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Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 07-25-2006, 01:12 PM
Tim D Tim D is offline
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Aruba fly fishing

I've seen quite a bit of good info on flyfishing in Aruba on this site. I'm heading down there two weeks from today for a short 4 day trip and plan on fishing each morning.

I tie my own flies and was hoping someone can point me to some links or recipes of flies I should bring down with me. Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks
Tim
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:26 PM
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Bones - not picky, tie a combination of weighted gotchas in tan with pink and pearl highlights and unweighted flies with shrimp colored dubbing for fishing over coral to give you more time without snagging up.

Fish weighted over nice bottoms, unweighted to tailers and snags.

Hey solve the tarpon thing in spanish lagoon will ya? Then clue us in. I bet there is a strong tarpon population on the inland side of the concrete barrier but you will need at least an inflatable yak to probe up in there.

also might find poons around barcadera in the morning as well as bones, any of the southside lagoons inside the barrier islands - they got to be there
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:56 PM
SteelBoneguy SteelBoneguy is offline
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Don't forget to use stronger tippet if you can get away with it! The tailers close to shore will probably require lighter tippet. But the deeper areas use stronger stuff as there are lots of coral heads around.. I lost a nice bone b/c of one..

Ditto what Juro said figure out the Poons...

Lastly if the bones are not cooperating try a steel leader section and a popper on the northern side by the light house wading out.. I had some NICE cuda action one day.
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Old 07-26-2006, 11:11 AM
Tim D Tim D is offline
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Thanks guys! This is going to sound stupid, but what are the "poons"?
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Old 07-26-2006, 12:05 PM
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tarpoon

Hey check out the bar structure off the marina at Orangestaad...

if you could paddle out there I am sure you'd have great shots in the morning and evening

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Old 07-26-2006, 12:49 PM
Tim D Tim D is offline
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Wow!! I am REALLY going to try and hit that. Are there many places that rent kayaks?
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Old 07-26-2006, 04:31 PM
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I only know of tours, but the hotels along that strip might.

Or you could probably get someone to drop you there from the marina for $20 and pick you up seeing as it's such a short hop from the dock. If you packed a picnic basket and a blanket I think the S/O would think you are the MAN, that's a nice strip of sand and no one on it.

You could pull a Gartside and make the crossing in an inflatable giraffe.
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Old 07-26-2006, 09:17 PM
SteelBoneguy SteelBoneguy is offline
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That looks awesome. Never headed down that way when I was in aruba. The shallow side looks super bonefishy. I bet tarpon cruise the deep side, shoot permit as well.

Here is a small tarpon.

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Old 07-27-2006, 06:10 AM
arubaman arubaman is offline
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Don't know why, but I have the feeling I want to ad some words to this topic

So most of Aruba is documented, I still doubt that. I haven't been home for over a year now, but there's lots of things still to be worked out and explored.

Let's give a first answer to your fly question. I never had a fly refused. In Aruba the fish are not picky. Any clousertype of fly will do the trick. The difficult part is to spot fish and manage to get a shot at them. Once the fly is in and in front of them (i had fish rushing 8-10 ft forward to grab a sinking clouser) your chance to hook a fish is very big. To land it will be other stuff, especially the spot at malmok (where the boatwreck is) has a lot of sharp stones that will help a fish cut loose.
My favourite flies are clousers, vary the weight of the eyes you use. I tie my clousers on hooksize 6,8 and 10. Sometimes on size 4, but not bigger. I use bucktail and a bit of flash and tying the clousers is very simple. Then imagine the colors you'll have there and that most crustacions (do you write it like that) have camouflaged colours.

On sandy bottom I use clousers mostly white bucktail on the shank, a little bit of flash and yellow or pink calftail as wing.
Malmok and other places with more stones and or turtle grass I use bigger flies (on the same hooksize) My favourite for malmok is a clouser on hooksize 6 (tmc 811s) use dark olive bucktail on the shank, the fly has to reach a length of approx. 2 inch. Don't ty in to much on the shank. Then make the wing of dark olive or more brownish bucktail, if you like combined with a little bit of flash. For the wing I use bucktail as well in this case. You can make a nice wing which I would recommend to be 2 inches as well. Because the hook is not so big and the wing and body are lkong this is a clouser that will sink very slowly (don't use to heavy eyes). If you cast it and then start stripping it you'll see it can keep clear from the bottom. Also it's color matches better with the weeds, turtlegrass and corals. I had some realy nice bones on that fly, but as said before, it's a hell to land a big one over at malmok.

