DESTINATION BEAULIEU SUR MER!

 

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.

DSCN4939

‘PULP FICTION’, THE AMAZING BOSTON WHALER OUTRAGE 350 I FISHED ABOARD DURING THE TOURNAMENT

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.

DSC_0065

BLUEFIN TUNA, OUR TARGET SPECIES.

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.

DSC_0032

AND WE’RE OFF. 900hp DOING THEIR THING!

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.

DSCN4951

LET THE SHOW BEGIN, ONE OF THE ENTRIES IN THE 2nd BEAULIEU SUR MER INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF SPORT FISHING FILMS.

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.

DSC_0002

MORNING COFFEE ABOARD PAPEETE II, THE BEST START OF THE DAY!

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.

DSC_0118

FISH ON! HOOKED UP TO ONE OF THREE BLUEFIN TUNA I BOATED ON A CASTING JIG.

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!

DSC_0132

ANOTHER 2 POINTS SAFELY IN THE NET!

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.

DSC_0172

THERE SHE BLOWS! ONE OF SEVERAL SPERM WHALES WE ENCOUNTERED DURING THE DAY.

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

DSCN4982

TEAM PULP FICTION, THIS YEARS OVERALL WINNERS WITH 20 POINTS.

DSCN5000 (1)

WITH MY GOOD FRIEND PATRICE GARZIGLIA; HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT YEAR CAPTAIN!

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!

DSCN4989

SLIDE BLUES GUITARIST CATFISH KEITH, STRUMMING HIS STUFF ON A SATURDAY NIGHT IN BEAULIEU SUR MER!

 

DESTINATION PANAMA:

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.

DSC_0065

The Doug Olander school of knot tying excellence is officially convened!

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.

DSCN4910

Throughout our week we did experience an occasional ‘shower!’

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.

DSC_0068

Tropical paradise!

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.

DSC_0038

Fancy running into that gully in reverse? In this image it actually looks a lot calmer than it was.

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.

DSCN4823

I think we need a bigger boat!

DSC_0279

Safety is always paramount when fishing afloat, but never more so than aboard a kayak. Icom waterproof hand held VHF radios are widely regarded as being the industry standard.

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!

DSCN4895

And todays plan is…?

DSC_0307

Kayak or panga, what would you do?

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!

DSCN4831

First fish of the trip, a nice Pacific jack crevalle.

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.

DSC_0073

Good morning Panama! Thankfully we did enjoy some good weather.

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.

DSC_0349

A pompano for Brad.

DSC_0124

And a nice rooster.

DSC_0252

Pascal Artieda with one a many bluefin trevally we caught.

DSC_0301

Sierra mackerel, aka ceviche!

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.

DSC_0327

I love rooster fish!

DSC_0225

A new personal best cuberra snapper, 60lb plus of angry muscle and teeth!

DSC_0234

Releasing a nice cuberra snapper.

DSC_0246

The last thing many small fish get to see!

DSC_0386

And yet another nice one for Brad.

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.

DSC_0188

Hooked up in Panama! Why not give it a go?

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

DESTINATION BELIZE!

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.

DSCN4638

Andrew Leaves casting a fly for tarpon & snook at Money River, Belize, under the watchful eye of George Garbutt.

DSCN4690

A stunning snook.

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.

DSC_0039

The eyes of a great guide; priceless!

DSCN4793

Bonefish selfie!

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.DSCN4719

DSCN4769

I never tire of catching bonefish on fly.

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.

DSCN4779

The Pretty Alison!

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?

DSCN4712

My great friend and outstanding guide George Garbutt, loving his new Costa’s!

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!

DSCN4614

One of several rarely seen swordspine snook we caught on fly.

DSCN4694

Snook selfie!

DSCN4660

Large popper, small snook!

DSCN4710

My Clouser got chewed!

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.

DSCN4617

Andrew Leaves working a likely spot for snook.

DSCN4677

Thats a better fish!

