Editor’s Note: Dave Zanardelli from Pennsylvania recently returned from the 2014 Fishwest hosted trip to Tarpon Cay Lodge in San Felipe, Mexico in cooperation with Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures. Here is what he said to say about his experience:
Tarpon Cay Lodge, in cooperation with the Hotel San Felipe de Jesus, may be the perfect destination for the first time tarpon fly fisher. From my first impression upon arrival of complimentary margaritas to ease the travel fatigue, to the last impression of making a detour on the way to the airport to visit a Mayan ruin, everything is just about as good as it gets. Comfortable accommodations, excellent housekeeping, and the highest quality food make a visit here an experience that will remain a pleasant memory for a very long time.
Now, the important part…tarpon! Baby tarpon are not everywhere, but one is never out of sight of them for very long. Every day provided multiple opportunities at fish, from singles to schools of a dozen or more that had one thing on their minds – eating! The fishing is not difficult, and the casting is not all that demanding. Never before has a guide on a tropical flat instruct me to make a short cast, at nine o’clock, at 20 feet! A raw beginner will have reasonable opportunities to boat fish. Of course, being a capable caster greatly increases the number of chances. And when a tarpon does eat your fly, good luck boating it! These guys jump, fight, jump, run, jump, and bulldog all the way to the boat. One tarpon to the boat in three hook ups seemed about average.The second most important factor in any trip – the guides. These guides are friendly, expert at what they do, enthusiastic about what they do, and top notch at providing instruction. Carlos and Chris are among the best fly fishing guides I have encountered.
For those of you who want numbers, here they are. In six days of fishing, I jumped between 40 & 45 tarpon and managed to boat 16 of them. They weighed from about 7 pounds to nearly 20, averaging at about 12 pounds.
I will be back next year. Along with a companion too skeptical to go on this trip, but is now convinced of his error!
Last Thing: The team here at Fishwest is proud to announce we will once again be hosting a trip to the Tarpon Cay Lodge in conjunction with Yucatan Fly Fishing in San Felipe, Mexico. Join us from August 15-22nd of 2015. Please check out the Fishwest Outfitters Travel Page for more details or call us toll free at 877.773.5437
Check out this video from Sage that highlights the best part about Saltwater fly fishing. In my opinion one of the greatest aspects of this type of fishing is Location, Location, Location. The fish themselves aren’t too shabby either! I mean think about it, If the fishing is terrible for the day the sunshine and the flats are hard to argue with. Maybe I am the only one that thinks that way though. All I know is I am constantly dreaming about getting back to places like this.
Having the right tool for the job in a situation like this is absolutely critical. The Salt Rod series from Sage is the latest offering in a long line of great saltwater rods. If this rod preforms like the Sage One or the Xi3 in the field, anglers will be rejoicing all around the world.
I have been lucky enough to find this wonderful sport of fly fishing and I have had the chance to check out some really neat destinations both locally, regionally, and abroad in pursuit of the ultimate fly fishing adventure. Today I want to take a moment and talk about one of my favorite places I have had a chance to go, The Andros South Lodge run by the great folks Deneki Outdoors.
Getting to the Island:
The Andros South Lodge is located on the eastern side of the Island of South Andros in the Bahamas. Getting to South Andros is a relatively easy endeavor and can be accomplished one of two ways that I have experienced.
The first (and my preferred method) is to take a plane into Fort Lauderdale FL and then take a charter plane from a company called Watermaker Air direct to the Congo Town International Airport on South Andros.The second (and more difficult) option entails a flight to the Capitol city of the Bahamas, Nassau. From Nassau it is a short flight to Andros via a Western Air flight. The thing that makes this difficult especially for anglers like us coming from the west is that this results in having to spend a night in Nassau. Accommodations in Nassau can range from staying at the luxurious Atlantis Casino to the beach front Orange Hill Inn for the evening. This is not bad however I would not recommend a Bahamian taxi ride. That was an eye opening experience for sure.
I for one would much rather take the more direct route via Fort Lauderdale and the charter flight. Customs in Congo Town are much easier than the counterparts in Nassau. Traveling, Airports, and Security checkpoints are not my favorite things in the world therefore I would opt for the path of least resistance.
