Friday, September 15, 2017

Espiritu Santu Bay...Epic!

My trip to Espiritu Santu Bay, at the bottom of the Yucatan, began with a 2 day "tune up" at Isla Blanca, north of Cancun.  I was fishing with my buddy, Mike Scott, and we decided to add a couple of days to our ESB trip, and fish with my old guide, Enrique Trinidad, and his son Bernardo.

Although the weather was overcast, making sight fishing tough, we were able to find some permit and tarpon, and have a great time!

                                      

Enrique Trinidad


Weaving our way through the mangroves, hunting tarpon....

 ....and as usual, Enrique found us some nice tarpon!

The Floating Minnow, once again, was a great fly for the mangroves.  It sinks slowly, but rising when it is stripped, and is weedless, so you can fish it aggressively in the mangroves!

**********

With bad weather in Cancun, and heavy rain the day of our transfer  to Espiritu Santu Bay
we were hopeful that the jump 200 miles south, would make a difference in the weather.....and it did!

 
Espiritu Santu Bay Lodge...
...newly opened and awesome!


With perfect weather, it didn't take our great guides long to find all 5 of our group multiple shots at permit!  This 17 lb. permit was a great way to start my trip!
We enjoyed relaxing on the deck, for happy hour, and telling stories of the "fish of the day"!

***
After fishing ESB, at Paradise Lodge, 2 years ago, I was aware that there might be an opportunity to catch big migratory tarpon, and this year Mike and I wanted to be sure to investigate the channel, if the weather permitted.

We weren't disappointed!

With glassy conditions we were able to locate a small pod of tarpon, and it didn't take long for this 70 lb. tarpon to find my fly!

***


Although most bonefish in Mexico and Belize are typically small, we found the bonefish in Espiritu Santu Bay, averaged much larger.  In fact, we had shots at big bonefish that would have pushed 8 lbs.!

Similar to Ascension Bay, to the north, Espiritu Santu Bay is ALL about the permit!

 This trip was without a doubt my best week of flats fishing, ever, and I ended the week with 7 permit...a personal best!   

All of my permit were caught with my new Spawning Shrimp.  I used a white, and also a beige color, and the permit loved this new fly.  With various clients using this fly in Ascension Bay, and Cuba, the Spawning Shrimp has accounted for over 50 permit, in one year!
If that wasn't enough, one day brought 4 permit to hand, including 2 bonefish and a tarpon...
A Grand Slam!  
With a second tarpon lost at the boat, I was inches from 2 Grand Slams in one day! 
 Incredible!





 With winds shifting to the south, our guide, Luis, headed south to fish snook and tarpon on a wide, 2' deep, sugar-white flat, and it didn't take long to spot a small pod of 20 - 40 lb. tarpon cruising our way!  Check out this video of Mike an a beautiful 35 lb. tarpon that really put on a show, in the shallow water!



I was even able to wade this flat and catch a tarpon, on my own...a first for me!

 


We fished for snook along a tree lined shoreline, and many shots at snook to 20 lbs.


Snook Country!
This small 8 lb. snook was a nice addition to our week.
The Floating Minnow (weedless), in chartreuse, was great for these snook! 

***
There was even good beach fishing in front of the lodge....
Triggerfish everywhere!

...and the food was incredible at ESB Lodge!



Many thanks to the fantastic guides at Espiritu Santu Bay Lodge!
Luis, Fernando, Alex & and Jorge
The flats skiffs made our fishing even more enjoyable!


Blessed with one of six perfect weather days!

I want to especially thank my partner, Mike Scott, and anglers Daniel, Sebastian, and Edgar, for a great week at ESB!

Adios!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

NOLA Redfish 2017



The Biloxi Marsh is well known for huge red drum or redfish, and this trip was no exception! 


However, fishing during the winter, and really anytime, weather is quite a gamble, in the Louisiana Marsh.  
You hope for 3 good days, in a one-week trip!



Well....we ended up with 1 and 1/2 days of low winds and clear skies, which are required for sight fishing the big bull reds in shallow water.  However, wind can stir the mud and reduce water clarity to a few inches, which is exactly what happened to our group of 6 guys fishing out of Hopedale and Delacroix.
Fortunately, we were in the hands of long time NOLA guide, 
Gregg Arnold, so we were still hopeful we would find fish.

With poor visibility we were forced to "blind cast" to likely areas, or where we could see clouds of mud from fleeing reds; and although this type of fishing is not the sight fishing we hoped for, it was what the weather dictated, and I felt very fortunate to catch this nice 24 lb. redfish....the first fish in 4 days, and the only fish we hooked, this day.  



