Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Search of Crabs

No, not the kind that require RID...I'm looking for the ones that Permit eat. I've done some flats fishing the last few years but honestly have never really been too into it. I'm not a snob about it, I just really like cold water and all things being equal...I've opted for New Zealand over a salt trip most years.
However, as there was no NZ in my life this year, my wife and I have opted for a salt trip instead. It's kind of our 40th birthday celebration. We ended up booking a trip to Turneffee Flats Lodge in Belize for the last week in April. We went round and round and that just happened to be the best bet for us. She dives, I fish plus it's relatively easy to get to. So, I've been on a crab hunt as I have 5 or 6 days of solo guided fishing coming way and I've decided that I'd really like to meet Mr. Pepe le Permit.
The story is long and convoluted - most of my relationships are - of how I came to know Pepe. A few years back, Christine and I spent a few days at a little resort in Mexico near the Belize Border. The place is called Costa de Cocos and I'd love to go back someday as it was very low key with good fishing and diving. If I did it again, I'd fly to San Pedro in Belize and then have them run me up to CDC via a boat. There is no way I'd do a 5 hour drive from Cancun or fly into Chetemal like we did last time.
Anyway, I fished for Permit one of the 3 days down there, got lots of shots (10-15...maybe more) and hooked one. Pulled a gabor though and got my fly line wrapped around the reel foot on the first run. What I sight that must have been...watching me run out into the bay - tight to a 15 pound Permit - until I was practically swimming - praying that the fish would stop or turn before the knot broke. It didn't and all I have is that all too familiar feeling of what could have been.
The rub with the whole thing is that I hooked it on a crab pattern that someone had given me in an assortment of flats bugs. We had cast to several permit that day with no hint of interest and the guide - an Argentinian named Willy - said to pick the one that gave me mojo and try it on the next fish.  So, the fish came over and ate it and I lost the mojo. I've never seen that pattern anywhere since and I have poured over every fly catalog  the last 3 or 4 years looking for it. Probably was a crawdad pattern that some dude tied for carp in Michigan.  The mental masturbation that one goes through for such minutia is mind numbing at best.
So, I've now dropped some coin with fly shop from California to Florida, picking up the odd crab pattern hoping to get something is close enough so that I can tie a few of what I remember. It was a crazy crab...dark in color with a bunch of melted lead on one side covered in epoxy with some rubber legs and hackle sticking out. Would take me a week to tie one and even then it would probably swim upside down. Anyway, there are some very cool saltwater patterns that I guy in Maine offers called SS Flies...they're not cheap but he might just have the perfect crab pattern for Permit...I think that is whichever one Pepe eats. I'll let you know in a month or so.

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