10 Apr

When it comes to our national airlines, the nightmares never seem to end. For most of my 28 years walking this earth, I have never had any problems with the many airlines in this country.  That is until recently. Man they can fuck up a trip in a skinny minute. Let me begin with my most recent trip to Nicaragua. 


It was early February 2009, and I was anxiously packing my bags for 15 days of Beer, Tarpon, Beer, Bonefish, Beer, Snook, and did I mention Beer. So off to the International Airport in Atlanta I go. Upon arrival I was anxious with anticipation and the uncertainty of the upcoming trip was looming overhead. But all those thoughts came to a sudden halt when the lady at the Delta counter said my flight left the day before. My first impulse was to jump up and down and start breaking things. Could I have read my itinerary wrong? No way, I know I checked it. Well to make a long story short, my itinerary was right, but the airlines changed the day of the flight at the last minute. So after an hour of back and forth with Delta, and, it was concluded that Delta was at fault for not notifying us. So they booked us on the next flight out, which was the next morning. 


No worries, except for scrambling to change reservations in a foreign country, and spending mucho dinero out the wazoo on international calls. But hey, whose complaining, my trip was back underway. So, it was off to find lodging and dream of tarpon. 


4:30 a.m. came early, I was up and my amigo Chris and I were off to the aeropuerto to board a plane bound for our ultimate destination: Managua, Nicaragua.


We arrived to a sunny day in the mid 80’s. It was a welcome site, but precaution set in. I mean hell, this country was torn apart by civil war during my life time, and of course there were always the voices of all my friends saying, “You are fucking crazy for even going on this trip. You will get kidnapped, robbed, and who knows what will happen…” All of that was singing in the back of my head as I left the airport for yet another hotel. We had a day lay over before we could catch the puddle hopper to Bluefields on the Caribbean Coast. 


During my short ride to the Camino Real, our place of residence for the lay over, I noticed that Nicaragua wasn’t that bad. In fact, Managua seemed like any other modern city, and might I note that my first impression of Nica’s was a good one. Everyone I encountered seemed to he polite and friendly. 


Ok, enough ranting about the trip to Nicaragua. We awoke the next morning, boarded a 12 seater single engine plane bound for Bluefields. It was a bumpy ride through the clouds, and we touched down about one hour after take off.


We were met there by Markos, our Nicaraguan guide and amigo. We loaded our gear and headed straight to Casa Rosa to gear up for a days fishing. Casa Rosa is owned and operated by a fellow Redneck Randy Poteet of Tennessee, and lovely wife Rosa Poteet of Nicaragua. 


Now, I am not much for hiring guides, or staying with an outfitter, but I had no choice in this matter. The Caribbean coast is almost inaccessible, and finding a boat to rent or hire is almost out of the question, so after days of research, I found Randy and booked a week with him.


We loaded the 22 ft Panga, and headed for the many jungle rivers, it was a 30 minute ride across Bluefields lagoon before we reached the first river we would fish.  Upon arrival we found the first river to be murky due to the rain storms prior to our arrival. But we decided to probe the depth anyway. Our search tactics included heavy sinking fly lines with bright streamers, and Ugly Sticks armed with huge deep diving plugs. the idea was to located schools of snook. So the trolling commenced. We spend about an hour before Chris hooked into a brute of a snook. After a ten-minute fight, a 15-pound Snook was brought to hand. We snapped a few picks and it was released to be caught again another day.

Much of the next two days was spent doing the same thing. The fish were spread out, and the water temps kept them in the 20 to 25 ft range.  We landed a mix of Jacks and Snook , but no Poon to speak of. February is the peak month for Poon to move into the rivers, but the screwy weather in the states had worked its way to the Caribbean, and really messed with the fish. So, they had not yet arrived in these jungle rivers.

Later that night after consuming an enormous amount of seafood, rum and beer, we devised a plan to load the Panga with enough supplies to make a trek North to Laguna de Pearles. Pearl Lagoon, and its many rivers boast a resident population of Tarpon. But, there is nothing in the way of accommodations, except for the many Moskito settlements that line the rivers.


At first light we were on the water heading North into a sparsely inhabited area of Nicaragua. It was smooth sailing until we hit Pearl Lagoon. We trudged our way through the whitecaps, and dodged the occasional fishing net. Wound our way thru a maze of rivers and arrived in a small unnamed lagoon. It was Shangralah. There were tarpon rolling in every direction. It was the mother load. Nothing big, but still 20 to 60 pounders on the fly rod were just fine by me. We spend most of the day chunking flies and hooking tarpon. Watching the acrobatic displays and straitening hooks. It was one of those days best described as Epic. 


That night we headed to the settlement of Karawala to spend the night in a 20 by 20 shack with a Moskito family. I knew the second I saw mosquito nets draped over the cots, we were in for a long night. And I was right. As steady rain set in, the little bastards came by the thousands. Needless to say, I was inside my mosquito net by 7 p.m.  No beer or rum for me, just sweating in the jungle heat, and listening to the sound of the pesky little skeeters trying to find their way to me. 

Morning came not soon enough. We were greeted with sunny skies, and a cool breeze. After a breakfast of eggs and gallo pito, it was off to the tarpon filled lagoon. 

Just as the day before, the tarpon were rolling and jumping everywhere. It was like deja vu. We started the day just as the previous had, with hook ups and losses. Although many tarpon were lost, the sheer fight and display were enough for us. 


We finished the day with beers and talk of what was to come. The ride back to Bluefields was a long and bumpy ride. We arrived at dark, and spent the rest of the evening downtown listening to live music and sipping rum. What a trip thus far!


We spent the next day recuperating from the previous nights events, and gearing up for the next leg of the journey.


We later flew to the Corn Islands to search for anything on the fly. Of course we found it in the clear turquoise water. During our three days there we caught Bonefish, Triggerfish, Cuda, Yellowtail, needlefish, and many others that I don’t know the name of. 


We even hired a boat to take us out to Blue Water. Mistake number one. I get violently seasick. So that is how the rest of that day went. Me puking my breakfast up, and later sleeping it off under a palm tree on the beach. We spent the evening drinking rum and listing to stories from our newly made Dutch friends.


The Corn Islands are a killer place to fish, snorkel, and just take it easy.  I hated to leave, but we had more of this country to see.

As far as tourism, it hardly exists outside of a few places in Nicaragua. Most of the Country is still the wild frontier. Although safe, you should always watch your back.


We later explored San Juan del Sur, and Granada, but since there was not much fishing to be had due to the evil wind, I will leave that story for another day.




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