Dec 2nd, 2013 by Charles Gehr
Available Dates: call for availability
Discount Rate = $3,375/person for a 7 night / 6 day package (regular rate = $4,500!)
Dec 2nd, 2013 by Charles Gehr
Available Dates: call for availability
Discount Rate = $3,375/person for a 7 night / 6 day package (regular rate = $4,500!)
Nov 27th, 2013 by Charles Gehr
Available Dates: January 4 – 11; January 11 – 18; March 15 – 22; March 22 – 29; March 29 – April 5; April 5 – 12 (call us for potential additional dates)
Discount Rate = US$4,000/person for a 7 night / 6 day package, based on double occupancy (regular rate = $5,700!)
This the smallest, least expensive and hardest fishing lodge on the river and for these reasons it has always been one of our favorites Their section of the river is referred to as “The Heart of the River” and encompasses roughly four miles of prime pools and runs between two key spawning tributaries, the Onas and the Menendez. The Onas also provides great resident trout fishing as well as solid sea run fishing in the event of high water on the Rio Grande. Year in and year out, this remains some of the most consistent and productive water on the Rio Grande. When it comes to great food, great guides, long hours on the water and solid numbers of fish that typically average 12 pounds, this is the place.
Give us a call at 800-552-2729 to reserve your spot!
Nov 27th, 2013 by Charles Gehr
Available Dates: March 29 – April 5; April 5 – 12
Discount Rate = US$3,950/person for a 6 night / 5.5 day package, based on double occupancy (regular rate = $4,950!)
Simply put, this high dessert sink lake is the most prolific trophy rainbow trout fishery in the world. During the prime months of November-January and again in later March and early April, catch rates are very high and the average fish typically weights about ten pounds. Twenty fish per person per day is not uncommon and fish topping 20 pounds are caught most weeks. These fish are very fat and very strong. The region is desolate and can be very windy. The ride in is borderline brutal with the last 20KM taking at least three hours, but once the first fish is hooked, your forget the ride. The Loop camp sits right on the best water and is simple, solid and good fun. If you like to catch lots of huge super charged rainbows, this is the ultimate venue.
Call Ken at 800-552-2729 to take advantage of this great offer!
“According to longtime angler Rob Brown the Skeena River drainage is “the last bastion of wild steelhead.” This film examines the value of the Skeena River and its fish, and the steadily growing risks it faces to development and energy transportation proposals. The energy industry is vital to Canada’s economic strength, and the Northern Gateway Pipeline project would use parts of the Skeena as a corridor to reach new global markets. This said, there is also immense value in the diverse ecosystems and wilderness that make up the Skeena.”
-Produced, filmed & edited by Dimitri Gammer
From our Friends at Fly Castaway: St Brandon and Farquhar opening week reports
St Brandon’s Blog: Sept 28 – 10 Oct 10: 2013
We could not have asked for better group of anglers to start the much anticipated 2013/2014 season. Our good friends Dick and Ron from Hawaii along with their friends Camillo, Juan and Jeronimo from Columbia had booked the Gryphon for an extended 10 day trip and we were determined to make sure we gave it our all. Day one was spent sampling some of the incredible Bonefishing St Brandon’s is so renowned for. Fish after fish poured onto the flats as the tide slowly surged forward and by the end of the day it was clear we were going to experience some special fishing. We had only just started and had already landed fish up to 9lbs….this sort of fishing can only happen on St Brandon’s. The GTs too also made an early appearance. Dick managed to hook three monster fish in one brief session, sadly though luck was not on his side and all three escaped prematurely. Although not renowned for large numbers, this atoll produces fish of enormous size and we are really starting to get a handle on their movements and where to expect them. Now St. Brandon’s is widely accepted as THE Bonefish destination however the world class Permit fishing is often undervalued. Guests eager to accept this species’ challenges can have multiple shots each day on St B and so we were eager to accept the challenge when the group said Permit was high on their bucket list. At the end of each day, over an icy cold beverage, chatter amongst the guests and guides revolved around Permit. Tailing Permit, cruising Permit, shoals of Permit, fly patterns, leader material, fly placement etc….it seemed everyone on board had been struck by ‘Permit Fever’. The question was, would lady luck smile on us?
Dick was the first to reach fly fishing nirvana by hooking and landing his first St Brandon’s Permit, a gorgeous fish of 15lbs which put up an extremely impressive fight. Congrats Dick! Juan really stepped up the following day with an absolutely magic cast and set the hook on a fish which would have weighed between 15 – 20lb. Sadly though after an impressive fight and the fish near beaten one final mishap and everything went quiet….guide and angler speechless! Dick quickly picked up morale by landing a nice fish, nothing monstrous but after 30 minutes of changing position and fly patterns, valuable none the less. But we were far from done and Jeronimo reinforced why St Brandon’s is such a special destination. His tally on one day included some Bones, the biggest weighing 9lb, a Yellow Dot Trevally, a Bluefin Trevally, a Golden Trevally and to top it all off a monster 17lb Indo Pacific Permit. What a day…congrats Jeronimo!