DSCN4683

A very nice fly caught snook for Andrew.

DSC_0041

And one on a lure for Dave Brady.

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.

DSCN4783

Dave Brady & Terry Thomas fishing Monkey River.

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.

DSC_0050

Tools of the trade!

DSCN4717

Do you think Andrew Likes A.F.T.C.O. product? 10 out of 10 for colour coordination!

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!

DSC_0072

“Yeah Mon!” I always look forward to fishing with George Garbutt, you’ll find him on Face Book.

DSC_0068

Well protected from the sun, and bugs!

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

DSC_0080

Tough work, but someones got to do it!

ENDS:

DESTINATION MEXICO!

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.

DSC_0013

One of my favourite species of fish, bonefish!

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.

DSC_0085

Eduardo Gomez looking for fish at Sian Ka’an.

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.

DSCN4611

Eduardo with a great bone!

DSC_0075

And another one…

DSCN4591

Eduardo with one of several jack caught on fly, these guys pull!

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.

DSC_0068

One of my home tied Gotcha variants. I include rubber Sili Legs to add some movement, and small Hareline Dubbin Inc. Pseudo Eyes to sink the fly quickly in front of fast cruising fish.

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.

DSC_0024

You’ve never got enough bonefish flies! My go to box plus my favourite Thomas & Thomas Horizon 8wt, Tibor Everglades bonefish outfit.

DSC_0019

One of the bonefish I caught during the trip.

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!

DSC_0051

Lunch was great!

You can contact Eduardo Gomez via his son Nestor on email at: monsrealcr7@gmail.com 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

DSCN4487

Cenote diving, the perfect way to clear your head after a heavy night sampling local tequila! Yes, that’s me!!!

DESTINATION ARGENTINA!

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.

DSC_0128

ARGENTINA IS HOME TO THE SEDUCTIVE TANGO

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.

DSC_0014

FRESHWATER DORADO, UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF THE WORLDS GREAT SPECIES OF GAME FISH.

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.

DSC_0268

MY GUIDE, ALFREDO, HOLDS ONE OF MANY FISH WE CAUGHT ON FLY.

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.

DSC_0126

ALMOST 10lb OF PURE ARGENTINIAN GOLD!

DSC_0311

ANDREW LEAVES WITH AN 8LB DORADO

DSC_0058

Dr JOHN SHERVINGTON WITH A GREAT FISH!

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.

DSC_0083

ANDREW LEAVES WITH A CARP/MULLET CROSS CALLED A ‘BOGA’

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!

DSC_0010

WATCH YOUR FINGERS!

DSC_0527

FISH ON! ANDREW LEAVES SETS THE HOOK ON YET ANOTHER DORADO

DSC_0139

THERE’S A GAUCHO IN MY SWIM!

DSC_0241

DORADO FLY BEFORE USE.

DSC_0479

DORADO FLY BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER USE!

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…

DSC_0432

SEE YOU NEXT TIME!

DESTINATION PUERTO RICO!

What an amazing sport fishing destination Puerto Rico is! I have just returned from my first, and certainly not last, visit to this historic and immensely beautiful Caribbean island, which I am certain ranks as being both the closest and the best value tarpon and snook fishery anywhere for British anglers.

dsc_0072

Andrew Leaves and Terry Thomas working their fly rods along a productive mangrove edge in one of the lagoons.

I first heard about the Tarpon Nest Lodge and their sister company Caribbean Fishing Adventures through my good friend Doug Olander, editor of US based Sport Fishing Magazine http://www.sportfishingmag.com. Doug has fished here on several occasions, and based on his solid and always reliable recommendation I eagerly organised the first group of visiting British anglers; and what a week we had!

dsc_0246

The closest mark, just two minutes from the lodge, is located at the end of the airport runway!

