Indian Ocean; space roundup at 23rd September

September 22nd, 2014

If you would like to fish one of the first two weeks on Astove, please get in touch. As the season gets underway and guides are already either in situ or getting ready to go, there are still rods scattered throughout the weeks on all of the operations so for more details or to hold space please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 84738901980 847389.

ALPHONSE .. species diversity coupled with very comfortable accommodation, it doesn’t get much better than this. If your preferred dates aren’t showing, please contact us as there may be rods held but so far unconfirmed.

8-15 October 2014 (Wed/Wed) x 2 rods
6-13 December 2014 x 1 rod
13-20 December 2014 x 8 rods
27 December – 3 January 2014 x 2 rods
3-10 January 2015 x 6 rods
10-17 January 2015 x 10 rods
24-31 January 2015 x 2 rods
31 January – 7 February 2015 x 1 rod
14-21 February x 3 rods
28 February - 7 March x 5 rods
7-14 March x 2 rods
21-28 March x 1 rod
4-11 April 2015 x 4 rods

ASTOVE … they say the best things come in small packages and Astove has all the makings of being GT central. Fish it first: there is a chance two rods may come free in the first week and there are still three rods available in the second week.

16-23 February x 3 rods remaining

9-16 March x 6 rods
16-23 March x 1 rod
30 March - 6 April x 3 rods
6-13 April x 6 rods

COSMOLEDO .. extreme saltwater fishing with the focus on GTs, for the remainder of this season, it remains a liveaboard operation.

14-22 November 2014 x 1 rod
29 November – 6 December 2014 x 3 rods

ST BRANDONS .. pristine flats that are home to permit, big bones and smaller numbers of big GTs, St Brandons remains a liveaboard operation. Nothing this good, is going to be quick to get to but it has to be on your bucket list.

10 – 19 October 2014 x 5 rods
21-30 October x 2 rods
1-10 November 2014 x 2 rods
13-22 November x 4 rods

31 March - 9 April 2015 x 6 rods
22 April - 1 May x 4 rods
5-14 May 2015 x 8 rods

FARQUHAR .. challenge yourself against the atolls unique bumphead parrotfish as well as the GTs.  With simple accommodation, Farquhar is all about the fishing.

8-15 October 2014 x 1 rods
3-10 December x 5 rods
4-11 March x 10 rods
11-18 March x 10 rods

1-8 April 2015 x 10 rods
8-15 April 2015 x 10 rods
15-22 April 2015 x 3 rods

For more details please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 84738901980 847389.

Alaska trip report in images

September 19th, 2014

Steffan recently returned for a great trip to Alaska and had a lot to report on. Take a look HERE for his trip report, but to compliment this and show what a visual feast this destination is he now presents a report in images.

If you like the look of Alaska and would like further information or would like to find out what may suit you best then contact Steffan Jones to find out more or call +44(0)1980 847 389.

El Pescador Fishing Report, 7-13 September 2014

September 19th, 2014

Weather: Cloudy with sunny breaks – which is a polite way of saying we had some stormy weather this week and prayed for sun. Seas were choppy and visibility was challenging – but good things still happened!
Air Temp: Mid 80’s to 90, for the Highs. High 70’s, for the lows. Winds: Moderate 5-10 mph Easterly winds most of the week then moved ESE 10 – 20 as the tropical wave moved through.
Water: 81-83 degrees.
Moonphase: Full Moon September 8th - we call it our “permit” moon.

WHAT GUESTS WERE CATCHING

Bonefish (Macabi):


Randy and Sandra were here and had amazing things happen. Randy landed some nice bonefish with Captain Tomas on fly. He practiced his saltwater casting and was rewarded with bonefish and much more. His wife Sandra was here to do nothing – something that takes a plan for most hard working people. During their stay, they found out they have a new grandchild on the way, and their house sold at their asking price! All this while bonefishing here at El Pescador. Congratulations you two! Jeff and his wife Danielle were also here with different agendas. They both enjoyed the saltwater flats of Ambergris Caye. Jeff is a maniac fly fisher, and Danielle loved her diving with our “Under da Sea! Captain Alonzo” Jeff landed some beautiful bonefish on fly with Captain Cinoeh. Both left here with beaming smiles! Geoff was here with his wife Cindy. Cindy said right off the bat, “I’m not going to fly fish, but I’m going out to check it out on spin.” Well, I can’t wait to show you her picture when she sends it to us. Her face is beaming as she held her first bonefish on spin! And Geoff was thrilled with all the instruction and guidance from Captain Cesar. They were trying to call him a saint, but I think that’s pushing it. Nothing makes a guide feel better than when their anglers meet their goals. Derrick had some beautiful bonefishing with Captain Luis as they were hunting permit. Monroe was here with a quiver of rods and reels – I think he brought 9 outfits. Well, he is not addicted. Bonefish on fly and other opportunities will get Monroe back here as soon as he can get more time off from work. Chris, David, Jim and Kelly all landed bonefish on fly! First time for many fishing the saltwater flats of Belize. Congratulations for mastering a connection with “the Ghost of the Flats!”