The ‘Boneyard’ was also firing big time and due to the numbers of Bones present, we kept bumping into some monstrous GT’s looking for a sizeable Bonefish snack. Now if you call a tan brush fly a snack, you were in luck. Camillo had exactly that and landed a trophy 100cm GT. Well done Camillo! A day later Juan hooked an absolute brute of a GT and after fighting it with precision for 30 mins we thought we had it beat. Sadly with one final effort the fish tore off and the 130lb parted. It felt like someone had just ridden over my dog. We were gutted but what a fish and what a fight!
Each morning we continued to cast to and land Bones up to 9lbs in ankle-deep water, later turning our attention to the Permit and then the GT’s and the very large Bluefin which were present. Ron showed the pulling power of his 9wt and landed 3 Bluefin during the trip, the biggest reaching the 15lbs mark…a truly special fish!
Our last day arrived and with it one final opportunity for something special. Jeronimo opened the score card with a 10lbs Bone, a fish he had been searching for the entire week. Camillo then decided it was his turn. After an inch perfect cast and some truly steady nerves his Permit ate and the battle commenced. 10 minutes later both guide and angler sighed with enormous relief. It had been the culmination of some great determination throughout the trip as his 11lb slab of gold slid into the net. These are the moments which reinforce why we do what we do! Sadly however our first week had come to an end, but what a way to start the season. Permit, GT’s, Bluefin, Goldens, Greenspots, Yellowdots, plenty of monster Bonefish and best of all great memories with some truly special clients and friends. A huge amount of thanks must go to Dick, Ron, Camillo, Juan and Jeronimo for an awesome first week of our season.
Farquhar: Sept 30th – Oct 7th:
Day one dawned a bit breezy but the spirits were high and the teams went out. When we met back at the lodge at the end of the day I couldn’t believe what had happened! The guests on the week were inexperienced saltwater fly anglers yet the catch reports that came were very impressive. James guided James onto a GT of 114cm, Andrew van Hasselt and Andrew Jilliings landed a bunch of Bones and a nice GT, but it was Nick who really had the best opening day of the season in the history of FlyCastaway. Dave Murray had never saltwater fly fished before which made the feat even more incredible considering he landed a Grand Slam on day one! Their morning started with some nice Bonefish, then a 117cmGT and as if that wasn’t good enough he landed a Permit of about 8lbs on the way back to the lodge.
The rest of the week is a blur of fishing memories and moments shared amongst a very close group of friends that couldn’t have been scripted better. Tim Fleischer hooked three huge Parrotfish but unfortunately didn’t succeed in landing any, his new nemesis. Hilton Petersen had his brand new 12# rod pulled in half by a massive GT, the tip section and half the fly line never to be seen again, he made up for it though, landing two beautiful Sailfish on consecutive days. Andrew Jillings caught his lifelong dream, a trophy GT on the flats and Tim Andrews on his second day fly fishing ever caught a beautiful Sailfish.
In between all of this they cast at some of the most exotic species on the planet, saw GT’s gorge Themselves on birds, yes, the GT’s are eating the birds landing on the water! They caught a variety of Groupers and reef dwelling species and landed scores of Bonefish, lost a bunch of Sailfish due to broken tippet, hooks and fly lines yet still managed to land 6 in total. They experienced the full diversity of Farquhar and everything that makes this fishery so unique. It just proved once more that it is without a doubt the most diverse flat fishing destination in the Indian Ocean. We cannot wait to see what other amazing catches this coming season holds.
In January and February I spent three weeks in Argentina Patagonia with a wonderful group of people. My highlight photos are from Rio Manso Lodge, Esquel Outfitters, Spring Creek Lodge and San Huberto. Enjoy. Brian
Oct 31st, 2013 by David Kalinowski
Christer Sjoberg and Stephan Gian Dombai of Solid Adventures chime in on their beloved Las Buitreras fishing lodge on the Rio Gallegos. This quaint lodge hosts a maximum 10 anglers per week and is situated 40km from its terminus after a 300km journey from the Southern Andes. Enjoy the reading and stunning photography!
Las Buitreras is a lodge for fishermen. Per session one will have more pools than one could possibly fish in time. This is far away from crowded beats, heavily pressured fish and tight rotations with no time to rest the water in between. 52 named and just as many unnamed pools divided by 8 to maximum 10 rods equals a hell lot of fishable water. By taking the pressure off the water, we ensure that each and every angler at our watershed gets to fish “hot” water all the time. What’s the best holding pool worth if its fished 24/7? Indulge the freedom of choice to fish practically wherever you wish.
