Fishing has been a part of my life from an early age. My Dad introduced me to angling and I quickly developed a passion for not only being out on the water fishing, but being outdoors. I have a fascination for catching different species of fish on lures or flies, and I’m as happy exploring the tiniest of streams as I am being out on the open ocean. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to some spectacular destinations, both here in the UK and abroad, trying to catch as many species as possible. So far, I’ve caught 228 species.

I work for Farlows fishing, shooting and country clothing store in London, and I’m a Consultant for Fox Rage and Salmo lures. I’m also an Ambassador for the Angling Trust and have fished for England in two disciplines - the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and the Team England Lure Squad.

Through fishing I’ve met some great people and seen some amazing wildlife and scenery, and I’d like to share some of my experiences through my blog...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tobago - Sun, Sea and plenty of Fishing!

Over Christmas and New Year, my family and I enjoyed a great holiday in Tobago. We stayed in the small, friendly fishing village of Castara, located midway along Tobago's mountainous Caribbean coast. Whilst there, we explored the island as much as we could with our lure and fly gear, and fished some incredible looking coral bays, beaches, ponds and mountain rivers.

Most of our fishing was either from the shore or wandering up the many rivers that empty in to the bays. We also had 3 half days fishing off shore  - 2 of those were with a guide called Roachee and his daughter. We had a great time - our best fish with them was an Albacore Tuna around 35lbs that my Dad caught. Unfortunately though, we didn't get a picture, as when we were holding the leader and about to gaff it, the fish fell off! We did catch some smaller Albacore though and a few other colourful, interesting species - some we hadn't caught before.

Our third half day trip was with a different guide, Kester Herbert. We came really close to hooking a Wahoo when fishing with Kester - he is known as one of the top fishing guides on the island and extremely knowledgeable. When trolling a dead Ballyhoo at about 30ft deep, we had a good whack and reeled it in to find the Wahoo had bitten the bait cleanly in half and missed the hook by millimetres!

Our good friend, Jack Simpson, was also staying in Tobago whilst we were there, and had half a day fishing with Kester too. He fished for Permit and unfortunately lost one. I think he did well to get a take as it was a really rough morning when he went out and the sea was very coloured - not the best of conditions for spotting Permit. Jack was staying about an hour from us and one afternoon we went to meet him at his hotel. It was great to see him and his wife, Mavis, out there, but quite strange seeing them in another country!

Apart from the 3 half days with guides, my Dad and I spent the rest of our time exploring along many miles of beautiful, untouched coastline and mountain streams. Puddingwife, Hairy Blenny, Whitespotted Filefish, Bigeye, Palometa, Bigmouth Sleepers, Mountain Mullet, Tilapia, and Black Durgon were just some of the species of fish that we caught.

On most days, from our balcony looking over Castara Bay, we could see large schools of baitfish (see photo below) being attacked from birds, bigger fish and fishermen with their nets. I felt quite sorry for them as they were being bombarded from all angles!

There was one particular bay that was quite difficult and a little dangerous to get to about an hour's walk from where we were staying. Here, we saw some huge Jacks that patrolled the coast. One particular group was enormous - about 30-40 of them came racing by, and most of them looked over 20lbs. Fishing from the rocks, I cast a homemade white bucktail jig to them and instantly hooked one of the larger fish around 30lbs - and I could not stop it. I had the drag fully locked and this fish was ripping off braid as if there was no drag at all. In the end I had to clamp down and break the shock leader as it was going around a huge rock - I would have lost well over 200 yards of braid if that had cut, plus it wouldn't have been fair on the fish.

We returned to the same cove a few days later with some stronger spinning gear and, after missing a powerful slam on one of his first casts, my Dad hooked in to a really good fish, this time from the beach. From the way it tore off, we were sure it had to be another big Jack - the first run was insane!! We really didn't think he was going to land it! After nearly losing it on the rocks and an exhausting 20 minute battle, he landed a fantastic Horse Eye Jack that was getting on for 20lbs. What a fish, especially caught from a tiny coral beach with lots of hazardous, sharp rocks!!

Many of the fish we caught were on Sébile lures and a couple of our favourites were the Sébile Stick Shadd and Magic Swimmer. Unfortunately though, I lost the Magic Swimmer half way through the holiday on a Tarpon, but I caught many different species on that lure.

We did manage to land a Tarpon in the end though - a fish of around 25lb. It was on a great morning's fishing where we hooked and jumped 3 or 4 Tarpon and also caught 16 Snook between us - only small fish but awesome fun on light lure and fly tackle!

Whilst fishing, we saw plenty of wildlife - the bird life in particular was unbelievable. A couple of my favourites were the Mot Mot and the Rufous Vented Chachalaca. For such a small island it has over 240 species - a real bird watcher's paradise. Some other animals we saw were Armadillo, Red-rumped Agoutis, Turtles, Iguanas and Snakes.

Tobago is covered in tropical rainforest, and on some nights we had some torrential rain - there were many waterfalls and mountain streams that carried rainwater down to the sea. Unfortunately, this did have a bad effect on the fishing as it quickly coloured up the bays and pushed many of the saltwater species further out to sea - with the exception of Snook. One day, whilst fishing around the mouth of an estuary, I'd just caught a small Fat Snook (an unusual but smaller, rounder species of Snook) when my Dad decided to try the same spot with his fly rod. He soon had a good take, but the fish quickly came off. When he checked his fly, he found a Tongue Eating Louse hooked on it, which had been ripped clean off the fish's tongue. It's an ugly looking parasite which we found in quite a few of the fish we caught, especially the smaller Jack species.

We also enjoyed wandering up some of the many rivers and streams, that lead to some amazing looking waterfalls. Using an 8wt fly rod (as that was the lightest we had) and using small Bonefish and Permit flies, we caught a couple of unusual freshwater species, such as Mountain Mullet, and an odd Bullhead-like fish called a Bigmouth Sleeper. We caught quite a few of these, even when the water was coloured.

Although we were a little unlucky trying to catch Wahoo, as that was one of our main aims, we did manage to catch 28 different species, nearly all on lures or flies - 15 of which I hadn't caught before, and now looking forward to add to my species list. I don't care how big there are - I just love catching different types of fish!

We really enjoyed our stay in Tobago - spectacular views, fascinating wildlife, winter sun and plenty of fishing. I must admit we're missing it already - I've just checked the thermometer outside our door and it is well below zero. I'd better start saving!!