Permit (Palometta):

Well, Captain Carl from Florida landed three beautiful permit on his fly with Captain Hilberto, aka, Star. His fly, which is staring at me from my desk, is called the “Whatever” fly. It’s a crab pattern tied like a toad – narrow body, craft fur tail barred, lead eyes and chartreuse thread. Oh, and an orange butt and some crystal flash thrown in as well. How nice that the permit desired something besides a Christmas Island Special! Jimmy and Phelps are cousins and fishing buddies. They both went out with Captain Emir and Gordy and both slammed! Yes, they both landed permit that took them to their slam. Wow. So the permit score this week: 5 landed on fly, one on spin. And for you permit lovers out there – stories were told where they had multiple shots to the same school before they ate! And then they ate. We love the full moon for permit fishing. Because they eat! Congratulations to our permit winners this week.

Tarpon (Sabalo):

OK, so Will landed his tarpon the first day with Captain Hilberto. Awesome. And Ken landed an 80 pounder on fly with Captain Cesar! He kept asking questions about how many 80 plus fish are actually landed. The truth is, not many. There are lots of attempts, as Jeff, Randy, Jim, Kelly and Randy will tell you. Matt was so excited to land his tarpon on fly with Captain Kechu. Wes landed a beautiful tarpon on spin with Captain Cesar. Yep, they all received their tarpon pins before leaving. Wear them proudly!

Other Species:

Nice schools of jacks sharing the same water with Mr. Permit.

Grand Slam:

Get READY! Jimmy and Phelps both slammed with Captain Emir and Gordy on the same day! Double SLAM. Then Jeff and Mike showed up to fish with Captain Emir and Jeff slammed! So, that is THREE slams on fly with Captain Emir this week. What could be better for Captain Emir? His son Gordy went out fishing with his friends and Gordy got his first slam on fly. WOW!

Flies that worked:

Bonefish: Christmas Island specials, Spawning Gotcha, Crazy Charlie
Permit: Spawning shrimp, Merkin
Tarpon: Chartreuse bunny, Black Death, Tan bunny

Guide of the Week:

Captain Emir. Why? Three slams on fly this week for his anglers. Whoa! We are so proud of Captain Emir and his son in training, Gordy. Thank you.

Week’s Summary:

Well, we have had some weather, and we have had some amazing things happen this week! The renovation is almost finished and the lodge is looking beautiful. We are super excited about our Ribbon Cutting party coming up to celebrate the new room additions on the 19th. To our guests this week – thank you from all of us at El Pescador for sharing your time and dreams with us. Your job is to go infect others with your passion for fly fishing. Yes, it’s a blast when the fish are put to your hands, but it is also very rewarding to see others go out and feel that same excitement!

Cast to your dreams!
- Lori-Ann

For more information on El Pescador please contact Aardvark McLeod or call +44 1980 847389.

Indian Ocean; space roundup at 16th September

September 19th, 2014

Where have we seen the most movement in the last week?  Space on Astove and Farquhar with not much space left on either although all the operations are seeing changes to week and week.  Space below is at 16th September 2014.

For more details or to hold space please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 84738901980 847389.

ALPHONSE .. species diversity coupled with very comfortable accommodation, it doesn’t get much better than this. If your preferred dates aren’t showing, please contact us as there may be rods held but so far unconfirmed.

8-15 October 2014 (Wed/Wed) x 2 rods
6-13 December 2014 x 1 rod
13-20 December 2014 x 8 rods
27 December – 3 January 2014 x 2 rods
3-10 January 2015 x 6 rods
10-17 January 2015 x 10 rods
24-31 January 2015 x 2 rods
31 January – 7 February 2015 x 1 rod
14-21 February x 3 rods
28 February - 7 March x 5 rods
7-14 March x 2 rods
21-28 March x 1 rod
4-11 April 2015 x 4 rods

ASTOVE … they say the best things come in small packages and Astove has all the makings of being GT central with space at the new six bed lodge filling very quickly and not much space left already.  There still three rods left in the second week - fish it early :)

16-23 February x 3 rods remaining

9-16 March x 6 rods
16-23 March x 1 rod
30 March - 6 April x 3 rods
6-13 April x 6 rods

COSMOLEDO .. extreme saltwater fishing with the focus on GTs, for the remainder of this season, it remains a liveaboard operation.

14-22 November 2014 x 1 rod
29 November – 6 December 2014 x 3 rods

ST BRANDONS .. pristine flats that are home to permit, big bones and smaller numbers of big GTs, St Brandons remains a liveaboard operation. Nothing this good, is going to be quick to get to but it has to be on your bucket list.

10 – 19 October 2014 x 5 rods
21-30 October x 2 rods
1-10 November 2014 x 2 rods
13-22 November x 4 rods

31 March - 9 April 2015 x 6 rods
22 April - 1 May x 4 rods
5-14 May 2015 x 8 rods

FARQUHAR .. challenge yourself against the atolls unique bumphead parrotfish as well as the GTs.  With simple accommodation, Farquhar is all about the fishing.

8-15 October 2014 x 1 rods
22-29 October 2014 x 1 rod - Peter McLeod’s hosted week
3-10 December x 5 rods
4-11 March x 10 rods
11-18 March x 10 rods

1-8 April 2015 x 10 rods
8-15 April 2015 x 10 rods
15-22 April 2015 x 3 rods

For more details please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 84738901980 847389.

Alaska trip report by Steffan Jones - guaranteed sport with something for everyone?

September 18th, 2014

Until a trip to British Columbia last year and some sporadic visits to random rivers in Chile all sea-run freshwater fish that I had pursued were Atlantic based. Indeed, I knew very little of the sea-run Pacific fish species, other than what I had read or seen on fishing shows. When faced with such a scenario it is always best to adopt the approach that is commonplace in saltwater destinations; find a location that offers multiple species so that you can sample them all then you can simply choose a lodge in the future that offers just your favourite. Alaska is much the same, but probably offers yet more diversity in terms of species and waters accessed, especially with those operations offering daily fly-out options.