It’s time to get excited, because the season will start in about two months. And while we are counting down the seconds, the ring of the bell for another epic of chrome dreams coming true, monster fish being lost in space and simply having a good time with one of the best staffs the fly fishing business has to offer, we can still offer a limited amount of rods to likeminded anglers. Just like Gallegos-first-timer Joshua Nester, who travelled all the way from Australia to get his very first seatrout on a fly, we still are just as blown away by the fishing:
Joshua Nester/Australia 2012: “Rio Gallegos – In a word: Heaven! Good water levels, stable weather (even warm) and a fresh run of fish saw us time our trip perfectly. That said, this is challenging fishing and sea run trout are notoriously unpredictable…just when you think you have cracked the code, the next day is like fishing an entirely new river. Nervous about double handed rods (none of us have used them before), the amazing guides had us casting them and catching fish within a morning. Others successfully managed single handed rods but a double is definitely an advantage. The tri-nations team caught over 30 silver chromed beauties, with 80+ fish landed (and released) by 8 anglers during the week. Plus many pretty resident brown trout as welcome by-catch. Biggest fish 23lb with two others over 20lb and numerous well in excess of 10lb. These are the best looking fish ever and they fight like hell!”
Hope to see you at the lodge,
Christer Sjöberg & The Las Buitreras Team
Available 2014 dates:
Jan 4th – 11th: 3 rods
Feb 8-15: 2 rods
Feb 22 – March 1st: 6 rods
March 1st – 8th: 6 rods
March 8th – 15: 4 rods
If you would like to talk further about the possibilities at Las Buitreras and the Rio Gallegos, please give us a call at 800-552-2729.
Oct 16th, 2013 by David Kalinowski
Scott River Lodge – Klamath River, California
Available Dates: November 21 – 25, 2013 (5 spots available!)
Cost of this trip = $1,795.00 per person for a 4 night / 3 day package based on double occupancy
Leading California Spey casting guides and instructors, Whitney Gould, Jason Hartwick, Rich Zellman, Craig Nielsen, Chris King and Tayler Wells are presenting an exclusive three day/four night Klamath River Spey and Switch Rod on stream workshop at the stunning Scott River Lodge. The program is perfect for folks who are seeking to begin casting with two hands as well as experienced anglers looking to refine their Spey casting and steelheading techniques. This four night, three day adventure includes demonstrations, on stream instruction and guided opportunities to cast for and catch both half-pounder and adult steelhead on the legendary Klamath River.
Included: Accommodations, meals and non alcoholic beverages at the lodge, meals and non alcoholic beverages on the water, Transportation to and from the river, All fishing tackle, guided fishing and instruction.
Not Included: Transportation to/from the lodge, gratuities, fishing licenses and Steelhead card, gratuities, alcohol.
Give Charles or David a call at 800-552-2729 if you’re interested!
Available Date: October 19 – 26, 2013
Discount Rate: $2,999.00 per person based on double occupancy (regular rate = $3,993.00)
If you love saltwater angling on the fly and have a flexible schedule, this discount trip from Playa Blanca is for you. The resident populations of permit, bones and tarpon within Espirtu Santo, Santa Rosa lagoon and Ascension Bay have been rested all summer and now is the time to go, and with an unbeatable price to boot!
So clear your calendar and give Dylan a call now to get in on this prime last minute discount!
Call 800-552-2729 or email at dylan [@] flywatertravel [dot] com
Oct 1st, 2013 by Charles Gehr
October 28 – 31: 1 spot available
Cost of this trip = $1,890 per person for a 3 night / 4 day float trip
Included: Accommodations and meals on float trip, camping gear for float trip (except sleeping bags and pads), guided fishing, flies and leaders.
Not Included: Airfare, rental car, gratuities, pre and post float accommodations at Boggan’s & first morning’s breakfast for floaters, shuttle fee (on float trips) fishing licenses, gratuities, alcohol.
Give us a call at 800-552-2729 if you’re interested in one of the last two spots on the Grande Ronde this year!
2014 Yucatan Tarpon Tours – Hosted by Marco Ruz
Come experience the ultimate in baby tarpon fishing at two of the world’s most prolific tarpon destinations. The northern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula harbors an astounding population of juvenile tarpon. Anglers target fish from specially designed panga boats designed to accommodate fly anglers. The action for these hard charging babies can be fast and fierce! Floating lines, top water explosions and high flying tarpon are just the start of these outstanding trips. Comfortable accommodations, warm hospitality and excellent food & beverage make them an unbeatable saltwater adventure.
