I've always had a yen for heading to the Argentine Patagonia region and it looks like this dream comes true in the near future. The prospect of flycasting for trout in environments like this feels like Shangri-La.
After much research, I've chosen Rio Hermoso Lodge (http://www.riohermoso.com/). This exquisite destination is in the middle of one of the world's most beautiful national parks.
It's simple to get there: straight from the USA to Buenos Aires, then on to Bariloche. From there a two hour car trip takes you to paradise.
Let's cross fingers as to no more cyclones. Fishing was a pip today. 4 tarpon to 40 pounds released and another 4 jumped. Weather was beautiful with sunny skies and NE winds around 15 mph. After the full moon gave up yesterday, the fall tides took over today and created a whopping high tide that had the docks under water at the boat ramp.
As the days shorten and water temperatures cool down, it's back to the flats of South Bay for bonefish.
Chuck will be working the with the Fanning tribal council to provide a new a new bonefishing and light tackle charter service.
This will involve a 4 bone fishermen maximum per trip.
This will begin with some tree house lodging right on the edge of the jungle on the two best locations for bones.
This includes 3 meals a day....a little "rough" but truly South Pacific paradise.
To recap, in promoting the fishing at Fanning Island, there will be no hotel or air conditioned lodge, but will have tree house lodging. This will be run by the council for the people. This will be a flats fishing and light tackle venue sure to appeal to adventurers.
Naan will be our head Fanning guide.
He is here now and says hi to old friends like you and the new friends we shall meet.
Introductory Surf and Fishing packages:
Fanning Island$1,699..single Bookings.
Two weeks includes:
*Transport From Christmas Island to Fanning and Back to Christmas by yacht or government ship.
*10.5 days on Fanning.
*Surf Use License.
*Accommodation in The Tabuaeran Island Council Surf and Fish lodges, right on the beach. or the best fishing spot.
*3 meals a day....very basic
*2 week extensions possible ---$1,080
Weekly surf packages in one of our 9 hotels prices ranging:from $420 a week though $1,500.
Please we need you help! We are trying to provide broad band internet service via the RICS to 18 islands of Kiribati that do not have good communications. They need our help.$3,000 per island.Currently telephone is by radio and cost $9 for first three minutes, and for overseas (impossible) $18 for the first 3 minutes. Telegrams to loved ones is 17 cents a word, coma, question mark and Period. People die because of lack of communications.They need our help. See Pacific Tele Ports .comAustralia has donated Unlimited band width to this project.We plan are promoting Amazon.com for the OLPC program, one laptop per child in the whole country. Amazon is selling School Laptops starting in November for $180, and by 2010 the price will drop to $80.
The Gulf surf behind the West Wind Inn was a sight to behold: backlit by a yellow and orange sunset, countless schools of glass minnows worked their way west along the Sanibel beach. Every few seconds, their rain shower sounds were shattered by the suction cup strikes of snook that seemed to be everywhere. All this action was literally occurring in knee-deep water right at our feet! My fishing partner, Jim Porter, laughed as a snook collided with his right leg. Off to my right, another snook almost beached itself as it went airborne with a mouthful of silvery bait.
My delightful dilemma in the darkening sunset kaleidoscope was simply where to cast first. A cast parallel to the beach might score the occasional snook that still had an appetite, but the odds favored casting to the hundreds of exploding jacks, ladyfish, and sea trout a mere forty feet offshore. I’d chosen my fishing tackle based on prior experience in fishing these fantastic waters. In the snag-free conditions of the open surf, ulralight four pound spinning was ideal. My terminal tackle consisted of a double line, thirty-pound fluorocarbon leader topped off with a one-quarter ounce white Spro bucktail.
