Sunday, January 3, 2010


There I was, standing alone in my bedroom packing a swimsuit and flip flops on Christmas Day. The weather outside is frightful but I am taking delight in the fact that I have a place to go. For the first time I am heading to the saltwater flats of the Caribbean to try my luck at the variety of saltwater species that make the place home. The following afternoon, in driving sheets of freezing rain, my sister and I depart for the Newark, NJ airport for a four hour flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. As we make our way onto our first flight, my sister turned and reminded me that the last time we were on a plane, we jumped out of it.

The View From My Seat on the Cessna.

Lagoons That Hold Puerto Rican Tarpon.

We arrive late, and have an eight hour layover in the airport. I spend the time reading about the mangrove lagoon surrounding the airport and how it is one of the premier tarpon destinations in Puerto Rico. I occasionally glance at the ten weight and the freshly tied tarpon toads in my carry on. I am debating whether or not to sneak out of the airport and try and find a dock with some lights. I resist the urge to leave my sister behind and instead begin to contemplate the challenges that are sure to await me.

Surf in Puerto Rico.

Flying Into A Rain Storm.

A Beautiful Bay.

I am considering calling this the first time I am ever fly fishing in saltwater. Yes, I have fiddled around for a few days in the backwater bays of the Outer Banks, but this is an entirely different ball game. Crystal clear water, shallow long flats, and extremely wary fish that are some of the most sought after species in the world await me and my decade plus of trout fishing experience. Will I be up for par? Will I be able to handle the power of a tarpon or the cunning of a permit? Will I even have a shot at these species? The thoughts are flowing at a mile a minute and I am left sleepless as I pull an all nighter in the deserted airport. Finally, it is my turn to depart and I make my way over to the small prop plane that is going to take me on the last leg of my journey.

Bro's Apartment.

The View From My Brother's Front Porch.
Lucky Bastard.

I take a seat directly behind the pilot and am treated to an aerial tour of the Caribbean as we make our way eastward over the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Below boats of all sizes dot the open sea and resemble small ants making trails in the sand. We make our way over many islands all resembling something out of the helicopter ride in Jurassic Park. Finally, after a brief forty minute trip the pilot veers and conducts a turn downwards into the runway. It was quite thrilling looking directly out of the cockpit as we swooped down for the landing. When the airline attendant finally opened the small door he had some kind words for our arrival, "Welcome to Paradise."

Moray Eel From a Small Lagoon.

First Day Weather.
Would Be A Re-Occurring Theme.

Super Pumped.

Weird Beer. Power Stout.
Strong Mocha Flavor With Some HGH Mixed In.

Awaiting me at the Airport gates are my brother and sister, ready to take me on a brief tour of the small 12 mile island. We zoom around the main highway that encircles the island and I take in the sites and sounds. My neck (as it did for most of the trip) began to stiffen from all the time I spent scanning the water. Everything looked ideal to me and I kept asking my brother about the various spots. I had not slept for 36 hours but I was super excited to start fishing. My mind continued to race just like in Puerto Rico and when we finally stopped at his place, I immediately began thinking fish. For the majority of the trip I suffered not from Island fever but from something a lot worse. A fly fishing sickness that can wreck havoc on usually calm nerves. I was suffering from a strong case of buck fever.

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