A Roatan Thanksgiving

We were delighted to have the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with a great group of guests this year. Country Pleasures, an active fly-fishing shop in Alberta, Canada, sent a group of nine for the week, and we enjoyed their company immensely.

While the guys hit the flats, Carol Byler, the lone eco adventurer, took advantage of our snorkeling and kayaking sites to explore Port Royal and the Pigeon Cays by water. Carol was a great sport and was introduced to multitudes of new species on her several underwater excursions. Read more about the guys’ adventures on the Mango Creek Lodge fishing blog.

On Thanksgiving, we celebrated our many blessings with a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The lodge managers took the reins in the kitchen to create an American-style feast of Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and rolls. The Mango Creek Lodge cooks contributed with wonderful pumpkin and key lime pies for dessert. It was a great meal and a great way to finish this special day.

Photo of Country Pleasures guests and Mango Creek Lodge staff membersCountry Pleasures guests (back, from left) David Byler, Les Guzowski, Larry Briggs, Vincent Ircandia, Don Seaman, Darren Soice, and Mango Creek Lodge Manager Kevin Claughton; (front) Bob Shaunessy, Scott Lenover, and Mango Creek Lodge owners Patrice Heller and Terry Kyle
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Fishing Report: November 2008

Over the week of Thanksgiving, Mango Creek Lodge welcomed the arrival of a large group from Alberta, Canada. These guys were excited for some action and ready to hit the flats.

The weather, however, had other plans. Although the typical rains of this time of year were held at bay, low water temperatures kept the fish slightly lethargic. Undeterred, this great group of experienced fly fishers forged on. Over the course of the week, they brought in a number of bonefish, tarpon, blue runners, needlefish, grouper, and snook. The lone permit that was hooked up broke off, to everyone’s disappointment.

Toward the end of the week, the temperatures began creeping back to normal levels, and the water warmed. As the rest of the group departed for home, Bob Shaunessy, who stayed an additional 2 days, found the conditions on the flats much improved and took advantage of this positive change to significantly improve his tally for the week.

On a final note, Mango Creek extends special congratulations to Vincent Ircandia, who achieved his first saltwater catch on his second day of fishing by hooking up a tarpon. Congratulations, Vincent!

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High Tides and Early Rains

If there’s only one thing you’ll remember about Mango Creek Lodge in September, it will be the tides. September always brings unusually high tides to Roatan, but this year might have been a record-breaker. The water continually lapped just below the tops of our docks, and the swift tides washed all sorts of debris in from the ocean.

Photo of Manuel standing in the sea and raking muck up on the beachManuel rakes seaweed from
the Mango Creek Lodge beach

Every few days, the grounds staff had to report to our beach for clean-up duty. They found basketballs, bottles, all varieties of plastic tidbits, tons of seaweed, and—of course—numerous shoes and sandals. It was hard (and sometimes stinky) work, so the fishing guides were happy to get a break from the hauling to take Chuck and Rod Hornor fishing. Read more about their time on the flats in our September fishing report.

Once the raking was complete and the tides finally started to recede, we turned to the decks. Mango Creek Lodge has an extensive system of docks, decks, and stairways, and it all must be treated with sealer yearly to prevent rot. This is another big job, as it is all done by hand and paintbrush. By the end of the month, it was almost all done when the rains started.

October is usually the beginning of rainy season on Roatan. However, it appears it is sneaking up early on us this year. Toward the end of the month, we had a few small showers that built in duration. It’s just a sneak peek of what’s ahead.

In September, we also made progress on some new plans for the lodge. First, we welcomed the return of Dalia, who spent the month on the mainland taking massage classes.

Photo of DaliaDalia, a Mango Creek Lodge
cook and massage therapist

Dalia worked hard to receive her certification and is looking forward to the busy season when she can put her new skills to work and treat our guests’ tired muscles.

Other upcoming developments include the construction of new lodging options. Our treehouse rooms will be built on 16-foot platforms that overlook the grounds and the sea. Their connecting walkways will make them a great option for families and groups. Groups will also look forward to the completion of our double cabana. These rooms will be similar to our existing over-the-water cabanas, but they will share a platform and space. Stay tuned for more information!