Join renowned tarpon angler Marco Ruz at both Tarpon Cay Lodge and Isla Del Sabalo in a single trip. These operations offer contrasting fisheries and the worlds best opportunity for shallow water sight fishing for tarpon 5lbs – 50lbs. If you’re new to tarpon fishing on the fly, this is the perfect opportunity to learn from a master and give yourself the best chance possible for success.
August 10 – 18, 2014
August 25 – September 2, 2014
September 8 – 16, 2014
Rate: $3,595.00 per person based on double occupancy
Please contact Dylan to reserve your space now or inquire for more information.
For a detailed look at a trip to these amazing destinations please click the report below:
Sep 25th, 2013 by Dylan Rose
Would you like a great flats shirt and to also help out the Christmas Island guides at the same time?
100% of the profits from the sales of these shirts will go towards purchasing new equipment for the guides (flats boots, hats, tropical flats-wear, tools, etc.).
There’s little doubt that the guides at Christmas Island Outfitters represent some of the very finest flats guides in the world. Their eyes and ability to spot fish is uncanny and anyone who has spent time fishing with them can speak to their ability to almost “sense” when fish are present. Couple their technical skill with their good natured, exceedingly patient and warm hearted personalities and it’s easy to see why anglers come back to fish with them year after year.
Available now from the Ashland Fly Shop HERE.
From the creators of Devil’s Gold, Castaway Films brings a new short from their exploratory trip to Untamed Angling’s Aguas Negras camp, in the heart of the Bolivian jungle. Now sit back, relax and enjoy all of the HD, slow-mo goodness of this epic golden dorado action!
If you love wild fish, an unspoiled Alaska and the magnificence of Bristol Bay, then I have some very good news for you today!
Anglo American, one of the key backers of the controversial Pebble mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, announced Monday that it is withdrawing from the Pebble Partnership — and will take a $300 million hit for doing so… MORE
This action is having substantial consequences on stock prices for Northern Dynasty.
Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. (NDM), a Canadian metals explorer, fell the most in 15 months after Anglo American Plc (AAL) withdrew from a partnership to develop the Pebble copper project in Alaska. Northern Dynasty plunged 34 percent to C$1.54 at the close in Toronto, the biggest drop since May 22, 2012… MORE
Please remember the fight is not over! Dr. Sam Snyder who is the director of the Bristol Bay Watershed and Fisheries Protection Campaign reminds us, “Just because Anglo pulled out, doesn’t mean the fight is over. EPA needs to step up and listen to the public. Go!” LINK
Sep 17th, 2013 by David Kalinowski
Available Dates: September 30 – October 3, 2013 (1 spot available!)
Cost of this trip = $1,890 per person for a 3 night/4 day float trip
This 3 night/4 day float trip is on the Grande Ronde River targeting steelhead with Scott O’Donnell and crew. This is the first float of the season and is absolutely prime time to be on the Grande Ronde swinging flies. The numbers of fish moving up the Columbia look promising and with some of the best guides in the industry, this is a great opportunity to get in on some great fishing and two handed instruction!
Give Charles or David a call at 800-552-2729 to get in on this prime time float trip!
Here’s an interesting new video from our friend Kevin Price on Ken Morrish’s fly tying process, influences, and history. We especially enjoyed the classic footage from the late, great Bob Quigley.
We have just received this picture of an anonymous female spey angler with what looks to us is a world record fly-caught Chinook from the Skeena River this past month. We congratulate this lucky angler and will pass along any additional information about this spectacular catch as we receive it.
Aug 19th, 2013 by Ken Morrish
September 7 – 14, 2013
September 21 – 28, 2013
Discount Rate = $5,000 for a 7 night/6 day package (Regular rate = $5,900!)
This is a great little owner operated lodge where the head pilot and guide is also the owner. This operation can be made the exclusive retreat for groups of 4-5 anglers and their program enables folks to fly out half of their days and fish the mighty Kvichak the other three days. The waters they fly to are excellent and include Moraine, Battle, Little Ku, Lower Talarik , Alagnak and the Nushagak. Typically 2-3 anglers will head out on a fly out with the lodge owner each day. Anglers will also spend three days fishing their home water on the Kvichak via jet boat. This system is home to some of the largest and hottest rainbows in the state.
Available Dates: August 31 – September 6, 2013
September 6 – 13, 2013
Discount Rate = $5,400 for a 7 night/6 day package (Regular rate = $6,880!)
This is a no frills fly out operation with a vast array of angling options. Owner Jerry Jacques is a very experienced outfitter and pilot and knows the ins and outs of the region’s best rainbow, dolly and salmon fisheries. With access to the Newhallen, Talariks, Moraine, Big Ku, Iliamna, Gibralter, and several great coastal silver systems, this place really delivers in terms of showing anglers a wide range of fisheries at a reasonable rate.
Aug 19th, 2013 by Charles Gehr
Available Dates: September 5 – 8, 2013 (2 spots available!)