Let me start off by listing just a few positives about choosing Puerto Rico as a destination. Firstly British anglers now have a direct flight into San Juan from London Gatwick. This flight is not only around an hour shorter than flights to Miami, but also it is considerably cheaper. Progress through customs and baggage reclaim on arrival at San Juan was seamless, and the lodge is located less than 15 minute drive from the terminal building.

dsc_0024

Capt. Angel Muntaner hold one of many small to medium size tarpon we caught during our week.

All guests at The Tarpons Nest get a single room. The boats are located right at the lodge, and are operated by first class, highly experienced English speaking guides. The closest areas we fished were less than a two minute run from the lodge dock, pretty much at the end of the airport runway! Finally, within a five minute walk you have a great selection of local bars and eating establishments where on some nights we ate truly tremendous, freshly cooked food for less than $5 per person, yes you did read correctly, less than $5 per person!

dsc_0027

One of many fly caught snook I landed during the week.

The fishing is almost exclusively for tarpon and snook, fly, lure or bait. Occasionally jacks and snapper make an appearance, and if you venture out into the open ocean you can add a few other species. You fish within an extensive and very sheltered system of inter-connected tidal lagoons and mangrove channels that both fringe and extend to well within the urban environment of the city itself, creating a truly unique and varied fishery. One minute you are watching an iguana basking in the sunshine from its precarious perch on a mangrove tree, the next you are ducking your head as you pass under a low road bridge next to Burger King, with police sirens wailing above you. If you need fresh baits, there are plenty of locals throwing casting nets who are more than happy to supply live perch.

dsc_0100

Strip, strip, strip…SET!

Our group concentrated mostly on fly fishing, and both tarpon and snook were caught on fly every day we fished. During the week everyone caught several tarpon on fly. Nowhere have I seen more snook, during the trip catching upwards of a dozen fish in the 1-3lb range per session on fly was a formality and much bigger fish are present, a few were hooked and lost.

dsc_0186

Small tarpon are a lot of fun on a fly rod!

Tarpon are the main attraction here for most visiting anglers and there were tarpon everywhere, frequently rolling seductively on the surface. Most fish we encountered were in the 3-10lb range, perfect 8wt fly rod size fish, but we all hooked much bigger fish in the 20-60lb range, some of which were landed successfully with others lost, so be sure to pack a 10wt. My best fly caught tarpon was a modest 40lb fish that engulfed my home tied EP Minnow fly in an explosive take, before cartwheeling around around the lagoon in an impressive series of head sharking jumps. During the week the biggest caught on fly was a solid 50-60lb fish landed by my good friend Andrew Leaves. The biggest fish caught on bait was an estimated 120lb specimen landed by Harmohan Khanna, and each day we saw numerous much bigger fish.

dsc_0290

Duck or Grouse!

img_0624

Andrew Leaves with an estimated 50-60lb fly caught tarpon, I think he is pleased with his fish!

dsc_0206

Capt. Angel Muntaner and Harmohan Khanna with a solid 20lb fly caught tarpon.

The fishing day is split into two 4-hour sessions, organised to coincide with prime bite times at dawn and dusk. The morning session is 0600- 1000, followed by a swim, an early lunch and siesta in your private air conditioned room, before heading back out at 1430 to fish until 1830. Thats an 8-hour day, during which I estimate you actually get to fish a minimum of 7-hours, possibly more.

dscn4391

One of my home tied EP Minnow that were very successful during the trip.

dsc_0326

I don’t think he is quite ready yet Capt. Angel!

dsc_0145

Puerto Rican bait shop.

Fishing aside Puerto Rico has much to offer the general tourist, with beautiful beaches, rain forests, numerous historic and natural sites and attractions, including the spectacular ‘Old San Juan’ town. You’ll find great shopping in several enormous American style indoor malls, making it the perfect location for non-fishing partners. On this trip I spent 10-days on vacation with my wife, then she flew home on the flight the group I hosted arrived.

dscn4408

You can never be sure whom you might bump into in Old San Juan!