The autumn was recommended as a good time to visit; with the sockeye laying their eggs the trout and char fishing would be in full swing and then the silvers (coho) would be hitting their peak run, providing great sport – often referred to as the closest salmon to our atlantics. As such, plans were made and an itinerary finalised to visit a few lodges that would offer a varied programme providing the vital insight that I needed.

The airline choice was easy; IcelandAir now offer a fantastic schedule where you have just 2hrs in Iceland and then the flight to Anchorage takes just 6.5hrs. The service is great and made light work of the transatlantic flight. However, it is rather strange to arrive into somewhere and find the local time to be before that of the time you left your previous location, it is a 9hr time difference, which makes the night in Anchorage almost mandatory to get over this obstacle at the very least.

Anchorage is a nice town with enough things to see and do to justify a short stay. Indeed, some fishing can be had within the town itself if you wanted to, but the newly opened Bass Pro Shop and Cabelas drew my attention. They are certainly worth visiting and provide a real eye-opener. They are huge! As large as most UK shopping centres; a Tesco Extra just full of fishing and hunting supplies. It was a strange experience to see boxes of bullets and cartridges stacked and accessible on the shelves as one would find cereal boxes, but nothing strange in America. For fishing rods, reels, lines etc. you were really spoilt for choice and killing a few hours was certainly done with ease. Indeed, the choices were dizzying.

There are some great hotel options both near the airport and downtown nearer the better bars and restaurants. Both are feasible options and just depend on personal choice; whether you want to be closer to the airport the day after (literally a 10 minute difference). There are also some great restaurants offering everything from pizzas through to superb local seafood. We will gladly pass on recommendations both on the hotel and restaurant front to suit your needs along with directions and details for the fishing shops to visit – we will have these as documents for all travellers, to make your visit and stay more pleasurable. These will accompany other general documents to help you get the most from your trip.

My trip started with a trip to Great Alaska, who operate out of Anchorage – they offer road or flight transfers to their lodge, which is based down on the famous Kenai River. Whilst the Kenai is probably most famous for its king salmon run it also boasts the full complement of other pacific salmon species along with some huge rainbow trout – some reaching over 30 inches in length (8lbs+), especially over recent seasons where they has been compulsory catch and release. Great Alaska is a superb option for those wanting a lower cost option as they are based with the Kenai River on their doorstep along with other rivers easily accessed by road, saving on the fly-out costs.

Whilst Alaska offers true wilderness it is America’s playground for any avid fishing or hunting enthusiast. As such, if you think that you are going to get a river to yourself this is not always the case, you can often find another float-plane docked on remote rivers – rest assured, this not combat fishing though, but you do not have the river exclusively. Take the term wilderness and escaping to highlight the sheer remoteness of the place rather than the lack of angling activity. Having said that, the fish are so plentiful that this pressure means very little as there are certainly plenty to go around – indeed, at times it can be too easy, which is not always a bad thing…

I often hear people comparing Atlantic salmon to coho salmon. Indeed, they are the closest looking to each other, with the main disparity being on the head where the top of the mouth of a coho drops down almost like a drooping rather than inverted kype. In terms of fighting ability; I would have to say that the Atlantics offer a stronger and longer fight. The silvers offer a powerful and often acrobatic fight, burning themselves out quickly in the process, hence why there is no real longevity to the fight. However, with their abundance and their fighting ability these shorter fights are fun and rewarding. We targeted a few of these on the Kenai, drawing them off shallow plateaus from the boat. However, they are very much a morning fish, which often calls for a very early start to the day. After which you divert your attention to the rainbows, which are feeding on the eggs of the laying sockeye. There is not a lot of wading on the Kenai at this time of the year, but earlier in the year when the kings are present the river is much smaller as the snow/ice melt has not begun in earnest. As such, wade fishing is practiced more readily at such times, which is more pleasant.

From the same lodge we also headed further out onto the peninsula where some smaller streams were targeted for both coho and steelhead. They had some great fishing for steelhead a few days before I arrived, but rain stopped play during my visit, which was a huge shame as the rivers were truly stunning – a lovely, manageable size, where you could happily walk and wade all day.

The lodge also offered visits to a bear camp that they had along the coast, along with other non-angling activities, making it great for family visits. They also offered day-trips out of Anchorage, for those who had little time to spare.

Next it was on to Bristol Bay Lodge, which involved a short flight from Anchorage to a sleepy, remote town called Dillingham. The lodge needs little introduction when it comes to fishing in Alaska. It has been around for a very long time and with good reason. It’s a well-oiled machine and one that has really stood the test of time. It’s not the plushest lodge you will ever visit. However, what it loses in materialistic elements it more than makes up for in charm and personality. It’s homely, and that’s one of the biggest compliments you can pay a lodge. It’s not like a soulless hotel, you feel instantly at ease and part of the family, which is no easy feat I can assure you. You are very well looked after from start to finish and everyone remembers your name. I must say that I thought it would be in one ear out the other, but sure enough the next time they saw you they remembered. This was towards the end of the season too, so definitely not a ‘let’s make an effort at the start of the season’. Everything just worked and I loved the operation. For someone making their first visit to Alaska then this is hard to beat. They have a scheduled rotation that essentially takes you through their fisheries – some are local and accessed by boat whereas some require fly-outs and you actually stay in out-camps, which have to be seen to be believed; a highlight of the trip. The downside of this being that if, for example, you only want to target coho then you would be taken off them for a couple of days to target big rainbows and char – no loss I can assure you.

