons Nest Lodge. Six days fishing during which everyone caught plenty of tarpon, biggest fish landed was over 100lb but MUCH bigger fish were lost! Bait fishing this year was incredible, lots of 30-60lb ‘user friendly’ size fish. Trips to this amazing tarpon and snook destination can be booked from the UK with Anglers World Holidays Tel: 01246 221717. Get in touch if you would like to join me on the next trip!
Just back from my latest trip to one of my all time favourite destinations: Belize. I had the pleasure of spending a week with my son, Luke, on one of our regular ‘dads n’ lads’ trips away together, and as always we had an absolute blast.
This was Luke’s first trip to Belize and I wanted to show him as much of what this most beautiful and peaceful Central American country has to offer, as I possibly could. I had booked three days fishing with me great friend George Garbutt, one of the very best guides I have ever had the privilege of fishing with. Luke, now 28, caught his first bonefish fishing with me in the Turks and Caicos Islands when he was just 7 years old, casting jigs into vast schools of fish. The objective this trip was to catch a few on fly sight fishing over shallow water flats, and on our first day within minutes of starting to fish George had him hooked up with a fast running fish, one of a bunch we caught that day.
Throughout the rest of the three fishing days we had a great time chasing baby tarpon in various inland rivers and creeks, and Luke caught some great mutton snapper and barracuda on lures. Aside from fishing our days with George included plenty of swimming and snorkelling over coral reefs, jungle walks and a lot of simply enjoying being out on the water together watching dolphin, manatees and countless species of birds.
On our last day we booked a trip to visit the Mayan ruins at Nom Li Punit Archaeological Reserve in the far south of the country, not far from the border with neighbouring Guatemala. This was a great opportunity for Luke to get a good look at the country as well as try some great Belizean street food, Taco Bell eat your heart out!
We also visited idyllic Blue Creek where we got to swim into a vast system of limestone caves, climbing several fast flowing waterfalls. That was physically demanding enough for a 57 year old dad but Luke relished the challenge, and given the chance he would have gone straight back in for another go! Each evening during the week I took Luke to my favourite waterside bars in Placencia, where over many chilled Belikin beers and generously poured local rum n’ cokes he got to experience the genuine Caribbean vibe. It was certainly a most memorable trip that was over all too soon, and we are already starting to plan our next trip together.
Costa Rica has long been one of my all time favourite angling destinations. This idyllic Central American country is amazingly beautiful and safe to visit, it’s a country that really does have something to offer for everyone. On this latest trip I travelled along with five other anglers to Samara, a small and mostly underdeveloped town just south of Nicoya, Guanacaste Province, in the north of the country.
We were scheduled for six days fishing, but there is no hiding from the fact that the trip started badly. On day one we woke to find heavy cloud cover and steady rain, conditions that not only persisted but throughout the day got progressively worse. The rain, which we were told had been all but continual throughout the previous week, had heavily coloured the inshore waters around the reefs we fished to the north of Samara, where we caught precisely nothing. Luckily a move offshore soon located cleaner water, and a switch to trolling lures produced some very nice sized dorado.
On day two our boat decided to fish well offshore hoping for a shot at a marlin or sailfish, but this proved to be a waste of time with just a few dorado and small tuna saving us from a blank. Once again the weather was poor and as we punched our way back to the beach through increasingly heavy seas and torrential rain, I was starting to think that we were in for a very tough trip. However when we got back to the hotel where we were based we were greeted with the encouraging news that the other boat in our group had found clear water inshore by running south, and as a result had caught some very nice fish, including a 40lb plus roosterfish for Andrew Leaves.
Day three we enjoyed our breakfast under clear blue skies, and the mercury was already well on the rise by the time we boarded our respective boats a little after 7 in the morning. As we headed out of the bay in which Samara is located we soon spotted large shoals of surface feeding tuna and bonito, which provided as much sport as we wanted on small casting jigs fished on light tackle. And the day just got better and better. By the time we returned to Samara that afternoon we had caught around half a dozen very nice roosters, a bunch of jacks, and several more bragging size dorado.