Cost of this trip = $1,608 per person for a 3 night/4 day float trip
This 3 night/4 day float trip is on the lower Deschutes targeting steelhead with Chris O’Donnell’s River Runner Outfitters. The first week of September is absolutely prime time to be on the lower Deschutes swinging flies on floating lines. Numbers of fish in the Columbia have recently risen significantly and so has the fishing!
Give Charles a call at 800-552-2729 to get in on this prime time float trip!
The 2013 Tarpon Tour was a great success! Please check out this e-zine trip report for a comprehensive look at what a tarpon trip to the northern Yucatan peninsula entails.
Call Dylan at 800.552.2729 to get your tarpon trip on the books for 2014!
Available Dates: September 25 – October 1, 2013 – 4 spots available
October 2 – October 8, 2013 – 4 spots available
Discount Rate: $2,600 per person for a 6 night / 6 day package, based on double occupancy (Regular rate = $3,600!!)
This is a remote and rustic lodge that is run by a really great, down to earth family. Their lodge is located deep within the Wood Tikchik State Park (the largest state park in the US) and the surrounding area is seldom traveled and extremely scenic. Fishing Bear has a very diverse fishing program with lots of clear small systems that are rarely fished by other lodges. All systems are reached by jet boat. Rainbow trout, large grayling, arctic char, sockeye salmon and pike all abound. The lodge has small cabins with propane lights and guests bring their owns sleeping bags or sheets. There are three recently built bathrooms with nice flush toilets, sinks and mirrors and a separate shower facility with strong on demand hot water. I describe this place as a super wilderness experience that will show folks a true wilderness experience with just the right amount of roughing it.
Included / Not Included –
Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, guided fishing, airport meet and greet in Dillingham, ground transportation in Dillingham, fly fishing rods, reels, flies, leaders, tippets, etc.
Not Included: Airfare to and from Dillingham, accommodations and meals in Dillingham, float plane flight to/from Dillingham and the lodge, alcohol, staff and guide gratuities, fishing license.
Jul 30th, 2013 by Dylan Rose
Special Rate: $2,412.oo per person based on a 7 night/6 day package from now through December 21, 2013.
Every year at Belize River Lodge and for most of Belize we experience a so called “slow season” from June to October. It is referred to as tourism “slow season” because of low tourism traffic to Belize during this time. There are several reasons for the slow season but fishing activity in Belize is not one of those reasons since all our popular species are active all year round. Most probably slow season here is because Summer and Fall weather and fishing in North America are good and closer to home.
The Belize River Lodge fishing experience at this same time of year is great, and it is really easy to get to BRL from the USA. Gateway cities from the US non-stop to Belize include Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, and starting Dec 21 Delta from Los Angeles.
Neil and Chris had a couple of rainy days but one day using the popular Black Death fly they landed a 100 pound Tarpon that took a full three hours to get to the boat. That was a really tough one, even with a 12 weight.
The same day they also landed a 60 pound Tarpon. Next day they landed three Permit, one weighed 22 pounds and the other two were 19 pounds each.
Other days they saw and cast to several more big Tarpon in schools of about 20 fish, but these big fish would not eat. And just like the Tarpon, some big Permit also would not eat anything they presented. One rainy day they also fished the river and caught 7 Snook and jumped many small Tarpon, landing two.
One angler concentrated on Cubera, Red and Gray Snappers, Cudas Jacks, Mackerel and Snook and caught many of each species. Terry broke a fly rod on a nice Tarpon, saw and cast to lots of big Bones, one went well into his backing, and he landed a few small ones.
Mick and Aaron stopped by for two days. They wanted to tag a couple big Tarpon but could not get any as the weather was extremely overcast and rainy, so they fished the river the last afternoon and landed several small Tarpon and jumped a few more.
We are presently trying to locate a satellite tracking tag that just came off a Tarpon. Another tag is still attached and is in the Belize City area. Will report more later.
Jul 26th, 2013 by Ken Morrish
Available Dates: September 28-October 5, 2013 – 1 spot only!
Discount Rate = US$4,900 for a 7 night / 7 day package (Regular rate=$6,200!!)
This is the best and most diverse operation on the Bulkley and Morice systems. Their program has been revamped to include several nights at their brand new Bulkley lodge, one wilderness overnight at a tent camp in one of the two Bulkley canyons and three days fishing the upper Morice from their latest acquisition, Morice River Lodge. All and all, this program offers a great diversity of water and the chance for relatively high catch rates by BC standards. The Morice itself is almost immune to getting blown out, and that is a huge insurance policy in a region that is known for fickle weather and water conditions.
Included: Accommodations and meals at lodge, guiding, round-trip transfers between Smithers and lodge, HST, room tax, wine, alcohol.
