All of a sudden it was the week before a trip we all planned some 5 months ago and I was supposed to have my shit packed and be excited about going to the salt when I hadn’t time to even entertain the idea since paying for our place several months back. The usual banter started to spice up in the txting thread and that alone was enough to finally make me realize I’d be sitting my pale Dutch ass on a beach and casting at bonefish, maybe a permit or tarpon if I was worthy for a week. In all reality, my fishing goal was to catch a single bonefish, and maybe have good day were I caught a couple. My experience of saltwater fishing has been such that permit and tarpon were simply fish that turned you down like it was high school all over again, so why stress myself about catching something so unobtainable.
Steamin, bear, Twav and myself all decided to do a mini fly swap- to put some more diversity in our boxes. I always love being bent over for 40 dollars by the new, green, 19 year old shop rat who’s taking two courses at the community college and has already seen it all at our local fly shop. That 40 dollars gets you 60% of the materials you came for but not the five things you actually needed. Having tuned our flies we use in Michigan down to a simple perfection of just a few purposeful materials that might not be worthy-looking enough to fill a new Instagram page with catchy material, but surely have claimed more large brown trout than the average streamer, I admittedly contributed how shitty and un-original my flies were to just being “buggy”. From what the guys told me it’s more of finding the right fish though, as is most of fly fishing if you don’t suck too bad so I originally hoped I’d be crossing paths with a few of mexico’s village idiots. Here’s some of our swap flies.
We arrived at our destination after a long day of flying, and driving. It was hot, and sticky. But at dinner the piña’s and Dos Equis were cold and that made things better. After all, we were in la jungla.
The next morning, still on my back home schedule of waking up at 3-something, I watched the light peak over the water and into the clouds.
We were to fish next. But there was something that made things complicated. Wind back a few days and this is the email we got from our hostess:
And she wasn’t kidding. There was thick smelly sargasso piled up on the banks as far as you could see.
“Something had to be wrong”
So we all threw in a hypothetical snuss with a morning coffee session. Because- like we all know a snuss and coffee always change things, we just don’t know if they’ll be for the better or the worse.
We drove up too the leeward side of a point, and our snuss and coffee seemed to change things for the better.
It didn’t take lindsey long to seal the deal either. She clearly hates saltwater fishing.
We so decided it was twelve o’clock, at ten-thirty. As you do on vacation.
The next day I was up at a similar time enjoying the time of day you don’t feel covered in sweat and the sand is a bit cool.
This day I’d be with Lindsey, and Philipe.
“Palomenta?” Philipe asked
We actually got more shots at permit than I ever imagined possible. Philipe poled his ass off and time after time each permit turned on my fly then refused it. Before the trip I didn’t care if I caught one or not. But I started to think what it would actually be like if one ate, and then permit fever started to set in. I wanted to catch a permit, bad.
On a side note, it was more challenging casting than I ever imagined. I’m a total noob at saltwater fishing but I thought “fuck, I really shouldn’t have to be hauling this hard to cast properly”. Travis was kind enough to let me use a line of his and I knew he said he didn’t like it but never imagined it could be this bad.
Then I began to notice how the part that connected to my backing was thicker than the part I was casting. You gotta be shitting me I thought, I’ve been casting with the fly line backwards for the past two days.
I’m embarrassingly re rigged my rod in the boat, contemplating wether to even tell the guys because I knew I’d never live this one down.
In my defense, fishing with the right part of the fly line forward in the afternoon caught as many permit as fishing with it backwards did in the morning. Zero.
Lindsey got up on the bow.
“Bonefeesh, 10 o’clock” Philipe said
The next day Bear and I would be out together.
Bear was up first. We were with Andres and he asked if we’d like to try a new location for some beach permit. We didn’t see nearly as many permit as the day before, but about two hours into our morning we saw a black fin pop up next to start some Sargasso.
Bear made a perfect cast.
Without seeing the fish eat, his second strip came tight and we all saw the shinny dinner plate flash.
Then he held this shortly there after.
“Oso, you are very good” Andres said. And shook bears hand.
We motored to another spot and passed twavs boat. He had his thumb up so we stoped to see what for.
“Gotta permit” Travis said
“No shit! We just got one too. How big”
“Bout like this”
“Sounds just like bears too. Damn, whata fuckin morning”
Today is good day, we said.
Then it was my turn. I got a couple great shots at permit. One in particular that’ll haunt me until I die. It was a grande, feeding in shallow water next to a large mat of sargasso. I put it where it should be and on my first strip a chuck of sargasso snagged on my fly. I kept stripping and the grande permit was swiping back and fourth, making huge boils in the surface almost eating my fly covered in weeds after each swipe. That was the fish that wanted to eat a fly, and my fly was covered in grass. Fuck.
Next spot. Andres cut the motor after seeing some tarpon roll. He polled to them and I threw a popper as far as I could.
Glug glug glug.
I saw one of them chasing, then bolt upon seeing boat.
I threw the popper further out
*screams and holy fucks as tarpon did as tarpon do*
“Today is a good day”
Andres wanted to get the grand slam for the boat so jetted off to a shallow flat. Bear had the bonefish rod in hand and I was ready with the popper Incase we saw Barry.
“Sometimes at the mouth there’s some jacks here” Andres said
“Long cast 1 o’clock”
Glug glug gluWOOSH
“You weren’t kidding about the jacks were you Andres”
“Today is a good day”
Then bear went and got the bonefish.
Since bear got the permit and the bone it was time for him to go for the personal slam so he readied a tarpon rod. We were polling around some darker, deeper water and Andres goes “permit! Cast !”
“Andres we switched the permit rod to tarpon, we only have the bonefish rod ready”
“Cast anyways they’re here”
So I pick up the bonefish rod and casted. They spooked.
Andres continues to pole and we saw another group of 3 permit about a half hour later. I casted and see one of the fish break away from the group. I see the fish all of a sudden turn completely perpendicular to me, which I thought was a denial, but during my strip it was tight. Holy shit. It’s on. And tearing my slack line from my left hand and onto the reel torching bears old Ross momentum. My memory of the rest is a bit hazy but remember holding the fish in awe several minutes later.
We simply had one of those days were conditions, and fish behavior lined up perfectly.
“Today was a good day”
That night during beers before dinner on the beach we saw a bunch of tarpon rolling.
Steamin’ went out there.
“Today was a good day”
We drank a few Dos Equis that night, and did what you’re suppose to when having a great day- tell stories over the fire.
Twav saw me
It was a good day.
.. and we had 4 more days of beach fishing ahead of us. Those 4 days were filled of waiting for and fishing the couple hour window when the tide dropped just enough to make out beach permit, bones, and jacks.
During the golden hours it sounded on like this:
And looked like this:
For steamin’ it looked like this:
And when the tide came up it looked like this:
...and when the tide peaked it looked like this:
For the better written version of the trip. I’d check out the assifieds if I were you.