Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A casualty of war:


My 10-weight Helios took a knock at some point during a day chasing tarpon last week, which split the fighting butt cork (right).  Electrician’s insulation tape came to the rescue as temporary field dressing (always handy to have in your bag).  However, back at home I was able to carry out a permanent repair using epoxy resin.


Friday, 7 December 2012

Those who made it happen:

P1020714~The best in the business-Casa Viejo Chac guides are friendly souls~

Organising a spell of saltwater fishing requires input from many people if only to ensure everything runs smoothly.  We enjoyed excellent accommodation with first class food at Casa Viejo Chac made possible by Manuel Chac. Our guides too were not only friendly and professional who had profound knowledge of this tropical environment, often pointing out all sorts of sightings and strange creatures.  The whole package was brought together by Mat McHugh of Fly Odyssey who has already secured dates for 2013 for enquires and details email: enquiries@flyodyssey.co.uk Tel: 01621 743711





There are few better places to enjoy lunch than on the bows of skiff in Ascension Bay, Chucho and Oscar getting stuck in during a well deserved break…









(Left to right) chef Pepe and Marbella with barman Charly who provided us with a banquet of delicious food and drink during our stay

Thursday, 6 December 2012

All good things come to an end:


Our second group of 12 anglers were armed with 46 rods in total, enough to sink a small battle.  Sadly they left some days ago and packing myself, I now know how gut wrenching it must have been for them.  Three weeks odd of solid fishing can spoil a man when you definitely get into some sort of a routine.  Strong coffee and fresh fruit for breakfast will be missed.  So too the morning strolls along Ascension Bay.  Naturally the fishing itself is going to leave a massive void, especially when practiced in shirt sleeves and shorts.  Then there was the evening craic when we were blessed with Nigel Chambers, arguably one the greatest story tellers known to man…  Unfortunately, his good friend and boat partner Selby Knox took the brunt of his poetic tales…the boys will be sorely missed.





~46 rods and reels take up a fair amount of space the minibus groaned when our second group departed~ 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Persistence Pays:


~One happy chappy-JWS displays a fine permit~

Permit junkie James Warbrick-Smith invested a fair amount of time in search of this elusive, yet highly prized species.  Following a series of tough days eventually his luck changed.  Though skill was still needed to convert fleeting shapes into hooked fish when James managed to bag himself a brace of permit on consecutive days.  Proof that if you stick to a game plan, persistence really does pay.





The pose might be the same,but permit No2 for JWS…!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Shark Attack:


~Despite being tired, 4ft of snapping teeth demands respect at all times~

Ambling along bonefish flats brings you into contact with all kinds of creatures.  Whilst hunting a sandy shore one morning, a shark decided to get a slice of the action by trying to nab one of my bonefish, making everything else on the flat nervous.  Handing my cuda rod to Chucho, he promptly dealt with this persistent offender, allowing me to get on with the serious job of sighting ghostly shapes and tailing fish.






Guide Chucho clutching a black tip shark which had previously given us the run around







~Another bonefish is safely released without the fear of nearby sharks~


Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Weird and the wonderful…


~A perfect miniature of the giant Black Grouper with stunning markings~

Our trip to Ascension Bay has thrown up a rich variety of weird and wonderful sightings.  Everything from the tiny groupers to tracks of racoons and gangly legged spider crabs.  Though for me the chance to peer into an osprey’s nest and view their eggs ranked high on my list.




~Prehistoric in their appearance Horseshoe Crabs are abundant in Ascension Bay~










~Racoons left their prints along most shorelines and although a secretive creature, we did manage a glance of one~





~Spider crabs might be all legs, but they do pack a nasty nip with their claws~





A sunken branch provided the all important platform for this ospreys' nest which was a mere head height above sea level




~a brace of osprey eggs nestle in a shallow depression lined with seaweed~


Friday, 30 November 2012

Off the beaten track:


Many believe a true saltwater experience is all about wading flats or poling skiffs.  Yet, Ascension Bay guides are more than happy to go well off the beaten track in search of backwater tarpon and snook.  In some instance though this involved bog trotting through deep mud in a tangle of mangroves.  The trek through black sludge (right) was well worth it as it put you on fish more than willing to take a fly.  Our first excursion into this gooey stuff which beauty salons would pay a fortune for yielded nol ess than four tarpon and a decent sized snook.








