Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.
Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner 11/25/2008
every Trout Bum has a special fishing trip that he needs to take sometime
before there too old and crotchety. This isn’t a fly- fishing “Bucket List”
journey. It’s more like the golfer that goes to walk the windy fairways of St
Andrews in Scotland,
an homage to a life learning to golf, or in my case fly- fishing. This is how I
ended up in a small boat in the seas between Costa Rica and Panama telling the
story of Hemmingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” to Delroy our fabulous local
guide and fishing for Tarpon as big as cars.
is called Tarponville ,Costa
Rica. My young friend Brandon Hill (Hills
Discount Flies) was there last year for a week and had an amazing trip jumping
the fish they call The Silver King. It didn’t take much talking for me and
Chris (Calypso) Bolm to sign on for this year’s adventure.
A grown man needs to get out of his comfort
zone once in a while, get out and smell the coffee or in this case the jungle.
How I became enamored with the idea of Tarpon fishing I really don’t know. It
has been on my fishing To Do list as long as I can remember.
trip to Tarponville Costa Rica included a couple different jam packed airplanes
and 25 hours of sleep deprivation; outside of that the flying was dreamy. We
were met at the airport in San Jose
and driven to a beautiful B&B in the hills above the city called Casa
Verde. After a couple Scotches, massage and a swim in the pool we decided
against jogging a few miles. Turns out Chris forgot his running shoes. Darn
Next morning after a tropical breakfast, we
departed San Jose with Brandon and
the other fisherman in our party, Dennis Barry and his wife Diane.It’s a five hour drive through the rain
forest to the Caribbean on a narrow, paved road and then
another twenty five miles on a bad dirt road. Then you wade through a salt
water creek and walk in about a quarter mile through the jungle to the lodge;
this is truly the end of the road.The
jungle tour starts about 15 feet behind the building.Getting the picture?
We were met
at the Lodge by Dollfi, the Major Domo of all things Tarponville , we also met
our cooks Mommie and Cheena ; they had beautiful lunch set up in the open air
dinning room under a slow moving ceiling fan. To really enjoy an experience
like this you have to go to Forrest Gump mode: If you have no expectations and
live in the moment, life slows down and gets very genuine. As you know, dear
reader, it is always the subtext that interests me most about these trips,
never the fishing. (Trust me we’ll get to Mista Tarpon.) Lunch was beyond tasty,
kind of a Caribbean/ Cajun spicy chicken with the ever
present black beans, rice and cabbage salad.
I stowed our gear in our room on the second floor, and dressed in our dorky,
new tropical fishing clothes, complete with French Foreign Legionnaire hats. We
were looking like the extra large version of Bwana from some bad African B-
movie, but stylish. We were looking like this when we met our guide for the
week, Delroy.He was stylish too, with a
massive gold necklace and a T shirt from Victoria Canada, shorts and no shoes.
Delroy has a bit of a stutter and speaks pidgin English with a beautiful Caribbean
lilt; from the time we shook hands, I knew we were in the presence of a Tarpon
collected our fishing gear and followed Delroy down the beach to his boat, a
26ft open dory with a 60hp outboard, named The Root. Del-Roy got us seated and
fired up the motor and we were headed south toward Panama
to try our hand at fly fishing for tarpon.
I must make the observation that the Costa Rican
scenery is spectacular, but from a boat the landscape of jungle meeting the sea
is prehistoric in its pristine beauty. As you would suspect of Eden,
it is hot and humid. Although quite comfortable under the jungle canopy, you
can roast like a pig on the open sea, Calypso and I had on enough sunscreen I
think I heard the sizzle.
arrived at the fishing grounds, the water became the color of coffee with two
creams. We were fishing the mouth of a huge river flowing with silt; it
appeared to stain the sea for miles. The silt was only about two feet deep
floating on the clear Caribbean waters and it was full
of small bait fish. It was here we first saw the tarpon chasing the bait fish,
rolling and jumping, we had finally arrived.
motored in close to the river mouth and cut the engine, He tied on our flies
which actually were the size of small parrots, and we made that first cast. The
boat slowly drifted out to sea as we stripped off another 100 ft of line and
waited for the first strike. I’m here to tell you, it is way out of a
trout fisherman’s reality to be holding a 12- weight fly rod with a reel the
size of a 3lb coffee can, bobbing on a calm sea waiting for a silver nightmare.
didn’t have to wait long, maybe 10 minutes. We were talking some trash when his
reel exploded like a bomb, the line just blew into the distance, two heartbeats
later the enormous beast blasted into the air, clearing the water by five feet.
And then it was gone, total time elapsed: a brutal 8seconds. Delroy, man of
many words just looked at Calypso and said, “Tarpon frightening”.
I had roughly the same experience a few
minutes later. All I can say is it’s like an electric shock jolting through
only two things you need to remember to do when you get the strike from a
tarpon. No1.strip- set the fish , don’t
lift the rod like trout fishing, And No. 2, when the fish jumps, drop the rod
tip to throw in some slack or you will break the monster off.
It took me six Tarpon before I could remember
our week went, breakfast at 7:00 into the boat at 8:00 back for lunch at 11:00,
swimming, beer, nap, back to the boat at 2:00, cocktails at 5:00, Dinner at
I jumped and fought 37 tarpon, ranging from 70 to 200bs in less than 40 hours
of fishing. And that really is all have to say about that.
I must say
however, this trip exceeded all my expectations; fun companions, great food, an
exotic and friendly country, and the fishing was pretty good, too. Calypso and
I will miss Delroy our black ninja tarpon guide with the gold tooth and nerves