Saltwater Destination Planner 2011

Saltwater Destination Planner 2011

Bonefish on Fly

I WAS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE beauty of the low Mexican morning sunlight to shoot photos of my friend Dave casting toward the white-sand shoreline…when Dave paused his cast. Our guide quietly, very serious now, said “Si.” About 50 yards down the beach appeared a dark shape hovering over the sand—a piece of driftwood? No, it was a snook. A huge snook. Dave, a lefty, was having a hard time loading the rod with the cross-wind. As the guide poled our skiff closer to the dark form, Dave told me to step up on the casting deck. I put down my camera and hopping up on the front deck, stripping line off my reel. When we were within range, I cranked up a couple false-casts and, to beat the wind, sent my streamer toward the snook on my backcast. One strip and the behemoth ate. It was a 17-or-so-pound snook. That’s one way to begin a Super Grand Slam at Boca Paila on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where we were fishing. Family owned and operated, Boca Paila is blessed with an idyllic tropical location. The lodge complex sits on a narrow stretch of land, with the Caribbean surf less than 50 yards to the east, and the expansive flats and lagoons 100 yards to the west. This year, Boca Paila anglers rejoiced at 17 Grand Slams (a bonefish, tarpon and permit in one fishing session) and 8 Super Grand Slams (add a snook to the above). “Boca is located about a two-hour drive south of Cancun, over mostly paved highway. Pick up at the airport assures safe travels to and from the lodge. Permit fishing has been exceptional all fall when the weather cooperated. Bones are plentiful and willing, averaging around 2 ½ pounds,” says Joe Codd, saltwater department manager of Frontiers International Travel. “You’ll fish from 16-foot Dolphin skiffs with a leaning bar. There are endless waters to fish from the Boca lagoon down to Ascension Bay, if that’s desirable. The beach is miles long and very private, and you can surfcast almost from your doorstep for snook, cuda and jacks with the occasional tarpon cruising along as well.” This is one of the leading destinations for slamming on the flats in the tropics. As the lodge says, “Excellence in the Caribbean since 1966.”

Islas Secas Resort is located on a 16-island archipelago off the Pacific coast of Panama that offers a truly unique experience to those looking for world-class fishing, recreation and relaxation. Islas Secas is the closest land-based lodge to the world-famous fishing grounds of Hannibal Bank (25 miles) and Isla Montuosa (30 miles). Other operations are at least 50 miles from these locations. The resort’s multi-species, multi-tackle approach to this diverse fishery offers something for every angler from fly-fishing, light tackle and conventional big-game. The Fishing Director, Carter Andrews, has been in the fishing industry for more than 20 years and provides an extensive knowledge of all fishing disciplines. The resort uses two 34-foot 2010 Sea Vee center console boats, each with twin 300-hp Suzuki motors. The resort staff tells us: “Here at Islas Secas, we are fortunate to have two very diverse fisheries with access to a large variety of offshore and inshore species for the fly-fishing enthusiast. In fact, we have more than fifteen species of game fish that we have landed on fly! World records have been recorded in the waters around Islas Secas, with notable catches including yellowfin tuna up to one-hundred pounds, cubera snapper and roosterfish up to forty pounds, dolphin close to fifty pounds and Pacific sailfish well over one-hundred pounds! Our in-shore fishing, which consists of roosterfish, cubera and mullet snapper, bluefin trevally and loads of smaller tuna, is easily accessible from the lodge with many of our days starting on the shore lines surrounding Islas Secas. The offshore fishing is also world class, with opportunities for marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Thanks to our Sea Vees, all of our runs to the offshore fishing grounds are less than one hour from the resort. Once we reach the legendary grounds of Hannibal Bank, Isla Montuosa and Coiba National Park, we use many effective techniques for our fly fisherman.”

The Grand Bahama area has historically attracted offshore marlin, wahoo and sailfish anglers, but at the island’s East End the historic Deep Water Cay offers a tremendous amount of variety. April is the best month of mahi-mahi, June and July for oceanic bonito, amberjack and school blackfin tuna. The hot bite for bluefin tuna addicts is May, and cuda fishing is good all year. Head offshore aboard one of the 33-foot World Cats and use some of the finest offshore gear in the industry, Sage rods and reels. Walk from the breakfast table to the dock and climb aboard your vessel. And while you’re at Deep Water Cay, add a day or two of flats fishing for bonefish or permit on the 250-square miles of flats.

The club offers diversions when you’re ready for a break from fishing. Scuba and hookah diving, snorkeling, kayaking, naturalist excursions, sailing and spa services are available. Or take some time on the beach or by the cool infinity pool, or in the main lodge shooting pool. Large groups often rent the 4 bedroom/4 bathroom oceanfront cottages. These recently reappointed bungalows feature private baths, living and dining rooms and kitchens with all appliances. If you have to conduct a little business or check in with the “real world,” phone lines are in the main lodge and cell service and satellite Internet is available on the island.