The prize for trudging through mangrove mud was snook laid up and waiting to pounce on anything that came within striking distance

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Tarpon Time:


~James Warbrick-Smith hangs on as a tarpon bolts towards the mangroves~

The last few days have seen tarpon switch into aggressive feeding mode.  In fact, it seemed wherever we went in Ascension Bay, we found tarpon crashing into shoals of baitfish.  Such opportunities should never be squandered when most of the group neglected their bonefish rods in favour of 10-weight outfits to tangle with the silver king.  Hilary and Steve Langan were first to score then it was the turn of James Warbrick-Smith and myself.  Naturally, mangrove tarpon rarely reach the status of their huge ocean going cousins, but fish between 10 and 30lb aren’t to be sniffed at as they certainly pull your string…  





A nice tarpon takes to the air as it nears our skiff






~Steve Langan (The Doc) with his first tarpon of the trip~


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Watch out, cuda about…


Poling the flats isn’t necessarily all about chasing bonefish as never far away will be their nemesis the barracuda.  Granted, one of the principle food sources for cuda might be needlefish but they rarely turn down the chance of bonefish, especially if these happen to be tethered to a fishermen’s fly line.  Whilst picking my way across a flat with guide Pabalo (right), we ran into a rogue cuda that snaffled two bonefish during the fight.  Somewhat bemused and muttering Spanish expletives under his breath, Pabalo suggested a throw with a cuda fly.  Having let things settle down, we managed to locate the problem creature which promptly nailed my green/white baitfish pattern.  And with cuda in a taking mode, we tempted two more later that day.





~Armed with rows of teeth, cuda fishing calls for a wire trace~





…This cuda couldn’t resist a flash 2/0 fly ripped past its nose…


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Storms Brewing:


So far, we’ve been blessed with a fair amount of sunny days which is what saltwater anglers pray for.  However, news reached us that storm fronts were heading our way bringing with them annoying cloud and heavy downpours.  Yet, even during this nasty weather our guides put us on fish.  Admittedly, sometimes this involved waiting in ambush at the many channels and gullies which fish used as highways to move from lagoon to lagoon or flat to flat.  And whilst blind casting might not be considered your typical flats fishing it turns up a variety of species including; bonefish, tarpon, ladyfish, cuda, snappers and members of the jack family.

Mex 10 014





~Rain loaded clouds like this made spotting on the flats almost impossible~







Adding to his tally of bonefish, snook and tarpon, Chris Hartley nailed this fine jack from shoal that passed through a narrow channel on a day of sunshine and showers


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Predators still active:


~Mexican guide Alex displays a fine snook which snaffled my size 2 cockroach fly~

A persistent northerly might have seen fewer than normal bonefish wandering onto sandy flats, but one plus side is that predatory fish have been hunting on most days when low tides prevented them from hiding under mangrove roots.  With few places to shelter both snook and tarpon took to the flats in search of small fish, crabs and even shrimps.  Good news then for our party who have taken their fair share of fish.P1020697


A bite tippet of some 50lb is needed when chasing snook or tarpon as their hard, abrasive mouths can easily fray monofilament (left).

~Glyn Henry with his first tarpon taken from a small lagoon and although not a giant by tarpon standards, damn good fun on an 8-weight outfit~

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Good luck follows bad:


An afternoon playing hide and seek with the ever elusive permit, Jonathan Tomlinson and I reached an all time low.  First up, two positive follows from sizable fish saw them snub my crab pattern by turning away at the last moment.  Three uneventful hours passed before we eventually dropped on a shoal of more active permit.  Jonathan stepped up and promptly hooked one of the better fish which seconds later came unstuck.  Inspecting the fly (right) pretty much speaks for itself… With poor light stopping play, he was on the hunt the following morning and first chuck latched into this magnificent specimen below (estimate 35lb).  Some three hours later the guide eventually tailed this dustbin lid, which gives you some idea of their sheer power and tenacity!