‘There’s more to fishing than catching fish’ – how true this is and this was certainly the case during my visit at Bristol Bay Lodge; partly because of the staff but also due to some fantastic people I met during my stay, who truly deserve a mention. No matter what walk of life or what country you have come from when you arrive at a fishing lodge you all speak the same language. During this journey you often meet people that have their heads down and never really look up to see what they are experiencing. As long as they are enjoying themselves then who am I to question them. However, you then meet others that are there for the experience and I was fortunate to meet three such individuals at the lodge, who I would share this journey with. This trio was made up of Dan and Alina, were a couple from  California, and Nicki , the wife of one of the guides. They took their fishing seriously; they were there to fish. However, if things didn’t happen they took in their surroundings, had a laugh with the guides etc. and made what they wanted of the day. Fishing with such ease and without putting undue pressure on oneself often provides betters results, without doubt it gave more enjoyment. Anyway, I’m sure they will read this so a very public thanks to them for putting up with me for a few days and I hope we can share a riverbank again in the future – perhaps without Dan’s absinthe and I must remind myself to bring some spare fly-lines when fishing with Nicki.

Some fantastic sport was had during the stay with tide-fresh coho along with those from further upstream, (it was great to witness how their colour changed), large rainbows and also a few char. Every day was different and every day was a new experience, each one as special as the next. Again, the outcamps really made it for me, allowing you to truly feel remote and alone in this vast wilderness. The camps are really comfortable, superbly positioned and you are really well catered for – I managed to avoid the hot-sauce, which seemed obligatory on most meals for some; Dan was trying to get me try it with my breakfast! On the breakfast front do try the biscuits and gravy – rather delicious and not what you expect I promise.

It was sad to depart, which, once again, highlights how you feel part of the family at Bristol Bay Lodge. I could have stayed on for a lot longer, but the journey had to continue. However, the next lodge was a mere stone’s throw across the lake – Mission Lodge. This lodge is very swanky (internally more than externally) with all the creature comforts one requires, if not more. It had obvious investment behind it and everything was kept very current. It’s a large operation where you are best travelling with a companion as you may soon get lost in this large lodge atmosphere. It gets really noisy, where it became difficult to hold down a conversation at times, but the lodge, staff and service could not be faulted. The wine and food were fantastic – some of the best I have ever experience in fact. If you are after luxury with a good, solid fishing operation with a high degree of flexibility then this is the one for you.

Their programme is dictated, to a certain extent, by the individual. This, I believe, is the main strength of Mission Lodge. If you want to fly-out every day to fish for coho then you can do so – and you would not be limited to one river during your stay either. Don’t bother bringing your waders or equipment with your either, unless you really want to, as Mission along with most of the other lodges I visited have a vast supply of top quality waders, boots and fishing equipment for you to use free of charge. At Mission you even get your own locker for storage too, which was a nice touch – your name would be placed above the locker.

My time at Mission was limited, but having been updated on what I had seen and fished Bristol Bay Lodge they decided to show me some of the waters they fished further east. These fly-outs, at times, involved 60-90 minute flights; certainly not a small distance away and you can see where a lot of the cost gets absorbed. Unfortunately the weather prohibited us from fishing the original target river, but there are always contingencies and soon enough we were hiking over some tundra to a river valley. This was a rainbow trout fishery and one like no other I had experienced – between four anglers we certainly caught 200 trout, if not more. They were hard fighting and beautifully coloured, with the majority averaging between 12-16 inches. Superb sport on light tackle. This was my first real encounter with bears, which I had been dreading. I had read all the advice and the guides gladly passed on their own. However, nothing really prepares you for your first encounter, especially when you are the closest to it and your guide has not seen it yet. I let the guides know and they told me to walk towards them. Sure enough the bear carried on with its own business – they really could not care less about us, they are there for the fish and totally ignore you. You soon become less worried of their presence, but certainly not blasé. They should always be noted and respected, but beyond that there is no real danger – you just need to be respectful of them as you are a visitor in their home environment.

From one rural airport to another. Dillingham was soon left behind with the metropolis of King Salmon seen ahead. My final lodge during my visit was Rapids Camp Lodge – an operation that also boasts Alaska West within its portfolio. Rapids Camp is based on the doorstep of a fantastic river that requires little travel access to worldclass fishing. As well as the local fishing, they also offer varied fly-outs depending on your preferences, accessing totally different areas to where I had already experienced. They had fantastic rainbow trout fishing for trophy trout to and above 30 inches, along with amazing char fishing, halibut on both fly and bait and then coho. A good mixed bag. The lodge is great and has all the creature comforts in a more rustic environment. The bar is self-service and they have some fantastic local beers on tap, or so the guests in residence told me…

Rapids Camp is a very relaxed lodge to visit and would be perfect for a single angler or a small group alike. The food and service was excellent and they had everything you would need for a great trip and experience. They also charter their own flight from Anchorage.

