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Tuna fishing north coast of Colombia 

So after a month of traveling the internal highlands of Colombia I was well over due a trip to the ocean for some fishing. Opportunities inland were thin on the ground. There does not seem to be much of a culture for recreation fishing in Colombia unlike other South American counties I have been to. I was put onto a few trout lakes near Bogata but logistics and bad weather put me off this. So I took a flight to Cartegenia where I boarded a boat to Isla Grande about two hours up the coast via speed boat.

The island was lovely, a combination of coral atolls and mangroves and the hostels on the island are beautiful old converted villas. I was optimistic of tarpon but neither saw or hooked anything apart from a very small and angry reef fish about the size of my fly.
I would recommend a trip out there, the diving was good without being spectacular and the coral was in reasonable condition. There was however a distinct lack of pelagic species. Something that can not be said of Santa Marta.
Santa Marta used to be Narco central. The hills were used for growing it, the port was used for shipping it and the streets were a war zone. This has changed massively over the past few years but don’t be fooled this is still a dangerous place. I met a guy who was robbed at knife point two blocks from the city centre and it’s still illegal to ride two men on a bike due to a spate of drive by shootings a few years ago that took the life of many including a police officer.
That said if you are careful the place has a lot of charm and a massive amount of things to do. I dumped myself in the North Bay hostel, it had a pool was very well located near the port and centre and served a purpose. There are better hostels out of town such as the Drop Bear but you then have to rely on taxis.

So I decided to do a bit of exploring and took an Uber to Taganga 20 minutes north (about 4 pounds ) this pleasant little port village offers diving on a grand scales as well as boats to the Tyrona national park further up the coast and has a number of bars and restaurants. There are also plenty of hostels if you are looking to escape the city and want something a bit more laid back. I stopped for a few beers and some lunch at the north end of the village and got chatting to some locals who offered me a boat and gear for 60,000 pesos an hours about 18 pounds, a very fair price. Probably the cheapest I have found in some years. So having not planned to fish that day and already half cut I charted the boat for a couple of hours. This is more than enough time to get out by the island and back, but I would recommend longer if your are properly prepared, they didn’t provide food or beers for that price and didn’t have an ice box.
So with a few cold beers and a bottle of water we set off from the beach. Before we had even left the bay I spotted a school of bait fish being harassed by something big… it bodes well, once out in the open water it got fairly choppy, I would probably recommend an early start if possible to reduce this, not the hottest part of the day as I had chosen in my addled state.
Even in the choppy water it was easy to spot loads of flying fish and schools of bait fish. This felt completely different to Santa Marta, this smelt fishy. We set two lines out, one rod and one hand line, both had fairly small plastic squid on them trawling just below the surface, I would have liked to have had a combination of a lure and a squid but the captain assumed me the squid was best. More bait fish burst the surface as we rounded the first headland. This is one of the furthers city’s north in Colombia and I would say it’s not suffering from over fishing, the Venazwalian boarder isn’t far away, and I’m sure they haven’t overfished their coast as they can’t organise basic food and toilet paper for their population let alone manage a large scale fishing fleet.
We were chartering a course about 100m from the coast when the rod went off in my hand. I struck hard into what felt like a good fish especially on the light tackle we were using. I hadn’t until that point realised what antiquated gear I had in my hand.  The rod was missing an eye and the reel barely reeled it was so rusted up.
I managed to adjust the drag and the fight was on. It’s hard enough fighing a fish with good gear on choppy seas, try doing it with a knackered real and rod which looks like it may get snapped at any moment is even harder. Anyway after about 10 minutes of fighting the reel as much as the fish, I brought the tuna along side the boat and the skipper pulled it on board. My first proper tuna. I had caught skip jack before in Spain but never proper good quality tasty tuna..

2017-04-11 15.43.16.jpgWe carried on trawling for another hour but didn’t hook into anything else. There were no shortage of fish around though. When I got back to the port we saw some other fishermen coming in who had caught small Dorado, as species that still alludes me and more tuna. I was also told Marlin are common further out although not in April.
The following day I went back out to the island for a couple of dives, the area is clearly super healthy with a cold, deep water trench bringing in a lot of nutrients for all species to dine on. I’m heading further up the coast shortly and will look for another charter hopefully out deeper if I can get one. On my return from the dive to Santa Marta the boat docked in the port in the centre of town. It’s a private port so you can only access with a boat or permission. The marina was full of bait fish and small Baraccuda everywhere, then just as the sun was setting a school of tarpon all about 20 pound plus is sizes swam around the marina without a care in the world. They were bigger than anything we had seen on the dive and looked incredible as they broke the water less than a meter away from me.. the things you see when you haven’t got a rod in your hand…
Other than fishing and diving the lost city trek up into the jungle was excellent and the beach around Tyrona are beautiful you can also surf and the party scene in Santa Marta is good most nights of the week, you can get a good selection of foods in the centre along with other local delicacies, I would highly recommend a trip up to this end of the country. Minca i also worth a day or two if the heat is getting to you.