Photo of the platform for a treehousePhoto of the deck for a new over-the-water cabanaThe beginning stages of Mango Creek Lodge’s
new accommodation options
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Fishing Report: August-September 2008

August and September were typically lazy summer months here on Roatan. As the temperatures warmed up, the breezes died down. August started with typical winds in the 13-15 mile-per-hour range, but by early September, they had diminished to less than 8 miles per hour most days. These conditions were great for casting and spotting fish! However, September also brought the challenge of high tides, which is the norm for this month on Roatan.

Chuck and Rod Hornor came to Mango Creek Lodge for a week but ended up staying two because of Hurricane Ike’s march through Houston. With their flights cancelled, the brothers decided to tough it out another week on the Roatan flats. And it was a good thing they did. Both brothers enjoyed consistent catches of bonefish their first week—-even with Rod taking two afternoons off to see the fish from the other side while scuba diving. They also took advantage of the flat seas to take a day trip to test Guanaja’s waters. They reliably reported several bonefish each day. They also saw good numbers of permit. In fact, both said they had their best chances ever that week, but neither could get one to take. The second week, the fishing cooled off some as the temperatures rose. However, Chuck finally hit gold and got his elusive permit.

Chuck was just here in March and is already planning another trip for the spring.

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Winding Down

With the coming of August, things slowed down at Mango Creek. Of course, no one told the fish that. Early in the month, we found two large permit tailing in the water right in front of the restaurant! They must have been checking in to see what happened to all the fishermen.

Photo of two permit swimming in the waterPermit visiting our front-porch waters

With time to focus on the Mango Creek Lodge grounds, our staff got to work. Their first task was to raise the primary pathway to the main lodge. This stretch of walk had washed out a bit from past rains and was taking on water and sand during showers. To fix it, the guys hauled in sand and raised the area under the stepping stones. Then they replaced the stones and dug a drainage canal to better channel future water flow.

Photo of three Mango Creek Lodge employees replacing stepping stones on a pathwayThe grounds staff puts the finishing
touches on our improved pathway

Their next task was to build a landscaping wall on the hill above the stairway to the lodge. Manuel, our resident concrete expert, oversaw the construction and cement work. When they were finished, we had a beautiful new planting area to display red ginger plants and control water flow down the hillside.

Manuel also oversaw the construction of a new concrete wall in front of our generator shed. We only run the generator about three hours a day to supplement our renewable power, but when it runs, it can be loud! This wall has helped cut down on the noise by reflecting the sound back toward the shed rather than across the grounds.

And in the midst of all the new construction, the staff still managed to make progress on the ongoing task of revarnishing the lodge. Each year, every piece of wood at the lodge is taken down, sanded, revarnished, and replaced to keep our buildings strong and beautiful. It’s a monumental chore, and it takes months to accomplish!

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Fishing Report: July 2008

July marked the end of the busy season here on Roatan, and Mango Creek Lodge saw it out with a great group of anglers.

We finished the month with a full house and a camera crew! Cindy Garrison from ESPN and her team visited for a week as they filmed footage for a number of potential new projects. Cindy spent time with our managers discussing Mango Creek’s environmental and conservation initiatives before hitting the water to scout the flats. She met with success and caught a few bonefish—and her camera crew, of course, caught it all on film. Look for updates about Mango Creek and Cindy’s new projects coming soon.

Photo of Mike Krentzman and Cindy GarrisonMike Krentzman and Cindy Garrison

While Cindy was busy filming, Gord and Cathy Joyce were enjoying their third trip to Mango Creek. This great couple has become like family to the lodge and even brought along photos from their past trips to share with our guides and staff. Gord and Cathy caught a number of fish on their days on the flats and also snuck in some spinning.

Also during this time, William and Will Joyce, a father a son, were doing their own exploring. While William fished, Will photographed the amazing sea life around the reef and got some terrific footage of his own. William did OK himself and caught several bonefish, a permit, and a couple of toothy needlefish.

