I just got this letter from John Snipes regarding his recent Tarpon Trip. May 27, 2008
I just wanted to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU. I thoroughly enjoyed our three days of adventure. Tarpon fishing down there in the Keys exceeded all of my expectations- and they were high!!! I never would have imagined that we would have fished in such different locations each day... Ocean side flats, bay side bridge, Loggerhead Basin, The backcountry flats, etc... what a great variety, and each so special in their own way.
Ultimately I learned that this is hard fishing. You have to be patient, persistent, and realize that you lose more than you win in this game... I am not sure how many ways you can mess up trying to catch a fish, but I think I have tried them all in my three days with you...AND I had a blast doing it! These fish are magnificant, and to catch my first one on fly (in spite of myself) is an experience I'll never forget. It is truly awesome to watch these fish swim into range, attempt to present a fly to them, and see them take it (or NOT)! INSANE!!! Feeling them jump at the end of your rod- the POWER, the THRILL, the EXHILERATION!!!! MAN, I can't wait til next year...
Thanks again and good luck for the rest of the season! Til next time!!!
I just received this E-mail from my friend Captain Bruce Chard from Big Pine Key Florida, I am proud to call Captain Bruce Chard my good friend.
Hey there Jakester!
I wanted to do this for a while now so I am taking the time now to do it. I wanted to thank you for everything that you have done for me to help me get to where I am in my fishing career. I enjoyed learning from you in the past 14 years now. (UGG!) Has it been that long already!)
Thanks for taking me to all the shows and introducing me to all the big dogs in the industry. That has really helped me a lot. I have learned that who you know gets you where you want to go. HA! Thanks for including me on your bonefish schools and Sailfish schools. I've learned a lot from you on how to set those thing up and run them with a profit.
I am very fortunate to have a friend like you and Thanks for all the so many little things that you have done for me. I consider my self lucky to have a friend like you and I just wanted to let you know. Thanks again for everything.
Bill Marts, "The Fly Shop" at The Sailfish School, Casa Vieja Lodge, Guatemala
I want to thank you for inviting me to attend your sailfish school. If I had any criticism at all, it would be that you make it too easy. Of course, there is always someone like me who will wrap the line around the rod just to keep you on your toes. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. And I know the others did too. I hope to join you again in the future. Congratulations on landing your third Blue Marlin. I will send you a disc of the images soon. Let me know where you would like me to send it.
Below is part of the email sent to Merijo (and copied to you) with a few changes in case you want to use it.
I attended Jake Jordan’s well run sailfish school December 11 – 13, 2008. He took the mystery out of what should be an impossible task of hooking, playing, landing and releasing a 100# sailfish on a fly! He told me that NONE of his students in the 14 years of the school, have ever released fewer than two sailfish during the school. Frankly, I found that hard to believe. That is until now. His easy going way of teaching, years of experience and equipment (all of it furnished, if needed) that is kept in perfect condition (except for a battle scar one of his rods that I left for him to remember me by (you’ll have to ask him for the story)) combined with Casa Vieja lodge and fleet virtually guarantees success. I have never seen a better trained group of boat mates anywhere. They were doing so much in such little time and with such perfection that it seemed like a simple task they were performing, in fact, it was extremely complicated and technical. In fact, the anglers job is almost too easy. I don’t think anglers will have the full appreciation of what is going on and how many years of trial and error (I am still making plenty of those) goes into making routine the highly technical operation of flyfishing for billfish. As Chris Sheeder told me; fly fishing for billfish is a team effort. No one member of the team can do it with out the others. It is true and good to remember. The Casa Vieja lodge and staff were outstanding and the meals to die for.
The boats were as immaculately clean as was the lodge. To say the least, I was impressed. . I’d recommend Jake’s school for anyone wanting to learn about fly fishing for sailfish or experience a different type of fly fishing.
I am writing a newsletter report and will forward a copy of it to you when I finish. I hope you have a great Christmas and holiday season and thanks again for the invite to visit you in the future.
Guatemala Billfishing on the Fly - Bill Marts Casa Vieja Lodge, Jake Jordan’s Sailfish School
Up until a few weeks ago I knew a little about fly fishing for Sailfish and next to nothing about Guatemala except for what I’ve read about the sailfishing. Now, I know a lot more about Sailfish and a little more about Guatemala and its strong Mayan cultural history. On December 10, 2008, I joined Jim and Helen Truchan and Michael Bates for Jake Jordan’s SailfishSchool in Puerto San Jose, Guatemala on the Pacific coast. This is a great way to try for sails on a fly. He furnishes all of the equipment and flies, so one doesn’t have to invest a ton of money into highly specialized gear to determine if it something to be pursued. He has been teaching them for 14 years and is proud that every student has released at least two Sailfish during the school! The average is more like 5 – 8 releases per student per 4 night/3 day school. Jake holds his schools at the beautiful Casa Vieja Lodge. It has been recently remodeled under new ownership and is a premier destination for sailfish on a fly. Its fleet of 6 boats (soon to be 7) is completely up to date physically and mechanically and is expertly manned by captains and mates who understand and welcome fly fishers. They all know how to fly fish for sails and have done so. I have never seen such a well trained crew. They work well with Jake’s school. The boats are at the marina only 5 minutes away from the lodge.