Trips to Puerto Rico to fish with Caribbean Fishing Adventures based at The Tarpons Nest are now arranged in the UK by Anglers World Holidays. For more details Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv During this trip we shot a video, for which I will include a link as soon as it has been edited. Click here to watch the video!: http://anglersworld.tv/sea-fishing/puerto-rico/

dsc_0220

My favourite Abel Super 9 reel and Thomas & Thomas 10wt rod, rigged with a purple cockroach; a classic tarpon fly.

Since its launch in August sales of my latest book, Destination Angler, have been incredible, with around 250 of the first edition of just 350 signed, numbered hardback copies already gone. If you would like a copy get in touch by email, david.lewis21@hotmail.com it would make a great Christmas present for anyone with aspirations to fish in far flung places!DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET 1DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET 2

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE!

I love fishing in Central America, especially in Nicaragua, and especially at the magnificent Rio Indio Lodge, where I was based last week with a group of 8 friends. Statistically we had booked the very best week of the fall tarpon run and should have had numerous shots at big fish each day, but unfortunately hurricane Matthew put the spoiler on that. At one stage this intense low pressure system was based just 300 miles to the east of us, off the coast of Venezuela, and while we experienced mostly bright and sunny weather with very little wind, the ground swell was enormous. This and and the very air low pressure clearly affected the fishing in the ocean.

dsc_0024

Jungle fishing!

dsc_0067

Paul Bowen and Phil Byrne fishing for bass

Several tarpon were caught and several others were lost, I managed a beautiful fish estimated at 130lb on the last day, which made my trip.

dsc_0302

Hook up!

dsc_0311

A very nice last day fish.

dsc_0330

Rosendo, my guide for the week, holds my fish prior to release

The beauty with a trip based at Rio Indio Lodge is that when the ocean is inaccessible you can alway fish within the jungle, which is an amazing experience. The very best months for this are February through April, the end of the dry season when the water levels within the jungle are at their lowest. October is the end of the wet season and far from ideal for targeting most jungle species, but the guides do know several areas that can and do produce fish in high water conditions, and that’s where we fished.

dsc_0163

Access to some of the more remote lagoons can be an issue, requiring attention with a machete!

On one or two days we enjoyed excellent fishing amidst pristine jungle, in areas rarely if ever visited. We caught some great rainbow bass, aka guapote. One day myself and boat partner Andrew Leaves boated 17, including many over 4lb, the biggest probably close to 6lb.

dsc_0055

Andrew with a fine rainbow bass.

dsc_0210

And another one…

dsc_0198

One of 17 rainbow bass all caught during one day lure fishing.

In addition to rainbow bass most days produced a few high jumping machaca and colourful mojara, along with one or two snook and a few other species, all of which fight hard when hooked on lures using light tackle.

dsc_0267

A nice lure caught machaca, think chub with teeth!

dsc_0021

One of several lure caught mojara.

dsc_0087

Spinner baits such as this are perfect for most jungle species, and are very effective in thick cover as they are virtually snag free when fished amidst dense cover.

The lodge itself was, as always, truly outstanding with first class accommodation and amazing food, not to mention a free rum bar stocked with my favourite Flor de Cana 7-year rum. This was my 6th trip to Nicaragua, my 4th to Rio Indio Lodge, and I know just how good the tarpon fishing can be in what is now officially Central America’s safest country. I am already looking forward to my next trip there.

dsc_0136

A trio of white faced monkeys, common in the area we fished along with howler and spider monkeys.

dsc_0110

Thats lunch sorted!

Nicaragua is featured in my new book, Destination Angler, get in touch if you would like to order a copy. For more information on fishing here visit http://therioindiolodge.com Trips can be booked through Anglers World Holidays Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv All of my scheduled group trips for 2017 are now fully booked, and we are starting to plan group trips for 2018. These will certainly include several destinations throughout Central America, get in touch if you would like to join us.DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET 1DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET 2

DESTINATION OUTER MONGOLIA!