Photo of William holding a bonefishWilliam Talley and a bonefish

Next up were Bill and Sue Martin, who joined us the following week. Bill split his stay between time exploring with Sue and time on the water, where he really lit it up. He warmed up Day 1 with one good-sized bonefish and then followed that up on Day 2 by getting seven of them! On Day 3, Bill caught three bonefish on his morning trip and then met up with Sue for a picnic and snorkel on the secluded Pigeon Keys. Afterward, he was back on the flats with a pink crab pattern, which helped him bring in two permit! He was all smiles the rest of the week and said it was his best fishing day ever.

Photo of Bill holding a permitBill Martin and one of his two permit
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Fishing Report: February 2008

Well, what can we say? The fishing has been great, and our season is proving to be as good as last year, with a number of guests returning to the challenge of our flats.

It may be an anomaly, but it appears that our bonefish are slightly bigger than last year. See this photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Perry with a nice bonefish caught by guest Chuck Hornor.

Photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Perry holding a bonefish
At the same time Chuck was visiting, Joe Pozzi and Wally Filkins from Chicago joined us for some spin fishing. Tie-Tie, their enthusiastic guide, put them on a number of species. These included two permit, one grouper (30 lbs), snook, snapper, bonefish, and even small sharks. Their stay also included a trip to Guanaja, where they managed to land 12 to 15 bonefish.

Weather at this time of year includes trade winds that at times make it more difficult for the fly fisherman. However it is unusual for the wind to persist for more than a few days. For the experienced fisherman, this is not an issue.

This is a picture of Chuck. He really doesn’t like getting sunburned. He reported that bonefish were present in great numbers, that they were not “spooky,” and that he caught more than 30 during his stay!

Photo of Chuck holding a bonefishHe’s coming back …

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Fishing Report: July 15-Aug. 15, 2007

This week has been a special one at Mango Creek Lodge. Be it the right winds, right tides, or simply hungry fish, the fishing has been exceptional for permit on the fly.

We first turn to Steve Calaway, who finished up his month in Honduras by coming back to Mango Creek to spend the week chasing permit. Day after day, he was spotting and casting to giant schools but simply could not get one to take. Yet Steve was not to be dissuaded. He was constantly adjusting his tactics and retooling his trout-fishing instincts to fit the requirements of a saltwater assassin. And with the right combination of skill and a bit of luck, Steve made his time down here truly count. Here’s Steve’s recounting in his own words:

We stalked a couple of schools of big permit and got a few chases but no bites. Almost dark, time to go in, but we checked out one more spot on the boat ride home, one last chance as the sun threatened to disappear, leaving us to navigate the reef and mangrove system in the dark.

“Perfect cast,” whispered Tie-Tie on my last cast of the sunset. I threw 70 feet of line, dropping the white crab pattern 7 feet in front of a pair. The giant tails moved towards the crab, then it happened, she ate. Tug, Tug, wham, my line screamed out to the sea and I was hooked up–it wasn’t a dream. 20 years of fishing trout doesn’t compare to this beast of the sea. Tie-Tie and I followed her, by boat, as she led us out to sea. Day turned to dusk and the fish pulled on, sometimes giving, mostly taking. Eternal moments in time. She started giving more, and I took until we were one, together under a tropical sky. Laughing, high-fives, hug, yell, “Oh my God,” thank you, . . . thank you.

Photo of Steve smiling and holding his permit
Steve caught this magnificent fish on a size 16 White Turneffe Crab pattern after literally casting everything else he had in his box at permit that week. He also caught the fish after Tie-Tie recommended making the leader a bit longer and using 12-lb tippet instead of 15-lb.

After getting back to the lodge, Steve was so excited he could barely sit still. He just kept repeating, “In 20 years of fishing, man, that was the best fish I’ve ever caught.”