On day four the fishing was incredible. For me it was one of those days when whatever I tried worked, and worked well. I personally boated three roosters, all caught on surface poppers, best fish around 30lb, plus numerous jacks and small tuna. I also caught a stunning 30-40lb dorado that inhaled the casting jig I had been using right at the rod tip. That fishes first run, one of several, ripped more than 200 yards of line from the reel.
The fishing throughout the remainder of the trip was equally productive, indeed it got even better for dorado. On the fifth morning we located a weed line that included several large trees, and the sea in the area was thick with feeding dorado. By 10 in the morning the three of us fishing on our boat had already caught in excess of 20 dorado in the 10-25lb class. Throughout that day we located several dense bait balls of brown minnows that were being demolished by feeding frenzy of roosters, jacks, small tuna, Sierra mackerel and dorado. Any lure that was cast in the vicinity of these bait balls was immediately smashed by whichever species managed to grab it first. It was a truly awesome sight.
That afternoon as we headed back towards Samara we came across a whale shark. It was totally unperturbed by our presence and after several minutes watching this incredible animal swim around the boat I could contain myself no longer, and I stripped off and dived in and swam down to it. It wasn’t the slightest bit bothered by my presence, even allowing me to gently stroke one of its fins; what an experience.
Our sixth and final day was another cracker. Plenty of dorado, roosters, tuna and as many jacks as we wanted to catch. Around lunchtime we located a few large bait balls that were being harassed by a shoal of well in excess of 1000 jacks. We could have caught as many of these as we wanted, but settled for a couple of dozen before moving on to try something different.
Samara is one of the most exciting Central American destinations I have had the privilege to fish, and I can’t wait to return. Unlike many other areas of Costa Rica this remote area remains largely undeveloped, with as yet minimal sport fishing pressure. During numerous previous trips to Costa Rica never have I seen so many roosterfish, with at times up to half a dozen fish chasing the lure right back to the boat. The standard of fishing for these most prized of inshore game fish was so good we barely tried fishing for other species such a cuberra and grouper, and I know that given the right conditions the offshore fishing for billfish and tuna is incredible.
If you would like to join me on a hosted trip to Samara or arrange a private trip, contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel; 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv
I have now been proudly associated with AFTCO performance sport fishing clothing for two years. During this time I have used their incredibly well made state of the art products to fish under a variety of testing conditions, and both I and the numerous crews whom I have given samples to trial have had nothing other than great things to say about the brand. Not only do AFTCO products look great, but they really are supremely comfortable and provide excellent protection from the elements when fishing. For more information visit: https://aftco.com
In April 2004 myself and Steve Humpherson became the first British anglers to fish at Skjervoy Fish Camp, which is located in the Troms district of Arctic Norway. I remember the weather during that trip was beautiful, with clear skies, hardly a breath of wind and brilliantly intense sunshine illuminating the amazing mountainous scenery that was covered in a thick blanket of snow. Fishing with local skipper Knut Arne Mikalsen aboard his commercial boat Skarungen, plus on our own aboard the camps fleet of small open aluminium boats, we caught plenty of cod to well over 30lb, along with the usual variety of other species.
The first article I wrote about that trip appeared a few months later in Sea Angler Magazine, and immediately the phone lines at Anglers World Holidays started to ring; and barely have they stopped since as Skjervoy has evolved into the most talked about and popular camp in Norway. Anglers World Holidays alone having sent many thousands of anglers to fish there.
Over the years the fleet of self drive boats gradually evolved from the original small ‘tinnies’ into larger alloy boats, and then the ever popular Arvors with their cabins and inboard diesel engines. Each year from April until the end of September these boats have been used and often abused, day in day out, by countless anglers, many of whom have no or little boat handling experience. Not surprisingly both the boats and the cabins eventually started to look a tad neglected, with some of the camp managers have been more efficient than others at addressing various issues as and when they occurred. Realising that standards were not as high as they would like the camp owners have recently appointed both a new manager and a permanent on site maintenance man, both of whom live locally. Each of the 8 main cabins and the apartments has or will have undergone a thorough make over by the start of the 2018 season, and that is not all.