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Fishing Panama City

Having moved to Panama last month I thought I would cast a few thoughts on the fishing opportunities Panama City has to offer. 

Looking at maps from the cold confines of a bedroom in Europe, Panama looked like the ultimate fishing location.

Two distinctly different coasts and a canal made this look something of an anglers paradise. This is probably the case if you have an unlimited budget or access to a boat. I have neither.

 

So what are the options.

1 Fish with the locals in the city from the sea wall. There is something not right about fishing in a city centre and Panama is no exception. I’m sure there are fish there but the combination of high levels of water, noise and air pollution make this a no go for me. I’ve seen people doing it but I won’t be joining them.

2 Try the canal. Only a very short drive from the city the canal is a wonder of engineering but it’s designed for ships not budget fisherman. I’ve also been informed there are Crocs in there so wading and bank fishing are done at your perral. There are also surprisingly few access points to the water. It’s not like the Kennet and Avon canal back in good old Wiltshire England. So your only option is to hire a boat. You can hire canoes fairly cheaply up at Gamboa but I think the best and safest option is to go on an organised peacock bass trip out of Gamboa. Find 2 mates and for 225 dollars is a fairly sensibly priced afternoon’s entertainment, there are also a few other species to be had but bass are the norm.

3 This I think is the best option for the nomadic angler. Panama City connects a number of islands to the mainland by a well serviced ferry network. To date I have only been to Taboga but its definitely fishy. I did a bit of a look around with the snorkel and there are definitely Jack’s and a few other predatory fish there. Keep away from the main jump off point as the corral is badly damaged but work you way further round or across the island and there is definitely some good fishing to be had from the rocks. You can also hire canoes for the more adventurous. I didn’t get time this trip but I think the norther part of the island might house some monsters. The water looks deep.

 

I have also driven north and south of the  city with little to no luck on finding good spots. Panama City has an enormous tidal range and a very flat beach meaning huge agrees of mud flats. Very difficult to fish. I plan on visiting more of Panama over the coming weeks and will update as and when I find some gems.

Tight lines.

 

Fishing the River Gacka Croatia

The River Gacka is one of Croatias most iconic rivers, its source is an underground lake that spouts out some of the cleanest, clearest water you are likely to see, and its choc full of very beautiful trout, both brown and rainbow, the downside is they are not stupid!.

The river is accessible in almost all stretches around the main focal point of Hotel Gacka. Hotel Gacka is a great starting point, they can tell you exactly where to pick up a license for the day (about 50 pounds) and they offer exceptional food at very fair prices. They also have a great seating area out the back to watch the trout torment you.

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As rivers go this has to be one of the most accessible I have ever fished, there are next to no snags and the banks are kept immaculate buy the bailiff as you can see above. It was a beautiful summers day when I was there and the fish were readily feeding on the surface, and you could see them holding in the current.

The best of the fishing seemed to centre around this bridge either side, although there are many large wish all the way along the stretch up to the main bridge and the Hotel Gacka.
The most effective flys seemed to be mayflies and Adams parachutes, with the key, a very light leader. The downside of the light leader being the heavy weed the fish dive for when hooked. I hooked and lost a number of fish throughout the afternoon. One being a monsterous brown trout I will be seeing in my sleep for many year.

Unlike Slovenia, I would not go out of my way to travel there just to fish as its not such a diverse tourist spot, but if you are in the area and you want to pit your wits against some wise old trout I highly recommend giving it a go.

Getting to the Gacka is fairly easy, Croatias roads are excellent and the main highway is only a few miles away. There is very little to do other than fish here so unless you are a diehard fisherman I would suggest a couple of days at most, plus its not the cheapest.

There are plenty more other fishing opportunities further down the coast that we will explore in more detail later.

 

 

 

 

 

Playa del Carmen

Sports fishing Playa del Carmen

Fishing playa del carmen

Playa as it’s know locally is a windy place in January and the town beach is relatively featureless. This means fishing from the rocks or surf is limited. There are also huge numbers of tourists to deal with, so with that in mind I set about looking for a cost effective boat for the day. After walking the beach and chatting to local guides I came across one small but very helpful outfit next door to Hotel El Taj number +529841406945.

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They do not have an online presence but they are easy to find just left of the hotel as you look out to sea. You also can’t miss all the boats moored up in the harbour.

They were also one of the few outfits happy to match me up with a fellow angler keen to split the cost. They were also well equiped with Penn and Shimano reels even if the boat wasn’t the largest or the fastest.

For 2300 pesos (about 100 quid each) we chartered the boat with bait, captain and deckhand for four hours of trawling and jigging.

