Fish Catching Travel
Yesterday I posted about the island and the general stuff that makes it fun, and that you might want to know if you ever think about going there. Today it is all about the fishing. And what a place to fish, beautiful water, a great guide, and some of the most sought after fish on the planet.
When we arrived I brought the wind with me, and that turned out to have a big affect on the fishing. We were set up to fish with Ken Coc of Chasin Tail Charters. Ken is one of the best guides on the island and with Haywood they have won one of the biggest fly fishing tournament in Belize.
Ken normally fishes fly fishermen, stating it is about 90% of his business. The rest is folks like us, who normally end up spinfishing with live bait. Of course we added some topwater to the mix, which is something he is not all that familiar with. When Ken would pick us up in the morning he would have crabs for the permit in the livewell and he would net some sardines on the way. The crabs are for the permit, the sardines for the tarpon and all the rest.
Ken at work. Folks his ability to spot fish was just unreal.
How I could ever get everything I want to tell you in one post is tough. We caught bonefish, tarpon, permit, and snook, not to mention the other assorted small stuff off the dock. You can fish day and night if you want, and we did. So to make it simpler lets talk about the bonefish first and work our way from there.
There are about 5 miles of flats on the island you can wade. There are docks on a lot of it, and every once in while you would not stand a chance. We caught them on 1/8th jigs and shrimp on a freeline. Light spinning rods with 8 – 10 fluorocarbon was perfect.
Shoedog fights a bonefish off the dock waiting for Ken.
And he lands him.
I get another at night on free lined shrimp.
Shoedog with another nice bone. They really like that yellow jig.
Clyde gets him close.
Clyde’s first bonefish. This one filled out his grand slam – a tarpon, bonefish, snook, and permit. It does not get any sweeter than that!
Folks this was not all the bones we caught, but it gives you a good idea. We did not hire the guide for them, and caught them on our own. The wind was so heavy on the front side of the island that it was to tough to see them. I managed to catch 3 on the first morning on the outside because I knew where they hung out. Lucky for us the backside by Sea Dream’s dock was fairly calm. It was just matter of sighting them and making a good cast. If you have never caught one put it on your list.
Jeff and Clyde fish day one with Ken.
They were more than ready when Ken picked them up in the morning. The trips are a straight 8 to 4, with a short lunch. As both of them had not caught any of these fish before they were up for what ever came their way. When I met them at the dock when they got back I asked how it went and got an interesting answer. They did not catch any of the big 4, and they had no one to blame but themselves.
One thing we all learned real quick, the fish are hard to see. When combined with the high winds it was almost impossible for rookies like us. And to compound matters, this is a precision casting technique. Think of a pie and place the fish in the center of it. Now make a cast, and it has to land in front of him, without spooking him, in about a quarter of the pie. To long, to short, behind them, none of that will cut it.
They both wanted to catch a barracuda, and here is Shoedog’s on a topwater.
They both had shots at tarpon and permit, but did not get it done. The cast has to be so right. They understood when the day was over that it was their fault. Shoedog even had a giant snook come out of the mangroves and boil a topwater 4 times without getting hooked. As he has caught them with me before he knew it was the biggest one he had ever had a shot at. When the guide puts you on them his part is done, it is up to you. They did throw some topwater and caught some fish including barracuda and snapper. Just a quick snapper comment. It is amazing how many really nice snapper we caught. They were shallow and we caught them on topwaters, which was awesome, and some on live bait. And most of them were nice size.
So though they were disappointed in the their first day, they put the blame on themselves. Ken gave them shots. It is a real learning curve, both seeing the fish, and making a perfect cast. The old saying close only counts in hand grenades is so true.
Clyde and I with Ken on day 2 of guided fishing.
I was all pumped up for my first day and Clyde and I would fish together today. After Ken picked us up we stopped at a tarpon spot. The wind was blowing right on it, but Ken spotted some right away. Both Clyde and I made multiple casts trying to get it in front of them. Clyde had one eat it, though he did not feel it, and when Ken yelled jerk, Clyde did, and came back without his leader. How that tarpon broke it off I will never know.
Then I made what I thought was the perfect cast to 3 of them, led them just right, had a bite, and came back with a half a sardine. A barracuda bit it off before the tarpon could get to it. So we were 0 fer at the first spot. And it was our fault.
Next it was on to a permit spot. And it was game on. It was a large point with grass and sand potholes and finally Ken spotted them. Clyde finally made the perfect cast with his crab and was hooked up. The battle was on and I immediately found out why they are so pursued. A permit may be the hardest fighting fish alive.
The moment when every dollar, the preparation, and the travel are worth it!
Clyde kept saying you can not imagine the power of this fish. He was using 10lb line on a spinning rod and it tore him up. Now I have caught everything from minnows to marlin, but I had no idea how tough they were, but I would soon find out.
Ken got us back in position to make another run at them. I finally saw a flash like a dinner plate and made a cast. It landed about 5 foot to the right and Ken yelled reel it in and cast it on that grass point near a sandy pothole. That was exactly where I saw that fish and I casted about 2 feet short. Ken said don’t move it, he sees it, here he comes, and though I did not see all that, I saw my crab disappear. I reeled him on, set the hook and it was game on.
I am holding on for dear life.
Now I had this fish on a heavy casting rod with 20lb. Big Game line and a 40lb. fluorocarbon leader. I assumed I could handle it fairly easy. No way. I have never battled a fish that size on that heavy of stuff and not beat him pretty easy. There is no way I can describe their power. Big forked tail and a large body let him make long blistering runs and then bulldog with his body. He almost spooled me and then the unthinkable happened, he got me in a tree.
Fishing is a game of skill and luck. But sometimes you just get up on the right side of the bed, and today I did. He was smoking off line towards the bank which had a few trees on it when I felt that awful feeling, the line was dragging on something, and he was hung up. Clyde spotted him in a tree right on the surface about 50 yards away, and he was hung up. I immediately took the pressure off and we motored to him. As we got closer I could feel him pulling line out again, but it was rubbing. Ken put the boat on the tree and they both began to untangle it. The whole time I could fell him running out. That fish had managed to wrap 3 times around the tree branches, and thank God they were able to unwrap it, and he was free and running like a freight train. The fight was back on and I got a gift I never should have gotten.
Here he comes. My patience and their help led to this moment.
A dream realized!
I only had 2 goals for this trip. First was to turn my best fishing buddies on to something they had never done before, and second, to catch a permit. Having caught tarpon and bones before a permit was my only personal goal for this trip. And it happened. I will never forget how hard they fight, it is beyond description. And to save it like we did will be a memory I will take with me to my grave. It makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it. So thanks Ken and Clyde, we did it together. No one panicked, everyone did their part, and I had my dream fish. The only problem is I am crossing fish off my bucket list faster than I can add a new one. Tough life huh?
Now that was not all that happened on our day together. And I have more to post not only about that day, but my second day with Ken when I fished with my brother Shoedog. This trip was so wonderful, full of first times, big battles, and good friends.
So stop in tomorrow. I am working on a couple of other videos for tomorrow, including Shoedog’s epic cobia battle on light line, so there is lots more to come. Thanks for reading my stuff. Just putting in down on paper gives me goose bumps and I am so happy I can share it with you.
Check out the link below.
Ocean Academy Fly Fishing Class - please watch this video, Haywood and Heidi, owners of Sea Dreams are doing great things on the island: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ovPPv8tvRk
Good Luck and Tight Lines