Tag Archives: tarpon

Sage Method Fly Rod

Ultra Fast Action Performance: Sage Method Series Fly Rods

 

The staff here in the shop have been extremely impressed with the Method Series rods for both freshwater and saltwater applications.  As always Sage is pushing the limits in terms of fly rod performance.

You can check it out by clicking HERE

Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag

Holiday Gift Ideas: Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag

I know most guys complain about their in-laws, but I have to say, my in-laws give some of the greatest gifts. A Christmas or two ago, I ripped off the wrapping paper to find the Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit. Fishpond definitely hit one out of the park with this bag and it goes with me on any out of town fishing trip so that I can tie a few extra flies after a long day on the water..

What I like -

Organization – there are more pockets and compartments in the Fishpond Road Trip Kit than you can shake a stick at.

  • Padded internal storage pocket for your vice and tying tools.
  • 2 small storage pockets
  • Four large “see through” zippered mesh material pockets
  • Two 9” clear tubes for thread spools
  • One 4.5”x9”x1” molded plastic organizing box for hooks, beads, etc.
  • Nine 4”x6” resealable, clear, poly bags with Velcro binding attachment
  • Nine 3”x4.5” resealable, clear, poly bags with Velcro binding attachment

Before any big trip, I sort through the different pockets and make sure I have the right materials for area that I’ll be fishing. Most of the bags, boxes, tubes are velcro attached and can therefore be rearranged to fit whatever your needs are for a particular trip. It never ceases to amaze me how much I can actually fit into this case.

Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag10Construction – The case is built out of the Fishpond Diamondtech fabric, which makes it extremely durable. Being constructed of fabric and with dimensions of 12” x 9.5″ x 4”, The Road Trip Kit is just the right size to squeeze into a suitcase or gear bag.

The Fishpond Guarantee – “At Fishpond, our goal is to build a reputation for unmatched quality among the outdoor enthusiasts using our products. Our soft goods are covered by a lifetime guarantee.”

What I don’t like

The thread spool tubes - Nice idea that doesn’t really stand up. The tubes hold multiple spools of thread, but have a tendency to pop open and have them fall out everywhere. I ended up using a piece of tape to keep it securely shut.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Bottom line – The Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit is an essential piece of gear to keep you organized and churning out flies when you’re on the road. A must have for the traveling fly fisherman.

Check out the Fly Tying Kit by clicking HERE

Drift Cover

Confluence Films: Drift Film Review

If you have read my other posts you will know that I am not a certified critic, but I do like a good movie. This is my review of the movie “Drift” by Confluence Films.  At the encouragement of the staff at Fishwest, I watched this movie and I must say that watching this film was enjoyable.

The film opens with a segment on the Deschutes River with John and Amy Hazel and incredible scenes of spey casting for steelhead.  They both seem to connect with the fish on a personal level.  In the pursuit of a fish of a thousand casts, when rewarded, they do not take the fish for granted. After seeing their passion, it brings the question to mind, does the fish catch the fisherman?

The movie will then take you to Belize with Brian O’Keefe on a quest for permit.  He is hosted in Punta Gorda at Turneffe Flats by the Garbutt brothers, Ewort, Oliver, Scully and Dennis.  If there is another saltwater trip I would take, (other than the Fishwest sponsored Andros bonefish trip) I think it would be here.  The Garbutt brothers proved instrumental in the Belizean government declaring that permit, bonefish and tarpon are now protected, catch and release only.

A couple of quick stops on the “A” section on the Green River with Adam Barker and Tommy Knight and the Frying PanDrift Cover River with R.A. Beattie and Boone Klug and then on to the Bighorn River with Robert Boyce, Robert Eddins and Jordan Gage that illustrates good times with good friends.

My favorite part of the film was on Andros islands with Charlie Smith, the inspiration and co-creator of the Crazy Charlie.  Guiding bone fisherman for over 50 years, he still practices his casting everyday to make that perfect cast so he can mentor clients on his boat.  In his words he loves being with people, loves catering to tourists and loves fishing,that is what keeps him smiling.