Towards the end of last year I was offered the opportunity to host a small group consisting of just myself and four other anglers on an exploratory trip to fish a remote river in central Mongolia. The iconic taiman that country is most famous for were not present in this particular river, I was told, we would be fishing for lenok trout and the huge numbers of Mongolian grayling that were. I love fly fishing for trout and grayling and being in a part of the world I had never visited I jumped at the opportunity.

dscn4256

One of many lenok trout caught during the trip.

The trip was grueling, to say the least. A four hour flight from London Heathrow to Istanbul for a six hour lay over, followed by another four hour flight to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, with time for a couple of much needed cold beers-don’t ask me what they were called! Next came a third near six hour flight to Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, for an overnight stop over at a city centre hotel.

dsc_0001

The impressive parliament building in central Ulan Bator.

The following morning we set off on an 11 hour drive in 4 x 4 vehicles, the first 6 hours on open roads through some of the most desolate and sparsely inhabited terrain I have ever experienced. The last five hours of our adventure involved an arduous off road drive though wild and mountainous countryside, and when I say off road I mean OFF road! We had to ford numerous rivers, the water often lapping above the door cills, and covered vast tracks of ground through which we had to inch our way at painfully slow, back jarring speeds in the lowest gears. When we got to the camp that evening we were all eternally thankful we had thought to bring a bottle or two of our favourite tipple; they were much needed!

dsc_0017

We started with a long 6 hour drive through remote and sparsely populate wilderness…

dsc_0120

Followed by 5 hours of extreme off road driving.

If we had thought the previous days off road experience had been extreme, the following morning we were in for a something of a shock. The trip to the river and back involved a one hour trek in a battered old ex-soviet 4×4 minibus, which transported us through vast boulder fields, over steep and hilly ground and though fast flowing rivers; that a mini bus could make such a journey simply defied belief.

dsc_0592

The ex-Soviet 4×4 mini bus that took us to the river each day.

Finally two days after setting off from home I pulled on a set of chest waders, rigged up my 5wt fly road, tied on a bushy floating hopper fly and stepped into a freezing, crystal clear river in the heart of central Asia; and started catching fish.

dscn4178

One of countless grayling I caught during the trip.

dscn4172

And another one, note the deer hair hopper fly.

The fishing was outstanding. Most days we could catch as many grayling as we wanted, I averaged between 30-50 fish a day, along with good numbers of lenok. As the days unfolded we got to learn the most productive spots throughout the river to target lenok, as well as the fact that by using a seriously huge foam bodied hopper fly that the grayling could not eat, we could more effectively target this most unique species of trout.

dscn4190

A large foam bodied hopper fly, very effective for lenok.

dscn4181

Jeff Smith holds a very nice lenok.

We got to visit several family groups of nomadic yak herders, who invariably invited us into their Yurts for a cup of warm yak milk, a taste of warm yak butter, a nibble at a hard piece of yak cheese that was invariably washed down by a blood warming glass of yak vodka; yes, yak vodka. Back at our camp we stayed in identical yurts that were basic in the extreme yet entirely functional. Most evenings we dined on some part of either a yak or a sheep.

dsc_0463

Family of nomadic yak herders in their yurt.

dsc_0344

Terry Thomas enjoys a cup of warm Yak milk.

This was one of the most amazing travel/fishing experiences I have ever had, certainly one which for me was a one off. Anglers World Holidays can arrange trips to this most amazing destination, Tel 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv. Yes it’s a tough trip, a very tough trip that certainly will not suit everyone, but I assure you if you follow in our foot steps you will experience amazing fly fishing in one of the most remote and memorable destinations on the planet.

dsc_0142

Home for the week, my personal yurt!

dsc_0448

A yak herder leads his horses across the river.

dsc_0309

Saul Roberts casting a line in Mongolia.

