Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Great Inagua-2013

This trip was my third trip to Great Inagua, and it proved to be perhaps the most productive fly fishing trip I have taken.

Our first day found us in Union Creek, poling and hunting for permit.  Great Inagua is home to a good population of big permit, (perhaps the most difficult to catch fly fishing species on the planet!)
Well......as luck would have it, on this first day, and my first cast, I dropped my Crusty Crab in front of 4 big permit, and a few seconds later, I was hooked up with a big permit!  This catch, alone, would have made the long trip to Great Inagua a huge success!

Permit!  20+ lbs.

 Ezzard Cartwright and I with our prize!

A Tan Crusty Crab did the job!


Our Second day found Mike Scott, our guide Austin, and I, hiking through the jungle, across a pond, more jungle, and finally popping out into an area that is normally dry.

Hiking into Union Creek for bonefish

However, with the high tide, the "normal flats" were flooded and the bonefish had pushed up into the brushy, mangrove, flats.  This fishing was a lot of fun, with bonefish moving in and out of the mangroves.  It was necessary to hunt individual fish, with great stealth, dropping the small fly so as not to spook the fish.  It was awesome!


 Skinny water Bonefish in the weeds!

Out on the bigger creek flats......6 lb. Bonefish

 Lunch Time with Austin

Union Creek estuary

On another day, we waded a long ocean-side flat, and both Mike and I caught a Trigger fish, with the plan to prepare them for dinner.  2 fish provided plenty of fillets for 4 guys, and it was delicious!


Great Inagua coastline, on the way to Lanternhead.

 Hunting bonefish on a narrow ocean side sandbar.....

 ....and this big bonefish came feeding my way.  After pulling almost 150 yards of backing, this 8 lb. bonefish was finally in my hands!

After 3 trips to Inaugua, and tinkering with a "go to" bonefish fly, this new pattern emerged as a winner.  This fly produced on all the flats and I can't recall even one refusal.

I call the fly, "Lee's Bonefish-AP (all purpose).  

These rays were plentiful on the shallow flats and you had to keep an eye open for them!

  Lanternhead bay

Even though Mike and I had experienced some incredible fishing, some of the best was yet to come!
It was time to fish the huge inland, saltwater lake.  
We were looking for tarpon and big snook!  
Mike loves to fish, and catch big snook, and I was hopeful he would get some chances at the big snook that live in "the lake".   Well, it didn't take Mike long to get in front of a good size snook.  This one was about 15 lbs. and the largest snook Mike has taken.  Now, I should say that Mike NEVER smiles, when photographed, so these next pictures tell you how excited he was to do so well in the lake.
We were almost finished for the day, and Mike was casting along a mangrove wall, when this good size tarpon ate his fly!  It was a battle royale, with a 9 wt. rod, but Mike prevailed in the end, and, again, his smile tells the story!
  Congratulations old friend!

 With more big snook prowling the area, it was my turn to coax one of this big girls to my fly!  Ezzard, our guide, pointed out a cluster of rocks, near a break in the wall, and suggested that I work the fly in that shallow, rocky area.  Well, as if he knew the fish was there, and as I stripped my fly over the rocks, a big snook emerged and enhaled my Neutralizer!  This fish went crazy, jumping numerous times; but eventually I was able to work the big snook to the boat, for a quick picture.  This snook was around 20 lbs., and the largest snook I have ever taken!

 20 pounds of snook fury!
 On this same day, we cast to many shallow water tarpon, as well.  Virtually all of these 20 to 40 lb tarpon could be clearly seen in the shallow lake, yet it was a challenge to keep the nerves in check and  make an accurate presentation.  Using a tan and chartreuse Neutralizer proved deadly on both tarpon and snook!
It proved very effective on the snook as well as the tarpon!


 ...yet another 30 lb. tarpon!

This 50 lb. tarpon was my best of the trip.... 
....and made numerous jumps putting on a great show.

The abundance of fish species, in the inland lake, is due to the fact that this once-stagnant lake was brought to life by the Morton Salt Company, by continually pumping salt water into the lake. 

 Mountains of Sea Salt

A highlight to our trip was a visit to the only "restaurant" on the island.  On Friday and Saturday nights, individuals would open these tiny booths, and cook up cracked conch, conch fritters, ribs, fish, and other local dishes.  Note: It was necessary to slather yourself in Deet to stand the mosquitoes, but the hassle, and wait, was worth the effort!


 The mosquitoes kept us from having many of these "sunset opportunities", but thankfully the Kalik beer was plentiful!  Grin!
 I want to thank my friend, Mike Scott, for making the long journey to and from Alaska, to experience Great Inagua.  Also, a big thank you to Walt Kleckley, for organizing, and putting so much effort into making this trip a reality.  It was great to have Bill Berry along as well to round out our group.  (Sorry about your Dodgers, Bill)

I can't imagine a trip with so many memorable fish, good friends, and fishing experiences! 
I am very thankful for the opportunity to fish such incredible places, like Great Inagua!