The first afternoon was spent chasing the big rainbows in front of the lodge that had left the lake in search of the egg laying sockeye. They were huge and presented a real chance of a 30 inch fish. A wild rainbow of 20 inches is an awesome adversary, unfortunately I did not get a chance to experience a 30, but it must be incredible. This fishing was done from a drifting boat, not my favourite method, but extremely effective. The next couple of days was walk and wade on some of the most beautiful rivers I have ever fished, which more than made up for this. The second day was spent chasing char, along with the occasional grayling. This was primarily sight-fishing, where you could tempt char averaging 18-22 inches regularly, with few reaching over 24 inches. Superb sport on light tackle. If you were not choosy then you could literally catch 10-20 in most pools. The third day was spent chasing large rainbows. This was fun, but the sockeye often got in the way – they would often take the egg pattern in a way of giving their own offspring more of a chance of success. Not so much fun when fishing light tackle. It was a privilege to witness such a healthy system though, with the water as alive and as vivid as the autumnal hues now taking hold on the landscape.

Alaska is a wonderful experience and one that I would implore you to try at least once, if not more if you like it. It has something for everyone; a great place to introduce someone to fishing or for the well-travelled looking to target individual fish etc. Do not let elitism of other species blinker you; these are fantastic and immensely powerful fish to target. Alaska is the nearest thing you can get to guaranteed sport and for that reason alone it must be put towards the top of your list, especially when accompanied with the aforementioned adage of ‘there’s more to fishing than catching fish’ as it is an anglers’ playground and paradise.

If you like the sound of Alaska or one of the lodges and require further information or would like to find out what may suit you best then contact Steffan Jones to find out more or call +44(0)1980 847 389+44(0)1980 847 389.

Mongolia; Last Week in pictures

September 16th, 2014

Northern Mongolia is a unique fly fishing destination surrounded by snow-capped mountains, vast forests, meadows filled with wild flowers and thousands of rivers and lakes. This is the land of the taimen.

Here is a snapshot of the fishing in Mongolia last week:

There are still a few rods available in the 2015 season:

8 – 18 August, 2015 Available Rods: 7
18 – 28 August, 2015 Available Rods: 2
28 August – 7 September, 2015 Available Rods: 1 (Hosted by Alex Jardine)
17 – 27 September, 2015 Available Rods: 6

The cost is US$5,550 per person based on a shared room and shared guide, including 7 days fishing/ 10 nights.

If you would like more information email Alex Jardine or phone our office on 01980 847 389.

British Columbia – Nicholas Dean Outfitters Fishing Report 9th September

September 9th, 2014

The Autumn steelhead run began towards the end of August this year with a few making there way up through the main Skeena stem and some of our clients at Nicholas Dean Outfitters intercepted the forerunners in the last week of August. This years pink run has been very prolific to the point that Nigel and Elizabeth Taylor had over 50 in a day. Elizabeth landed a cracking 16 lbs fresh chrome steelhead after an epic battle, again on the main stem of the Skeena. The Coho and Sockeye runs also have been strong, especially the sockeye which have proved excellent sport. Mark Pettingell had a great week punctuated by a massive chrome steelhead he hooked in the main Skeena stem that tore down the river and spooled him before busting him off.

All commented on how well Pioneer Lodge has worked this season as the new home for Nicholas Dean Outfitters, and most notably how excellent the food has been. We eagerly wait for last weeks report. For those that have become somewhat disillusioned with our domestic fishing perhaps it could be worth considering a trip to British Columbia next year to experience a wealth of different species and fishing environments.

If you would be interested in further details or logging your interest for next year then please contact Peter, alternatively call our office on +44(0) 1980 847389.

Cuba; tarpon tails from the Isle of Youth

September 9th, 2014

Clare Carter has recently returned from the Isle of Youth in Cuba where she had tarpon in her sights. Part of a private group, they had the freedom of a liveaboard to move around the mangroves in search of tarpon. Accompanied by Brandon King who has guided many of our clients on Alphonse Island in Seychelles as well as further south in Madagascar, Clare has very kindly put the following trip report together of their week on board MV Georgiana.

After weeks of fly tying, kit preparation and excessive excitement we were on our way to a trip of a lifetime in Cuba with some awesome friends. An 8 hour direct flight from Gatwick to Havana on Virgin, one hour clearing customs and we were met and whisked straight to a waiting taxi. The 20 minute drive through Havana to our hotel was a real eye opener; it’s as if you have turned the clock back. Most of the vehicles are old 1940’s to 1060’s American cars, some a little worse for wear and others newly refurbished to their former glory. The buildings were beautiful albeit run down, the entrances made of marble with delicate detailing around the open wooden shutter windows. It was easy to imagine how luxurious it would have been back in its heyday. With no signs of any ghastly westernised food chains or giant super markets it was like stepping back in time. We reached our hotel, the Saratoga, and were met by a very friendly doorman who took our bags inside. The marble lobby with its big winding staircase leading up to the bar where a grand piano was playing was a stark contrast to the slightly shabby exterior. We were shown to our rooms, large and spacious with marble floors and a balcony overlooking the square and the old cigar rolling factory. Up on the roof of the hotel was a beautiful pool and bar area where we found Tomi and Jan Hradecky and the rest of the team. Settling down with a large mojito to watch the sunset we discussed the plans for the next 10 days.

