Tag: Saltwater Fly fishing


Baby Tarpon on Dry Flies

Last August in the midst of recovering from shoulder surgery on my casting arm I was headed to Isla Holbox with some friends to catch up with Sandflea and the boys.  The trip was planned, the shoulder surgery was a surprise, but I figured I would just make the best of it (or have fun watching!!)

Baby Tarpon eating a dry fly



I arrived a day ahead of the group and was talking with Sandflea about how my left handed casting with a 12wt was going to be a little different than the 5wt I had just left at home.  Sandflea said he knew of a place very close where tons of baby tarpon had congregated, I said let’s go………..

I had brought down a bunch of smaller foam poppers that would pop on the first strip and the wiggle back to the surface, the takes were amazing!!

Some of the takes were down right explosive


When the rest of the group arrived I talked Nick the “C” Cozmo into spending a day fishing for the babies, it was a tough question because I could tell he wanted to fish for the big boys and it was a short trip.  Once he heard that we were getting them on dries, he was ready to go……..

Eat into jump














Explosive take and jump













Cozmo with a baby gone vertical

























Like the Old Man used to say “opportunity in every situation”, had I not had shoulder surgery I would have never experienced these fish eating dry flies

Cozmo with a big leap

















Myself, Bart "ZZZaaabbaaarrff" Langlois, and Sandflea on our way














The Crew, Kareto, Cozmo, Bart, Sandflea, Dawes, Eaton







We found the big boys as well




Playa Blanca = Playa Permit

Just got back from another successful trip to Playa Blanca.  The last four trips  have been very good and the Permit fishing seems to be getting better and better.  We had an excellent group of 14 anglers and as always the lodge and staff were excellent.

17 Permit were caught for the week which was impressive as not everyone was fishing for permit.  There was some great Tarpon and Snook fishing and the Bonefish were plentiful and tailing.

I loved hearing the stories during the week of several people holding the Tarpon Fly in hand on 50lb shock, while in search of baby tarpon, seeing a Bonefish, throwing the Tarpon Fly at the Bone and watching him eat it on 50 lb shock!!

Says a lot about the area in which we were fishing.

Heading back at the end of March.  Some Permits shots from the group!!

Early morning, new fly!!





Grant Wood with 1 of 2, his first congrats Santiago!!!!

Austin Watson's first permit that ended with a Grand Slam!!!!

Jon Fenn, with 1 of 4, his first as well Congrats Jon!!

Don Watson with a great fish!!!!

Chuck Moos with a fine Permit

Jim Hickey with a nice sickle fin!!

The Fall Classic Crew!!!! (In order left to right) Jim Finley, Bill Egan, Mike Dawes, Alex Maher, Don Watson, Sara Cart, Austin Watson, Ben Cart, Jon Fenn, Dale Endris, Grant Wood (Santiago), Jim Hickey, Chuck Moos, Susie McDowell


























Doug Barnes Photography – Playa Blanca

It always amazes me watching someone do something extremely well.  I do not know much about Photography, but I try and dabble here and there and learn what I can.  Doug Barnes knows a lot about Photography, he has been doing it his entire life and his work speaks for itself.   Last April I was amazed again at how impressive Doug Barnes is with a camera.  Dougy is a true professional and joy to be with, we have a great time in Mexico together.  So as promised here are a couple of shots that Dougy took on our trip, they speak for themselves.


































































A True Monster

More often than not when fishing for Permit with a Fly, I find myself thinking, “What am I doing?”  I often wonder why my infatuation for saltwater fishing with a fly had to land on Permit.  What I have learned in fishing for Permit with a fly over the past 8 years is how quickly the pendulum swings.  For the most part I think about Fly Fishing as life in fast forward, but when fishing for Permit with a fly it is more like life at Mach speed.

The swing of emotions from thoughts of “this is the wrong fly” “there are no fish here” “how old is my backing” “is my tippet to big”  “what did I just do wrong” “did he eat it” “did I strip right”  “how much money am I wasting” etc. to “oh my god he ate it” “clear the line” “this could be the fish of your life” “I need to land this fish” “the hook is going to pull” “that was incredible” swing in a matter of seconds.