Finally, after three cold, windy, cloudy days, the weather opened up and we were blessed with clear skies and calm conditions.  Unfortunately, the water was still muddy, so we resorted to blind casting, again. 
Our guide, Preston Harden (www.bucktailguideservice.com), 
worked hard, and was able to find an area that had fish and my partner and I were soon tight to big redfish!

This 25 lb. bronze back was our first visitor...




...and then another beautiful redfish-25 lbs.





 32 lb. Redfish...
The largest red caught by our group!






Bull-et Fly

This trip was the second trip to NOLA, fishing the Bull-et Fly.       (I wanted to confirm my previous success before making this fly a standard offering on my website www.gurglersonline.com.)  
Two of my fishing partners fished this fly exclusively, as well, and both reported several big fish, as well as a number of smaller reds.  

The Bull-et fly provides a fat head, that pushes water, heavy eyes to get down fast, and creates a very strong profile-important features when fishing dirty water. 

The 60 deg. jig hook proved, once again, its significance on these redfish!


My partner, Danny, and I scored a double which turned out to be about the only fish we were able to actually see, before casting.

I should also mention the 3rd guide, for our group.  Jeff Arnold proved very effective for our group, also finding fish in tough conditions.
www.arnoldsguideservice.com

One highlight to the trip was finding a pod of 20-25 gar that were cruising in a small cove.  We had several good shots at these curious fish, some over 5ft. long, but could not interest them in our offerings. 

I want to thank our host and hostess, Gregg Arnold, and his wife Nancy, for the great hospitality and food.

I also want to thank Doug, Dana, Dave, Jim, Rick, and Danny, for making this tough trip a great time.
I hope we can do it again, soon!
***
  





Thursday, September 01, 2016

Emigrant Wilderness-Huckleberry Lake

Words, and even pictures, cannot capture the beauty of the Emigrant Wilderness, we visited recently.  Yes, it took a 21 mile horse pack trip to find it.  Yes, it was hard and even painful....  
....but the rewards were indescribable! 










Huge domes loomed above us at almost every turn in the trail!





Beauty Everywhere!

Finally, we get our first glimpse of Huckleberry Lake and we were stunned!



This is the view from our camp site....
....and every view of Huckleberry Lake was amazing.


Islands, huge boulders, and side lakes give Huckleberry Lake amazing beauty, character, and fishing potential. 

 Flats like this one enabled us to wade and float tiny ant patterns over the drop-off, where big rainbows were cruising, eager to eat our flies!

All 6 of us were equipped with float tubes and caught double digit rainbows and brook trout each day.  
Most of the rainbows averaged over 15" with some around 18", and even a few at the magical 20" mark!

This big trout was typical of our daily catch!.....

....and Dan's monster, 17 1/2" brook trout....no words!


***
One day, Nate Kowal and I, packing only dry fly rods, fished from shore, seeking shallow water, bank feeding, rainbows.  
It proved to be a good move.  We encountered big 15-20 inch rainbows all along the shore, and even though I'm sure few people fish Huckleberry Lake, they were spooky and required stealth and the right fly.  Tiny size 18 baetis and ant patterns did the trick!  With water gin-clear, we could see the fish clearly as they rose to sip our flies from the surface!  
It was magical!




With the experience of our great day fishing from shore,  the next day Philip Salibi and I ventured along the lake, probing the shallows for big feeding rainbows.

(Did I mention the beautiful scenery....EVERYWHERE?)

Although Philip had little fly fishing experience, and no dry fly experience, he was a quick study, casting to bank-feeding rainbows, all along the lake shore.

I certainly didn't need to ask him to smile!


Tiny ants, and baetis, along with big hoppers, made up our offerings, near shore.


Even though these fish are rarely fished, stealth was required!


Nate's brother, Philip, along with Mike and Dan, were fish-catching machines, from the float tube.  Most days the catches were way over 20 fish, fishing with streamers, and even hoppers and ants! 





After a long day of fishing, our appetizers really capped off the day!  Each of us packed in with horse and mule, so we had plenty of room for "essentials" like beer, cheese, and salami!




Sometimes the "road less traveled" requires effort, and even discomfort, but I am thankful to have been able to walk this trail with a great group of guys!
***

Many thanks to Philip Kowal, Nate Kowal, Mike Farracane, Dan Palm, & Philip Salibi, for a great trip!

I am especially thankful to our Creator for providing such an amazing part of the world!