After the trip with Doug, I had two days booked with Simon Becker. In light of some additional work required at the shop, Kathryn and I were unable to attend the days together. Instead, the first day I fished with Simon and Kathryn followed up with him the following day. On my day of fishing, I was joined by Michael Hetzel–a great friend who is quite capable with a fly rod (feel free to read up on our Belize 2013 trip to get the account of him catching 4 permit in six days on his first ever trip fishing for them). With recently reset weather conditions, we were looking hard at permit fishing and I brought a barracuda rod.
We started out looking for tarpon, though quickly we surmised that this was likely not going to happen. Michael stood on the bow for a spell before Simon called the move and we headed elsewhere. Elsewhere in this case was a long bar in search of barracuda. In the still early light, I covered some water in hopes of a toothy encounter. The only run-in we had was with a barracuda of un-noteworthy size, and after an hour we left for some new ground.
Michael had a few shots at passing tarpon, and while a few of his casts made the mark none of the marks made a move. When we had had enough of the slow tarpon fishing, Simon moved us to a new place with permit on the brain. As an ever-optimistic barracuda fisherman, I stripped out the cuda pole for use if the need arose. We had two shots at permit, one of which had every chance of making it happen. It didn’t and as we ambled down the bank there was a large barracuda glaring at us from a white hole. I passed Michael the permit rod and grabbed the cuda wand, making two casts at the shiny animal before it made a hard move on the fly. It followed the fly to the end, and when the fly didn’t move any more the fish then took it with him, baring its teeth a few meters from the boat. I cleared the line and fought the fish to the boat, holding it up for photos:
We moved on after this, and Simon had permit on the brain. Michael had a few shots, but as the wind increased he sat down and gave me a chance to beat my head against the wall.
The closest we came was on a single tailing fish, which spun on the fly we tossed to it and looked for all the world as if he ate it. I even got the “he ate it!” from Simon, not once but twice before the fish ran away unhooked.
We bumped around as the day wound to a close, and had some incredible post-cold front visibility in some of the prettiest scenery I’ve seen in a long time. Towards the end of the day we shifted our sights to barracuda, and had a few long follows that looked great but didn’t create enough tension. After a few extra beautiful hours we headed home, enjoying the long view in the failing light.
More to come tomorrow, when I’ll update here with the results of two days with John O’Hearn.