Upon arrival at the Congotown you are greeted by the Deneki bus and Kermit the lodge bus driver. After handing you a cold Kalik (National Beer of the Bahamas) or a bottle of water, Kermit proceeds to take you on the short journey down the one road on the island to Kemps Bay. Within 15 minutes you have arrived at the lodge.
I would describe the accommodations at the Andros South Lodge to be “Rustically Comfortable”. Each angler or anglers is assigned a room aptly named something fishy (Bonefish, Permit, Cuda ect). The rooms are quite comfortable, clean and simple. The rooms consist of an extremely comfortable double bed, a dresser and a small bathroom.
One of the nicest parts of the lodge grounds has to be the “Slack Tide Bar”. This small palapa of beachfront paradise is located just steps from both the dining room and “hotel” rooms at the lodge. Each night after fishing appetizers are served and tales of the days fishing conquests are shared before dinner. The “Slack Tide” is also stocked head to toe with just about any beverage somebody could want ranging from a great selection of beer to liquors and everything in between. Everyone seems to convene at the bar after dinner to continue the party.
Meals are served twice a day (In the dining room that is). Breakfast is served starting at 6am. Breakfast usually consists of some variation of the following. Eggs served with some type of breakfast meat with Toast, Grits, or pancakes. Lunch is served on the boat while fishing and it consists of filling out a deli style menu which involves sandwiches, chips, fruit, and beverages. Dinners at the lodge are served family style and highlight local cuisine. Meals are exceptional and may include dishes like cracked (fried) conch, grouper served with cassava root boiled in coconut milk or my personal favorite… Wait for it Lobster tails. These meals are arguably the greatest part of the stay at the Andros Lodge apart from the fishing of course.
One more thing about the accommodations of the lodge, this is not a five star resort by any means. If you are looking for white tablecloths and something of that nature please look elsewhere. If you want somewhere to consider home while experiencing the ultimate bonefishing adventure please look no further.
The lodge staff at Andros South is some of nicest people you will ever meet in your entire life. All of the folks are extremely friendly and treat you like you are part of the Deneki family. From Gloria and the kitchen staff, to the self proclaimed “director of security”, Mr. Gerrard and everybody that I forgot will do everything that they can in order to make your stay awesome.
The Guides & Fishing:
Let’s just say I saved the best for last. Any saltwater fly fisherman knows that the Bahamas is considered the arguable Mecca of Bonefishing. I would argue that the flats around South Andros are the crown jewel of Bahamian bonefishing. The network of flats and number of bonefish alone found within a 15 minute boat ride of the dock at deep creek is simply astronomical. This is the perfect place for all different types of anglers from rookies to salty vets due to all the different situations and types of fishing one may experience with the Deneki guides.
All the guides at the Andros South lodge are top notch. Bottom line is that these guys know their stuff. These guys are some of the best guides and teachers I have ever had the opportunity to fish with hands down. They will both challenge you as an angler but give you all the tools and instruction in order to be successful and also leave the Bahamas as a better angler. I have had a chance to fish with all of the guides except for two over the last couple of years and I have to say each one of them has there own distinct personalities. Take Freddie for example, He will sing all day from the poling platform while pointing out fish. Or Josie, who is all business, who expects the best from his anglers but will put you in prime spots to catch what he calls “bonezilla” or better yet “wife of bonezilla”.
You can expect to see all sorts of fish throughout the fishing grounds near the lodge. From shots at single and pairs of bonefish to schools of ten to twenty or even hundreds at certain places one thing is for sure. You are bound to get casts at happy bonefish. The bonefish generally range anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds with the average fish tipping the scale around 3 or 4. These fish will be seen either on flats throughout the island or while exploring an extensive network of mangrove creeks. These fish usually are found feeding or cruising in 1 to 2 feet of water and can be stalked either via poling the boat or on foot. If the bonefishing ever gets boring (which it wont) make sure you have a 10 weight or spinning rod on hand in order to throw to some rather angry barracuda or Jacks. No matter how you slice it the fishing on the island is spectacular. Don’t fret over missed shots… You will get plenty.
I hold this place with such reverence because this is where I tasted my first success as a saltwater fly fisherman. Everything that is aforementioned makes this place amazing. The staff and guides will do all they can in order to make your stay and angling the ultimate adventure. However don’t take my word for it. Pack up an 8 weight, some mantis shrimp and gotchas and check it out for yourself.
