Epic Ending to Fly Fishing Darien Lodge in Colombia

by | May 21, 2024 | fly fishing Colombia | 3 comments

Jess-McGlothlin-photography

Photo by Jess McGlothlin

As usual, none of us could believe this was our last day here at Darien Lodge in Colombia.  But it’s a fact, the better the fishing and the more fun you have, the faster it goes.  And this week has been no less than incredible.  Ben, Scott and I went with Beto again today.  We boarded the boat and went directly to where the snapper bait ball took place last night.

 

Jess-McGlothlin-flyfishing-photography

Photo by Jess McGlothlin

Its an hour boat ride to the spot.  We saw some tuna blitzes on the way but we stuck to our druthers.  As spectacular looking as yesterdays huge snappers were, we needed to end the trip with a few more.  We didn’t even stop for this free-flying yellowfin that wanted to be caught.  An amazing photo by Jess McGlothin!

 

 

 

 

 

Darien-LodgeWhen we arrived to the land of snapper, things were quiet.  Quiet all the way around.  Even the far off rocks that we never made it too yesterday seemed dead.  Beto said there’s always action out there but the fish were sleeping.

 

 

 

Currier-flyfishingThe sea was much gentler today.  Casting from the bow was easy.  The wind was light and loose line was easily manageable.  The three of us had our line stripped out, armed and ready for a snapper blitz.  We made the occasional random cast but honestly, when you don’t see bait or fish, casting blind to the blue water rarely produces.

 

 

 

 

fly-fishingThe key word in last paragraph was “ready”.  We were ready.  Things can happen so fast in the blue water its shocking.  Sure enough, we were in over 200 ft of water, drifting and chatting.  The motor was off.  And in a matter of seconds bait exploded from below the surface followed by a wolf pack of tuna.  I hated to, but I held my flight tight in hand incase the snapper were behind.  Scott laid a cast and one strip and it was game on.

 

yellowfin-tunaI’ve said it this week numerous times, battling a yellowfin tuna on fly is a back breaker.  Especially five days in a row.  While I love catching them, I wasn’t envious of Scott being pulled over the bow rails.  This tuna put a hurt on him and though it wasn’t me, it made my left shoulder sore to watch.  Of course, it was another gorgeous one and was lip hooked so Scott could make the release.

 

rainbow-runner-fishThings went back to being quiet but the fish finder showed schools of fish between 20 and 40 ft down.  Both Beto and his mate Grillio pulled out hookless teasers to prowl as we drifted.  Trying to coax these deeper fish to come up and play.  This is when the action started.  The first species to smash the teaser and then the fly was the less known rainbow runner.  Here’s Ben with his first.

 

flyfishing-yellowfin-tunaI was just about to take down a rainbow runner as well but a school of yellowfin got involved.  Call me crazy, but pulled my fly from the water as quickly as I could.  I watched as Ben and Scott doubled up.  They hollered at me, “Come on Currier!  Let’s triple up!”  But I didn’t listen.  I was only casting if I saw a clear window for the snapper or rainbow runners. This window obviously wasn’t clear.  A great pic of the boys however.

 

Currier-flyfishingOnce the tuna dove from sight, boils from the rainbow runners started up again.  They are more finicky than any of the other fish we’ve met this week.  It took me a good ten minutes or so of casting to swirls and behind the teaser to get one.  Finally my efforts paid off.  While this isn’t a new species for me, this is the largest rainbow runner I’ve ever caught.

 

The next thing that happened will be etched into my memory bank forever.  This is good because there’s no photo to show.  Grillio was reeling in the teaser and a sailfish showed up.  Scott knocked out a cast.  Ben followed with his own.  I was ready but no need for a third fly at the party.  But then I had my chance – a second sail that no one else saw was right next to the boat.  I dropped my snapper sardine fly right in his face.

 

Darien-GapBeto’s eyes were drawn to where my cast landed.  I’m certain he was about to tell me to cast again to the far one the boys were on, but he saw my situation.  In fact, he saw the sailfish bill bash my fly three times.  I left it still as if it was now a stunned baitfish and he ate it.

 

I strip set as if trying to penetrate a steel bridge piling.  Four, maybe five hard jabs.  The sailfish felt it but instead of running, he started thrashing his bill side to side – swipes that easily covered a five foot radius.  And as the angry sail tried to free himself, he tilted back.  I kid you not, this went on for over a minute and eventually his position was standing on his tail with the bill cutting straight up and out.

 

Colombia

“Look out guys!, I screamed.  “This fish might jump in the boat!”

 

At first Ben and Scott were unaware.  But soon they saw.  Everyone got back from the gunnels incase the hot fish jumped directly in the boat.  Luckily it didn’t happen.  Strangely, he casually swam under the boat then screamed off at a sailfishes top speed – 65 mph!

 

Jess-McGlothlin-photography

Photo by Jess McGlothlin

The under the boat thing made it dangerous for my rod.  I was quick and wise to loosen my drag all the way, then I put my rod tip down in the water and ran up around the bow.  Then the angle was right and there were no obstructions between me and the fish.  The fight was on.

 

This sail stole a lot of line.  He took much advantage when my drag was loose.  But I tightened back up and heaved back.  After around five minutes and several jumps, my hook came free.  Perfect!