The next 2 days were spent exploring Havana, taking in the sights and getting to understand the culture and people; it is a very safe and friendly city. We took a trip to the local cigar rolling factory where we were shown the background and history of the Habanos cigars. Climbing the many steps to the 4th floor we were taken to see the huge rooms full of wooden benches with experts rolling up cigars. Each day they are given a carefully selected blend of leaves to roll, the process is so secretive that even the rollers do not know which brand they are rolling. They are given a target each day and must complete this in order to get paid and be given their 5 free cigars that they may smoke or sell. There is a shop attached to the factory where you can buy legitimate cigars for a fraction of the price in Europe so we stock up with a box or two for fishing later in the week. There are many people on the streets who will try to sell you cheap cigars but these are mostly poorly made and not worth wasting your money on so be warned! In the evening we organised a traditional meal of suckling pig with black beans and rice. The food was outstanding, they bought out our 2 small suckling pigs whole and then cut them up and served with all the traditional trimming…..all washed down with a few more mojitos! Heaven! The next day we packed up our fishing kits and with great excitement headed to the airport. Be prepared to get comfy as the planes seldom fly on time but after a few rum and cokes we were too giddy to care. Eventually we were on the short 20 minute flight to Gerona. Landing at 9.30 pm we groggily disembarked to be met by a lady in full nurses uniform who promptly stuck a thermometer under our arms. I am guessing we were all fit to travel as we all made it out of the airport and into a waiting taxi for the 15 minute drive to the beautiful boat, the ‘Georgiana’. We would be spending the next 6 nights aboard fishing the flats of the Isle of Youth. The boat was docked in the mangroves waiting for our arrival. We were shown to our rooms which were spacious, clean and super comfy with a bunk and a single bed and en-suite loo and shower. On the upper deck was a chill out area at the back of the boat full of cosy cushions and a huge dining table in the middle that could be enclosed to protect from rain, Mosquitos or wind. We sat down to a sumptuous meal of lobster, salad and chicken, then off to bed early.

Waking at 7am to an amazing breakfast spread of fruit, cereal, cheese, fresh bread and eggs with hot Cuban coffee we were ready for our first day on the water. After meeting our guide for the week, Landy, we set up our kit and got the boat packed. My weapons of choice were a Clutch 9# and 12# both with floating lines and super 9 and 11 Abel reels as well as a Clutch 11# rod with a sink tip line to fish some of the deep channels. Brandon had his Hardy Proaxis 9# and 12#, both rigged with floating lines with a Loomis 10# as backup. An Omnispool was loaded with a sinking line at the ready. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky and a light breeze to break up the surface of the water. After a 45 minute drive in the skiff we arrived at the first flat. I hopped up onto the front of the boat, stripped out some line and stood ready, fly in hand. Within 10 minutes we could see 2 dark shapes of about 40-50 lbs heading for us down the flat.
“Attention…… 1 o’clock, cast cast!” I put a cast just in front of the fish and started to strip the purple and black bunny fly through the water. A small burst of speed and then the water erupted, 3 big tugs on the line and I had set the hook. Then the show began, he launched himself clean out of the water shaking his whole body, giant mouth open, each time I bowed the rod to him and each time he just shook his head looking more annoyed……unfortunately after some extremely impressive acrobatics he managed to spit the hook and slink off into the deep blue. My heart was in my mouth, it was like catching a seriously oversized queen fish mixed with the strength of a giant trevally. Brandon was up next, waiting patiently on the bow of the boat, rod at the ready as Landy our guide quietly and expertly poled us around the flat.

20 minutes later and …..’attention’ Landy shouted….’11 o’clock’.As a dark stealthy shape appeared 20 meters from the boat Brandon put a perfect cast a meter in front of him…strip strip strip, bang he was on.
The water erupted, which was followed by a very impressive display of leaps and splashes as it hurled itself out of the water trying to shake free. 10 minutes later he sulkily gave up and came in to the boat. Landy gently held the fish and we took a few pictures and a scale that had come lose (which when dry goes as hard as thick plastic with ridges and can be used as a nail file) before setting him back on his way across the flats.We continued to fish down the flats along the islands casting at a few more tarpon to no avail until we got back to the mother ship. Onboard was a sumptuous lunch spread of black bean soup, fresh caught lobster, salad, vegetables and sweet potato. The afternoons are very hot so from 1 till 4 is much needed siesta time in the air conditioned interior. At 4 we were back on the boat and off to the surf zone. The tarpon cruise up and down the reef in the deep and come in onto the flats with the tides. Polling up and down the surf line you could see sand cuts in the coral where they would suddenly appear. After no luck there we putted down to a wide open sand flat and cast at small jacks for the remainder of the afternoon. At 6pm as the sun started to set we made our way back to the mothership for dinner and a catch up with the rest of the team….a truly special first day on the water! After a delicious dinner, many mojitos and fishy stories galore we settled down to sleep as the boat gently rocked in the moonlight.  Tally for the boat overall: 5 tarpon caught and unlimited fun had!

Day 2
Waking at 7, breakfast and on the boat for 8 we were off.  We fished a beach area first thing as we waited for the right tides on the flats. Brandon hooked a nice size snapper off one of the clumps of driftwood embedded just off the shore which gave him a really great fight. After which we headed to a secret bone fishing spot where big single bones were slowly feeding as they crossed the flat. First cast and I was into a beautiful bonefish of around 4 lbs which promptly ran causing screams of delight from both me and the reel. Then Brandon followed suit with another fantastic 4 lbs bonefish. After an exciting morning we relaxed on the mothership until 4 pm then set off out again. Tally for the boat overall: 4 tarpon, 4 bones, 1 large snapper.

