Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish
Many people vacation on Caribbean islands, but few fish them with a fly rod. That's a shame, because there are a lot of opportunities for good fishing. While a boat can be helpful in getting to good fishing spots, access to a boat is generally not necessary. Fishing from shore or wading in the shallows can produce some excellent fishing. So, if you are heading down to a Caribbean island on vacation, be sure to pack your fly rod.
The typical fishing show or magazine article depicts images of people in a flats boat with a guide on perfect flats of seagrass or open sand. The anglers are generally hunting for bonefish or permit on the expansive shallow flats of Belize or the Bahamas, or stalking tarpon along channel edges in the Florida Keys. In my experience, fishing most Caribbean islands is a different ballgame. More>
Rain? It’s not bad if there’s no lightning and the winds are calm. If you face toward a dark sky and wear yellow-tinted polarized lenses, visibility can be good enough for good sight fishing. Wind? As long as there is sun, you can usually work with the wind too – search for fish as you move downwind, find a lee shoreline. When rain and wind combine, fishing becomes challenging at best. And when the wind and rain begin to organize into the umpteenth tropical system of the season, fishing is off the table.
I’ve experienced some great fishing in the heavy rains and windless conditions that often precede a tropical depression, but that’s all about timing. A system that is in the process of organizing or is not yet sure if it will become a cyclone often covers a large area, with much rain and dark skies but only intermittent winds associated with squall lines. The key is to know when these conditions are changing, when the system is becoming stronger and better organized. It’s important to not get too far from home and to be in an area where you can take shelter during a stronger squall. More>
Bonefish, tarpon, and permit. The big three. The flats grand slam. The pinnacle of many anglers’ fishing career. That is one reason anglers travel to Belize to chase these great gamefish on the flats. Another reason is that there are a lot of all three species. And as many of you already know, last year Belize passed legislation that designated bonefish, tarpon, and permit as ‘Catch and Release only’, taking a good step toward ensuring this important fishery remains healthy into the future. The problem is that for the uninitiated, or those who have experienced the flats only through TV, books, or magazines, once anglers experience these habitats and great gamefish for the first time, an addiction is likely to take hold. (Photo by Tom Rosenbauer.) More>
In southwest Florida, one of my cues for knowing when to start looking for the first tarpon of spring is when I am awakened before dawn by a bird calling outside my bedroom window. The source of the call is the southern version of the whippoorwill – called a ‘chuck will’s widow’ - members of the night jar family who are active at night, and actively call in the hours before dawn. Any other time of year, a bird calling outside my bedroom window during pre-dawn hours is not a pleasant experience – it’s usually met by some yelling from me, and if that doesn’t work some rock throwing. It’s only a matter of time before one of my neighbors sees me standing outside in my underwear at 5am, yelling and throwing rocks at a tree. But whippoorwills and their kin are different – their pre-dawn calls are a sure sign of the beginning of another tarpon season. More>
The Fisherman's Coast approach focuses on how coastal gamefish interact with their habitats and prey. The more you know about the gamefish you pursue with a fly rod, the more often you'll be in the right place at the right time with the right fly making the right presentation. It's about catching more fish.
Our sister site Tribal Bonefish is all about conservation through responsible fishing. Tribal Bonefish shows you how to become a better steward of our coasts to protect our fisheries today, and ensure future generations get a chance to experience these fisheries.