By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer
Planning any fishing trip can be a challenge given the peculiarities of weather and the idiosyncrasies of fish. Add a few thousand miles, a different language and an exotic species or two and some serious planning is advisable. Let’s face it, you’ve been working for this trip for a long time and finally you’ll have the opportunity to do nothing but eat, sleep and fish for a week or more. It’s taken a tremendous amount of time and money to get this opportunity. It really makes good sense to develop a plan to assure that you have the best possible chance of success.
Deciding where to go and when are the most important decisions you’ll make. While it’s not impossible to book your own trip, knowing the best time, tides and lodging can be daunting. In addition, juggling the details of plane reservations, transfers, hotels and guides can increase the challenge of putting together a trip.
A knowledgeable outfitter or travel host will provide you with the experience and inside information that will allow you to immerse yourself in the experience instead of the details. Don’t rely on second-hand information. You need to do the research to assure you’ve matched your angling needs and expectations to a preferred destination.
On a recent trip to South Andros in the Bahamas, I signed on with a group that was hosted by my friend Captain Rick Grassett, of Sarasota. I was familiar with our destination, the Andros South Lodge, but having all the arrangements, including air fare, coordinated by Grassett was a big asset. Joining us on the trip was a group of accomplished anglers from Tampa and St. Pete, which made the trip all the more enjoyable. Andros South was a well-run destination with a Web site that answers many of the questions an informed angler will have. Check it out at www.androssouth.com. In my 26 years of traveling and writing, these folks have set the bar high when it comes to the total package.
When choosing an Outfitter or destination host, the success or failure of your adventure will depend on knowing what you want from your trip and asking the right questions. Some of the best fishing is available at sites that have the least amenities. If you require a certain level of service, you’ll want to research locations that offer specific conveniences and good fishing. While it’s dangerous to plan your whole trip based on second-hand information, you’ll still want to talk to others who have made the trip you’re planning. Ask the outfitter or host for a number of references and question them carefully.
In foreign countries, you’ll be hard pressed to replace items you forgot to pack, particularly fishing tackle. This is one case when it’s probably better to pack more than you think you’ll need. Make a packing list and check it several times before your departure. Most destinations provide lists, which you can use to make sure you don’t forget anything important. While their recommendations are a good place to start, customizing your own travel list can help ensure that you have what you need while streamlining the amount of baggage you take.
Many of the tropical destinations are very near the equator, so anglers need to pay special attention to the sun. Long sleeved pants and shirts with sun protection are advisable along with a high SPF waterproof sunscreen. Check out some of the new micro-fiber clothing from Columbia (www.Columbia.com) that protects you from the sun while being cool and comfortable. Polarized glasses (take a spare) and a long billed fishing hat with side and back flaps help protect the face and neck. Recently I’ve been using a full face mask that totally protects me from the sun, its reflection and windburn. Check it out at www.simmsfishing.com. A good pair of flats wading boots and a fanny pack with water bottle complete the basics.
During our trip to Andros South we had a terrific week of bonefishing, and some perfect weather conditions. While we did have a cloudy and windy day and one morning of thunderstorms, there were plenty of bonefish to please the most discriminating angler.
The success or failure of any fishing adventure is ultimately in your hands. Be prepared, do your homework up front, ask good questions of knowledgeable sources and be flexible. The time and effort you expend in planning the trip will pay dividends of tight lines and lasting memories.