The final segment is a lesson in cultural awareness when Travis Smith and Jon Steihl fishes in Kashmir India with Maqsood Madarie while fishing the Yarbal River

Hopefully I did not spoil the film for you but instead motivate you to get it.  My recommendation, order Drift from Fishwest, and watch it.  It took me out of the city on a cold winter day, I give Drift three dry flies and three Crazy Charlies.

For more info on this great film please click HERE

Chasing Silver - Andy's Return

Chasing Silver – Andy’s Return: Film Review

Chasing Silver: Andy's ReturnIf you have read my previous two reviews, you have read the disclaimers, so I don’t feel the need to keep rewriting it, so reference those to see what does not credential me write film reviews.

I have wanted to fish for tarpon since the first year I started fly fishing seriously but have not found the funds to go on a tarpon trip, but it is on the bucket list.  To me tarpon on the fly would be akin to hunting bears with a switch, the prey has the advantage as verified by Chasing Silver’s Andy Mill, with the statement “22 hook-ups and zero landed last season”.  What would give an angler the desire to keep returning to fish for tarpon after a season like that?  To me it is easy; it is in their blood, once the craving is instilled, it cannot be sated.  I can relate to Andy’s philosophy, if you pull out a stogie, you will catch fish, fisherman and their superstitions, if it is stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid.

The sights that are seen in this movie want me to pack up my truck, sell my hunting stuff and drive to the Keys and buy a flats boat.  I have caught some good fish on a fly rod but these tarpon look like they are the ultimate fish, strong, acrobatic jumps, explosive runs, and they weigh as much as most anglers.  The gill plate clattering jumps, drag melting runs shown in Chasing Silver can instill the impulse to upgrade to a 12 weight outfit.

Although the action in Chasing Silver is off and on, look for the educational aspect on the flies, tides, and light on the water, this could pay dividends prior to a trip to tarpon waters.  Watch the special features selection for some good advice.   I know what flies I will be tying for the next Fishwest sponsored South Andros trip, just in case (last year a 50 pound tarpon was caught the week following our departure).  The photography on this film is enjoyable giving a contrast to the bleak weather outside.

My advice, get Chasing Silver from Fishwest this winter and travel to the Keys, catch some rays and have a good cigar.

I give Chasing Silver four dry flies.

Two For The Price Of One: Soulfish 1 & 2 Review

Authors Note*** I am in no way a trained, licensed, or certified entertainment critic so if there is such a program that prepares or credentials individuals to review movies, I have no knowledge of it.  But I do watch quite a few movies and most of the time, I tend to disagree with those reviews that find their way into print, so, there is the disclaimer.

We (my wife and I) had the opportunity to watch SOULFISH and SOULFISH 2 this weekend as a result of the combination of having to work and the weather being what is was made it a premier chance to stay inside and live vicariously through other peoples accomplishments.

You want to see fly fishing action of the world’s largest Salmonid in Mongolia?  These movies have it.  Dry fly action for steelhead, bucket mouths on fly rods, inshore action in both gin clear water and the stained backwaters of the marsh delta, fish with chompers that would frighten a dentist, huge bones within line of sight of populated vacation areas, these movies have them all.

Both SOULFISH and SOULFISH 2 provide incredible insight to fishing corners of the world that most people would never have the chance to see (or even able to find on a map) let alone fly fish.  This is not the made up, fantasy land of professional actors, these are fly fishers doing what their passion is, fishing pure and simple.  If you take in the sights during the movie, it can give the viewer a feeling of inner peace.  If focus on the action is the impetus of watching it, it can instill a sense of envy.   But instead, take the cues from those fortunate to be part of the videos expertise in the areas fished to provide an insight of their knowledge of the sport that must be paid for through years of fishing or hiring a professional guide(s).

On a note, SOULFISH 2 gives credence to the human spirit that obstacles are not life stoppers, but challenges, that if met head on, can increase the total fly fishing experience.  Mike is a true model of resilience.