Not to be outdone, our guide, Perry, set off the following morning with Carlo Gobetti. Carlo was over from Italy and spent a few days of his trip to Roatan dayfishing with us. In similar fashion, Carlo made the right cast at the right time, and luck graced yet another fisherman with a nice permit–the second one to be landed in 24 hours.

Congratulations to both fisherman on two great fish.

One final note: Thankfully, we were hardly touched by vicious Hurricane Dean, which passed about 100 miles north of us early in the morning on Aug. 21. Despite the 160-mph sustained winds and torrential rain near the center of the Category 5 storm, we were hardly shaken down here on Roatan. In fact, we saw little more than gusty winds and above-average tides. Looks like our lucky streak continues!

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Fishing Report: May 15-July 15, 2007

It’s 83 degrees at 6 in the morning as you step out onto the porch of your cabana to watch a Caribbean sun peak up over the horizon. A cloudless sky and light breeze give you that giddy feeling–the one you get when you realize that the conditions are going to be perfect for a day out on the water. You look toward the restaurant to see your guide, already putting fuel in the boat and gearing up your rods. With no other guests staying at the lodge, it will be just you and him stalking fish up and down the island for hours. What better way to spend a summer day?

For those guests who’ve visited us during the past couple of months, this has been a very common scenario. And with the great weather and the small crowds, anglers have been taking advantage as best they can.

The beginning of July brought us a group of eight fishermen, most of them members of a fly fishing club from Prescott, Arizona. The group had a great time, both on and off the water, and caught a number of sizeable bonefish while often sighting permit as well. But without a doubt, the fish of the trip was the impressive 40-lb. tarpon that Mary Kryzsik caught with her guide, Tie-Tie. The fish and she did battle, with some spectacular jumps from both the fish and Mary. In the end, the fish was safely landed, photographed, and released. Mary, arriving back at the lodge, was clearly excited about her first tarpon and didn’t stop smiling for the rest of the week.

Photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Tie-Tie, Mary, and a large tarpon
Another great group was a family of four from Savannah, Georgia. From day one, the three boys–Matt, Trey and their father, Gage–were catching bonefish on a regular basis. The three fisherman took turns switching off between boats and guides and always had fish and a good time.

These guys also tried a couple of new techniques being tried out by our guides. Rumors of a secret tidal pond that was home to a number of huge, solitary bonefish were enough to entice younger brother Matt into loading up a couple of kayaks into the skiff for an afternoon. Once in the kayak, he ventured off with his guide, Kessel, in search of this fabled “lago de plata.” Unfortunately, they came back empty-handed that afternoon, but the legend persists, and our guides are still eager to tap into this new-found fountain of fish.

On another afternoon, older brother Trey caught a beautiful, healthy bonefish while fishing with Kessel. However, when it came time to take the picture, Trey had to hand the fish over to Kessel to give some perspective as to just how large it was. At well over 6’4”, Trey’s enormous frame and hands made even a fish that size look small. So, as the picture shows, Kessel (being an average-size man) was able to do the big fish some justice.

Photo of Kessel, holding a bonefish, and Trey
July also brought something very special to Mango Creek Lodge. A group of eight students accompanied by a couple of professors from Colorado College came to visit for a 10-day class dealing with writing and its connection with the ocean. One of the professors, Steve Brown, spends a good part of the year as a fly fishing guide in Telluride, Colorado. And, seeing as how he was already down here … . Well, as you can imagine, Steve made it a point to sneak out onto the water a couple of times to have a shot at some tailing bones.

Early one morning, Steve managed to hook a nice fish while fishing the flat that sits right in front of the small village of Oak Ridge. Yet after the initial excitement of the take and first big run wore off, both Steve and his guide, Kessel, realized that there was a speed boat bearing down on them and about to run right over the line between them and the fish. Kessel, running toward the oncoming boat, started waving his hands wildly and begging the boat to stop before it mangled the line and, worse, lost the fish. At the last second, the driver let off the throttle, saving the line, the fish, and probably Steve’s good mood as well. But this fish was far from landed. As soon as it left the deeper channel, it headed straight for the shallows of the reef, darting through the exposed coral heads that threatened to finish the job that the boat didn’t do. Steve, in no mood to lose the fish after all this, took off after it. With his rod held high over his head, he deftly raced through ankle deep water, and around several sharp coral heads, in a desperate attempt to keep the fish on.