Last week the pendulum swung in the right direction quickly.  After getting wrapped on rocks twice and jumping out of the boat each time to clear the backing, tailing the fish twice only to watch it runs another 150 yards each time because the guide could not hang on to the fish in the water, we landed this beast.  I do not know how much it weighed, the guide thought it was around 37 pounds, but we will never really know.  All I know is that after we landed the fish, permit fishing made sense, for now, until the next refusal and the pendulum swings back to reality.


Tarpon Lessons

Last month I had to the oppurtunity to head back down to the keys to fish with my good friends Tom Levandoski and Capt. Chris Mcreedy.  This was a Tarpon trip and all Permit desires were set aside for the week.  As weather seems to be a trend in 2010, the trend continued.  For the first 3-4 days the weather did not copperate, mostly in the light category, tough to sight fish without light.  The second half of the trip the light copperated but my angling skills did not.  The last day however the tides turned in our favor and we were able to put plenty of fishin the air.

As fishing goes, I learned plenty of invaluable lessons that will not be forgotten anytime soon.  I had not been fishing strictly for Tarpon in the Keys for the past 5 years as I have been spending most of my Tarpon fishing days in Mexico and mostly fishing for Permit in the Keys.  The angle in which the Tarpon sees the fly, or the angle in which you cast can be the difference in getting them to eat or not.  While this is inevitably something one would always think about, I had not put enough thought into it until the Capt. and Tom had a little talk with me about it.  What I came away with is that you can make a Tarpon eat a fly, but the angle in which you do so is more important than I ever thought.  The Keys are surely the Superbowl of Saltwater Fly Fishing, and offer some of the best fishing in the world and some of the sports biggest lessons.  What a difference it turned out to make and the lesson will surely stick with me.

It was also the first time I have ever fished out of Sugarloaf Marina, and what a surprise that was.  If you have never been, make sure to grab a cold one at the end of the day and sit at the bench and listen there is a lot to learn there on many fronts, not to mention non stop comedy, and introduce yourself to Johnny Jackson.

On the second to last day Andy Mill had dropped off a copy of his new book Tarpon with Capt. Bob Paulson and I had a chance to look through the entire book.  This book is the finest piece of work done on Tarpon I have ever seen, and when it comes out it will be coffee table sooner than later.

BP ——-What a Joke


Carter Andrews Panama Update

I got a great report from a recent trip at Isla Secas in Panama from David Decker, who was fishing with Jeffrey Cardenas and Carter Andrews, sounds like one of those days!!!!  Read below………………………………………………………….

With the sun climbing out of the Pacific, Jeffrey and I stepped aboard the gleaming See Vee.  For avid anglers like us, the morning greetings from Carter, Kid and young Billy could not have been more welcome and their hopes for a productive day mimicked our own. We were anxious to begin our search for signs of yellowfin tuna feeding near the surface.

Cruising over the soft swell and heading to Hannibal Bank, all eyes were trained on the horizon for birds and any debris that might signal tuna on the feed. Carter flipped on the radar to help us find flocks of gannets and man-o-war birds beyond our vision, then sure enough, there it was, a solid red blob about 2 1/2 miles away identifying concentrated bird action.

Kid pushed the throttle down and in no time the birds, wheeling and diving, were on the bait. The smooth surface of the water under the birds was erupting like bombs going off.  Tuna were slashing violently at the bait balled up above them and below the birds.  As the center counsel glided into casting range, Jeffrey  and I were stripping out line from reels as fast as we could. I was in the stern and Jeffrey in the bow, making ready for our shot at this wad of tuna making sushi of the hapless anchovies. The boat settled and we both made casts as far as we could into the feeding frenzy, strip, strip, strip, no hook up.

As sure as we were that the tuna had made an exit to the depths, Carter quickly noticed that the bait had taken up residence under the boat and the tuna were still below them flashing through the deep blue water.  We had no way to get a fly to the fish.

