Indian Ocean Odyssey 2: Hosted Trip Feb 4-19, 2020

I recently returned from an exciting solo scouting mission to a remote Indian Ocean atoll known as the Cocos Keeling Islands (CKI). During the two week odyssey, I traveled a distance that would more than circle the global. In case you were wondering, covering so much ground was definitely worth the effort!

Cocos is a truly magical place with a thriving marine environment and striking tropical beauty. As territory of Australia, I cannot imagine a better place to get away from it all while still maintaining access to the creature comforts of the modern world. Of the 27 islands that make up the atoll, only 2 are inhabited. A friendly population of 400 CKI residents share coconut palmed paths leading to deserted white sand beaches and crystal clear waters filled with tropical marine life. Sand flats, coral reefs and surf breaks drop off into the deep blue ocean creating a perfect environment for saltwater fishing nirvana!

A unique history has kept Cocos Keeling off the radar of most travelers. There are no fishing lodges or outfitters. Only in the last couple years have a handful of Home Island locals started guiding fly and spin anglers. In addition to the local guides, the atoll offers superb do-it-yourself options. Numerous DIY fishing grounds are within reach on West Island which houses several small tourist accommodations. Motorized outrigger canoes are used for exploration of the waters surrounding undeveloped South Island. High-speed ferry allows access to the more distant Direction Island which is home to a stretch of sand voted the best beach in all of Australia.

The fishing is challenging but spectacular! Both fly and spin fishing opportunities abound in the water of Cocos Keeling Islands. Drag burning GT’s, bluefin trevally, titan triggerfish, bumphead parrotfish, Indo-Pacific permit, monster bonefish and countless other exotic species roam the shallow waters. Pelagic species such as dogtooth tuna are within reach of the guides’ skiffs. Calm weather allows for battles with behemoths from the deep while popping and jigging the bluewater. You can experience the atoll from my perspective in this video – Indian Ocean Odyssey.

I am looking for a small crew of 5 seasoned anglers to join me on a followup expedition to Cocos Keeling Islands on February 4-19, 2020. Compared to the well-known Indian Ocean atolls of the Seychelles, this trip will cost significantly less. I recommend that all anglers be physically fit since the fishing is primarily wading over often difficult terrain. The area is conducive for both fly and spin fishing with each discipline having it’s advantages depending on quarry and conditions. On our way to CKI, we will spend one night layover in Perth, Australia followed by 11 nights on Cocos Keeling’s West Island. Our return home will be a long haul with no overnight in Perth.

During my exploratory visit, I learned a ton of travel insight regarding Cocos and it’s fishery that will aid in making future trips a success. I have developed an itinerary for the February trip that will let you experience all Cocos has to offer with fishing time split between local guides and DIY with my guidance. Cost for lodging, guides and transportation (excluding airfare) is $4,500 per person. Round-trip airfare from Dulles runs approximately $2,200 per person. Additional details are available to serious inquiries only. Feel free to visit the Cocos Keeling Islands tourism website and contact me if you’d like to join the February 4-19, 2020 group. The Cocos Keeling Islands fishery is quickly gaining notoriety so this hidden gem will not remain untouched much longer!

Cayo Cruz, Cuba – The Caribbean’s Last Fly Fishing Frontier: Hosted Trips Jan 19-26 & Feb 16-23, 2019

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Cuba has been a destination of intrigue for me since I was young.  The closure to American travel has kept the Caribbean’s largest and most pristine flats systems located on this island nation virtually unfished.  In the past, US citizens had to enter the country “illegally” through Mexico or Canada.  Many of the travel restrictions are now removed and there are several flights a day from the US to Cuba making it very quick and easy to enter the country.

Avalon, an Argentine fly fishing company, has been working with the Cuban government for two decades to set aside marine sanctuaries throughout the undeveloped and biologically diverse waters of Cuba.  This has led to fisheries protection unmatched in virtually any country in the world.  As part of Avalon’s work in designating marine parks, the company is given exclusive rights to fish in these sanctuaries.  Avalon puts strict limits on the number of anglers that fish each region.  Unlike most other tropical destinations where the same flats get pounded everyday, Avalon gives each flats boat roughly 50sq/km to fish on a rotating basis so you are always fishing new water!