Skjervoy Fish Camp has ordered 10 amazing Jeanneau Merry Fisher Marlin 795 boats, each of which is powered by an incredible 115hp Yamaha 4-Stroke outboard. I have long been a fan of the Jeanneau range, so much so that were I ever to consider buying another boat for my own use I would be surprised if I purchased anything other than a Jeanneau. All of the Jeanneau range I have trialled have handled beautifully in a wide range of varying sea conditions, and the Marlin range in particular are absolutely perfect for fishing from.
In October this year I made what I believe was my tenth visit to Skjervoy to see for myself how the cabins have been upgraded, and spend three days fishing aboard a Jeanneau Marlin demonstrator. As luck would have it the weather was perfect, allowing me to make the run out to a few favourite banks and reefs located off the mouth of the Kvaengan Fjord and off the northern shoreline of the neighbouring island of Arnoy.
The fishing I experienced was very good, especially considering this was past the end of the traditional season. We caught plenty of cod including several specimens weighing up to mid-twenties, plus a few other species including a mackerel: what was that doing over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle in October? Other highlights included fine displays of the northern lights on two nights.
On our last but one day we bumped into Knut Arne Mikalsen at the local super market. Knut is now a Coastal Pilot assisting ships to safely navigate the tricky waters off the northern Norwegian coast. Luckily he was currently on leave and was very easily persuaded to join us for our last days fishing. It was the perfect end to a most enjoyable yet all-too-short trip to one of my favourite parts of the world.
Bookings for Skjervoy Fish Camp in the UK are made through Anglers World Holidays Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv/sea-fishing/norway/troms-region/ Here you will find plenty of information, including a couple of instructional videos we have made over the years.
After numerousl long haul trips already this year I am starting to appreciate short haul flights. In my last blog post I wrote about a bluefin tuna fishing tournament I had fished at Beaulieu Sur Mer in the south of France, a short drive from Nice which is less than a two hour flight from Bristol. A few weeks later I was again seated in the departure lounge at Bristol Airport, this time waiting for a similarly short hop with Easy Jet down to Barcelona, Spain. The flight went like clockwork, and a couple of hours after landing we arrived at our base for the trip, Riumar, a small holiday town located at the mouth of the River Ebro.
The news on arrival from our host Ron Niewwboer was both good and bad. That day Ron’s clients from his native Holland had boated three very nice bluefin tuna in the 80-140lb class, and he had confirmed that there were a lot of fish around: this was the good news. The bad news was that the weather forecast for our all-too-short three fishing trip was bad, very bad, so much so that Ron had to rush off to relocate one of his boats at a marina on the opposite side of the bay, which he hoped would provide some shelter from the unseasonably strong offshore winds that were forecast for the next day. As it turned out that was a very smart move, a great decision that absolutely saved what could easily have been a total bust of a trip.
Sure enough the following day we woke to find the wind rattling the trees in front of our villa, and the bay in front of Riumar was flecked with white caps for as far as the eye could see. We met Ron after breakfast and he told us that the wind was forecast to ease by lunchtime, and that he was confident we could get out, albeit inshore. A few hours later we did manage to go fishing but in all honesty it was little more than a token effort, which resulted in nothing more exciting than a couple of small stingray.
Day two also dawned with strong winds, but every forecast we checked was confident things would settle down appreciably by midday. So once again we slipped out of the sheltered marina, and headed out into the Mediterranean hoping to reach an area that had been especially productive in recent weeks.
For the first few miles we slogged our way through horrible seas, but gradually as we progressed into deeper water conditions had started to improve, just as forecast. By early afternoon the wind had eased considerably, and eventually we had reached the area about 12 miles offshore Ron had hoped to fish. Most anglers who fish here use spinning or jigging tackle to target tuna, but the conditions were totally against this. Consequently we fished on the drift, and started chumming with a steady stream of chunks of sardines. A pair of larger scad were rigged as hooked baits and were suspended beneath balloon floats to fish within the chum trail .