Fishwest runs a yearly trip(s) to the Andros South Lodge. For all those who are interested you can check out the details HERE. Spots are still available for our March 2015 trips.
Saltwater Anglers Rejoice! The fine folks over at Sage Fly Rods have redesigned their saltwater line of fly rods for 2015. Aptly named the Salt this series of rods will be perfect for any saltwater angling adventure. The staff at Fishwest (myself included) are very excited to see what this rod is all about.
It will be interesting to see how this rod compares to it’s predecessor the Xi3. How will it perform? According to the tech sheet the 890 Salt weighs in as much as the 9wt Xi3. How will that affect the performance of the rod? Will the Konnetic technology allow this rod to load quicker and be more accurate? I for one have alot of questions about this rod but I am excited to get some answers. In the meantime check out what the team at Sage has to say:
Our first saltwater rod created with our revolutionary Konnetic Technology, the medium-fast action (we consider it a salt-action) SALT loads extremely quickly at all distances, allowing you to make your all-important first cast with precision no matter the range of your quarry, all without casting fatigue. Powerfully tapered throughout, the stiffer tip section on this exquisite dark sapphire rod works in concert with the deeper-bending middle and lower sections to help you quickly and effortlessly lift your line off the water for lighting-fast casts that let you make the most of each opportunity.
With the same tip-to-hand sensitivity that all our Konnetic Technology rods are known for, the SALT gives you the instant feedback you need for precision casts at moving targets. And the torsional control and tracking qualities of the blank deliver your fly exactly where you’re looking. Add in new custom components like the deeply knurled and ergonomically cantered reel lock nuts, a black Stealth bead blasted reel seat numbered by line weight for quick selection—plus its built in hook keeper, and it’s easy to see the SALT is built for fast-paced action. Let’s face it, the saltwater is a place where the strong feed on the weak. Be the former.
- Konnetic technology
- Fast loading, saltwater action
- Dark Sapphire blank color
- Black thread wraps with silver trim wraps
- Oversized Fuji ceramic stripper guides
- Oversized hard chromed snake guides and tip-top
- Heavy-duty, Stealth Black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat
- Integrated hidden hook keeper in reel seat
- Laser etched rod weight on slide band
- Super Plus full-wells cork handle
- Black rod bag with Electric Blue logo
- Electric Blue powder coated aluminum rod tube with Sage medallion
From the title, you can probably guess that this article is about fly fishing in Cuba. Cuba is an amazing place and its fly fishing is definitely one of the reasons why.
To be honest I only fished two days in Cuba. And one of those days wasn’t even a good one. Nevertheless, from what I saw, I would recommend fishing in Cuba to anyone…
A quick web search will reveal that most Cuban flats fishing are controlled by an Italian outfit named Avalon. Any monopoly has drawbacks but in this case I think it has been very healthy in preserving the fishery and the environment.
Avalon has fishing operations throughout Cuba, including Cayo Largo, a beautiful island south of the mainland with a handful of all–inclusive resorts. So when my girlfriend Deb and I booked into one of these resorts, it took about 5 minutes for me to send an email off to Avalon. I was hoping to book a day trip and chase some bonefish.
Here’s one of the drawbacks to a monopoly… “Not possible,” they replied. “We only do full weeks. Contact us closer to the date of your trip and we’ll see what we can do.”
I had previously devoured the Avalon website and really wanted to experience their fishery so it was an agonizing wait. Finally, a few weeks before we departed, I begged and pleaded with the Avalon representative and managed to book two day trips. I won’t mention the price – that’s another drawback of a monopoly!
Our very first night in Cuba was in Havana. It was actually New Year’s Eve and we saw a grand Cuban tradition – hurling a bucket of water into the street from the front door. Luckily, we saw it from a distance…
The flight from Havana to Cayo Largo was on board a big dual-prop plane that looked like it dated from the 1960’s. It was terribly noisy but it still gave us a good view of the immense flats that spread out from Cayo Largo. The landing – on a modern airstrip – was surprisingly smooth.
