Our excellent Cotswolds fly fishing guide and instructor Andy Grey reports on an amazing few days (15th-18th October) on the Boca Paila peninsula of the Mexico Caribbean trying for some fish species he had never caught before.  Here are a few of his highlights in his own words.  It makes me want to get on the next plane to try to do it for myself!  

First Bonefish

‘The thing attached to the other end of my line shot off towards the horizon like there was no tomorrow.  Think overwintered reservoir rainbow, turbocharge and add a zero and you’re coming somewhere close.  Before too very long the backing knot is rattling through the rod rings, only about 10 yards of the Holy Line prostrates itself before the fish slows and I start to crank, a few dozen turns later and the fish is off again, shorter run this time but with just as much speed.  Gradually this push-pull battle subsides and I get the first glimpse of my quarry – a Bonefish of no more than 1.5lbs. WF grabs the net and the fish is in the boat.’

Andy's first Bonefish

First Tarpon

‘Cast, wait for the fly to sink and strip.  Repeat.  All of a sudden the tone of guide Wilberths voice changes. ‘Nine O’clock! By the boat! 40 foot! Drop cast now… wait…STRIP!!’.  I do as I’m told and a swirl around the fly is followed by the rod wrenching round with unbelievable force. ‘It’s a Tarpon! keep rod low and NO slack!!’ shouts Wilberth.  I get control of the line and drop the rod down to water level just in time for the fish to make a huge head-shaking leap ‘Down!! Rod down!!’.  The fish runs and despite what I would consider a ‘considerable’ drag setting the reel spools out line like there is no tomorrow. The rod is now bent right down to the cork and the fish is showing no sign of slowing.  Another leap and I’m cranking furiously.  WF punts the boat into the shore and I jump over the bulwarks onto the sand, rod still held down and to the right and very much bent double.  The fish starts to tire but this is the most nervous part of the fight, gradually the runs get smaller and less fierce and bit by bit it’s eased up the sand to be beached.  Shaking, shouting, sweating, and grinning I hold my first tarpon…’Andy's first Tarpon

First Snook

‘Wilberth slowly poled the boat along a steady course about 50’ from the shore, watching, me with the rod in hand.  Nothing for about 20 mins then ‘Snook… cast! Ten o’clock! Strip STOP!! STRIP!!’  I spot the fish, cast and followed his instructions. The fish follows and as I speed up the strip it takes the fly. The line tightens with huge force and the hooked Snook runs for the mangroves ‘Hold him!! Rod DOWN!!’ come the instructions. I do as I’m told and swing the rod round hard to my right hand side. This fish has power and we enter into a push-pull battle of me cranking like mad in between the fish’s unstoppable runs.  The reel drag is set pretty high but this does nothing to stop it peeling off line at will. A change of direction and I’m instructed to swing the rod over to the left. This brings the reel handle onto the wrong side of my winding hand so that every run the fish now takes results in the handle smashing into my knuckles. Wilberth jumps out of the boat with net in hand and the fish that I thought was starting to tire gets a new lease of life. Spin. Smack. Ow!! (repeat x20). The rod remains bent into the cork but the fish is slowing, a final short run and WF scoops him into the net then onto the boat…’

Andy's first Snook

Andy’s first Snook

On this day Andy achieved the famed ‘Grand Slam’ – three from the list of Bonefish, Tarpon, Snook and Permit.  Congratulations Andy.