The chef puts out bowls of oatmeal with raisins every morning. I had 2 bowls and a rich, piping hot cup of coffee specially prepared for me by Milkie. Then, Chris Littauer mentioned that we’d be fishing together. Nice surprise, a perfect chance to get to know the guy who set this whole adventure in motion. Our guide, Osyani, had already arrived and his skiff was ready to go.
Another bright day, warm and breezy. We decided to get started off a deep dark channel several miles to the west of the ship. On the way there our skiff bounced lightly over small choppy waves and we got to know each other a little better. Chris is a Trinity College grad, a few years older than my eldest daughter who’s friends Skylar and George, who were at Trinity at the same time. They were freshmen as Chris was in his senior year, he knows them both. Nice surprise to hear a successful entrepreneur speak highly of my child’s friends as we set out for a day on the Cuban flats together.
At our first site we decided to target cruising tarpon while waiting for the tide to come in. Both of us casted from the deck switching off after 10 minutes, no hook ups. Then we headed up the channel and on to a flat but the breeze hadn’t abated so Osyani set us up at the mouth of another deep slot we’re a channel converged with a flat. I took the deck, casting Chris’s 10 weight with a sinking line, a red & blue peanut butter fly tied off to a 60lb mono leader.
As I stripped in the first cross current cast we saw several large fish flash behind the fly. Each following cast found a similar response, on the fourth cast a large jack crevalle took the fly and ran into the deepest part of the channel.
With instruction from both Chris and Osyani, I managed to stay tight to the fish for about 15 minutes. The big jack took me into the backing several times, the line singing through the reel at a high rate of speed. After the third run I started to tire the fish enough to gain control and Osyani reminded me to work against the jack’s angle, if it turned right I’d move the big fly rod to the left, when it turned right again I’d apply pressure from the opposite angle. Once the jack crevalle was boated we snapped a few photos, my heart was racing mostly from excitement but it was definitely a workout landing it. After the release we moved onto a long flat.
With Chris on the deck it wasn’t long before a single, large bonefish approached the bow. Osyani spotted him at 100 meters. When it came into range, Chris casually fired the line after 2 short false casts. The bone sipped his fly and ran twice. He was in shallow water, the light pink sand provided no cover, we watched as he moved out toward deeper water then cut back to the shore. Stepping off the skiff to land the fish in knee deep water was a nice change, the bonefish was in Chris’s hand and released quickly. Thrilling but simple, his smile told the story, we were just warming up.
It was an amazing day, fishing with a man who dedicated his life not only to fishing but to helping others make the most of their special fishing experiences. I learned about WorldCasts’ summer fishing camp on the South Fork of the Snake which I’ve only seen from mid river. The level of attention each client gets from his team is top notch, WorldCast is world class.
Just after lunch we set up to cruise a long shallow flat in search of Permit. After about 20 minutes I heard Osyani ask the common question, “do you want to catch a bonefish”. He told me to look to the right at “9 o’clock, 80 meters”. After my eyes adjusted to the light I saw a school of 30 fish slowly moving on the surface of deep water toward the boat.
I switched to an 8 weight Orvis Ovation with a light brown shrimp fly on 12 pound tippet, casted twice and had a fish on. What followed was almost too much to believe. We floated into the corner of the flat, a mangrove lined area filled with clouds of anchovies and caught one fish after another for an hour. Sharing the skiff’s deck and choosing tarpon or bones, at one point there was a large snook cruising with a school of baby tarpon and Chris tried to single the snook out, one hook up after the other it was like a dream.
At the end of the day Osyani set us up on a huge flat, the light was perfect with a mild breeze ruffling the surface. Seeking Permit but again only seeing bones. In the last minutes of the day at 4:45pm our guide once again sited a large bonefish slowly swimming toward the boat “3 o’clock, 100 meters, bonefish”, Chris casually turned his shoulder and sited the grey ghost, as it came closer he set up to cast and after a short backcast he put the fly on the bonefishes nose, like a laser beam his cast hit the target in what I can only call a perfect delivery. It seemed automatic, his skills extreme. The fish was boated and released, like the first, without ceremony.
On arrival at the ship we were received by Amarilis & Melkie with enthusiasm, a warm wet towel and a cold mug of guava nectar. Mike Nelson was waving from the top deck, quietly observing the Dolphins arrivals and keeping a safe distance. Word was spreading, this had been a good day of fishing for all. Mike Weeks, a dentist from LA, fishing on a guided skiff alone had targeted Permit all day, sighting several groups of Permit “daisy chaining” which suggests that they were beginning to start a spawning ritual, unfortunately none had taken his fly. Peter Dawkins, Mike’s dad from Nashville, had landed an 80lb tarpon in the same dark deep channel where we started our day. And the biggest news, my pal Simbo had accomplished a super slam, he’d sighted, hooked and landed a snook, bonefish, 25 lb Permit and a tarpon. We all had something to be grateful for.