Cayo Largo is an idyllic Carribbean island with only a handful of resorts. A white sand beach? Scenic, rocky coastline? Palm trees? Scub pines? Starfish in pristine water? You can take your pick and with a little effort, you won’t have to share with anyone.
On our first day of fishing, we taxied to the Avalon fishing center and were met by the fishing director and three guides. Yup, our guide and two others. It was a bit like a NASCAR pit stop; we had five outfits with us, and they had them all completely rigged in about 2 minutes. Another minute passed and we were in a state-of-the art skiff, planing towards the flats. I had in my hands a fly box that the fishing director gave me; it held a dozen proven local patterns.
I have to admit, however, our first day fishing was not too remarkable. Deb is not a fan of long boat rides so we fished the closest spots to the dock – a few large flats that were fairly deep and often held permit. However, a cold front had blown through a couple days before. Unlucky for us, the temperatures were still down and the winds were still up.
I think I spotted three fish that day; most of the time the guide was directing my casts across wave-rippled water. Regardless, he was excellent, with eagle eyes and a very patient manner. By the time we pulled up to the dock, both Deb and I had landed a couple bonefish.
We spent the next couple days exploring the island and sampling the excellent mojitos at the resort. When the cold front had thoroughly passed – and the winds lay down – I showed up for a second day of fishing. Deb had elected to spend the day at the resort.
I was paired with a different guide – although his patient, professional demeanor was very much the same as the first. Our plan, he said, would be to fish along a string of small cays that stretched outward from one end of Cayo Largo.
The first spot we pulled up to held an immense school of bonefish. They circled away from us and then towards us. I had absolutely no problem spotting them. It was about as easy as it gets in flats fishing – cast your fly about ten feet in front of the wriggling, cruising mass. Wait ‘til it gets close… A couple strips… Watch five or six fish peel after your fly… Fish on!
With my reel buzzing, the guide would pole like crazy away from the school. We’d land the fish. And then repeat. These were solid 4 pounders. Every one of them went well into the backing. I’d wish I could say that after five fish I was ready for more of a challenge but to be honest – it my personal bonefish paradise. Lots of good-sized, eager, easy-to-see fish!
Nevertheless, the guide didn’t want to educate too many fish and he suggested we push on. And so it went for the rest of the day – from one tiny little cay with a gorgeous flat to the next… It was perhaps the most perfect day of bonefishing I’ve ever experienced. There were no more huge schools, but plenty of singles and doubles and small groups. The water was gin clear, perfectly calm, and never more than knee deep. The bottom was a magical white sand that didn’t hide fish very well. I landed 10 or 11 bonefish that day with a couple going 5 or 6 pounds. I could have landed more but the guide talked me into so many other things…
Like checking out a tiny cut through some mangroves for tarpon. They were in there – four or five good-sized juveniles! They finned lazily, wickedly obvious in the clear water. And just kept on finning lazily as my fly swam past. After a few casts, they melted back into the mangroves.
I also chugged a popper across a couple deep channels for barracuda. One showed himself but turned away. In disdain? I really think that barracuda are way smarter than most anglers think.
The guide even had me tossing a jig on a spinning rod into a couple more channels. He wanted me to sample some of the snapper fishing. Success! A four or five pound mutton snapper grabbed the jig and pulled like only snapper can.
Actually, that mutton snapper was quite an inspiration. Because shortly thereafter, we were about a mile offshore, and my tarpon rod was rigged with a sinking line. I was working a Clouser down among the patch reefs. To no avail, unfortunately. But just the anticipation of a big snapper on a fly rod made it worthwhile.
Before we headed back in, we checked out a couple deeper flats for permit. Truth be known, Cayo Largo actually has quite a reputation for permit. Maybe it’s a good thing that none showed themselves that day; I was riding a bit of an adrenaline high after all the action and a permit might have pushed me over the edge.
Back at the dock, in the comfort of the Avalon fishing center’s couch, I had a couple beers and a slice of pizza and gradually came down. If you ever decide to come to Cuba, bring a lot of gear. It seems the possibilities are endless…
* * * * * * * *
Here are a few additional notes if you every make it to Cuba…
It might be a tad inflexible, but Avalon runs a first class operation. They rotate anglers through well-defined zones to spread out the pressure. Both guides and boats are top notch.