My advice, get both SOULFISH and SOULFISH 2 from a fine retailer like Fishwest and watch them when life keeps you indoors, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

I give SOULFISH three dry flies; SOULFISH 2, three dries and a nymph.

Geofish

Get Your Popcorn Ready: Geofish Volume 1 Mexico Review

Authors Note: I am going to do my best impression of the late Roger Ebert here but by no means am I a film critic. After many years anticipating this movie release, here are my thoughts:

This is the type of adventure that I could find myself contemplating doing with my buddies. Going beyond the contemplation stage is probably out of the question for me at this point. The movie follows four friends, Jay Johnson, Chris Owens, Thad Robinson and Brian Jill (Formerly of AEG Media) as they attempt an 8,000 mile journey from the friendly confines of the Pacific Northwest to the tip of South America. Leg one sees the crew venture off into mainland Mexico.

The trip itself starts off as an adventure with the acquisition of a 1996 Ford F250 off of good ole reliable Craigslist.  They picked up this truck from a Utah dairy farmer who delivered it to them on a trailer. Red flag? Not for these guys, just a minor speed bump.  Running off of a limited budget these guys needed a more economical way of traveling. Knowing that gas prices would be the biggest determent the film budget these guys decided to convert their glorious F250 into a veggie oil powered home away from home. With the extreme generosity of Joel Woolf of Veg Powered systems who helped to do a complete overhaul of their F250 they were finally able to start their adventure.

Overcoming obstacles is a reoccurring theme throughout the movie. From spewing vegetable oil on the streets of Mexico to getting robbed at knifepoint at a Wal-Mart, these guys become good “amigos” with the Policia during their travels. The best part is that even after all these events they still soldier on, and with good reason.

The fishing sequences within this movie can be accurately described in one word. EPIC! First off is Marlin fishing 101. This isn’t your fancy marlin fishing that you see with a giant deep sea yacht and a full crew teasing in fish. The reality is that these guys are motoring around off the coast in a tiny panga with an outboard motor with a “guide” that doesn’t speak a lick of English searching for these leviathan creatures. The fishing starts off slow, but when they finally figure out how to do it the fishing pays off. That day Marlin fishing has to be one of those days that those guys will never ever forget.

It doesn’t end there. From lakes in central Mexico that are the homes goliath Bass to the baby Tarpon and Snook of the Yucatan. These fishing outings are the foundation of stories that become fishing legend and lore. Without giving too much away some of these locations and fish give a new fresh perspective to being “Off the Grid”.

Overall the greatest single thing about this adventure has to be that these guys got to do it together. Friendship and camaraderie is an important aspect of the sport of Fly Fishing. This movie is the ultimate example of that. Four buddies traveling thousands of miles while enjoying a sport that they love along the way. Does it get any better than that? I don’t think so. So get your popcorn ready! If you are interested in this Geofish or other fly fishing films and media please check out the Books & Media  section at Fishwest enjoy!

Blue Water Shelf (Snapper Central)

No Boundaries in the Bahamas

The 20 foot Maverick was immense. If I were a track and field official, I would have demanded a urine sample. Hanging off its back was a 200 horsepower Yamaha framed by twin trolling motors.  “They do the work,” said my guide earlier.  “The push pole is just for course corrections.”

Nevertheless, I had signed up for what H2O Bonefishing calls its “No Boundaries” program.  And at that particular instant in time, it was really well named.  We had left Grand Bahama Island about 15 minutes ago and there was nothing but ocean all around us – no cays, no flats, no rocks – just ocean.  Apparently, we were headed to some isolated cays.  Luckily, it was flat calm.

Another 5 minutes passed, and the cays showed up as a couple specks on the horizon.  In another half hour, we were hunting tarpon in a shallow bay.

Nothing but a couple of big nurse sharks showed themselves as they lumbered along… We drifted outside the bay to a small point… Tarpon!  40 to 50 pounders rolling luck crazy!  I think I got bit on my third cast.  Nevertheless, as tarpon are prone to do, it jumped off.  And the remaining tarpon, as tarpon are prone to do, got lockjaw.

