Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hosted "Boca Paila 2011" Trip Review

We just returned from another successful trip to Boca Paila.  Jon Uhlenhop hosted a group of 9 anglers to the Yucatan for 6 days of guided fishing.  The group was split between first-time saltwater anglers and seasoned Boca Paila veterans.  The weather was great and the fishing even better. 

Jon recaps the trip as follows:
Day One:  I fished with first time saltwater fly angler Jim Prybylo.  We headed south towards Ascension Bay, about a 45 minute ride from the lodge.  On the first flat, we were greeted by large bonefish feeding as singles or pairs.  After a few attempts, Jim caught his first bone on fly – a nice fish pushing the 4# mark.  After a few more bones, we spotted a tailing Permit, then another, and another.   With the Permit jitters running high, let’s just say our casts were far from perfect.  We ended the day back at the Boca watching other anglers hook fish after fish out of the Bonefish kiddie pool.  We poled the deeper mangrove edges in search of Snook and had a few shots, an eat, but none to the boat.  Back at the dock I looked at my boat partner and commented that, little did he know, but that was about as well-rounded an introduction to saltwater fly fishing as one can get:    Bonefish, Tailing Permit, and Snook all in 8 hours of fishing.  Welcome to Boca Paila! 

Day Two:  I fished with Ben Kweton on his first saltwater outing.  Again, with permit fever running high we headed south in search of clear water looking for Permit.  We started with a bonefish or two, three Snook (Ben’s first), then turned our attention to the deeper flats.  With variable light conditions, spotting fish in deeper water was difficult and we spooked the fish with the boat before we could get our casts off.  Then, with Ben manning the guns, our eagle-eyed guide spotted a  big ray with a Permit swimming on top.  “CAST”… Ben pulled one out of the caboose and back-handed a perfect 40 footer in the direction of the ray/permit duo.  One strip and the Permit ate.  He elated some words of disbelief (using profanity I recall) as his line went sailing out through the guides.  One problem:  Ben wears a size 15 shoe and that is a lot of foot to keep off the fly line.  My verbal attempts and meager efforts to clear the line failed and we now had a 15-plus pound permit half-hitched to Ben’s leg.  After a brief recap, and Ben putting himself in the penalty box, I had a few follows from fish with no takes.  I think the count on Permit sightings that day was 15 or 16 sightings and about 5 good shots.  We ended the day contemplating cutting off Bens feet at the ankles to avoid any future podiatric malfunctions.  Again, a memorable day… to hook a permit on the first cast EVER to a Permit (Ben still has no idea how lucky he was).

Day Three:  I fished with good friend and traveling companion Ron Sirota.  Again, we were drawn south by the last few days experience.  Now, Ron has spend about the equivalent of about 6 weeks in search of the elusive Permit.  I really wanted to see him get one to the boat.  As an accomplished caster, Ron had no problem landing a bonefish right off the bat.  We then headed to the deeper water and were again plagued by mostly cloudy skies making seeing fish difficult.  Then it happened:  Ron had a great 50’ cast to a pair of cruising fish and they both turned on his fly.  I am not sure what happened but I thought for sure that he was buying drinks that night back at the lodge.  The fish swam off and Ron remained Permit-less.  We had a few more good casts and follows and marveled at the amount of opportunities we had. 

Day Four:  I had the pleasure of spending the day with third-time trip veteran Mary Gilmore.  Eager to make up for her lost Permit from her first trip to BP we headed down to the Permit grounds and crystal clear water of Ascension Bay.  This was my most action-packed morning as we each caught bonefish, saw big Cuda, Sharks, and a school of small permit.  Our guide Eduardo then poled us into deeper water and then like clock-work, we began to see the wakes of cruising Permit.  I was up first and cast short on a group of three.  Then Mary had a few good shots at the next groups, including one cast that landed almost perfect – but the Permit veered off course a few feet shy of her cast.  She was generous enough to give me another shot on the bow and then it happened.  I recalled in my head how I had seen many Permit spook when I made the first strip a bit too aggressive (making the crab pattern “jump” quickly rather than stripping it slooooowly.  I made the cast on the leading fish and made the first strip slow.  My like came tight, I cleared the line, made some remark of dis-belief, and watched my line come off the reel.  When the fish stopped after the initial run, I turned and gave Mary a high-five.  23 minutes later, a nice 12# Mexican Permit rolled on its side and came to hand (thanks to Sage and their new SAGE ONE 890-4).  After a few glamour shots, the fish was released and we looked for more Permit.  Toward the end of this memorable day, Mary insisted on giving me the bow as I blind cast fruitlessly in the channels looking for a tarpon to complete my grand-slam.  It never happened but it was a memorable day and a treat to spend it with an angling friend.

Day Five:  Terry Polonus and I paired up and headed to Ascension Bay to attempt another day of Diverse opportunities.  The bonefish were skittish due to the constantly shifting wind (Bonefish feed into the wind).  We had some early shots and landed a few.  With Terry on the bow, we headed into a sheltered bay and found a laid-up Tarpon on a flat near the mangrove shoreline.  Terry made a cast and the fish began to follow.  The Tarpon flared up on the fly about 30’ from the boat and ate.  Unfortunately, the hook never found a soft spot and the fish swam off.  We then turned our attention back to Bonefish and saw a number but hooked few.  After lunch we poled a deeper flat looking for Permit (Terry had yet to see one).  Half way through out drift I spotted a small Permit on the move.  Terry launched a quick cast but the fish was already on its way to Belize.  We finished the day searching for Snook and Terry got one cast at a single fish cruising the mangrove edge.  It was not interested in eating and also headed for Belize.  On our way back to the dock I mentioned to Terry that he had a “visual grand slam” today!