After such an epic battle, Steve was finally able to land and photograph this brave bonefish. That night, he was congratulated by both his students and our staff on his catch after retelling the entire story just before dinner. Ironically, the entire class was in the midst of reading Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. What better way to illustrate the ancient struggle between man and fish that this classic book discusses than actually participating in it yourself? Well done, Mr. Callahan.

Photo of Steve holding a bonefish
Finally, as part of the students’ ocean experience, Steve’s wife, Amy, took the four female students out early one morning for a brief casting class and a look at the flats. Amy is also an avid fly fisherman and gives casting classes to clients in Telluride. While the girls were casting, Steve snuck off to the far side of the flat to get some shots at some early tailing schools of bonefish. By the time Steve headed back toward the boat, Amy had all four girls spaced out along the edge of the flat, already casting to moving fish. It was a striking sight: five lovely young women casting in near-unison as the rising sun allowed a view of nothing but their silhouettes over the glaring water. That, friends, might be the greatest way to spend a summer day.

Photo of Amy casting on the flats

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Fishing Report: April 15-May 15, 2007

May fishing at Mango Creek Lodge has meant one thing: big bonefish. In the past month, with less pressure on our flats and more trips to the island of Guanaja, fisherman have been landing some impressive bones. As with anywhere, fly selection and presentation are paramount at Mango Creek. But recent success has shown that the senses of these larger fish are even more acute than the typical bonefish and require slightly different tactics.

First, a lighter-weight rod and line allow for a softer presentation of the fly. In instances in which a bonefisherman might normally opt for an 8-wt. set-up, gearing down even to a 7-wt. might make a difference (as long as the distance and accuracy of your casts don’t suffer too much). Also, unweighted flies in the size 10-12 range make casting to a school of tailing bonefish even less conspicuous. So, with many days of calm water and spooky fish ahead of us this summer, thinking small might be one key to catching big fish. As one past guest put it, “It’s saltwater spring creek fishing.”

Here’s a run-down of our recent guests:

Guests Andy Klein and Bob Pearson both hooked up to a number of nice-sized bones during their week stay at the lodge in early May. Andy had been to Roatan before on a diving vacation but had come this time to check out the flats with his old college roommate, Bob. The two of them had nice weather and plenty of shots at bones and permit. In the end, after 6 days of fishing and plenty of sightings, the permit wouldn’t cooperate. However, their guide, Kessel, worked hard to get them onto some great bonefish.

Photo of Andy and his guide, Kessel, who is holding a bonefish
These guys caught most of their fish on a small, brown bonefish bitter pattern–a Mango Creek staple. Our guides use this pattern often, both in brown and olive colors. They also found that a sturdy weed-guard was vital to keep the fly from catching the bottom of the shallower flats. As a quick solution, a short piece of monofilament can be tied and then glued to the head of the fly. This is possible with a variety of typical saltwater flies, making them more practical in shallow flats.

The week before, our guests included John and Margi Pearson, along with Margi’s parents, Tom and Becky. After spending a few days on the flats near the lodge, they decided it would be worthwhile to make the trip over to Guanaja for a night. Leaving early Wednesday morning with our guides Tie-Tie and Kessel, the foursome spent 2 days wandering the sandy flats surrounding Guanaja and catching some huge bonefish. All four anglers had a wonderful time and said that the adventure to Guanaja really enriched their experience here. Undoubtedly, the chance to cast to bonefish this size in rarely fished water is a treat. But to be able to do it in such a gorgeous environment with the tall island of Guanaja in the background is what truly makes it special.