There were plenty of birds in the area and we were confident there were fish around, and sure enough after about an hour of drifting one of the balloons suddenly disappeared beneath the surface, the rod bent, and line started screaming off the reel: fish on! I grabbed the rod and did my best to attach myself to a badly fitting harness rig, and eventually brought the first tuna of the trip alongside the boat. A nice fish that Ron estimated at weighing around 45kg,100lb, about average for the area we were fishing. After a quick photo session the fish was released, as all tuna are.
It was immediately apparent that the second fished I hooked was considerably bigger than the first. Several long blistering runs preceded the usual circling deep within the water column beneath the boat, which is so characteristic of all of the tuna species. Luckily I was using tackle that was up to the job, and the better part of 50lb of drag applied courtesy of a Shimano Tiagra 80 meant that a little under 15 minutes after hook up Ron grabbed the leader. Between us we somehow managed to pull the big tuna over the side of the boat whereupon it slammed down onto the deck with a loud thud, as if someone had dropped a sack of cement. Clearly this was a new personal best bluefin tuna for me. She measured 2.01m, which computes to a fish of around 140kg, 308lb; I was delighted!
On our third and sadly final day at Riumar the wind increased to the point where our only option was to troll inside the lower reaches of the River Ebro, hoping for one of the many bluefish or big leerfish that are caught here earlier in the year, especially in April and May. It was an enjoyable though fruitless couple of hours, but thankfully Ruimar has plenty of excellent restaurants where regardless of wind strength a great lunch or dinner can be guaranteed. And so ended my first but certainly not my last trip to Riumar, a full report of which will appear in Sea Angler Magazine very soon…
Trips to Ruimar to fish with Ron Niewwboer at Roned Sportfishing can be organised through Anglers World Holidays. In addition to those species mentioned, dorado are abundant during September and October, and huge wells catfish weighing over 100lb are caught in the River Ebro not far upriver from Riumar. For more details contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv
I first fished at the idyllic coastal town of Beaulieu Sur Mer 10 years ago, when I enjoyed a great days offshore fishing for bluefin tuna with my good friend Patrice Garziglia. Patrice runs his excellent charter boat Papeete II, and is widely recognised as being one of the very best, and certainly most experienced charter skippers in the south of France. You can see more about the wonderful fishing he offers on his website here: https://www.med-sportfishing.com
That day we caught several very nice tuna, and I was keen to get back for more, especially for a shot at the bigger fish that run at certain times of the year, not to mention an occasional spearfish or white marlin. Despite several invitations for a return trip it wasn’t until this year that finally I was able to fly to Nice on the Cote D’ Azur and make the short journey east to Beaulieu, which is situated right on the border with neighbouring Monaco.
Patrice had invited me to judge this years submissions at the Second Beaulieu Sur Mer Festival of International Sport Fishing Films, which was held on the Friday night, then compete in the bluefin tuna tournament that was held over the weekend.
With traditional French style and panache the event kicked off with an open air reception at the harbour, where guests indulged in a seemingly never ending flow of Ricard, wine and other aperitifs. I savoured the atmosphere talking fish and fishing with friends old and new, often to the accompaniment of the guttural roar of a passing Ferrari or Maserati. Then, after the sun had set, we relocated to an open air theatre set atop a low cliff over looking the harbour, to view this years submissions.
There were many excellent films featuring sport fishing for a wide variety of different species at locations all around the world, but when the time to vote arrived it was the most amazing film ‘Tuna Fly Fishing in France,’ by Gregory Dollet, that got my vote along with my fellow judges and most of the audience, and ultimately won first prize.
Next morning competitors in the fishing tournament reconvened back at the harbour at 6’O’clock for a traditional French breakfast consisting of copious quantities of hot coffee, served with either freshly baked croissants or pan chocolate, or both. Then we boarded one of the 16 boats competing in the tournament, for the run offshore to the fishing grounds.