You know you are in for a great stay when you arrive at the lodge from Guatemala City (about 1 ½ hours drive in a very comfortable van with a/c and ice cold drinks) and the always smiling lodge staff is waiting in front with a cold welcoming drink. You are then shown into the lodge for hors d’oeuvres while your luggage is taken to your room. The pool looks inviting and is refreshing at the end of a fishing day.
Almost in the shadow of an active smoke/ash-spewing volcano, we boarded the Intensity captained by Michael Sheeder with mates Flaco and Manolo on the Intensity, one of the 37’ – 43’ boats for our first day. There was a little wind (although they apologized for “rough” seas), but not uncomfortable by any means. They claim most days are calm to a little breezy. Looking back toward the mainland, I was surprised to see the volcanoes through a haze. This time of year, the sugar cane is being harvested and the fields are burned afterwards creating a smoky curtain along the coast on calm days and blown clear on days with a little wind. We watched as the mates put together three leaders, line, running line and backing outfits on reels connecting each with custom made loop-to-loop connectors. They rigged up hookless baited teasers (to give them a little taste) and got everything ready for when the captain slowed the boat to start the search for fish.
We each had half-hour “ups” (one person stands ready to pick up the rod when a fish is teased in) or one hooked fish which ever came first. I gave up my ups in favor of taking pictures until the end of the day and I didn’t have a fish come into the teasers during my half-hour. Everybody else caught their first Sailfish on a fly. The seas calmed down, the sky was clear and we raised 26 sails to the teasers, hooked 9 and landed 7. What a first day! The second day was a slower than the first with 20 fish raised, 7 biters and 5 released. This day had two blue marlin raid our teasers with one racing to the back of the boat, hot and ready to tangle. Jake took this one. It ate his fly and he was able to get the leader into the guides for an official catch before it dived melting 300 yds off his reel before turning toward the surface and racing to it with such speed that the 20# class tippet broke under the pressure of just 2 pounds of drag on the reel and the line in the water. It is hard to comprehend such speed and power. But it was official and Jake had his third-ever fly-caught Blue Marlin and the captain had his first. I got my first Guatemalan sail this day. Even with all of instructions Jake gave us and his repeated instructions to REMAIN CALM and take the time to check that the line is clear when getting ready to cast to the fish, I managed to miss the line wrapped around the rod. During my first up the fish came up to the teasers within a few minutes and came in HOT and lit up. Even though I had time to check my line, I was fascinated with the teasing process and watching the fish. It took my fly as soon as it landed, the hook was set and when it started dancing on the surface, Jake noticed the monofilament running line burning a groove into the rod about mid way between the grip and first guide. I yelled to Cap’t Mike and he understood immediately. He threw the Intensity into reverse and we backed down with waves and sea spray jumping over the transom drenching me, but he threw enough slack into the line so I could unwrap the line. It is truly is a team effort. I managed to bring the sail alongside the boat fairly quickly and it was billed. We did a lap-dance photo (the first fish is brought in the boat and laid across the lap of the angler sitting on the transom for a hero shot, but the rest are left in the water) and got it back into the water quickly, revived it and watched it swim off.
On the third day I went out with Captain Chris Sheeder (in charge of the fishing fleet) with mates Ricardo, Nestor and Efrain on the 38’ Spindrift. I was able to get some pictures of the others in the other boat, then we removed the hooks from our poppers and for almost three hours I was able to get some pictures of fish taking the fly while the mates teased fish in and cast the rod. “Cast” might not be quite the right description of the act of using the rod to move the line and fly to the water. It is more like a “lob” or “toss” or “flop” or a “chuck”. As Jake says, when the captain says “CAST”, you need to get the fly into the air out to the side of the boat and your only goal is to hit the Pacific Ocean with it behind the boat. The fish will find it. On this day, the Intensity raised 35, got 15 to bite and landed 7. Ours raised 30, got 5 to bite and landed 5.
Numbers are an important consideration here. The reason it has such consistent fishing is the incredible numbers of active fish. It is not like if you screw up setting the hook, that you may not get another chance. You will get another chance. It is a good feeling and puts the fun back into the fishing.
I would definitely do this again, especially with a few friends to spend time with on the boat while waiting for the “the bite”. It is like a small private party on the ocean during which there are several interruptions of high charged adrenaline rushes when sailfish charge the teasers and then rush your fly after the teaser is yanked from the water.
If you think you might want to try sailfishing with a fly, this is the place to do it. Give me a call (800) 669-3474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.