So off we went in search of bonefish…  The rest of the day is a bit of a blur – but a good blur.  We fished mostly deeper flats from the boat.   We saw huge schools of bonefish, small groups of permit, groups of bones with permit mixed in, singles, doubles, barracuda, sharks…  You get the picture.  The bonefish weren’t pushovers, but they were pretty grabby.  And the 8 or 9 that visited the boat averaged a solid 4 pounds.  The permit …  Let’s just say they were permit.

It was hard focusing on just bonefish and permit; there were too many other distractions.  Like blacktip sharks and barracuda.  Don’t let anybody tell you that sharks and barracuda are reckless predators; they knew exactly what I was up to…

I remember one brash 4 foot blacktip and an equally ballsy bonefish. I was winding the bonefish close to the boat when the blackip charged – not the bonefish, but the boat!  At high speed!  The guide gave it a solid crack between the eyes with the push pole and the shark settled, skulking about 30 feet off our stern.   At this point in time, the bonefish ran directly toward the shark.  As far as I could tell, the bonefish gave the shark a solid head butt in the flank.  The shark, obviously disturbed by the sheer madness of the situation, finally moved off.

Needless to say, that bonefish got unhooked with extra respect.

As we wandered from cay to cay, a lot of fine looking rocks and coral were worked over with a sinking line.   The odd jack or snapper was happy to play.   Occasionally, a thunderstorm would pop up in the distance, but we’d adjust our course and skip around it.

It was a long day on the water.  I left my hotel at 6:30 AM and came back 13 hours later.  But those kinds of long hours I can get used to.

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The “No Boundaries” program runs during the summer months.  It actually consists of 2 days fishing the plentiful flats close to Grand Bahama and 2 more days plying the offshore cays.  The quiet summer winds (and the big boat!) help make the offshore forays possible.  The offshore cays offered amazing fishing  in terms of size, variety, and numbers.  (If you’re a gear head, bring lots of stuff!!!)  The closer in waters offered excellent bonefishing, although the fish were a smaller and the variety less.  The accommodations were in Freeport and boat got trailered to launch sites around the island.

What it's all about!

Yucatan Baby Tarpon

Baby tarpon react to a hook like their oversized parents; they try to put as much air as possible between themselves and the water.  However, they are far more accommodating.  When fishing for adults, a great day is 5 fish jumped and 1 landed.  With babies, jumping 15 and landing 5 is definitely not out of the question.  And the babies aren’t exactly puny – 5 to 10 pounds is a common size.

I am by no means a seasoned tarpon hunter, but over the last few years I’ve managed to visit some of the Yucatan’s premier baby tarpon fisheries.  Although not definitive, my impressions might be helpful if a trip is germinating in your brain.

It should be noted that all my trips took place in July or August.  Visiting the Yucatan in the heat of summer sounds a bit twisted but it’s actually prime time for baby tarpon.

The gear for baby tarpon is simple – an 8 or 9 weight rod, a floating line, and a reel with a smooth drag.  Most baby tarpon will not take you into your backing.   Some veteran baby tarpon fishermen recommend stripping them in without putting them on the reel.  A decent fly selection would include baitfish patterns, poppers, and Seaducers – all on 1/0 or 2/0 hooks.  A very functional leader looks like this:  5 feet of 50 lb mono for a butt section, 2 feet of 25 lb mono for the tippet, and 2 feet of 40 lb fluorocarbon as a shock tippet.

Now, here’s a look at some baby tarpon destinations…

Tarpon Cay Lodge in San Felipe (Rio Lagartos)   www.yucatanflyfishing.com

San Felipe, about 100 miles west of Cancun, is a sleepy, pleasant village where walking around gives your camera a taste of real Mexico.

The baby tarpon fishing starts after a 5 minute boat ride.  It’s mostly blind casting the mangroves off points or in the rios, which are saltwater creeks.  Oftentimes, rolling fish provide targets.