Photo of Becky and her guide, Kessel, fly fishing with an inset photo of one of Becky's bonefish
Photo of Tom, who is holding a bonefish, and his guide, Kessel
As far as other new fishing developments go at Mango Creek Lodge, everyone is excited about the unique possibilities offered by our Hobie kayaks. A few of our guides and management staff have had the chance to take these sleek crafts out for some exploratory runs. And after spending hours navigating the mangrove mazes on the far eastern end of the island, all agree that there is an enormous potential for some great fishing. Paddling the shallow mangrove ponds, well-hidden in the interior of the island, we spotted five or six large bonefish and a number of nice-sized snook. Our guides said that much of this water is unreachable in a skiff because the mangrove channels are too narrow and unwadeable because the bottom is far too soft. But in a kayak, we were able to get into these secluded areas quickly and quietly.

What has really been impressive is the stability and maneuverability of these kayaks. While moving along the slim canals, our guides were standing up in their boats and poling them along as they spotted fish. We’ve also found that the kayaks are more than stable enough to make a good, long cast with a fly rod without worrying about tipping over.

Photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Kessel and a guest kayaking in a mangrove canalFinally, our expeditions in the kayaks also led us to discovering another great fishing opportunity. On the island of Morat, which sits just beyond the eastern most tip of Roatan, there is a large tidal pond that is rumored to be a good snook fishery. In the past, it has been tough to make any decent cast to these fish. Just like the mangroves, there was no way to get a skiff into the pond, and the bottom was not nearly hard enough to wade. Yet again, we hoped that the kayaks would prove to be invaluable in reaching this area. But to our surprise, despite what many of the locals had told us, the pond was nearly dried up when we arrived. To make matters worse, the bodies of dead snook lie along the cracked edges of the water. Our Mango Creek guides told us that the pond had never been so low and were concerned that the remainder of the dry season would leave the pond completely emptied. Not wanting to lose such a promising spot, a crew was immediately sent up from the lodge to clear out the blocked connection with the ocean. Within 2 hours, the pond that had been almost completely empty was again filling with water. Hopefully, our efforts will be able to save the fish population of the Morat pond and provide us with another interesting place to explore.

Photo of a canal and flowing water

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Fishing Report: March 15-April 15, 2007

As far as the fishing goes at Mango Creek Lodge, it seems that March showers have brought April flowers. The weather has taken a welcome turn for the better, and more and more schools of permit are being spotted, cast to, and caught by our fishermen. In addition, the challenging, good-sized bonefish on the flats are consistently rewarding to catch. Unlike other areas of the Caribbean, a bonefish at Mango Creek Lodge is not a given; these fish are bigger, spookier, and more discerning. But many of those who have been patient and diligent have been rewarded by hooking bonefish in the 7-lbs.+ range. Here’s a recap of the latest action.

The end of March saw the arrival of four guests from Sweden eager to chase down fish on our exotic island. And although the Scandinavians were dealing with the tail end of our ugly March weather, fisherman Jonas Andersson and his guide, Kessel, landed an enormous permit. It was estimated to be between 25 and 27 lbs., and it had been found cruising along a deep water edge. Interestingly enough, this monster was hooked not on a typical crab pattern, but instead on a 10-wt. rod rigged with a shock leader and a tarpon fly! Still, even with a heavy outfit like that, the fish took more than 25 minutes to land and put up a staggering and exhausting fight.

Photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Kessel, holding a permit, and guest Jonas
Also in March, we were visited by a lone Englishman, Alexander Kennedy, who stayed just long enough to get a taste of what Mango Creek has to offer. In a couple of days of clear skies and light winds, Alexander caught a number of good-sized bonefish with the aid of his guide, Miguel.

Photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Miguel holding a bonefish
Regularly, bonefish have been spotted in great numbers. In fact, fisherman have been returning to the lodge in disbelief of the enormity of the schools of fish they were able to stalk and cast to. Yet many of these anglers have also been dumbfounded by their pickiness. Generally, small (size 10-8 hooks with some as tiny as a size 12) patterns that match the bottom are allowing for a quiet presentation and a better chance of a hook up. Also, it must be stressed that because most of our local flats are turtle grass and coral, a sturdy weed guard can be the key to ensuring you don’t spend the day snagging the bottom.