A day or two in Havana is mandatory! Catch a jazz club, stroll the Malecon, admire the architecture, get a cab ride from a ’55 Chevy (or maybe a bicycle) – it’s gritty and grand at the same time.
The countryside near Vinales – about an hour from Havana – is incredibly exotic. Lush green farms with red soil are butted up against huge domes of vegetation and limestone.
Did I mention the great fishing?
**Editors Note: Being that Dale hails from Canada, It is very easy for him to be able to travel to Cuba for excellent adventures like this one. On the other hand us Americans are not so lucky…
In all reality a Buff is one of the most underrated pieces of sun protection that you can possibly have. This simple tube of fabric can be used so many different ways. A Buff is a staple in my fishing pack and can be used in all situations from high temps on the flats to the snowy conditions at altitude. For those who have never seen or heard of this product I would urge you to check them out, your face and neck will thank you later! For more information click HERE.
With each passing year, fly rod manufacturers, continue to push the boundaries of manufacturing fine fly rods. The status quo is constantly evolving and hype is generated with each new release. The team up at Sage has hit a home run with one of their latest releases .“The One” is definitely lives up to the expectations and all the hype that was generated by this highly anticipated release. I have had a chance to fish this rod over the last two seasons and I would love to share my thoughts.
In this article I will be focusing on the Sage One 890-4. I just recently returned from a trip down on the island of South Andros with the folks over at Deneki Outdoors at their great lodge on Kemp’s Bay so my article will mainly focus on the usefulness of this rod in bonefishing situations.
First off let me start by saying that a fly rod can only do so much for an angler in tropical saltwater conditions. Bonefishing itself is NOT easy at all , don’t let anyone tell you differently. Practicing a double haul and dialing in a solid casting stroke is the best thing you can do for yourself when throwing bigger flies, especially in situations like you find in South Andros. Practice does make perfect.
The first thing you will notice about this rod is that it is very light. This rod tips the scales at a scant 3 ½ ounces which means that you will be able to throw casts all day without too much in the way of fatigue. This rod is the perfect mixture of a nice crisp fast action and lightweight feel which means that as an angler you can feel this rod load up in no time and be ready to cast. This came in handy because a vast majority of the shots that we were presented, with out on the flats, came in at anywhere from 20 to 40 feet from the boat itself. That is not to take away from the fact that you can go “operation launch” on this rod and send casts anywhere from 60+ feet when paired with the right line. We had a few days of extremely high wind gusts of 20+ and I never once lost confidence casting into the wind with this rod. Let’s just say the rod did its job when delivering the line into the wind and any blown shots could be attributed to my bad casts.
This rod is NOT a true saltwater rod and for that reason the rod isn’t designed to muscle fish around whereas if you had the Sage Xi3 for instance which has a much larger blank diameter and more powerful butt section it would not pose as much of a problem. So when hooked up with the larger bones I found that you have to be much more patient with them and be very mindful of surrounding mangrove clusters.
To top it all off the black blanks paired with the metallic tread wraps give this rod a very unique and great look. In short this rod a lightweight and accurate rod that performs well in pretty much all situations in both freshwater and saltwater applications. My “One” 8wt has seen everything from bonefish, bass, carp, pike, tiger musky, and trout. The possibilities are endless. This rod is truly “accuracy redefined”. I would urge you to get out and give this one a cast or two to see if it is the ONE for you. You can check out the rod by clicking HERE
We are Howler Brothers. We are not really related by blood. But we are bonded by many shared callings: Surfing, fishing, paddling and the good things that come with these pursuits. Things like fire pits, really good tequila, limes, and pre-dawn coffee.
Above all we’re united by a belief in doing things the honest and pure way (which is not usually the easy way).We design and craft all our garments, and everything we make, with these passions and values in mind. Put our products to the test. Heed the call.
***The staff at Fishwest is no stranger to the Howler Brothers and their fine offerings. Their message is simple. Stylish functional apparel designed by fisherman for fisherman. In my opinion Howler Bros has a very unique style which I for one find quite refreshing and cool I mean honestly who can argue with the Gaucho shirt (The dual hibiscus flower look is awesome!)
Don’t just take my word for it. Check out all the offerings by Howler Brothers by clicking HERE