Kid was on the helm up top and took the direction from Carter to back away slowly from the bait ball to let the tuna push them back to the surface and our flies.  Sure enough, after only seconds the big yellowfins were back on the surface churning the water white, murdering anchovies that now had nowhere to hide.

Frantically casting into the mob accomplished nothing.   After only one cast, the bait had hustled back to the shadow of our hull with the tuna down deep still feeding full bore.  Again, Carter gave the gentle command to Capt. Kid to back out slowly, and again the mayhem commenced again on the surface.  Kid bumped us forward into range so Jeffrey and I launched shots into the chaos of silver rockets with no hook up.

The bait maintained their refuge under the boat and once more Carter implored the helmsman to back away, leaving the bait ball at the mercy of the tuna, putting us anglers in range.

There are occasions in fishing when you are part of something that is beyond description,  time stands still and the world is so vivid that you can feel the stars lining up.  And they did.  Jeffrey’s rod bucked wildly and his reel was singing that tune that we seek with abandon, he was solidly attached to a yellowfin.  My cast was a bit behind his, but after coming tight on the second strip the line in my hand was as taut as it possibly can be before hitting the reel.  Sweet music and shouts all around, we had a double!

The beginning of a battle with these turbo charged fish is elation and excitement on par with nothing else I have experienced. Both tuna had made long, high speed runs into the backing and the depths below.  The energy coming back up the line was electric.  Neither fish were giving up easily and had their way for nearly an hour.  At 90 degrees in the shade, the tussle was taking its toll on our every fiber, gaining and loosing line but always putting maximum heat on… then slowly the fly lines were in sight.  Jeffrey was really putting the hickory to his yellow fin yellowfin as Kid and Billy hovered nearby with the gaffs, ready to finish the job.  Words of encouragement and coordination drifted back to me as Jeffery’s tuna came closer, one reel turn at a time, in the long spiral inching towards the sharp hook of the gaff.  I was still struggling with my fish as he retook the fly line back out of sight.  My arms were numb, my hands refused to operate properly, my back was feeling the strain.

Into my dreamy world came the sounds of victory from the bow as Jeffrey’s big tuna landed on the deck, banging it’s tail wildly.  All hands were whooping it up on the conclusion of the first half of the double.  Not for me yet as I was still in the saddle and showing signs of wear and tear.  With coaching from Carter and Billy, I was pushed to put the heat on this stubborn combatant that I had yet to even see.  Sweat stinging my eyes, dry throat, aching muscles all made me doubt that I would ever best this beast from the deep.

Pumping, reeling, pumping, reeling, a little at time, I was gaining and the fly line was in sight through the clear water below re-energizing my effort.  After what seemed a long time Kid from the tower hollered, “color, we got color”.   There he was, still 70 feet down, slowly gliding in a long arch.  He was near the end of his resistance and now only a couple dozen turns of the reel from the big hooks held in the hands of the crew.  Carter and Billy stood, leaning on the shafts of the gaffs, peering into the blue, patiently waiting for their opening to close the deal, ever prodding me to stay with it.  I looked at my hands that I could not feel and willed them to turn the handle of the reel a few more time.  The glimmering tuna came out from under the stern and leveled off near the surface, I could plainly see his big eye looking back at me, the gaffs sunk deep and the tuna was hoisted over the gunwale onto the deck, still fighting back.

Jeffrey  was there congratulating me as I was him.  I only wanted to start breathing again and regain my composure.  We were joyous in our fine fortune and what we had shared together.  Cleaned up and washed off we were back to looking for birds.

Islas Secas, Panama, April, 2010

David Decker



The best day ever…………hhmmmmm?

The other day I overheard another best day ever conversation.  I am always intrigued by this topic as it often holds very similar qualities amongst a broad spectrum of fishing.  Surprised seems to be the most intriguing common thread when listening to others talking about The Day.  I know in my own personal experience my best days of fishing in salt or freshwater have more often than not been a surprise and definitely unexpected.

After listening to the conversation I starting thinking about the topic of the best fishing day I have ever experienced and the answer came very quickly.  It was an experience than I am almost positive will never some around again and it was a surprise to all that were there and completely unexpected.