 

That was exciting enough for us all to snag a beer.  But these beers had to be chugged because the action got better and better.  We had tuna, rainbow runners, more sails busting like it was the end of the world and finally, a glimpse of a few red blobs, the mullet snapper.

 

Currier-yellowfin-tunaIt was a risky cast.  I knew that but went anyway.  I saw the snapper and my hope was that if I let my fly hit, then didn’t strip too fast the tuna would avoid it.  Then it would be in sight of the snapper which by now had sank from sight.  That’s exactly what I did and sure enough I went tight.  Oh boy, things felt different than the tuna we’d been hooking, but I knew it wasn’t my dream snapper.

 

Beto saw it.  I saw it.  I hooked the donkey Kong of all tuna this week.  Just my luck.  This tuna looked twice the size of the twins earlier and he began the fight with a display of line and backing stealing of advance proportions.  It wasn’t a 50 yd run nor a 100 yd run.  This yellowfin tried to take it all.  I’ll say at one point this fish was over 200 yds down and away from the boat.

 

I mentioned earlier I’m using a Bauer prototype – this was it.  In fact, this attractive blue reel you’ve seen in pictures this week has caught almost all my fish.  Its been tested beyond belief.  But this time it weakened.  My crank knob seized and the drag started to slip.

 

yellowfin-tunaLong story short, it took me 30 minutes to get him to boatside.  That was with full pressure, most given by my hand literally rotating the spool manually.  It was excruciating.  I was so relieved when Grillio got his hand on this fish.  Only problem however, he was too heavy to lift and Grillio dropped him.  The oversized freight train ran all the way back into my backing.

 

I was in agony at this point but I held on.  What else could I do?  Beto suggested on the next pass we gaff him.  No big deal he said – fresh sashimi tonight and tuna steaks to go with.  But something about this fish made me say no.  This animal was determined to live and I was going to do my best to release him.

 

yellowfin-tuna-CurrierI say it on occasion – “Miracles do happen in fly fishing”.  And in a sense this tuna was a miracle.  A fried reel.  An overcooked angler.  However, ten minutes after our first attempt, Grillio had another chance.  This time he stuck a Boga grip in the mouth and lifted by the tail.  The fish was landed!

 

My fly was right in the corner.  I yanked it and because it was already on the Boga we weighed the girthy tuna.  38 lbs.

 

You don’t manage a beast like this easily for pictures.  Grillio set it in my lap and I hung on for dear life.  We cranked some pics and then with the fish gilling and feeling strong, I released him.  A personal best yellowfin on the fly.  And from then on out, I was even more careful of where I tossed my fly.

 

We got a shot at the snapper late in the afternoon.  Only one shot and I blew my chance.  I was my turn for the bow but I wasn’t up there.  I was chatting with Scott sitting on the cooler below the bow.  We hadn’t seen action in an hour.  But then in explosive fashion the snapper appeared in a bait killing frenzy.

 

Jess-McGlothlin-photo

Photo by Jess McGlothlin

I leaped for the bow and slipped and fell.  Who cares.  I made my first cast laying on my back.  It wasn’t that good so I went again and sure enough, I tangled with Scott.  He felt awful later but it was my fault.

 

Beto had us loose in seconds and the tuna were still there.  I made recovery cast that was perfect.  A huge red blog sucked my fly like a big brown trout on the Lewis River in **********.  I strip set like I did on the sailfish earlier, nada.  The fish swam towards me and I never made contact.  ****!

 

flyfishingI cast again right back at them.  At this point it was all I could do to keep my cool.  I lucked out and my fly landed in front of another giant mullet snapper.  He nibbled the fly as I stripped.  How could he do that I thought?  Then finally he crushed it and turned.  At this time he left my view in to glare.  Strip.  Strip.  Strip hard.  Strips so hard its unfathomable – nothing.  Somehow the giant red fish spit my fly.  The frenzies was over.

 

If you read this blog, you see how lucky I get.  Often.  Last month the giant golden mahseer on a trip where they were hard to find.  The red kaloi in Borneo in December.  Dorado.  Pike.  Lakers.  I almost always get it done.  But today, the fish gods left me hanging.  Those giant snapper never surfaced again.

 

Tony-Marrese

Photo by Jess McGlothlin

I’ve been defeated many times.  One deep breath and a recalculation of how amazing this trip has actually been and all was good.  Hell, after that tuna, did I really need to start another fight?

 

While our boat didn’t get a snapper of dreams, the boat with the Marrese father/son and Jess did.  It was Tony Sr.  Tony got a mullet snapper to eat and hooked and landed him.  What a fish!  And below see Anthony Jr. with a sailfish!

 

Anthony-Marrese

Photo by Jess McGlothlin

Its been an amazing adventure down here at Darien Lodge.  Fly fishing in the Pacific Ocean here in Colombia is a must experience for all adventurous and serious fly fishers.

 

I’m gonna shorten this now.  Even though I jumped yet another sailfish tonight.  Its time to close the books on this outstanding trip to Darien Lodge in Colombia.  Tomorrow I start the long journey home.  I’ll be there long enough for a steak on the grill and a bottle of red with Granny, then Saturday night its off to Canada.  Its time for coaster brook trout and lakers.  Stay tuned!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

3 Comments

  1. Howie

    What a trip Dude! That is sime incredible fushing.

  2. Lane

    Awesome! Love your salt water blogs

  3. Jeff

    Thank you Lane. Glad you enjoyed them and thanks so much for reading!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!

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