On Easter Sunday, a couple from Colorado managed to sneak away from their last week of skiing to get some time in on the water. Be it for the long winter or the pina coladas, both said it took a couple of days to “get the kinks out.” But once they did, guests Sammy and Weatherly made the most of their tropical holiday with their guide, Kessel. Several bones were caught, both in the deeper areas along the north end of Barbaret Island and on the flats around Helene. Most importantly, Sammy struck gold halfway through their trip when he managed to land his first permit. With the trophy fish behind him, he and Weatherly were able to kick back and enjoy the gorgeous scenery as they fished out the rest of the week, finding time for a little snorkeling as well as a siesta here and there.

Photo of Sammy kissing a permit while Mango Creek Lodge guide Kessel cheers in the backgroundWithout a doubt, the fishing only continues to improve as the peak of the busy season is already behind us. With a little more spare time on our hands, everyone is anxious to explore new areas beyond our well-known haunts to expand the lodge’s repertoire of flats. Also, pioneering excursions by kayak are taking place as we speak into the mangrove canals that run like veins through the eastern quarter of the island.

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Fishing Report: March 1-15, 2007

Still in the early part of the busy season, the fishing at Mango Creek has been steady but somewhat daunted by windy conditions and some rainy days.

Taking advantage of some sun at the beginning of the month, a foursome of spin fisherman from New Jersey caught a large assortment of species in the 5 days they had on the water.

In fact, guests Peter Tabia and John Sbarbaro landed (and photographed) nine types of fish in 2 days on spinning gear: barracuda, snook, sun shark, grouper, box fish, yellowtail, red snapper, bonefish, box fish, and a trunk fish. Near the end of the trip, each landed at least one permit, one of which was caught in front of the lodge near the end of the day.

Photo of Peter, holding a permit, and Mango Creek Lodge guide Tie-TieDuring the same week, the two other gentlemen from Jersey spent their days hooking some spectacular needlefish and barracuda. Guest Gene Wowk also landed a nice-sized permit with his spinning gear while wading the flats east of the lodge. Congratulations to all four guys on a successful trip.

The following week, the action returned to “the fly.” Guests Peter Litwin and John Potter spent a few days on the flats near the lodge catching several bonefish with their guide, Perry. On the morning of March 15, they landed permits within an hour of one another. Finally, as an added bonus, Peter caught a large snook on his last day of fishing to finish off a great week.

The boys also chose to head over to Guanaja, an island that lies about 20 miles to the east of Roatan and is rumored to have a plethora of flats that see very little pressure.

Despite the rough crossing, both fisherman caught bonefish, but not in the mythical amounts they were hoping for. Trips to Guanaja cost extra (because of the distance traveled and the necessity of using two boats to go) and are extremely dependent on the weather. And though the fishing there has not yet lived up to its reputation, Mango Creek Lodge guides are anxious to explore and better learn this new collection of flats.

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Batteries and Fishin’

Tuesday, Feb. 6 proved to be a momentous day with the arrival of our new batteries for the lodge. Now you say, “What’s the big deal about the batteries?” Well, there were 24 of them, which Terry and Patrice had purchased to replace our aged original “house batteries.” It had been a test of patience to finally get customs to release them to us on the mainland. Dealing with officials in developing countries can be a a real test. They had been in “battery jail” for weeks as we negotiated the final payment of duty for bringing them into the country. Perry Terry, our mayor for the East end of Roatan, finally got them released and shipped over to Port Royal and the lodge.

Each battery can produce 2.2 volts DC and weighs about 600 lbs. Very heavy! With all 24 linked together, we would be able to easily power all of Mango Creek Lodge. The batteries would run through inverters, which would convert the 24 DC volts to 120 volts AC.

They arrived that bright morning in fine fashion. A huge, bright-red shrimp boat, Sea Angel, that had been converted to a freighter, arrived around 9 a.m. just outside the reef. Slowly, she weaved her way around the Cow and Calf islands. Miguel went out in one of our fishing skiffs to guide her in the rest of the way.