It was the December 13, 2004 and I was on Alphonse Island in the Seychelles, I had been fishing there for 10 days and Alphonse had already lived up to it’s expectations.  I was fishing with Dan Oas and Paul Boyers on their day off, as both were guiding at Alphonse at the time.  It was hot, I mean real hot and there was not a breath of wind in the atoll.  Waiting at the mother ship for the other clients and guides to head out for the day, we were undecided as what we were going to do for the day as we were going to wait and see where others were going to head as to not interfere with their plans.  After everyone headed out we agreed to head out to look for some permit.  The atoll resembled a sheet of glass and on our way out from the mother ship we stumbled upon some milkfish.

Quickly Dan had one hooked up and we chased it down and landed it, not before a battle with a very large lemon shark that looked like it could have engulfed the skiff and a broken rod while the milkfish was landed with the shark looming below the net.

On our way out again to look for some permit we encountered weird surface activity that immediately reminded me of Tarpon daisy chaining in the Florida Keys.  Upon further inspection, to our SURPRISE, they were milkfish daisy chaining and there was not just one daisy chain, they were as far as the eye could see.  Milkfish were everywhere.

We took advantage of our pleasant surprise and had several doubles, more broken rods, two anglers fishing on the front of the skiff, swimming between coral heads when hooked up as to not screw up the other angler as the hooks ups were coming often.  There wasn’t a lot of talk that day, it was as if all three of us quietly understood we were witnessing something few had ever seen, and even a couple of hours into the phenomenon we knew we would most likely never see something of this magnitude again.

I could go on about this day for days, but all said and done all of the other boats were outside the atoll and we were the only ones witnessing this event.  When it was time to head back to the mother ship, there was a moment of silence as we stared at each other and smiled, we did not talk about this day with others when we returned to the mother ship, and simply put we were still in shock.  I do not know how many milkfish we landed or jumped that day, but days later upon refection the three of us estimated we had put at least 35 milkfish in the air that day.  While drinking a beer at the bar after this day, one of the other guides pulled two of us aside and said, “What the hell happened out there today to you guys, and you better tell me because I know something happened”  We must have had a silent fishy glow about us that was giving off a scent of The Day we had witnessed……………..That was the best day of fishing I have ever had

The next day was my last day and I managed a little icing on the cake


Panama “Fantasy Islands”

Just got back from visting Carter Andrews new fishing operation in Panama, out on Isla Secas.  Did someone say “Fantasy Islands” because that is where this fishing operation is.  I have been to a

my pad, Isla Secas

lot of fishing lodges and I must say I have never seen anything as unique as this.  Seven plush yurts admist 16 private islands of mountainous volcanic jungle, private air strip, unreal food, diving, surfing, in the middle of the Pacific, oh and then there is the fishing………………………………………..yea can you say Fantasy!

Jed Mixter & Rooster

Dorado taking the fly

Big Fish

Ned Hutchinson from Cloudveil with another nice Rooster

welcome to fantasy islands


INDIA – Wow……….

Where to start with this trip is a mystery as it could take weeks to tell all the stories from this month long exploratory trip from to India in 2006.  Might as well start with one of the highlights and then I will digress in other segments about getting skunked by the mighty Mahseer, HE-MAN 9000 beer, Calcutta, Catfish the size of small vehicles, fishing the gates of hell etc.  This tale was written by Clark Smyth, owner of Rock Creek Anglers, long time friend & traveling partner………

“After many unsuccessful days aboard the large canoe, and after explaining why the canoe was not working and what type of craft and location Mike and Clark were looking for, Benny convinced a local fisherman to borrow his small canoe (roughly 6 feet in length).  They also obtained a ten-foot mangrove branch that could be utilized to poll the small canoe.  On their last day on Havelock, Benny operated the larger motorized canoe, “the mother ship” which would tow the smaller boat to shallow mud flats only a couple of hours away.  During the run to the flats, Mike convinced Benny to hand-line troll with tarpon flies and Clark trolled with his fly rod.  Both techniques proved deadly and a large number of Giant Trevally were boated and subsequently either released or taken for table fare. Once arriving at the flats, Mike agreed to poll Clark in the small canoe.  Standing up was tricky due to the small size of the boat, but after a little practice Mike and Clark agreed they had a viable flats fishing vessel.  They had rigged a ten-weight rod with a crab fly.  In their first, and subsequently last, afternoon of viable fly-fishing with familiar techniques, Mike polled Clark to multiple shots at Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally and Triggerfish.