It was simple: one quick flick into the “offshore” melee, and the hookup was immediate. Some of my casts would hook, then jump off a ladyfish, only to have it grabbed by a jack or trout moments later. Jim and I fished this frenzy until the painted sky went dark, and we could barely see our rod tips. It’s important to know that darkness is a legal mandate along many Gulf coast beaches to protect egg-laying turtles and their hatchlings-artificial light interferes with these reproductive activities by creating disorientation. So, it really was black as Jim and I walked back over the sand dunes to the Inn. The day had come full circle, since we had walked to the beach twelve hours earlier to greet the dawn. On his second cast, Jim hooked, caught, photographed and released a beautiful seventeen-pound snook. The great thing was that our dawn tune-up was only a prelude to a day on the waters fishing with native Sanibel guide Captain Mike Smith. The West Wind Inn makes Mike their first choice when they want a day of action for their customers
It’s extremely rare for a family resort destination to not only offer first class fishing right at its back door, but also provide shelling, beach walks, swimming, biking, as well as proximity to some of America’s finest restaurants, art galleries, and the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve. You simply could not find this incredible mix in Key West, Cancun, Freeport, Cozumel, or even San Juan. Sanibel and Captiva islands stand alone in offering this unique mix of features for a resort destination, and the West Wind Inn is in the epicenter on Sanibel’s 3345 West Gulf Drive.
The West Wind Inn has all the amenities one could want: a large pool with adjoining bar for snacks and drinks, a great restaurant, bikes for rent, beach lounges and umbrellas, gardens, and an excellent variety of rooms. The first time I went to the West Wind, I knew I was in for something special when they handed me a shell guide and collection bag on check-in!
BEGINNING THE DAY-
It was a brief but highly effective “dawn patrol” that resulted in a few more snook and sea trout. The warmth of the rising sun at our backs reminded us that we had to leave the Inn at 7:15 to meet Captain Mike at the Punta Rassa boat ramp just after the Sanibel Causeway tollbooth.
When we drove up, we saw his 21-foot Lake and Bay skiff right away: it was gleaming and spotless as it lay alongside the dock. When we climbed aboard, I inquired about his live bait forays in the predawn hours. He smiled and opened two huge livewells: one brimmed with threadfin herring and the other was chock full of pilchards (or whitebait, as they refer to it locally).
As we got settled aboard and stowed our gear and tackle, Mike laid out his plans for the day. Plan #1 would be to run 100 to 200 yards off the Gulf Beach in search of feeding fish. Mike said recent reports indicated huge schools of minnows were being savaged by numerous tarpon and mackeral in the early morning hours.
Plan #2 would kick in as the sun got higher and the day really warmed up: we’d be heading to the inside waters behind Sanibel to fish in the “Ding” for snook and redfish.
Mike fired up his Yamaha 225 and idled towards open water and the channel. Once his rig was in the clear, he pushed down the throttle to what felt like warp drive. In mere moments, we were rounding the bend near the Sanibel Lighthouse into the open Gulf.
It was not long before we could spot skyrocketing mackeral and free-jumping tarpon in the distance. I could feel my heart start to pound with excitement. Mike idled over to the largest feeding frenzy and cut his motor about fifty yards away. He ran up to the bow and lowered his electric motor into the water. Its strong silent pull added to our excitement as we surged towards the tarpon and mackeral in “stealth mode.”
As we approached casting distance, Mike pulled two rods from the upright holders on the console. They were spinning rods that were well thought out. They were spooled up with “8/30” Power Pro, which meant that we’d have the long casts afforded by the 8 pound diameter, but the fighting strength of 30 pound line. This line would be ideal for tarpon because its no stretch properties would make for a better hookset. The terminal tackle consisted of a double line, 50-pound fluorocarbon leader, and a 3/0 Gamakatsu hook.
Mike told us that we’d bait up with the threadfins, as they were a perfect choice: too big for the Spanish mackeral, but absolute “command candy” for the tarpon. I lowered my lively bait into the water just beneath me, thinking Mike was going to get us even closer with his electric. Not a second later, a tarpon exploded on my bait right at my feet, covering me with water. I gave the fish a three count to swallow the offering and struck hard….once, twice, three times. Up came the silver giant, flashing brightly in the morning sun. It greyhounded across the green gulf for thirty feet and plunged back into the water with a furious tailsplash. The battle then settled into a predictable pattern: maximum pressure when the fish rolled or wallowed, and a quick bow when the fish jumped or bolted. Ten minutes later, the fish was alongside the boat, ready for release. It looked about sixty pounds, a great way to start a fishing day!