I recently had Scott Osborne, the US representative for Avalon, out fishing for striper here on the Chesapeake Bay.  I am coordinating with Scott to arrange two group trip that I will be hosting to the Cayo Cruz region of Cuba during the winter of 2019.  Cayo Cruz is located along the north-central coast of Cuba.  A look at Google Earth and you will see that the Cayo Cruz marine sanctuary provides extensive habitat for flats species like bonefish, permit and tarpon.  Cayo Cruz may be the last virgin flats fishery left in the Caribbean since this location has only just begun hosting fly anglers.  This means most fish there have never seen a fly!

Cayo Cruz is a great winter destination since the many cays provide shelter from northeast wind ushered in by cold fronts.  The bonefish in Cayo Cruz are big, plentiful and uneducated.  What makes Cayo Cruz a real jewel is the permit fishing.  It is common to see 10-30lb permit riding the backs of stingrays.  Some are calling Cayo Cruz the best location on the planet for quality permit fly fishing.  While winter is early for the spring tarpon migration, the region supports a resident population of 20-30# tarpon which makes the flats “grand slam” a possibility.  In addition to the “Big 3”, there are numerous other flats species to target at Cayo Cruz like cuda and triggers.  For those who like to wade fish, the vast hard sand flats of Cayo Cruz stretch for miles.

Unlike many “fishing lodges”, accommodations in Cayo Cruz are at the brand new Oceans Arena Blanca all-inclusive resort which is scheduled to have its grand opening next month.  As the only hotel on Cayo Cruz, non-fishing companions have uncrowded access to the island’s pristine Caribbean waters.  In addition to the pool and fitness center, this luxury hotel offers activities and tours for non-anglers.  With the flats skiffs a couple minutes away, you get the best of both fishing and 5-star accommodations.

Since Cayo Cruz is a new fly fishing destination, Avalon is offering a special price of $2,999 for 7nights/6days guided fishing (non-fishing rates available) until the end of February.  These are the cheapest rates you will find to any fly fishing destination in Cuba.  Flights from Richmond, VA are roughly $500.  If you are interested in joining me on this trip to a virgin piece of fly fishing paradise, please take a look at this brochure and contact me as soon as possible.  Cayo Cruz will not remain undiscovered for long!

Both January & February trips are now full.  Plans are in the works for November of 2019.  Contact me early to get on the list!

2016 Belize Hosted Trip Recap

The hosted trip to Turneffe Flats Lodge December 3-10, 2016 was a success.  The week provided nice conditions with relatively little wind, good sunlight and comfortable temperatures. Flats rookies Bob and Kenny tallied a remarkable 100 bonefish one day. Lynn caught a permit on her second day flats fishing and Pete raised his all-time permit total to 28.  I was lucky enough to land 2 permit on consecutive casts.  In all 4 permit where landed by the group and about 5 where hooked and lost. Other species included baby tarpon, snook, barracuda, triggerfish, boxfish, plus assorted jacks and snapper.  Several in the group enjoyed spending time snorkeling and observing wildlife like manatees with Atoll Adventure guide, Abel.  My buddy Matt and I are looking to host another trip December 2-9, 2017.  I hope you can join in the fun!

Turneffe Flats Lodge, Belize

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Over the winter, I had a fantastic trip to Turneffe Flats Lodge located on a coral atoll off the coast of Belize. Turneffe Atoll is very unique in that it is one of only four atolls located in the Western Hemisphere. Its waters are home to a world-renowned flats fishery for bonefish, permit, tarpon and more. I found both the fishing and lodging to be superb during my stay. I enjoyed T-Flats so much that I have decided to host a group of anglers on a return visit December 3-10, 2016. I hope you can join me on this trip to tropical paradise. If that time frame does not fit your schedule, I am planning a second visit sometime between January and April 2017. Please see the travel section of my website to learn more about the lodge, fishery and trip details. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in visiting Turneffe Flats Lodge either on a hosted trip or on your own. I am happy to help you plan that trip of a lifetime!