Giant Tarpon Fishing - Nicaragua Part III

Hi, there! On our second day we got up very early at 5 am and before 6 we were already fly casting at the fishing spot. This was our opportunity, our second chance to fish those giant tarpon, and we were very optimistic. Like half an hour later, after the sun rose, Rell got the first bite and he really hooked the fish very good. It jumped like four times, it was crazy!

We were all very excited, the guide helped him reeling all the line and there was a lot of action. IT WAS A BIG MONSTER, a hundred pounder, and it took Rell like an hour to take it from the water. After reeling and reeling, Rell did a great job and got the fish. The fish got under the boat for a couple of times. That is when you need to move your rod and be sure of both not losing tension in the land but also not breaking the line in the water. 

Rell was very good at stripping and he deserved that fish for all the good job he had done. After one hour we got into the coast and the guide was able to jump into the water and get the fish to take the fly out. It was an amazing time, a wonderful moment. That made our day. 

Due to the problem we had the first day with the engine of the boat, we’ve had only fish for one day and a half. AND RELL GOT IT! We got a hundred pounder and we were all happy. For us, it is not about the fish, but it’s all about being fishing, enjoying those moments. The fish will come sooner or later, but it will come. 

I believe that here the guides could work a little harder, for example, maybe changing more flies and trying new things. They used just one or two flies and they thought that was far enough. It would be a great idea to try different things. As far as I know, they are doing a lot of research to find out where the fish are, but so far, they did not succeed. Maybe, there aren’t many fish in this area and they should find in other places. We’ll see how it goes in the next days!

On Friday, after a long night drinking a few beers and sharing stories about other fishing trips we’ve done around the world, we went to bed with the hope that one day we could see some fish schools upstream in the Rio Grande, which is an hour and a half away from boat. That would be so nice. Mike and Mark, two of the guys, went to the area on Friday and saw some action there. They lost some fish, they hocked seven, but couldnt bring them on board. It didn’t matter so much because finally they saw some action.

We had to wake up early in the morning. The schedule was: 3,30 am wake up call, around 4 am breakfast time and 20 minutes after breakfast, departure to the area of Rio Grande. We had to be there before 6 am and it was a long ride there.

One of the things we would have liked was to have life vests on the boat and I think it is a good idea if you are riding boat when it is still dark outside. This is something we have suggested to the managers before leaving.

Half an hour later there was a thick fog, which made everything even more difficult. We had to keep moving very slowly and carefully, just trying to avoid any sort of complications. This is a big river, so it is not difficult to ride a boat. Although the boat was a a 70 to 90 power Yamaha vessel, we had to be careful as there are logs floating in the river and rocks as well.

My friend Rell was worried that if we hit one, we would be in problem. The other thing is that the fog made the trip longer, luckily it lifted quickly, and the sun started shining and we could see a beautiful day ahead, the beauty of the area.

Near the bank of the river a huge I saw a huge tree. I really don’t know its name, but its size is superb. I have seen some of them in Bolivia before. You’ll see them in the photos and videos. So, at around 6.30 we were at the fishing spot ready to fish. We slowed down the boat, the water was calm, no fish in sight. But suddenly we saw one Tarpon rolling over the water and then another, and another, and another! There was a tree, sunk in the water, and all the fish were around that tree.

It was funny because the tree was almost fully submerged, and we only saw part of it. One of the guides said, “Cast to the tree” and my friend Rell who hadn’t realized the submerged thing was a tree, looked at us bewildered, looking at the forest on the banks.

“What does this guy mean?,” he asked and Marcos, the guide, insisted, “cast to the trees”. And my friend Rell looked at me and said, “what’s he saying, what does he mean??” And I told him, “I think he means the tree under the water”. And he was like “Ohhh, I see, now everything makes sense!”

So, we started casting in that direction, Rell got a very nice snook weighing about 20 pounds. It was the best and biggest snook I’ve ever seen. I got my first Tarpon of the day. It was exciting to see the first fish of the week on the very last day! This was a good sign, wasn’t it? I had fun with the fish, but it was not big, around 20 pounds. It was fun but still it was not what we were looking for at Tapam Lodge.

The fish was fighting on my line like for fifteen minutes. It would have been great to use, instead of my 12-weight rod, my 10-weight rod, or maybe a 9-weight rod. But the problem is that if you are with your 9 and suddenly you get the 150, 200 pounder, you know buddy, you are gonna be dancing with the bulls.

Finally, we released the fish. We took some photos and videos, and then we got “back to business” - as my friend Mark said when we were in Tanzania and he was guiding our group. The next fish I caught that morning was a snook, a very small snook.

The bite of the Tarpon and the Snook are not that different. It bit a couple of time before I finally hooked it. The funny story is that after 5 or 6 casts I got another small bite, I thought it could be another snook or tarpon. What is this? I got a fly coming to the water, so instead of stripping, I just moved the fly a little bit towards the boat to see if I could make the fish follow the fly and behind my fly came a big tarpon, a nice one, about twenty to 30 pounds, it was so amazing to tease him closer to the boat and then just take the flight out of his nose. That was exactly what I wanted to do. Mike almost killed me.

He said, “What are you doing?!” And I said, “Wait, this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to bring the fish up. We don’t need to have the fish in the line, we had to play with the fish.” Anyway, that was kind of a good story.

At the same time, in the same place, behind us, Orlando arrived with Mark and Jimmy Martinez came with Peter, so now we were all fishing in the same place. The guys in the other boat got a couple of snooks. Mark caught a big one!

That was a lucky morning. I hooked two tarpon and one of them was very nice, but I didn’t catch it in the same area. When the action slowed down in the area, we saw the fish moving but not taking the flight so we went to another sunken tree, like 5 minutes downstream.

Maybe because my friend was riding the boat, he said, “Hey before we go to the place you wanna go, take me to that tree which is far away in the water, you see it?” and he said, “that’s exactly the place where we’re going. That’s the place where we saw fish.” I thought,  Finally, I’m learning to read these rivers.”  

We got to the place we have seen action before. We saw lot of smaller fish, about 30 pounds rolling, and once in a while we could hear the splash of big fish jumping or rolling. We were enthusiastic about it! The scanner, i.e. the fish finder we had, was detecting a lot of fish in the area. After 15 minutes casting I saw a tarpon rolling, I put the fly two meters in front of him and I got another fish. Again, it was not a big tarpon, but a nice one. About 30 minutes later I got the last fish of the morning and at about 9,30 the fishing slowed down almost to zero. I don’t like to say “zero” when I talk about fishing but this was ALMOST zero.

We were far away from the lodge. We had to return to pack our staff, set everything in our luggage and take another “taxi boat” to go to Bluefields.

So, we took another 2-hour boat ride. The plan was to leave like at 2 pm to be in Bluefields at 4. There we had another night at Casa Rosa, which is not really a lodge but more of a house besides the water with comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms but kind of poor in terms of social areas like a living room or dining room.

There were no appetizers and that day we ordered take-away pizza from a local store, which was not that good compared to the food we had at Tapam Lodge. There is a big difference between Casa Rosa and Tapam Lodge: Casa Rosa is just a place to spend the night. I dare say they forget about guest service.

All in all, this trip to Nicaragua has been unforgettable not only for the beauty, culture, and people of the place but also for the fishing experience. It was great to have the chance fish these kind of species. Tarpon are unique because of its spectacular size and this destination is just perfect for it is one of the world best tarpon fishing spot.


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Pablo Aguilo

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