Not Included: Airfare, accommodations and meals in Smithers, fishing licenses, gratuities, arrival and departure taxes.
Jul 26th, 2013 by Ken Morrish
Available Dates: August 15-22, 2013 – 1 spot only!
Discount Rate = $4,850 for a 6 night/5.5 day package (Regular rate = $6,850!)
Simply put, the Ozernaya is hailed as one of Kamchatak’s greatest trout fisheries. A broad and shallow river reminiscent of the Henry’s Fork, the Ozernaya is home to incredible populations of rainbows in the 20 to 27 inch class, trophy grayling, kundzha, Dolly Varden and coho. No matter when you visit this river, all you will need is a solid 7-weight, a floating line, a fistful of mice and sculpin, and a strong fish-fighting arm!
Included: Accommodations and meals, guided fishing, meet and greet in Petropavlovsk, round-trip helicopter transportation between Petropavlovsk and camp, limited vodka and beer in camp.
Not Included: Airfare to/from Petropavlovsk, fishing license, gratuities, personal liquor and personal gear. Note: Anglers who miss their scheduled transfers to the lodge will be responsible for any incurred costs related to delays and special transfers.
Jul 22nd, 2013 by Ken Morrish
Available Dates: September 19-26, 2013 – 1 spot only!
Discount Rate = CAD$5,850 for a 7 night/6 day package (Regular rate = $6,760 including tax!!)
This is the most comfortable and best appointed steelhead lodge in Canada. Better yet, it is managed by a fun and interesting family that has lived in the Kispiox valley for generations. The river is remarkably diverse and interesting to fish, and while it is popular among freelance anglers due to the huge fish that call the Kispiox home, Jim Allen and his crew have numerous stealth floats where seeing other anglers is rare. They also fish the mainstem Skeena and the lower Bulkley when appropriate.
Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, GST, round-trip transfers from Smithers to lodge, wine, alcohol, guiding, flies, basic BC fishing license.
Not Included: Airfare, lodging and meals in Smithers, arrival and departure taxes, satellite phone charges (about $4.00 per minute), classified waters license, staff and guide gratuities.
by Dylan Rose
Eight intrepid anglers and I set out at the end of May to visit two of my favorite destinations. Tarpon Cay Lodge and Isla Del Sabalo are both operations that focus solely on the pursuit of baby tarpon on the fly. Of the eight experienced anglers only three had encountered tarpon before. The others took a crash course that placed them squarely on some of the world’s most productive tarpon water. Seemingly everything about these fish demands a unique set of skills from the saltwater fly angler. From the casting techniques to the fly patterns, from leader configurations to rigging and hook setting strategies, all aspects of this fishery have unique idiosyncrasies. By the end of the trip everyone in the group had landed multitudes of tarpon and experienced a dizzying array of eats, jumps, boils, take downs, slashes and follows from the mighty Silver King (or in the case of juvenile tarpon, the “Silver Prince” may be more appropriate).
The trip began with a 3.5 hour drive from Cancun to San Felipe. The anticipation of arriving at Tarpon Cay Lodge exponentially increased the closer we got and the welcome sight of Beto the lodge manager, holding a full tray of frozen Margaritas, was exactly what the doctor ordered for nine travel-weary gringos. Everyone eagerly scooped up a glass of the slushy concoction and raised them high to toast the beginning our epic tarpon adventure!
After a hearty dinner of fresh fish, rice, beans and an out-of-this-world flan for dessert, we settled in for our first evening at the lodge. Everyone was busy rigging their rods, attending to their leaders and discussing strategies for the fast approaching morning. Many questions surfaced as to the proper way to rig a leader for juvenile tarpon. I let the crew know that the most important aspect of these leader systems is to include a heavy section of shock tippet at the terminal end. No less than 50lb monofilament should be employed as the incredibly hard mouths of these fish will cut right through lesser strengths.
The knock on the door came at 5AM the next morning and I opened it to find a cheerful señor Beto holding a perfect cup of made to order, piping hot coffee to get me going. At breakfast, the energy and anticipation of the angling day ahead was palpable! By 6AM we had the boats loaded, all of the rods rigged, the guides were assigned, and as darkness was giving way to dawn we slowly putted out of the marina in our 18 foot pangas.
Action this first morning was fierce and consistent. Fish were found quickly by the guides and nearly everyone on the trip had multiple encounters with tarpon attempting to eat their fur, feather and foam creations. Some boats hooked in excess of 10 fish each. By the time everyone rendezvoused back at the lodge, stories of high flying tarpon attacking well presented flies punctuated our fantastic grilled fish lunch. Reports of schools numbering between a dozen and fifty fish flooded in. Group members marveled at how aggressive the fish were and how difficult they were to land.