…35lb of pure muscle and power…


Snook season:

~Sneaking through the mangroves looking for a nest of snook~

Although a north wind cools Ascension Bay, it certainly gets predatory fish in a feeding mood. Last year Steve Pengelly and I had a stint chasing snook which pretty much ended in disaster for the pair of us.  Still hurting over the loss of what would have been Steve’s first snook and my specimen that threw the hook, we decided to team up for another assault on this shy yet handsome creature.  An ambush predator snook rarely move far from cover so we headed close to the shore to hunt out any quiet corner or likely bolt hole.  I was first to score using a red and white tarpon bunny and then Steve broke his duck by landing this fine fish below.  Better still, more followed as three other snook were boated in this memorable session.

“The cat that got the cream”, Steve P displays his first ever snook.





~The dark lateral line is a signature of snook which helps flats guides distinguish them from other species where murky water exists~

Friday, 16 November 2012

The hunt is on…


~Lining up a shot to make the first cast count is always worth the effort~


Our first day might have been breezy, but blue skies greeted us. Perfect conditions then for spotting bonefish which brings with it a degree of pressure. We decided on walking sandy flats were shoals of bonefish picked their way upwind towards us. Better still, seeing them at distance gave us ample time to adjust our position for the perfect shot…no excuses then!  Thankfully things went according to plan, making it a perfect start to our Mexican adventure. 


…Tentative moments as the first fish comes to hand…








~safely landed and about to be turned loose this silver ghost certainly got the monkey of my back~

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Immigration Woes:


Arriving in Mexico it seemed everyman and his dog had the same idea of escaping the horrible British weather.  Cues backed up as jets whizzed into Cancun airport.  Sadly, we got snarled up in it all, which took an age to get our passports stamped!  The following morning however, any stress melted away as we tucked into a proper Mexican breakfast before the trails and tribulations of tackling up.  







~Fresh fruit and squeezed pineapple juice followed by eggs then toast drizzled with Yucatan of honey set us for the day ahead~






Some of the group preparing for battle decided the pool table made a good camp


Friday, 9 November 2012

Here, cuda cuda cuda…


Word has reached my ears that the predatory fish in Ascension Bay are currently going bananas.  This of course includes those menacing barracuda that for me come top the list.  Not only do these strike with the speed of a Ninja they’re initial runs are blistering when backing disappears from your reel at an alarming rate.  Sadly, their razor sharp teeth often shred flies beyond recognition, so I’m having a final stocking up session before jumping on the train south.  Fingers crossed they’ll appreciate my efforts (above) hot off the press this morning.  Paul~

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Mexican Migration…


With winter tightening her icy grip, it’s time to follow those swifts and swallows by migrating south…! Later this week we’re jetting off to Mexico for our annual saltwater bash.  As the years have passed my equipment for such expeditions seems to have grown considerably.  Simply throwing this lot (right) into a duffle bag isn’t an option anymore.  Instead, packing has become a military operation and once it’s sorted there’ll be no stopping me…roll on the weekend…

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A quick fling before the freeze:


Apparently, a cold snap is imminent and worried that fly hatches will dry up as a result, I sneaked onto the Eden for a quick fling.  Already a brisk northerly made it’s presence felt, cold enough to form a dewdrop on my snout!  Fewer flies cared to hatch too when admittedly there was a fair bit of scratching around at first.  Yet, shortly after 2pm a sparse flurry of Blue-wings braved the chill.  Thankfully, grayling were onto to them like a shot, giving me a good hour or so of rising fish.






~Another grayling succumbs to a sider, this time though it’s a Black Magic fished as a sweeper on the top dropper that did the trick~

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Leaf it out…


At this time of year tumbling leaves might well deposit all manner of goodies (terrestrials) on the surface for watchful grayling, but they’re a proper pain in the backside when you’re trundling a team of three spiders through a pool. It seems every other cast you’re snagging the damn things which have an uncanny habit of drawing your line tight like a taking fish.  Even so, all the cursing is worthwhile as every so often you tighten into something that pulls back.  You could be more sensible like my mate Richard who favoured a single dry fly to fish, which makes dealing with leaf matter that much easier.








~Richard Tong finds a quiet corner that’s pretty much devoid of leaf litter~







…Thankfully some of the leaves we encountered had a habit of pulling back…