I was fishing with another old friend, Antoine Drochon, whom I first met many years ago in The Maldives. Antoine, who started his career crewing for Patrice, is now the full time skipper on a ‘Pulp Fiction’ a truly phenomenal Boat Whaler Outrage 350 powered by three 300hp Mercury outboards, which propel her at speeds in excess of 50mph.
The tournament was points based, with tuna measuring more than 60cm scoring two points, and those measuring more than 115cm worth five points. When we started trolling it did not take long for the first strike, at which point one of the team grabbed the rod and fought the hooked fish, while the remainder attempted additional hook ups from other fish in the school by either casting surface lures of jigging. A full report of the actual fishing will appear in Sea Angler Magazine very soon, suffice to say that our catch of 10 fish, all released, scored a winning 20 points. Quite incredible really, my first blue water tournament and I was part of the winning team; needless to say I have now retired from fishing competitively!
Aside from excellent weather and first class fishing, highlights of the day included seeing several huge sperm and fin whales on the surface at very close quarters, along with many dolphin, manta rays and even free swimming blue sharks.
During the event I got to meet Philippe Guigo and his legendary father, who set up the excellent Antibes sport fishing shop Guigo Marine, take a look at http://en.guigomarine.com Also I met Stephane Miller, owner of the equally impressive emporium of all things sport fishing, Peche Xtreme, take a look at: http://www.pechextreme.com/en/ Both of these shops stock a truly incredible selection of big game, popping and jigging equipment. If you want it, they’ll stock it, why not check them out…
Unfortunately the wind forecast for the Sunday forced the organising committee to cancel the second days fishing, so the presentation of prizes and tournament dinner were brought forward to the Saturday night, which coincided with a memorable concert by blues slide guitarist ‘Catfish Keith’. http://www.catfishkeith.com
As you will have gathered I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The weather was beautiful, the food outstanding, the drinks free flowing, great music, and the entire event went by with the panache and style the French are rightly so famous for. I am already looking forward to next year, when I might just be tempted to come out of tournament fishing retirement, rejoin team Pulp Fiction, and do my bit to defend our title!
For the past three years I have received an invitation to fish Panama’s remote and unbelievably beautiful ‘Wild Coast’, from my good friend Doug Olander. Doug, editor of the excellent American based Sport Fishing Magazine, is a keen kayaker and Panama Kayak Adventures, with whom we would be fishing, specialise on inshore fishing aboard state of the art Hobie kayaks. For the first two years prior commitments have meant I have been unable to accept the offer, but this year the trip coincided with a free week, which in early June saw me arriving at Panama City.
Early the next morning, 0330 early, we set off on a six hour mini bus drive to meet Pascal Artieda, our host and the owner of Panama Kayak Adventures. When finally we arrived at out our departure point, a remote beach 20-30 miles west of Pedasi, the weather was far from perfect. We were greeted with a heavily overcast sky spitting rain and a sloppy swell washing the beach, conditions that would set the theme for the week.
Undeterred we loaded our mountain of equipment onto a couple of pangas and headed a further one hour west to Tembladera Lodge, a rustic camp set amidst a back drop of dense jungle at the entrance to Cerro Hoya Nation Park. Accommodation here is basic yet entirely adequate, while the food and standard of service is better than that I have experienced during previous trips to other more ‘substantial’ operations around the world.
When we arrived at the beach immediately in front of the lodge, the size of the swell crashing onto the black volcanic sands posed a big problem. Basically landing there was simply too hazardous, so our panga captain ran us to a small rocky cover several hundred yards to the west, where still the swell and waves were crashing wildly against the coast. At first I could not see what his game plan was, but what followed was probably the finest example of small boat handling in rough seas I have ever been privileged to witness. Spinning the boat around he reversed the panga into a narrow rocky gully that was barely wider than our beam, all the time displaying a confidence and level of skill that really had to be witnessed to be fully appreciated: it was an awesome experience.