Day Six:  I was stuck fishing with Ben again so we asked our guide if we could go hunt for Permit.  After a brief Mexican standoff, we headed north to the bonefish flats of Laguna Campechen.  Our guide Victor had the best eyes of anyone I had fished with before, spotting bonefish far off.  Skinny water and bright skies called for long casts and we connected on a number of Bonefish (only after I had a few strip-setting mishaps).  Then, our guide yelled, “Big Fish man” and we circled to see a huge Snook cruising off our port in open water.  A few misguided casts later and the big fish spooked and swam off.  I asked Victor how big the fish was to which he replied, at least 25#.  With Ben once again safely in the penalty box, we went in search of more Snook around the “bushes”.  We stumbled upon the “Kiddy Pool” and boated 15 juvenile Snook through the afternoon.  Modelo, Red bull, laughter, Snook, and good companionship made the last day of the trip a delight.    

I can’t wait until next year!

All the best,  Jon

Monday, November 21, 2011

November Steelheading at it's Finest and a new nickname....

So 4 buddies decide to get out of Chicago for the weekend and try to chase steelhead - this time "swinging flies" instead of nymphing.  Captains Steve Kuieck and Dave DeVries of Riverquest Charters draw the short straws, and agree to guide these newbies through the process of swinging with two handed rods.  Their skills and patience will be tried like never before.....

Chris Santiago has an INCREDIBLE first day and gets a new name.  Chris had earned two nicknames from various guides and friends in Montana, Colorado, Wisconsin and Chicago.  Chris "Tangles" Santiago was his handle on the Missouri in MT.  Chris "Snags" Santiago was his moniker in the Mid-West.....  It took years for him to earn those nicknames, and frankly they fit him.
From here on out - let it be know that his new nickname is Chris "SWINGER" Santiago!!!!  He put on a clinic the very first day he ever fished a two hander and went 3 for 3 on the swing.  He landed 3 dime bright hot fish.  Purple leaches.He made it look easy.  He owned that river.  Andy got blanked.  Tony Milito got blanked.  Adam M got blanked.  I did enjoy the first two a lot.  I enjoyed taking pictures of great fish.  The third one hurt....

Day 2 -  I get lucky, and save some face, and join the club with my first swung caught steelhead.  A sigh of relief, from me and Captain Kuieck ......

   Tony Milto sticks to it and with Captain DeVries steady guidance gets it done as well.  Bravo!

Swinger Santiago shows that luck had nothing to do with day one and lands his fourth fish of the trip.

Other than superb guide work, the only thing I think that made this possible, was the incredible Sage Z Axis 8134-4 Two Handed rod.  What an efficient way to cast long and fight fish!!!  Having long been a fan of their single handed rods, I join Jon and the many others that swear by these two handers.

Congrats to all and thanks to our hosts, Steve and Dave and the Muskegon River Lodge.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Additional Intermediate Fly Tying Classes Added

Intermediate Fly Tying : Streamers For Trout - Jan 10th, 17th, 24th - Tuesday Evenings 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Jon Uhlenhop will be holding this intermediate class focusing on tying streamer patterns that catch trout and species that eat streamers.

 Intermediate Fly Tying Class : Steelhead Eggs and Nymphs - Feb 2nd, 9th, 16th Thursday Evenings 7:00 - 9:00
 Steelhead Eggs and Nymphs: The name says it all - When Steelhead simply won't eat a streamer, break out the egg box! Jon Uhlenhop's three week session will cover the most essential dead-drift patterns for the Midwest.
IntermediateFly Tying Class: Flats Flies for Saltwater: proven patterns for Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon and Snook - Mar 6th, 13th, 20th - Tuesday Evenings 6:30 - 8:30

A Super-Slam all in one class! Jon Uhlenhop will focus on technique and materials control as he teaches you to build a productive saltwater box.

Call the shop at 312-944-3474 to reserve your spot for any of these "Intermediate Fly Tying Classes"  More details found at

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrity April Vokey Meet & Greet and Spey Tying Event Monday Nov 21 at the shop

4:00 - 6:00 PM at the shop : Meet & Greet with April Vokey
Owner of Fly Girl Ventures, Guide, Writer, & Fly Tier extraordinaire. Beer and wine will be served and is open to all of our customers.

6:00 - 8:30 PM - Fly Tying Class "Steelhead Intruder Variations" (Space is limited to 8 tiers and requires reservations) - $75.00 (Sold-Out)

Join April Vokey for this intermediate-level tying class and learn to tie contemporary Intruder-style flies from a master. April spend much of the year on the water chasing Steelhead in BC and her patterns are not only beautiful but they catch fish! Space is limited to 8 students and a tying vise and basic tools are required.

April Vokey lives in British Columbia and is an avid angler and steelhead, salmon and trout guide. She was born with an unexplainable passion for fishing. As a young girl she coaxed her father into going fishing and by the age of sixteen, when she was old enough to drive, she was devoting all of her free time to her local rivers.

She is passionate about Spey casting to wild steelhead, the environment and tying Atlantic Salmon/Steelhead flies. She has made it her mission to encourage and introduce aspiring anglers to the sport, in hopes that it will bring them as much pleasure as it has brought her. She takes pride in being an eternal student of fly-fishing.

April is a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor and fly-fishing columnist. She is the Steelhead columnist for Fly Fusion magazine and the Canadian field editor for Chasing Silver magazine. Her works and photos can also be found in Salmon Trout Steelheader (STS), Field and Stream, Fly Fisherman, Flyfishing and Tying Journal and several other international publications.

She is a lead angler for Fly Max Films where she travels around the world, fly-fishing for every species of fish imaginable.

Join us if you can for a pop after work to meet April and sign up for the class at 312-944-3474