Almost half of the first signed, numbered limited edition of my latest book, Destination Angler, have already been sold. The reviews and feed back I have received from those who have bought the book have been amazing. Destination Angler is available directly from myself, or exclusively through Farlows of Pall Mall and Sportfish at Reading or Hereford. If you would like a copy get in touch: david.lewis21@hotmail.com

dscn4326

Bank side lunch, yes they are yak steaks!

dsc_0410

Dave Nevatt fishing a beautiful pool for lenok and grayling.

DESTINATION ANGLER-NOW OUT!

DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET:DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKETMy latest book, Destination Angler now available. If you would like a signed copy contact me via email at: david.lewis21@hotmail.com Cost is £30 plus £2.99 UK P&P, payment via Pay Pal or cheques. Oversea postage will be charged at cost.

The book consists of 26 chapters, including a forward by Chris Tarrant, and introduction by Mel Russ, retired editor of Sea Angler Magazine. All colour & high quality printing in the UK, minimum of 6 x images per chapter.

Techniques covered, in essay format, pretty much everything, including lots of tropical popping & jigging, fly fishing, trolling, live baiting etc, etc. Mostly saltwater, 5 chapters are based in fresh water. Hope you like it!

Chapters include: Florida-tarpon; Kenya-swordfish, blue marlin & mako shark; Norway-giant cod; Cape Cod & NYC-striped bass; Tanzania-tigerfish; Costa Rica-rooster & sailfish; Namibia-sharks from beach; River Zambezi in Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe & Botswana-tigerfish; Turks & Caicos Islands-bonefish; Mozambique-giant trevally & sharks from beach; Argentina-freshwater dorado; Madagascar-sailfish, giant & yellowspot trevally; The Maldives-giant trevally, dogtooth tuna & Napoleon wrasse; Lake Victoria-Nile perch; Belize-bonefish, permit & tarpon; Uganda-Nile perch; Canada-salmon at sea; Cape Verde Islands-1000lb+ blue marlin & wahoo; Andaman Islands-GT’s & dogtooth; South Africa-black marlin & dorado; Panama-roosterfish, amberjack, cubera snapper; Morocco-European bass; Sierra Leone-barracuda with Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden; Sri Lanka-GT’s & kingfish; Mexico, bonefish, tarpon & permit:

DESTINATION ANGLER!

My latest book, Destination Angler, will be on sale in August, & already I am getting a lot of requests for pre-orders. If you would like to reserve a copy please contact me ASAP & I will add you to the list. Cost will be £30 plus £2.99 UK P&P. The book consists of 26 chapters, including a forward by Chris Tarrant, and introduction by Mel Russ, retired editor of Sea Angler Magazine. All colour & high quality printing in the UK, minimum of 6 x images per chapter. Techniques covered, in essay format, pretty much everything, including lots of tropical popping & jigging, fly fishing, trolling, live baiting etc, etc. Mostly saltwater, 5 chapters are based in fresh water. Hope you like it!

DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET:DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET

Chapters include: Florida-tarpon; Kenya-swordfish, blue marlin & mako shark; Norway-giant cod; Cape Cod & NYC-striped bass; Tanzania-tigerfish; Costa Rica-rooster & sailfish; Namibia-sharks from beach; River Zambezi in Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe & Botswana-tigerfish; Turks & Caicos Islands-bonefish; Mozambique-giant trevally & sharks from beach; Argentina-freshwater dorado; Madagascar-sailfish, giant & yellowspot trevally; The Maldives-giant trevally, dogtooth tuna & Napoleon wrasse; Lake Victoria-Nile perch; Belize-bonefish, permit & tarpon; Uganda-Nile perch; Canada-salmon at sea; Cape Verde Islands-1000lb+ blue marlin & wahoo; Andaman Islands-GT’s & dogtooth; South Africa-black marlin & dorado; Panama-roosterfish, amberjack, cubera snapper; Morocco-European bass; Sierra Leone-barracuda with Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden; Sri Lanka-GT’s & kingfish; Mexico, bonefish, tarpon & permit:

DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET 2DAVE LEWIS DUSTJACKET 1