After our victory, the minnow schools were a hundred yards west, fleeing their predators. Mike activated his electric motor in pursuit of the action. Within five minutes, we were back on top of the melee. Jim and I cast out our threadfins and were hooked up within seconds. It was a brief double header, with one fish jumping off and the other fish chafing through the leader. We took a breather and rechecked a thunderhead that had been heading our way. A chilly breeze was coming up, and a thunderclap a minute later told us it was time to go right away.
Mike said we’d have to speed over to Fort Myers Beach in order to be in the clear, and his rig topped fifty mph as it kept us well out of harm’s way. As we sat just offshore of a sunny beach, we watched a ferocious thunderstorm cross Sanibel Island. The storm took an hour to pass. When we returned, the minnow schools were gone. Mike suggested that the storm may have driven the bait into the surf, but the falling tide would put them out of our reach. He felt the time was right to run to the waters “behind” Sanibel, and go for game fish in the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve.
INTO THE “DING”-
Captain Mike cranked up his engine, and off we flew “behind” Sanibel. Mike was happy that we were fishing on the new moon.. Just like the full moon, the spring tide effect would create tidal levels and current velocities that were greater and stronger. Mike felt that the snook and redfish fed better at this time.
Nobody knows the “Ding” better than Captain Mike, who has fished the area for the last twenty years since he was a teenager. Soon, we entered one of the small entrances to this maze-like jungle. Since the tide was falling, Mike raised his engine on its jack-plate, and idled in for a half mile.
Captain Mike’s method was fascinating. He would only use his bow-mounted electric motor to get to his honey holes hiding in the maze of creeks, bays, and islands. Once the boat was about forty feet from his favorite spot, he’d let down the anchor to keep his skiff stationary.
Then, he would net a few frisky pilchards from his livewell, and hand-toss them into the mangrove treetops. Moments later, “pilchards from the sky” would rain down on the snook hiding a few feet into the mangroves, and all hell would break loose! Mike smiled at all the pops, and said, “ I guess they’re hungry.” As a few pilchard survivors tore out of the mangroves and hid in the shadow of his skiff, Mike told me to pull one of the spinning outfits out of the rod holders.
The rigs were well thought through: stiff long graphite rods with fast retrieve spinners. Each reel was filled to the brim with braided line to maximize two tackle qualities: sensitivity and low stretch, fish-pulling power. He baited me up on a 1/0 hook tied to a two-foot length of fluorocarbon leader. He told me to toss the bait into the shadowy mangrove pocket that had the most recent “pop.” I made a good cast, and the strike was instantaneous! The snook and I did a seesaw battle, but good technique and tackle had him to the boat side in about a minute. We admired the six-pound fish for a moment and then released it.
Suffice it to say that every new stop we made, we hooked up with a nice snook, redfish, or jack crevalle. The technique was the same: a pinpoint cast into shadowy pockets and a keep-him-coming fighting technique. Mike’s spots were as endless as his knowledge of the “Ding”, but by midday, we were exhausted. It was time for a break. As we idled back out of the Preserve, Captain Mike encouraged me to return very soon when the fishing “was really good.” I laughed, and responded that I was thinking just the same thing: “ you know, the full moon is only two weeks away.”
Mike again mentioned the minnow schools that might be right in the surf behind the West Wind Inn, and that dusk was a great time to fish the surf. I told him he could count on Jim and I being there, but little did I know what lay in store for us!….
IF YOU GO-
Get off I-75 at exit 131 onto Daniels Road. Follow this West past U.S. 41 until you get to Summerlin Road. Turn left on Summerlin and follow it right to the Sanibel Causeway toll plaza. When you get to the island, turn right at Periwinkle Way. Follow Periwinkle for 2.6 miles to Tarpon Bay Road and make a left. Follow Tarpon Bay to the stop sign for West Gulf Drive and make a right turn. The West Wind Inn will be 2 miles ahead on your left.