I still can’t get over how lucky we are as fishing addicts to have landed here at Casa Blanca. It is completely unique to all other places I’ve ever been or even heard of. Permit tail right off of our dock when the conditions are right. Tarpon visit every night and on calm days swim within casting range just offshore. We have resident bonefish on our home flat; jacks surf the waves and barracuda cruise just beyond. There is the potential for a grand slam without ever leaving the lodge.
I almost got a lodge grand slam in late April, waiting for the boats to come in for the day. I had been watching jacks surf in on the waves, to within ten feet of where I stood. It was sea urchin season, and the spiny creatures were everywhere, especially on the menu. I was throwing a crab into the mix when one of the pack turned and pounced. After the initial run as I brought it close I saw that distinctive black spear and realized it was a permit. The bonefish was easily had, but the tarpon eluded me that night, despite my best efforts.
We’ve managed to explore a good bit of the Santa Rosa lagoon system behind the lodge by means of an old green Coleman canoe. We’ve outfitted it with a broken pole and paddles and with its maneuverability and small size have managed to access places that don’t seem to bear the mark of man.
On our first trip out we found open flats and enormous bonefish that seemed ignorant of flies and strained our eight weights with blistering runs. Paddling across deeper water we saw a seven foot long shape cruising and took it to be a tarpon. We chased after it and were just within casting range, fumbling for rods when it emerged and looked us in the eye- our first crocodile.
We have found tarpon back there too, and while they haven’t been seven feet long, they are feisty and aggressive fish. Last week I saw one laid up; so still I almost mistook it for some submerged junk. We had only brought our bonefish rods, and mine was rigged with a shrimp and light tippet. I couldn’t resist casting to him, and the fly landed with a soft plop right in front of his nose. He woke up and charged it, and when I set the hook, the fly caught and stayed. Multiple jumps later, and I had landed my first tarpon on a shrimp pattern, fly snugly embedded in his upper lip.
Every afternoon we climb our lighthouse and spend a few moments looking out over the bay. We always see life, but today we saw something that took my breath away. By far the largest saltwater fish I have ever seen, a monster tarpon moving slowly down the coast about two hundred feet from the shore. It blew the hundred pound mark by a long ways. A very special place indeed.