The weather the next day was not much better but we set off regardless and eventually launched the kayaks into a messy sea, a few hundreds yards from a rocky headland that was being smashed by a huge Pacific swell. Three kayaks were launched and Doug, along with Brad Genter and Rob Sherman, the remainder of our crew, set off.
And me? Well my previous kayak experience is slightly above zero and this and a seriously painful lower back resulted in me staying aboard the panga for the day and, indeed, the rest of the trip. After all I had the choice, spend the day seated aboard a small piece of plastic, or fishing from my own personal panga; what would you have done!
Starting off casting a large stick bait I was soon tight to my first fish of the trip, which quickly came off. A few casts later produced another violent strike, which resulted in a solid hook up and ultimately a very nice Pacific jack crevalle. Pound for pound these hard fighting and for some obscure oft decried game fish are the equal of any GT, or indeed other trevally/jack species, if only they grew to a similar size!
Throughout the week we enjoyed a mix of weather that ranged from thoroughly nasty to absolutely perfect, and invariably included everything else in between aside from snow! The fishing was mostly good, occasionally very good, but the ever changing weather frequently restricted where and when we could fish. June is the early part of the main rainy season in Panama but we were experienced the kind of weather more typically associated with much later in the year.
A huge variety of fish were caught, including plenty of jacks, crevalle and horse eye, numerous stunning bluefin trevally, rainbow runners, Sierra mackerel, various species of snapper and grouper, amberjack, pompano, yellowfin tuna, bonito and black skipjack tuna and sharks along with several others. We even had a sailfish attack a popper just a few hundred yards off the rocks.
Of course the two definitive species targeted along this coastline are the iconic and totally stunning rooster fish, and the mighty cuberra snapper, and several of both species were caught each day. I happily boated a couple of roosters, a fish I never tire of catching, the largest a barely average 12-15lb, with the biggest ‘pez gallo’ being a hefty 50lb+ slab caught by Brad. Fish of the week for me was a monster cuberra of over 60lb that inhaled a live blue runner, then proceeded to try its best to bust me off in the reef. A new personal best for this species, it is always a pleasure to release such fantastic game fish in the hope of encountering them once again some time in the future.
Panama Kayak Adventures can be contacted at http://www.panamakayakadventure.com/index.html. They certainly offer exceptional value for money, and I hope to fish with them again one day soon.
Anglers World Holidays offer fishing at several other camps in Panama, to which I occasionally host trips. For more information Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv
Whether or not you agree that global warming is starting to have an impact on our climate there can be little doubt that increasingly normal, seasonable global weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable. From my own observations travelling and fishing around the world I would say that unseasonably strong winds are becoming a problem, along with an almost complete reversal of wet and dry seasons at some tropical locations.
I have just returned from my annual trip to Belize, a much anticipated trip to one of the worlds truly great flats fishing destinations where we target tarpon, bonefish, permit and snook. Typically May is an especially hot month with generally light winds and little if any rain, but this was far from the case this year. On several days strong wind meant we were unable to reach our favourite offshore cayes and flats, and when we did get out heavy cloud cover often made effective sight fishing at best problematic. We also experienced several exceptionally heavy rain showers. All in all the weather was more what you would expect in November, rather than May.
That said we fished hard every day, and during our six days fishing we steadily amassed a decent enough tally of fish. May marks the end of the main flats fishing season in Belize, by which time most of the well known areas will have been given an almost daily pounding with fly rods. Consequently the bonefish at this time of the year are at best ‘spooky,’ and some fish can be bordering on the uncatchable.
A few years back I tied a rather nondescript tan fly, a subtle variation of the Crazy Charlie, which I found worked especially well for hard fished bonefish in The Cayman Islands. Thankfully one of our group, Del Elliot, had packed a few of these flies, which I named ‘Pretty Alison’s’, and when he tried them experienced instant success.