Day 3
The mother ship was on the move again further east so we fished the flats down to meet her. The landscape is made up of many mangrove islands some with little sandy beaches. In between these there are vast sand flats of varying depth and size which stretch out anywhere from a couple of hundred meters to a kilometre away from the surf zone. All covered in crystal clear water, and each holding a different yet exciting species of fish. We found the ‘Georgiana’ moored in a big mangrove channel and spent the rest of the day fishing close by. In the afternoon Landy took us to a little section of mangrove, in the corner was a small open gap no bigger than a mini. I carefully cast the fly as close to the back of the gap where the mangroves started as possible. Strip strip, and out of nowhere shot a baby tarpon which engulfed the fly. What a shock, as it started to leap around we had to quickly draw him out to the open. Finally my first Cuban tarpon! Elated we fished our way down to the boat as the sun started to set. Then for a shower and some much needed drink whilst watching the sunset and listening to stories of Jan Hradecky’s very impressive catch of 3 tarpon in one afternoon! Tally for the boat overall: 5 tarpon, 2 bones, 1 snook.

Day 4
We started off the day by heading deep into the mangroves, Landy navigated us through a very windy small channel overgrown with mangroves to a large lake. Brandon was up first and within 15 minutes he had hooked into a monster tarpon which unfortunately came off….frustrating but that’s tarpon fishing for you. After lunch we gave up our siesta time as there was a spot we wanted to fish for permit. The glare of the sun made it slightly challenging but Landy polled us along nonetheless. We were hugging the mangroves on a sand and seaweed flat, Brandon armed with a tarpon rod and me with my 9# and Avalon shrimp at the ready. Like lightening 2 tarpon shot out of nowhere and past the boat….damn. Just as we started to relax and our eyes had become accustomed to the glare I spotted a school far out of what looked like tarpon acting very strangely, on closer inspection I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a huge, and by huge I mean 30 to 50 fish, school of permit on the surface. We slowly polled over to them and got into position. I cast out in front of them, let the line sink and waited, as they approached my hands were shaking. Slowly I started to retrieve the line with a steady strip and a flick at the end to mimic a swimming shrimp. All of a sudden they turned and came after the shrimp, bustling and barging each other to get at it, and then….nothing. Huh? As they turned we again polled into position, cast out, waited , and again they seemed to fight over the fly but again nothing! Changing flies we attempted a few more shots, but it was not to be and they slowly disappeared as quickly as they had appeared earlier. We had some more shots at a few tarpon and another school of big 15 lbs plus permit again to no avail so by late afternoon Landy moved us on to another of his special spots. As we slowly and quietly poled in through the small opening we could see down a narrow canal. About 50 meters down there was a school of tarpon between 10 and 80 lbs gently rolling in the glass calm water, their silver backs glinting in the evening sunset. Below the boat there were so many baitfish it looked like the bottom was moving. Brandon at the ready, he calmly cast as we got close enough. My heart was in my mouth as he stripped the line back, then it went tight. The water erupted as all 50+ lbs of fish flew into the air. Below us the bait was in a frenzy and tarpon were shooting under the boat towards the entrance to the canal. After a few frenzied moments and some epic jumps he launched himself into the mangroves and the leader broke…..frustrating but what an amazing display. As we sat quietly contemplating what we had just witnessed we could hear the tarpon all around us deep in the mangroves gently surfacing to gulp air…..a perfect end to a perfect day on the water. Returning to the mother ship we discovered the Hradecky team had showed everyone up with Jan catching a nice 45 lbs tarpon and Tomi catching 3 tarpon, one of which was of 25 lbs. Tally for the boat: 7 tarpon, 3 snook, 3 bonefish and lots of mangrove snapper.

Day 5
Today we had to start to head back west so after breakfast the mothership set sail and we slowly fished the flats back towards them. Landy took us on a little adventure through the mangroves to a big pool looking for tarpon. As we came out the other side onto the north side of the islands we could see a beautiful still mangrove cove. Making our way along the outer edge we could hear the tarpon deep in the roots of the mangroves sipping air. Casting into one of the depressions made by an old hurricane I hooked a really nice fish, but as quick as he was on and jumping…he was off. We slowly polled along hugging the line of mangroves, a few fish were rolling in the distance. Suddenly there was a school that appeared close to the boat, fish of around 60-80 lbs. I cast out and they turned after the fly.  Vying for the fly, their huge mouths open, sucking in water as they chased after my little pink and white bunny (yes some pink for luck). Bang and he was on. As he launched himself out of the water I bowed the rod, then resumed my tug of war as he tried to escape in every direction possible. We got some epic footage and shots of the sheer power of these fish as they take off out of the crystal calm water. With their giant mouths open and huge silver bodies flailing they do everything in their power to dislodge the fly. 10 minutes in and he seemed ready to admit defeat, as I steered him towards the boat and Landy leant down to grab the leader, the fly popped out and with what looked like a wink he was gone, back into the deep blue….. ‘A long distance release’ as my Dad would say. We headed out to a flat near the surf line to see if we could see any permit or tarpon and I somehow managed to catch a nice blue box fish….not quite what I was after but really beautiful to see up close. The flats were full of jacks and we had some shots at a few nice size barracuda which unfortunately always managed to bite trough the leader!  Tomi again showed everyone up by catching a nice 40 lbs tarpon. Tally for the boat: 3 tarpon, 3 bones, 1 snook, many jacks.

Day 6 (half day)
The mothership set off back to dock after breakfast and we began fishing back towards there ourselves. With the mangroves around us and the backdrop of the  mountains it was a truly beautiful place to be, I felt very lucky to have experienced such amazing fishing with great friends. Arriving back at the dock to unpack we were met by an elated Tomi who had landed his first snook, a giant at 15 lbs ….the perfect end to a perfect week. A final lobster lunch and we were on our way to the airport for the short flight back to Havana.