Once you’ve shaken the jitters when fishing to babies, San Felipe can give you the opportunity to come unglued in front of much larger fish.  A boat ride of an hour or so will take you to a spot offshore where migratory adults up to 100 pounds hang out.  This is sight casting to rolling fish over deep water.

Isla del Sabalo at Isla Arena    www.yucatanflyfishing.com

If San Felipe is sleepy, then Isla Arena is comatose – in a good way.  Even though you are only 100 km north of Campeche, it’s like the edge of the world.

The fishing is very similar to San Felipe with the addition of sight fishing on the flats in front of the mangroves.  (N.B.  Tarpon are much easier to see than a bonefish.)  Some of the guides like to go WAY up the tiniest of creeks.  Bring a mosquito repellant and don’t forget to duck under that mangrove branch!  I found a Sage bass rod a great tool for such close quarters.

You will likely fly into Merida, which is an incredible colonial city.  It’s like being in Europe, but the tarpon are much closer.

Paradise Lodge on the Costa Maya Coast   www.tarponparadise.net

Between Chetumal Bay and Espiritu Santos Bay, Paradise Lodge has a breathtaking variety of fishing opportunity.

Baby tarpon are the backbone of this fishery; they hang out in cenote lakes, which are land-locked lagoons connected to the ocean via underground channels.  Each day starts out with a truck ride as your boat is trailered to one of these lakes.  Bring your casting arm – you’ll blind cast the mangroves like crazy.  Nevertheless, you’ll probably see enough tarpon to keep your motivation in high gear.  One of the lakes has a good population of both snook and barracuda.

During your stay at Paradise, you’ll probably drive south to sprawling Chetumal Bay to chase bonefish and permit.  I caught my only permit in Chetumal Bay.  I’d like to say I made  a 70 foot cast to a tailing fish but I actually flipped a crab pattern about 30 feet into a HUGE mud.  The permit that popped out was VERY small.  At dinner that night, I downplayed my catch and was promptly chastised by the lodge owner.  “A permit is a permit!” he insisted.

If baby tarpon are the backbone of the Paradise Lodge fishery, then Espiritu Santos Bay is the jewel.  It’s a long, pre-dawn drive to the north.  Punta Huerrero, an obscenely picturesque fishing village, guards the bay’s entrance.   Once your skiff ventures into Espiritu Santos Bay, you’re not on the edge of the world, you’ve actually gone over it!

Very few people fish Espiritu Santos. Its flats are beautiful, wild and abundant, just like its bonefish.  Chances are you’ll see permit, too.  My guide even pointed out a few wily snook underneath the mangroves.  I didn’t believe they were there until he chased them out with his push pole.

Isla Blanca by Cancun  www.yucatanflyfishing.com

Cancun, as you probably know, is fueled by thousands of beach and bar-seeking tourists.

However, 30 minutes north of the sunscreen-slathered hordes lies Isla Blanca and its tremendous variety of fishing environments – hidden lagoons, picturesque bays, mangrove tunnels, small flats, large flats.  Is your boat careening towards a solid wall of mangroves?   Relax, the guide knows exactly where the opening to the other side is. Baby tarpon, a few bonefish, and smallish permit roam all over these waters.  The permit, although small, are numerous.

If you want a break from fishing, and perhaps Cancun’s frantic pace, there are loads of guided excursions to Mayan ruins, traditional villages, and cenotes.

Isla Holbox   www.holboxtarponclub.com

Isla Holbox is comfortably touristed but in a golf-carts-on-funky-sand-streets sort of way.   It is about 60 miles northwest of Cancun; the last part of the journey is onboard a ferry.

Although Holbox is noted for big, migratory tarpon in the open ocean, the backcountry flats and channels in the lagoon behind it have excellent populations of babies.  Tired of slinging 500 grain heads on a 12 weight?  The babies chase poppers and streamers and put on a great show when connected to an 8 weight.  I found sight-fishing for the babies to be excellent.

Another attraction at Holbox is the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks.

Nichupte Lagoon (Cancun) and Campeche

These are a couple places I have yet to visit.  The former is the lagoon directly behind the Cancun hotel strip.  The latter is a colonial city.