After a frenzied early morning session we were back at the lodge around 11:30AM and by 2PM everyone in the group was experiencing the pleasures of a split shift schedule having had a relaxed lunch and an energizing air-conditioned siesta. We loaded back in to the boats at 3PM for the evening session, recharged and ready for action. The evening fishing was a bit slower than the morning, which we found to be the case on each day of our time there. The brilliance of the evening fishing experience, however, is punctuated by the opportunity to fish through a golden sunset each night. As the heat of the day wanes an incredible kaleidoscope of bird life springs in to action around the waters of San Felipe. Flamingos, osprey, fly catchers, ibis, green herons, great blue herons, frigate birds, spoonbills, egrets, and various hawks were all spotted by the group. Every creature around seemed to emerge from their hiding place to bid the day good bye. At times, it was hard to concentrate on the fishing as the sun slid towards the sea and the sky turned to brilliant shades of pink, orange, red and gold. Thankfully, the hard working and skilled guides of Tarpon Cay were always there to snap you back to fishing reality with an excited, “Sabalo! 10’oclock! 50 feet!”
Setting the hook on these fish as if a trout had just eaten your parachute Adams will almost always result in a failed attempt. Instead, we found that multiple swift and powerful strip strikes are required, followed by a low and powerful sweep of the rod to drive the hook home. Of course, the process is all too easy to imagine from the relaxed confines of my cozy office. The reality of trying to force your body to correctly set the hook while bobbing around on the front of a panga is much more difficult. Especially while a rampaging 10lb tarpon is attempting to annihilate you!
I tried to impress upon everybody on the trip that getting “the eat” and seeing them launch themselves into the air was the real goal. Success and failure should not be judged by how many fish are brought to the gunwale of the boat. There are simply too many variables at play that are out of the angler’s control with tarpon to judge quality fishing by fish landed. It’s very difficult to set a hook hard enough to pierce a tarpon’s mouth. In most cases even landed fish come to the boat with the point of the hook barely penetrating. The vast majority of encounters with baby tarpon involve a vicious attack of the fly and a head shaking leap that leaves the fish traveling a full meter into the air, resulting in a lost fish and the angler left shaking in their flip-flops.
We spent three days total at Tarpon Cay Lodge and mostly lucked into decent weather. Overall we experienced some incredible fishing and some tough fishing as well. At times we would find a mass of fish that would not eat a perfectly presented fly to save our life! While at other times, it was as if the tarpon were fighting each other to get at our offerings. Numbers of fish hooked varied greatly from boat to boat and session to session. Some would struggle to get one eat for the morning, while others would hook from 6 to 12. The learning curve of how to effectively target these fish was steep. I noticed near the end of our time at Tarpon Cay, that everyone was finding their groove with the casting, hook setting and knot tying aspects of the baby tarpon game. It was all coming together just in time for our transfer to Isla Del Sabalo.
On day four we packed up and made the 4 hour van ride to the small commercial fishing village of Isla Arena and our second destination of the adventure. On the way, we passed through Mayan villages where some of the locals are still living in adobe huts. In several places ancient ruins are visible from the road. Colorful locals, smiling children and families spending time together in town squares are regular sites along the route. Traveling the world always leaves me with a broader respect for how others live and life in the backcountry of the Yucatan instills a sense of appreciation for modern conveniences.
The extremely remote town of Isla Arena lies about 50 kilometers north of Campeche. The waters surrounding the island are a pristine, mangrove- lined oasis for juvenile tarpon. With more than 25 separate rivers draining a massive brackish marsh, this is the ultimate biosphere for raising, nurturing and growing tarpon. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this vast fishery is that, like Tarpon Cay, Isla Del Sabalo is the only outfitter fishing these waters. This means that overall pressure on the resident baby tarpon population remains extremely low. A well presented fly almost always draws a vicious attack leading to an immediate explosion of water and an airborne fish.
On the first day at Isla Del Sabalo, Marco (the lodge owner) and I played the role of scout boat for the other boats in our fleet. At dawn we zoomed north from the lodge along the thickly coated mangrove coastline. We were all smiles upon seeing that the first three rivers we tucked into had rolling tarpon. Several times we gently nudged up the river with the push pole, eased around a corner and saw multiple pods of frolicking tarpon in a tranquil river. We had to bite our knuckles on each occurrence as we forced ourselves to leave the rods stowed and carefully backed out of the river without disturbing the fish. Clients first, now that is my definition of true will power!
The first two days of fishing at Isla Del Sabalo were action packed. Anglers reported good numbers of fish encounters with boats jumping anywhere from 4 to 15 tarpon with many other impossible to classify encounters including various bites, takes, boils and slashes. Fish found along the shoreline and up the creeks ranged in size from an honest 4lbs, up to 25lbs and every single fish fought like a welterweight prize fighter. We also managed to find some good concentrations of nice sized Snook which readily took the fly.