Now let's get into spots and business. Tarpon are there, I've seen them and hooked a few on live-bait. Standing on the concrete barrier at the end of the day and in the beginning of the night you'll here them jump. With a flashlight you can sometimes see them pass near the barrier. At sunset you can even see their fins come out of the water if you are there on the right moment.
But as said before, one problem, the lagoon is totally surrounded with mangroves. I also think the deeper part of the lagoon is more like a nature reserve, a sort of natural park and not really ment to be fished in. But if you manage to get a kayak I would say fish in the laguna between the concrete barrier and the bridge a little more deeper into the land. You won't disturb nobody there and it's one of those places where I know more people then just me have hooked tarpon (at least the rumour has it). One other problem here is there's lots of cuda's. With their razorblade teeth they cut through every nylon leader.
Other place to look for tarpon are the marina's and there is some kind of "laguna" in Oranjestad. Next to the governor's house, in between the governors house and a bar called chaos. It's an old drainage water of the city. It ends in the sea close to the spot pictured above. And there's tarpon there (in my opinion, but never have caught one or heard them been caught there), there surely are bones and everywhere there are little cuda's.
Which brings me to the cays in front of the harbour. I am not sure, but as I recall it none of them is accessible for people. There is a specific type of stern (bird) which nests on the little cays in front of the harbour. A little bit more to the east there's a bigger cay which belongs to a hotel. It's called sonesta island as the hotel is the sonesta hotel. On the westside (harbourside) of this island there's a huge turtlegrassflat which stretches out for about a mile until it reaches a big channel for the boats that visit or harbour. After the channel the flat continues until it reaches (surprisingly) the cay on juro's picture. Depth varies on this "flat", most of it will be 2-3 ft. There are some shallower and some deeper oarts and there is that one big channel running through it for the boats to get in and out of the harbor. On this turtlegrass flat I expect to once catch my PR bonefish. I've seen bones tailing from a distance which made me doubt my own eyes.
To get on to this flat you can either try to get a ride from a boat or take a mini swim. From the shore it is most easily accesible from the small beach in front of the house of the governor (here he is again....) on the opposit side of this beach there's the small laguna (your rightside when facing the sea) on your leftside the flat stretches out. You will only have to cross a small canal of about 20-30ft wide and 5-8ft deep. This canal lies there to let the boats pass from the hotel to the private island, all the way to the east of the flat.

Other places not yet explored by much people but I am sure you'll have a nice time fishing and maybe have some real nice fish are:
-Baby Beach (a really fabulous shallow (1-2ft) bay on the east point of the island, fish early in the morning or late because of the folks swimming there)
-Mangel Halto (also called Pos Chiquito) a magrove system with some nice flats around it, close to the spanish lagoon.
-Isla di Oro, a restaurant that closed years ago, surrounded by a flat and in a small bay surrounded by mangroves. Very difficult to reach (due to mangroves surrounding it) but I bet it could be the best spot on the island.
-Santo Largo, yet more of those smal mangrove bushes with flats in front of it.
-Arashi, sandy flat where there must be some bones. Palometa's will be easiest to catch there. Palometa is like permit but small. Permit I have never seen or heard of in Aruba. Off course, there's people saying there are permits, but I know no reliable source who has caught nor seen one.

One last advice, take along with you some printed info you got here. That is much more valuable then hiring a "so called" guide.... There are no flyfishing guides or touroperators on the island and the only place it will get you is malmok. That is just a simple rip-off to pay for and then have somebody point you out a spot allready described on this site. I don't know any Arubian or local (except for myself) who fishes for bone, or who flyfishes at all. So you won't meet guides who can spot the fish for you.
Also print out the tidetables for just in case. Arubians don't really keep track of the tide, but for example a flat like in oranjestad it can be very handy to know when it is low tide.
The tarpon at spanish lagoon also gave me the impression to be oriented by the tide. If the tide is rising you'll see a current through tubes placed in the concrete barrier. The current flows fresh water into the laguna and that's a nice source of fresh food for a lot of fish living on the inside of the barrier.

pffffft, why do I always keep writing..... my fingers hurt of the typing and I get a bit of homesick everytime I think of home and the fishing there. Good luck and let us know.
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Old 07-27-2006, 06:18 AM
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Arubaman...

I hope you are home next time I go there so we can 'hook up'! I did a fair amount of exploring there but by living there it seems you have the finger on the pulse.

Good post
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Old 07-27-2006, 08:00 AM
Glenora Ghillie Glenora Ghillie is offline
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Thanks guys, I sent Tim D. over from our forum clearwaterflysh.14.forumer.com

Arubaman, you the man. I love hearing of those spots yet to be discovered. I fished on the east side, by the church on the rocks(the week I was there, we had no wind due to Hurricane Rita) and had some HUGE jacks follow my fly, but I was so worried about my line I never got the right presentation, like fishing on razor blades(even with a basket).