They were tied on a size 6 or 4 hook with a body and tail consisting of peacock hearl, a clear rib as with the classic Charlie pattern, and a sparse wing of tan calf tail. I tie Pretty Alison’s both with and without bead eyes, and on this trip those flies without eyes, the skinny water version, seemed to work best. My assumption is that the fish had become wary of flies displaying too much flash?
The snook fishing we experienced in the rivers was very good, and we had great sport with these and baby tarpon using flies such as the ever successful Clouser Minnows and large surface poppers. We caught several rarely seen swordspine snook on fly, a first for me. Permit were present in decent numbers on most flats, offshore and inshore, and we had plenty of solid shots at tailing fish, but no eats on fly; nothing unusual there!
Tarpon fishing this time last year was exceptional, this year it was extremely tough. Plenty of fish were around, perhaps not as many as usual, but those tarpon we cast to were extremely reluctant to eat a fly. The guides were convinced that the unsettled weather we were experiencing caused by the passing of a near continual succession of low pressure systems had put the fish off the feed, and from previous experience I feel this is highly likely.
Several of our group were happy to fish bait and lures, and when doing so they did catch large numbers of fish including bonefish, permit, big jacks, barracuda, snapper along with a multitude of other species.
I have now fished in Belize on 6 occasions, three times in May, and three times at the very start of the season in November. In November we typically experience a day or two disruption due to weather, but on those days when we do manage to get offshore to fish the flats and reefs the bone fishing in particular has been nothing short of incredible, and we have always seen a lot of permit. At this time of the year inshore there are plenty of snook and small tarpon throughout the jungle rivers and mangrove systems along the mainland, so we expect to fish, and catch fish, every day.
After discussing next years trip with our guides we have made the decision to schedule next years trip in November. Certainly we will be extremely unlucky if the weather impacts upon this trip more than it did this year, but we know that on those days when the sun does shine down from a clear blue sky and the flats are ruffled with a gentle 5-15mph north-easterly breeze, we can expect plenty of shots at tailing fish resulting in bent rods and screaming reels!
Already I have several names confirmed for this trip, along with our return to Puerto Rica for tarpon, most likely in May. If you are interested in either of these trips contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv
This year was the forth in a row I have fished the stunning expanse of flats and mangrove islands found throughout the Sian Ka’an Biosphere on the Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Once again the fishing was excellent though at times conditions were challenging, with a constant strong to very strong north easterly wind making accurate casting tough, and occasional clouds blocking good light to spot fish.
However such is the dynamic of the area with it’s hard white sand flats along with plenty of opportunities for finding a lee shore behind which to cast when the wind was gusting at its strongest, you are always going to get shots at fish.
When it comes to sight fishing for bonefish in skinny water The Yucatan must rank as one of the worlds great fly fisheries with plenty of bonefish, along with permit, tarpon, snook and jacks. The bonefish are typically small to medium size fish averaging around 2-3lb, but you will get daily shots at larger fish. Usually you’ll be casting at individual fish or small groups consisting of just two or three, occasionally more, so a reasonably accurate cast is necessary, which is precisely why so many anglers love sight fishing tropical flats.
I fished a total of four full days with my good friend Eduardo Gomez. Eduardo is based at Boca Paila at the once famous though sadly now deserted Boca Paila Lodge. He has fished the area for 45 years so yes, he knows it like the back of his hand. Regardless of the state or size of tide, current angle of light or strength of wind, Eduardo will always find you a fish to cast your fly at.
We saw permit on each day and I got several good shots at fish, with predictable results. On the last day we found a small permit feeding alongside a few bonefish in a sheltered bay, but despite looking at my Gotcha variant fly once or twice it refused to eat. I quickly changed to a small brown crab that produced a similar result. With the fish still hanging around and displaying a confidence that is totally unusual for the species, I changed the fly again, this time to a small white, swimming crab. First cast and the permit was confidently swimming over to investigate the fly when a group of small perch, a type of mojara, mobbed the fly and spoiled the presentation.