Each afternoon we experienced rain and a couple of substantial thunderstorm cells. One particular squall knocked out power to the island for the better part of 24 hours. It became very apparent during the trip, just how truly remote this destination is. The nearest gas station, for instance, is a two hour round-trip drive. With no grocery store on the island, the staff at Isla Del Sabalo does a remarkable job of keeping the boats running, supplies well stocked and the cabanas in good working order.
During the course of our stay at Isla Del Sabalo, Marco and I had been obsessively searching the open water areas for the larger juvenile fish. Only a year prior we found ourselves about 1.5 miles off shore enthralled in some of the most epic tarpon action anyone could possibly imagine. This larger class of fish run is sizes from 20lb – 50lbs and tend to inhabit the deeper 10 to 12 feet deep turtle grass flats some distance off-shore. The trouble is that finding these rowdy teenagers requires incredibly calm conditions and a smooth, glassy surface in order to spot them. We had been actively looking for these big schools of roving tarpon as we were eager to introduce them to the group. Unfortunately it was looking like all of the time we had spent off-shore searching was in vain. The final afternoon arrived and Marco and I were heading for the lodge to pack up and call it a day. On the boat ride back, the mid-afternoon Yucatan sun was blaring down on me and the drone of the 60 horse Yamaha was coaxing my eyelids closed with an inexplicable amount of force.
Suddenly Marco threw the boat into a full speed banking right turn and instantly all of my senses jolted into high gear. As Marco began hollering at the other guides via VHF radio, my heart started to pound as I looked up to see a school of 200 happy tarpon chasing bait and rolling on the surface. Marco cut the engine and we poled closer to the school inch by inch. I could see that several of our boats where within range of our radio call and they were happily starting to emerge from the mangroves to join us in the hunt. The fish seemed to be tracking ever farther away and creeping up on them proved difficult. At last the school slowly turned in our direction and with my longest cast possible, I put the fly in front of a threesome of 30lb tarpon. Within two strips of the line a fish snatched up my Puglisi pattern and I blew the hook set. Yet another fish grabbed the fly on the next cast, everything came tight and in a flash it was lost as well. Finally, after an intense internal pep talk I launched another cast in the direction of several more fish that had broken off from the main herd. That time it all came together! The fish ate my 4 inch Sardina pattern and was instantly airborne. Just like all of the other fish, this sub-adult was a leaper, except he had the body mass to really pull and instantly it put the shakes in to my knees.
The bigger fish do not relent like the smaller babies. It’s as if their added years instills a kind of meanness to them that super charges their efforts. They are perfectly suited to their environment and when you see their armor plated scales, huge eyes and witness them breathing air in hot, oxygen depleted water, it’s no wonder that they have survived for an age.
Most of the other boats were able to join in on the fun as the massive school of fish milled around for quite some time. I could not have imagined a better end to the trip as most of the members of the group got a chance to encounter these larger open water fish. After fishing everyone returned to the lodge, packed up and had a quick lunch. We loaded up the vans bound for Merida which is home to a population of around 1 million people. In the bustling modern city we had a fantastic celebratory dinner at La Parrilla and then checked in to the stunning Hotel Victoria Merida for a restorative last night prior to our early morning flights out.
Without a doubt, anglers shouldn’t expect to arrive at these destinations with the thought that this is a fish-in-a-barrel scenario. I liken the level of difficulty to being much harder than bonefish and much easier than permit overall. That’s precisely why I love it! Boredom infiltrates my fishing when too many fish are caught and the challenge is lost. At Tarpon Cay Lodge and Isla Del Sabalo the fishing can, at times, be absolutely lights-out. There are certainly days when the fly lands twenty feet from the boat and twenty feet away from the fish and they charge up and grab it anyway. However, tarpon are still tarpon. Good casts, proper presentations and correct fly choice is very important. Without a doubt, great casters are rewarded and the ability to reach out to distances of 70 to 80 feet with a minimum of false casts is a distinct advantage.
The raw beauty of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula never ceases to amaze me and Marco’s operations have everything we look for in brilliant, off-the-beaten-path destinations. The unpressured fisheries, attentive staff, pristine environments and brilliant home-cooked Mexican cuisine left me longing for more as I boarded the plane – headed for home. I was thrilled knowing that so many of the anglers in our group got a chance to hold their first tarpon. I’m confident the northern Yucatan Peninsula is the best locale on the planet for a fly angler to immerse themselves in all things baby tarpon. A return trip is in the works and now the hard part begins, waiting for my next shot at a marauding school of Yucatan baby tarpon and the next Silver Prince to bite my fly.
For further questions or more info about scheduling your own trip to these amazing destinations, give Dylan a call at 800-552-2729