We spent 2 more days in Havana relaxing and taking trips in the old pink Cadillac convertibles around the city to see the sights.One evening visiting ‘Casa de la musica’ was an eye opener but I won’t spoil the surprise! Then back to the airport for the flight home. A truly wonderful week with great fishing and fantastic friends!

Clare’s tips …..
Take bug spray, the mangroves in the evening can be full of mosquitos!
Stock up on cigars, they are really cheap;
Try El Buganvil restaurant (order the suckling pig 24 hrs in advance);
Be patient, the internal flights have a schedule of their own so bring a book or ipad;
A pillow, you can always do with some home comforts;
Tarpon flies of the moment are all purple and black or red and black (bunnies and toads);
For permit it’s the Avalon shrimp;
Chocolate for your guide (they will do anything for you then);
If you need to escape the sun then an umbrella for the flats boat will come in handy;
A cooling towel for the boat;
Don’t take too much kit a 8/9 and an 11/12 weight rod with floating lines and some sinking lines on an omnispool are more than enough

For more details or to hold space please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 84738901980 847389.

Indian Ocean; space update @ 9 September 2014

September 8th, 2014

Farquhar space has seen a fair amount of movement in the last week and below a roundup of the Indian Ocean space still available at 9th September 2014.

For more details or to hold space please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 84738901980 847389.

ALPHONSE .. species diversity coupled with very comfortable accommodation, it doesn’t get much better than this. If your preferred dates aren’t showing, please contact us as there may be rods held but so far unconfirmed.

1-8 October 2014 (Wed/Wed) x 1 rod
8-15 October 2014 (Wed/Wed) x 2 rods
6-13 December 2014 x 1 rod
13-20 December 2014 x 8 rods
20-27 December 2014 x 2 rods
27 December – 3 January 2014 x 2 rods
3-10 January 2015 x 6 rods
10-17 January 2015 x 10 rods
24-31 January 2015 x 2 rods
31 January – 7 February 2015 x 1 rod
14-21 February x 3 rods
28 February - 7 March x 5 rods
7-14 March x 2 rods
21-28 March x 1 rod
4-11 April 2015 x 4 rods

ASTOVE … they say the best things come in small packages and Astove has all the makings of being GT central with space at the new six bed lodge filling very quickly and not much space left already.  There still three rods left in the second week - fish it early :)

16-23 February x 3 rods remaining

16-23 February x 3 rods remaining
23 February - 2 March x 1 rod
2-9 March x 4 rods
9-16 March x 6 rods
16-23 March x 1 rod
30 March - 6 April x 3 rods
6-13 April x 6 rods

COSMOLEDO .. extreme saltwater fishing with the focus on GTs, for the remainder of this season, it remains a liveaboard operation.

14-22 November 2014 x 1 rod
29 November – 6 December 2014 x 5 rods

ST BRANDONS .. pristine flats that are home to permit, big bones and smaller numbers of big GTs, St Brandons remains a liveaboard operation. Nothing this good, is going to be quick to get to but it has to be on your bucket list.

10 – 19 October 2014 x 5 rods
21-30 October x 2 rods
1-10 November 2014 x 2 rods
13-22 November x 4 rods

31 March - 9 April 2015 x 6 rods
22 April - 1 May x 4 rods
5-14 May 2015 x 8 rods

FARQUHAR .. challenge yourself against the atolls unique bumphead parrotfish as well as the GTs.  With simple accommodation, Farquhar is all about the fishing.

8-15 October 2014 x 1 rods
22-29 October 2014 x 1 rod - Peter McLeod’s hosted week
3-10 December x 5 rods
4-11 March x 10 rods
11-18 March x 10 rods

1-8 April 2015 x 10 rods
8-15 April 2015 x 10 rods
15-22 April 2015 x 3 rods

For more details please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 84738901980 847389.

Alaska; Steffan Jones’s trip report on ’something for everyone’

September 8th, 2014

Alaska represents one of the world’s last true wildernesses. An expanse that allows you to escape, view some truly stunning vistas, amazing wildlife and experience some of the best fishing around.

The main feeling that I took from the trip and experience was how there really was something for everybody; both from the budget perspective but also from the fishing and species perspective. You could go fish for the halibut (even with a fly!), chase some silvers/coho, which are a hugely exciting species to target, sight fish huge rainbows and char, or come earlier in the year and target kings, sockeye or the ever obliging pinks. You can go to challenging waters that will only give you a few fish a day, but they will invariably be large and powerful, or indulge in some shoulder-aching action where you quite literally question whether it’s wise to cast again – you always end up doing so.

Share the experience with the brown bears, which are a wonder to see and share the river with – your nerves soon subside when you get to understand these magnificent creatures and see that they really are more interested in the fish than you. View moose wondering the plains during your journey to and from your river along with beaver, and a whole host of different birds that call this amazing environment home. Certainly a place that gives you the feeling that there really is more to fishing than catching fish. Beyond the species you can catch during your stay that can largely be tailored to your requirements on a daily basis there are a wealth of lodges on offer, some more suitable to individuals than others. We now have a great understanding of this and look forward to helping you with your options and assisting you in gaining a greater understanding of what’s on offer.

Please make sure to take a look next week for the full trip report along with images to help paint a picture.

If you are interested in travelling to these or any other destination within our portfolio why not contact Steffan Jones or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.