I cast again, and once again the permit responded and this time it beat the greedy perch to the fly, and inhaled it. I stripped the line tight and set the hook into what should have been my second permit on fly, but the 12lb tippet snapped like cotton. When I reeled in to inspect the tippet I discovered the last inch of line had been trashed by the small sharp teeth of those perch just the cast before. My next trip is to Belize in a few weeks time, a destination where I know I’ll get more shots at permit; in between targeting tarpon!
You can contact Eduardo Gomez via his son Nestor on email at: firstname.lastname@example.org Boca Paila is a short drive south of Tulum, which is under an hours drive south from Playa Del Carmen and under two hours from resorts nearer Cancun, so this is a great opportunity for indulging in a days fish during a family holiday to these popular destinations. There are many excellent small boutique hotels and guest houses at Tulum, along with many great restaurants. We stay at The Hip Hotel, two minutes from the entrance to Sian Ka’an. http://www.hiphoteltulum.com
I have just returned from my second trip fishing for freshwater dorado in northern Argentina. Several years had passed since my previous trip, which at the time I thought would have been a one off. Well finally the lure of outstanding Argentinian steaks washed down by copious quantities of robust Malbec wine, a near perfect climate with mostly hot and sunny days followed by cool evenings and, of course, the most amazing fishing had proved too much.
Our group of eight had flown direct with British Airways to Buenos Airways from London Heathrow, where we had spent two full days enjoying and relaxing in this wonderful city, before taking an overnight coach to San Isoro. It’s a ten hour trip, but the coaches are superb featuring airline business class style seating, food and drink served on board and, of course, toilet facilities. Arriving around six at a dusty roadside halt, we were met and transported the short distance to our base for the week Dorado Cuá Lodge; just in time for breakfast, followed by a full mornings fishing.
Located in Corrientes Province, gaucho country, right in the heart of the Iberian Wetlands, the area around the lodge consists of a vast complex of shallow lagoons, all of which are interconnected by a couple of small rivers along with countless miles of narrow, reed fringed channels. During my previous visit the water throughout the entire system had been crystal clear, but stepping aboard my boat that first morning I quickly noted it was heavily coloured, which I was told was the result of heavy rain the previous weeks. Thankfully this had not seriously affected the fishing.
This trip I had decided I would concentrate exclusively on fly fishing, and when I hooked and landed a modest dorado on my very first cast of the trip, any doubts that I might have had about not packing a spinning outfit were soon forgotten. Once again the fishing we experienced was excellent. On the second day I hooked a monster dorado, a fish of at least 12-14lb,possibly bigger, but the boats landing was more appropriate for securing a 2lb grayling on the Derbyshire Dove rather than a toothy South American predator weighing well into double figures. Three times Alfredo, my guide, had the leader secure in his hand, the big fish thrashing alongside the boat, until the inevitable happened and the fish spat the hook depriving me of the photo of a fish of a lifetime. The solid estimated 9lb+ fish I caught just an hour or two later was some consolation for that lost opportunity.
During the week everyone caught dorado, with most of the group catching very good fish in the region of 8-10lb, along with several other much bigger fish lost for various reasons that included straightened hooks and snapped lines. Aside from dorado, this trip we caught a lot of different species including both golden and black piranha, red tailed barracuda, a fish called a ‘boga’ that looks like a cross between a carp and and mullet, catfish, and several others I have yet to identify, but all of which had teeth.
The ideal outfit is a 9-10wt fly rod, which is necessary to cast the big flies you need, most of which feature heavy lead eyes. Not surprisingly in the coloured water dark flies worked best, especially those with lots of black and purple. For obvious reasons, a short wire leader is essential. Take plenty of flies, you’ll need them, most last no more than two or three strikes before they are stripped back to just the bare hook!
My trip was arranged by Anglers World Holidays, whom you can contact on Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv I am planning a return trip most likely in about two years time, by which time I should just about have finished digesting the huge amount of steak I consumed last week! Get in touch with me or Anglers World Holidays if you think you might be interested in joining us…