All fish that fervently ate whatever fly was put in front of them.  Amazed by the fishery and unsure of other species of fish in the area, the two anglers started seeing a few Giant Parrotfish, which grow up to 100 pounds.  Mike had told Clark about guides in the Seychelles targeting these fish however only a few were landed because they were strong, fast, spooky fish that usually wind up cutting the leader on coral outcroppings.  So, at the end of the day, the two sun-scorched anglers, tired from their balancing act on the small canoe, and satisfied with their days efforts, started polling back to the “mother ship.”   Having almost reached their destination, and in synchronized amazement, Mike and Clark saw a school of fish tailing fast across the flat.  The tails belonged to a number of 50-pound Giant Humpheaded Parrot Fish.  They were moving in a shoal of about thirty individuals, reminding both anglers of a large school of tailing Permit.
As Mike picked up the pace with the pole, he started shouting, “cast, cast!”  At about eighty-feet the fish were in range, some of them had their backs out of the water.  Clark placed the size 4/0 merkin tied to 40-pound fluorocarbon just in front of the shoal of tailing giants.  As Clark waited for the fly to reach the bottom, Mike again shouted “strip, strip!”  Immediately, the fly line raced out of Clark’s hand and simultaneously the small canoe jolted toward the school of fish nearly knocking both anglers out of the boat.  One of the giant fish had taken the fly.  Slowed by the resistance of the 10-weight, the colorful fish fought to keep up with the rest of the school.  Clark set the hook with all he could muster as he dropped to his knees for more stability.  The fish was pulling the small canoe fast enough that the small craft was taking on water.  Mike dropped the poll and began frantically bailing water as Clark gave the Parrot all the 10-weight could muster.  Both Mike and Clark were asking each other what they should do as the fish raced toward coral outcroppings and rock piles.  Soon the commotion turned to a nervous laughter and the two realized that Benny, in the nearby “mother ship” might be able to assist in landing the fish.  The giant who was only slightly smaller than the sinking boat to which it was tied was pulling the small canoe out to sea. Both Clark and Mike started bellowing for Benny to help.  However, Benny was fast asleep in the bottom of his dugout.  Realizing they were on their own, Mike again risked falling overboard and attempted to slow the canoe with the poll before the hooked fish dragged them to deeper water.  The fish was strong, powerful and very fast.  It appeared to be winning the battle as it made an effort to stay with the school, still tailing in the shallow water. Time and time again the fish tried to find shelter in the coral, but Clark, with the aid of Mike and the poll succeeded in keeping it in open water.  Clark lifted the rod as high as possible to avoid the leader from being cut. Finally, the fish succumbed to the angler and calmly floated next to the small canoe.  Blue-green in color and breathing heavily the Giant Parrot Fish had been landed.  Reaching down in an attempt to tail the tired fish, Clark inadvertently put a funny angle on the leader and the fly easily popped free of the hardened “beak” that Parrotfish use to break coral.  The fish slowly swam toward the bottom as Mike and Clark, both trembling, looked at each other and started to laugh.”

We never got a picture of this fish, we did however drink beer at this beach……


Turkey Day In Holbox

Headed back down to see Sandflea & family for thanksgiving, had quite a crew with us as well.  Isla Holbox is just one of those places I never grow tired of, the fishing is incredible, but the island and the people are the real attraction.  Third week of Novmeber and the first two days the mar slicked off and we put around 10 big fish in the air, yes Novmeber.   Had some good turkey and some good fishing, even got to watch some ball on Turkey day.  We had some weather roll through, afterwards we got into the babies, snook & and even a nice snapper and that parleyed into a sushi night.   Off to Punta Allen next ………