We started off about a mile out in the deep trench between the mainland and the island of Cosimal. We were targeting Amberjack bouncing a heavy metal jig with a single hock attached the the top aimed at mimicking a squid. After a couple of hours of back breaking jigging in fairly choppy conditions we had no lock, a couple of the other boats near us hooked into some heavy looking specimens judging by the bend in the rod and the time it took to bring them up from the deep. Apparently they are quite plentiful this time of year, sadly not on our boat.

So after a quick change around in gear we hooked up four trawling lines on the boat, 2 on outriggers 1 straight out the back and another at depth with the help of a down rigger.

It didn’t take long until the first reel started singing. I quickly leapt up into the fighting chair, and strapped into what felt like a decent fish, stripping a lot of line. As I started to tighten the drag and start the retrieve the hook slipped and the fish was gone…bugger…. I can’t help but think I should have been more aggressive from the start. We reeled in the bait fish and I was expecting it to be ripped to pieces, most of the fish was still intact and there were none of the tell tail signs of a barracuda attack the most likely perpetrator.
The captain listed a number of likely speciesism, but we will never know.
Over the next 2 hours we had 3 more takes all on the surface baits. My fellow fisherman landing 2 very good size Barracuda and myself a smaller Barra.

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Tulum Barracuda

For 100 quid this was a very worthwhile day, I will never tire of being out on a boat even in rough seas like today.

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A word of warning about Playa, the towns night life seems to be ran by the cartel while we were there four people we gunned down in a night club. I couldn’t help but feel we were a bit late for Playa . If you are looking to go to Mexico either for fishing or to party, stick to Tulum the vibe is way more relaxed and fishing opportunities far more plentiful, there is also less mass tourism. Have a look here for my thoughts on Tulum

Tulum Mexico Fly fishing on a budget

Tulum Mexico, after several attempts to find a cheap boat for some off shore sports fishing, I gave up and thought I would keep the $300 for 4 hours in my pocket and spend it on something more worthwhile like beer and tacos.

Instead I decided to drive the Tulum coast in search of decent land based fishing opportunities. The coast is basically all inaccessible in most parts due to the huge number of private hotels and resorts but there are a few sections of public beach and areas too narrow to build yet another hotel on. I drove about 15 km south, I would like to have pushed on all the way to Punta Allen but the car I had hired was not the best and there had been a lot of rain the previous two days so I decided to go back to Tulum looking at the state of the dirt road.

I had spotted a number of very large Pelicans diving for bait fish during the previous days lunch at the Zamas Hotel,this is a great spot for a few drinks and lunch and the view is excellent. There is small island you can just make out below and this creates a pinch point where the tide runs quickly and has dug out a small channel . The bait fish seem to be sheltering along this channel and where there are bait fish there are predators.

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You can wade out and fish from the Island but the best sport to be had was to actually fishing in the surf and cast into the beakers. In the darker area between the pelican and the cars. I managed to land the above the Jack on a red and black fly in only an hours fishing and the local guy fishing from the shore using lures caught 3 even bigger Jacks. This spot also offers good parking, something that can not be said for the rest of Tulum, in two days I have received two tickets and had both my number plates removed by the police.

Still its a great place for the budget fisherman. I imagine there are fish in this location all day but we had the most success at dawn about 7am on a strong running tide.

If you are looking for night time activities the parties at Papaya near the roundabout are excellent and the beach stage is very unique for sun rise… pack your rod and you can go straight for the party 5 minutes up the road and land some quality fish on the fly… or not……

For more details on fishing Mexico check out our Playa del Carmen post here

How the Global Fishing Guide came about

As an avid global traveler and fishamen I spend my life either traveling or planning my next trip. Whether it be backpacking across Australia with a telescopic rod, hand lining in Cambodia, fly fishing in the Slovenia mountains, salmon fishing in Scotland or big game fishing in Central America one thing has always been apparent fishing these days is not cheap!

The aim of this blog is to advise anglers on where, when and how to catch fish on a budget. Budget being a relative term, there is next to no cheap way to catch Marlin on the cheap but we will help you find the best option at the best price.

I have been lucky enough to live and fish in England, Australia, Spain and now Panama.I read Geography and environment sciences at the University of Plymouth and have always had a love of nature, maps, travel and I have fished since I can remember as a child. I also run my own boutique responsible investment company, specialising in renewable energy. Something has to pay for all these trips!

So over the coming months I will be documenting my travels, tips and hacks on how to get the most out of every trip. As a keen photographer I will also be looking back at some of my previous trips and how my experiences can help maximise your vacation.

I hope there is something for all anglers in this blog, I do not propose to be an expert in any one type of fishing, like all good Geographers I am a jack of all trades and master of none. However I am very  good at using the resources I have available to me to find fish, boats, gear, bait, guides, hidden spots, parties, wine, bars and all aspects of a good fishing trip.

I hope you join me and my friends on our global quest to scour the plant in search of monsters.