I hooked a tarpon(about the size on the posted picture), to the right of the wreck in Malmok. We stayed at sunset villas, so the wreck was across the street. I had a school of tarpon rolling in front of me just about fo reach, when I hooked it I was up to my neck bouncing to make my casts. There were some monster houndfish mixed in with them.

Finally, my wife and I walked all around the lagoon above the barrier and finally I fished off the road bridge that runs across the barrrier, just little cudas to be had. The point off the south end(colorado?) to the right of boca grande looked great and dudes were going down to fish and said they did real well there, again razor rock.

Thanks for helping Tim D. out and I can't wait to go back!!!

Shahab

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Old 07-27-2006, 08:49 AM
Tim D Tim D is offline
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Gents,

Thanks so much for tall the info. It is GREATLY appreciated. One last question. Leader and tippet. I'm assuming 9ft or so around 12lb with 10-12 pound flour tippet. I am on base or should you go heavier.

If any of you come to Maine, drop me an email and I'll hook you up with some great striper, landlocked salmon, and trout fishing.

thanks again, and thanks Shahab for pointing me over here!
Tim
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:22 AM
Tim D Tim D is offline
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Just found out I will be staying at one of three hotels at "Palm Beach". Is that within walking distance of the wreck? No big deal if its not, I'll have a rental car while I'm there.
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:42 PM
arubaman arubaman is offline
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Hi Tim,
do you have a name that goes with your hotel?
Palm Beach is a part of the island where most highrise hotels are situated along the coast and on the inland there's also some hotels. The Highrise hotels are about 2 miles walking along the shore to the wreck. Not bad, set up your gear before sunrise and walk along the beach to the wreck. Keep an eye on the shoreline and the first 30-50 feet from shore into the sea. If you're out there as one of the earliest visitors for that day, don't be surprised if you meet nice fish in front of the Highrise hotels. These can be snook, several jack-species and bones can cruise along to (i've seen them tail right in front of most hotels, right in the mini surge/surf zone, just 2 feet from shore) Meeting one on the walk up to the wreck could be the best chance you get. In front of the hotels there is a sandy bottom, so if you meet one there and manage to hook it chances of landing it are much bigger then on the rockier bottom at malmok.

Considering your leader, not a bad choice. It will depend on the way you prefer. My experience learned me the bones are not yet scared of tippets, so a little bit thicker is also possible. For malmok I would recommend a 9ft or even a 7,5ft 0x leader. Then a tippet of fluorocarbon of about 20-30 inches. I use fluorocarbon that matches the strength of the leader, the fluorocarbon is recomandable because of the rocks. Just a bit more strength when it grinds on the coral. The advantage of a 7.5ft leader is there is less nylon that can grind on the rocks, the disadvantage is your flyline get's closer to the fly, so casting has to be a little more precisely.

On the casting, try to spot a fish and be upwind of it (I ussually just look downwind, spotting a fish upwind and not being able to cast at it can be frustrating). Aruba can be very windy. If you practice a few casts you'l see in which angle it is possible to cast with/against the wind. For me with strong winds it means that if I have the wind in my back I can cover an angle of about 140 degrees, so not even straight to the left or straight to the right. If i cast more against the wind I loose a lot of accuracy on the placement of the fly. On preparing back home I would recommend practicing on placing the fly on distances from 10 to 50 feet, this is the range in which you'll spot most of the fish or how close you can get when you spot one at more distance. Also practice your double stripping (is it called haul?) and try to make those casts with as less false casts as possible.
Also unroll your flyline and backing for like 300 feet and rewind it so you will be sure it is wound neetly and there's no slack in the backing. The first run can be hard and far, any little resistance that suddenly hits the line or backing can mean the loss of your fish. What added fun to the fishing for me was to mark stripes on my backing with a black waterproof marker. if you mark like every xfeet (eg 25 or 30 or 50) you can be sure how much backing the fish took on a run. Always nice for the stories when you write the results of the trip here.

Last tip for this reply, which counts for bonefish everywhere, if you spot a fish and it is not very close, always look carefully if he's alone or with more fish. You wouldn't be the first to overcast a bonefish that was closer to you and you didn't see. This bonefish gets scared of the flyline that almost drops on his head and he scares and spooks. The spooking of this fish will spook the other ones in the neighbourhood aswell. There goes your good chance....

Good luck!
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Old 07-27-2006, 01:40 PM
Tim D Tim D is offline
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Thanks again for the tips! Don't know the name of the hotel, but I know its on the beach. I plan on being up at dawn each day for a few hours of fishing before the wife gets up.
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