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Christmas fishing on Tobago

Well I just got back from my x-mas holiday, which i spent on the sunny island of Tobago (Trinidad&Tobago) just outside the coast of Venezuela. This was not ment to be a fishing vacation but i sneaked my rod with me and managed to get a couple of hours of fishing :)

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I didn’t get to go fishing until the 24th of December which is the day we celebrate Christmas here in Sweden. I just prayed that Santa was gonna stuff a nice Bonefish down my sock and got out of bed at 06:00 to catch my guide (I guy named Kester) and the low tide. We went out to Pidgeon Point where he has his boats and took off. We took the boat a short distance to the flats and started looking for bonefish. An hour went by without so much as a glimpse. And being the first time for me I was starting to get a bit worried. When you look for bonefish you don’t do much else, just stand around staring into the water. If you don’t have trained eyes you will have a really hard time spotting the fish.  

After about 60 min of this the guide suddenly spots 2 Bonefish about 10 meters away. Just as he points them out to me they start “tailing”. I throw my fly and lands it about one meter short of their fins. One of the fish instantly breaks free and goes for my fly (a Pink Puff). He strikes the fly 2 times but doesn’t get hooked. My heart was pounding so hard that I hardly heard the guide say that the fish was about 5 pounds… The Bonefish then suddenly swam away and I was cursing myself for missing my first and probably only chance to catch a Bonefish. We started to move a bit and after 10 min we spot a big fin sticking out of the water as a Bonefish is feeding on the crabs. The Guide says that the fish probably weighs more than 6 pounds. Once again my heart is racing as I throw the fly and land it about 1,5 meters from the fish. The fin disappears and the fish just heads straight for my fly. YES! I've got him. The fish stands still for about 1 sec before it realises it's been hooked. I had only heard about the mythical power of the bonefish before, and I can tell you that when this fish took off I was in chock. Water sprayed from the line as it was ripped through the water and im guessing it took 30 meters of line in around 4 seconds. Its just a ridiculously powerful fish for it's weight. Then suddenly the line goes limp…. I just lost my first hooked bonefish to a small bit of coral cutting the line. Its not enough that you need to keep track off loose line, the break on the real etc etc, you also need to keep you rod as high as possible since you are fishing really shallow and the bottom is sharp coral. I almost cried…

 Now that has to have been my last chance I thought. But it wasn’t. About 30 minutes later the guide spots two new bonefish swimming about 15 meters away. I didn’t see anything even though he pointed straight at them. Well I threw my line where he was pointing and started stripping the line. WHAM I had hooked my second bonefish which took of towards deeper water like there was no tomorrow.  

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When I started seeing the end of my backing the fish suddenly came to a halt. I started reeling in, and after about 10 minutes I had landed my first bonefish. A 4 pound miracle and the best Christmas present I could have wished for. 

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They don’t call it a bonefish for nothing. They are hard as bone and formed like a torpedo, just pure muscle. 

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The fishing trip could have ended there and I would have been satisfied, but it wasn’t over. I actually landed 1 more smaller bonefish weighing around 3 pounds and a 2 pound Permit. 

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 According to the guide its even harder to catch a Permit and that they are rarely caught on a fly. Apparently I was only missing the mighty Tarpoon now to make this a “Grand Slam”. Problem was that the guide had to catch a ferry to Trinidad so we where out of time. I didn’t care much and was quite satisfied with my trip as it was. A couple of days later I went out again. This time the weather was not on my side and the hard wind made it nearly impossible to cast with any kind of accuracy. The fish didn’t seem to be feeding either so we didn’t catch any bonefish. I managed to hook a 4 pound Snook in a nearby lagoon atleast. 

Tobago is a very small island (approx 40x20 km) with a very limited amount of flats for fishing bonefish. There is probably only 4-5 locations on the island where you can fish on flats and they are usually not that big. The average weight for the bonefish are according to the guide I hired around 4-5 pounds which seemed a lot, but I have no reference. I saw several bonefishing upwards to 8 pounds on this trip and hooked one or two in the 6 pound range which I didn’t manage to land. So this average weight seems about right. Kester also told me about another Swedish guy that comes to Tobago every year. Apparently one day as this guy was fishing from the beach outside Bucco he saw a lot of bait fish suddenly jump out of the water. They seemed to part and leave a corridor empty. So this guy throws his fly into this corridor and hooks and lands a 14 pound Bonefish! That’s gotto be pretty close to the world record that is around 15 pounds from what I have been told. I have no proof of this other then the word of Kester.

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