Wednesday, 4 November 2009

April Grand Slam in Belize

Yet another very belated report but well worth logging.

In April 2009 I was lucky enough to accompany Mika , David and Giles to Turneffe Flats Lodge in Belize. Mika and I flew Via Miami as we planned to hit the Florida Keys on route home. David and Giles flew via Atlanta. We were greeted at the Airport and soon sailing out to sea on the Lodges own Boat. Two hours later we arrived at the lodge the professionalism of the operation and warmth of our welcome were apparent. The Lodge was perfect , no less. This is a fishing story so I will save the details of fine dining and accommodation for another day. I will say that Turneffe Lodge sets a standard of customer care that most other lodges should aspire too. A perfect place for any level of fly fisherman.
There is a great deal of luck in fishing, we all know that. I do believe you can bring your own luck. Visualisation, positive thinking all contribute to this . There are philosophies out there, namely ''the Secret’’ . It has worked for me at certain times and never more so than on this trip. I spent a great deal of time imagining my hand around a Permits tail. Just that one thought ,no more. To imagine the whole event would require too much effort and thus water down the effects, so my concentration was all focused on the image of my hand and a Permits Tail .

Turneffe Flats Lodge certainly delivers and within the first hour of the first day Mika and I were facing a shoal of tailing Permit. A Shoal of 30 or 40 fish happily tailing away ,Switching direction back and forth , slowly zig zagging the way that they do.A sight for sore eyes. Our adrenaline levels were peaking almost straight away. Frustration would certainly figure as a keyword when it comes to Permit fly fishing. I had encountered Permit in Cuba and Los Roques prior to Belize both encounters had resulted in much head scratching and questions to ask.
Mika and I took turns at presenting our Crab Flies to the Shoal. Our guide Dubbs has been in this situation countless times before and his relaxed manner was welcome. Eventually myEP Permit fly was taken and for the first time in my life I actually had a Permit stripping line away and onto the backing. Ten minutes later we were tailing the fish. The emotional surge for me was intense. I was almost lost in the moment. It took a deep breath of air and a slight gulp to compose myself. At last I had landed a Permit.

Day Two Grand Slam day
A bonefish before breakfast in front of the lodge, that’s the way our days on Turneffe started. Mika had been presenting flies to a shoal of bonefish for twenty minutes while trying to get a bite. I strolled along and asked if I could have a quick try, One cast a strip of the fly a bump and run and a small bonefish all within a couple of minutes. Perhaps this was going to be my lucky day ?

Craig the owner of Turneffe told me that there were two types of Permit fishermen. The guy who has never landed a Permit and the expert who has landed one. So on that basis I was now an expert more than equipped to tackle this fickle species. Dubbs our guide had explained that there were two styles of Permit fishing at Turneffe, one being the style I had encountered and succeeded with the day before and the second being the more technical version casting at ones and twos on the flats. At around 2pm I took the bow and moments later a Pair of Permit arrived on the scene. One cast and my second Permit was hooked. The fish was landed and Photographed, things were going well. Two days and 2 Permit landed. I said I was an expert !

By now I was starting to feel increasingly guilty. All I wanted from the day was to see Mika land a Permit. Grand slams were of no importance to me or at least I figured there is a limit to ones luck. The next couple of hours were spent in pursuit of Mr Permit, obviously I insisted that Mika should hold the bow. At around 4.30 Pm we started to head back in the direction of home, as we neared the lodge Dubbs suggested that we stop or ten minutes and have a few casts in the channel for Tarpon. I blind cast a Pure Black bunny across and swung the fly back with no action. The sun was starting to turn Gold and the daylight would soon fade, it had been another special day. I cast my line out blindly in order to simply load my fly line back on to the spool. As the line straightened I began to reel the line back while looking at the guys and chatting. Yes you guessed it, a hard tug followed by an explosion on the surface and yes I was playing a Tarpon. No need to get the line back onto the reel obviously! The moment was just incredible and completely hilarious we all laughed while I played the fish. Every time you hook a Tarpon you wonder if it will shake the hook. The Tarpon always had the advantage. This time around I was completely confident we would land that fish . We did and I had done it. A Grand Slam

Some days you fish skilfully , some days you catch nothing ,Other days all you luck comes at once. Who would have it any other way.
Many thanks to Mika and Dubbs both of whom were great people to share that day with.


Sunday, 1 November 2009

Cape Cod 2009 Report

In June 2009 I hosted our 5th trip to Cape Cod. I had two groups of 4 guys alongside me for a week at a time. Cape Cod has started to feel like a second home for me these days . Seeing as I am 5 Months behind schedule with this report .I will keep this report short and sweet.


Week 1 I was joined by Ant and Richard who had both fished alongside me the previous year also Stuart and Chris from Ireland our new recruits.

It was with an element of uncertainty that I hit week one. All the reports from the internet and friends were indicating that the Stripers were running early this year. The sheer volume of fish running North along the coast is collosal . I figured there would still be fish around. The weather forecast was pretty good . I have found that the better the weather the better the fishing on the Cape. Happy weather equals happy fish. Week one was certainly not up to the standard that I have become accustomed too over the years. The shore fishing was pretty tough at times. I remember a couple of days where the wind blew pretty hard. There’s always somewhere to fish on the cape and tuck out of the wind. The tough days on foot were counterbalanced by great fishing from the boat. I joined the gang for a session on the boat one day and witnessed a very large shoal of BIG stripers cruising around on the surface and desperate to hit a fly the moment it hit the water. This created chaos upon the boat as all of us played 37 - 40 inch fish . Some would hit the fly with 2 feet of the boat. I barely cast the fly more than 5 yards at times, more a case of slapping the fly down in the water next to the boat. (Highly technical stuff!!)

Week 2

Mike Russ Jamie and Ryan
Week 2 found the fish in better spirits and willing to feed closer to shore. The weather turned warmer . I have fond memories of shore fishing at dawn around Race point. I also remember a great session on my own flats fishing in P Town harbour. All the guys were afloat leaving me to fish alone , sight fishing the flats of Cape Cod represents the best shore based striper has to offer, over the years this has replaced the chuck and duck fishing that I first experienced. This is always weather dependant so if the sun comes out head to the flats with your Polaroid’s. As usual the boat fishing was excellent. I would not consider a trip to the Cape that did not involve a couple of days out on a Centre Consul boat.

This definatly provided far better shore fishing than week one. I managed to catch several keepers from the shoreline. I also bumped into a few old faces as usual. Those charecters are as much a part of the appeal as the landscapes , wonderful architecture and those big Striped Bass.

This trip has become a big part of my life. I hope to be wading the flats and beaches of the Cape Cod for many years to come.