There was some doubt for a while if she would make it. The ship was very heavy and dragged on the bottom the last few hundred feet to our dock. The boat dwarfed our boat house. Finally, it tied up some 6 feet off the dock. That was as close as it could get being securely planted in the mud on the bottom.

A gang plank was fashioned out of about six 2×6 planks, and soon the first battery was pushed off the boat across the planks and onto our dock. We all cringed in fear as we saw that it would be easy for the battery to plunge into the water between the dock and the boat.

By this time, most of our 20 employees had managed to congregate on our dock to help or simply to watch the event. This, combined with the 10 or so sailors on the ship and Perry Terry’s six men, made for quite a gang.

The first battery finally made it across the planks, and soon there were four more right behind them. Yikes! The dock was starting to sink! “Stop,” I yelled, with what I hoped sounded like authority. They stopped. Whew!

I explained the problem and said no more batteries on the dock until the ones on the dock were moved off. With a great deal of effort and eight men, we managed to get one up on the “battery mobile” and finally moved off the dock. But it was a slow process and also a dangerous one. The battery wobbled as it was moved, threatening to fall off the wagon.

Randy came to the rescue with our dolly. I thought he was nuts. It was too small to move these batteries. He gamely put one on the dolly and quickly and safely moved it off the dock. Problem solved. All the remaining batteries were moved as quickly as they were moved off the ship.

At the end of the day, the ship was gone, and the crowds cleared. Twenty-four batteries sat silently waiting for the rest of their journey to the top of the hill to their new home at the solar panel building.

The batteries rested for a few days in the shade of the palm trees surrounding our restaurant, and the “battery mobile” was altered twice before we were satisfied that it would be able to move the batteries up the hill.

Just after the arrival of the batteries, Jean Mueller and her mother, Dorothy, arrived for a holiday. By coincidence, we purchased the batteries through Jean’s company, and they managed to arrive at Mango Creek just as we prepared to move the batteries up the hill.

John & Joan Fostroot also arrived for their vacation at the same time. We were all having a great time. Jean insisted on helping with the dishes each evening after dinner. Our guests spent lazy days snorkeling and exploring our surrounding bays, mangroves, and islands.

Mark Hatter and Cliff Parsons also arrived and added to the festive environment. Mark must have had about $20,000 worth of camera equipment and took some of the best photos we’ve seen of the lodge. He was writing an article on the lodge for Eastern Saltwater Fly Fishing magazine.

Each night, we feasted on lobster, shrimp, and fresh wahoo fish, all delivered fresh to our door by our local fishermen.

Meanwhile, all was not well on the property. High Rocks, our sports fisherman, was not charging her batteries, and we had to troubleshoot the system to find out what was happening. Our luck was holding. Two catamarans anchored in our harbour came to the rescue. Tom, off Paradox, and John, off Deja Vu, arrived with their electric meters and soon arrived at a conclusion. The battery combiner was shot, and the alternator on the starboard engine was “toast.” The solution: Get the alternator fixed and bypass the combiner.

Our main generator had been making an ugly noise. Upon closer inspection, I found the bearing we had put in the previous month was loose in the alternator casing and about ready to fly apart. Our backup generator was also not operational. It needed a new injector, and that would be a problem because the Kubota diesel that powered it was no longer made.

The next day, we were off to the “rodeo” for another adventure down island. Not only were we going to replenish our food supplies, but we were also going to try to solve our mechanical problems. On this island, we consider a 33% success rate to be normal. That means for every three things you try to get done, usually only one works out. We brought Tie-Tie with us to translate (Spanish/Creole) for us.

Halfway down island is a small town, Barrio Los Fuertes, that is predominately Spanish-speaking. The inhabitants are descendants of the original shrimp fleet that is still centered on the island. We stopped in the middle of town. Off to the side was a cluster of cars having various repairs done. Outside the cars were a number of tin-roofed shacks. Each shack was busy fixing some part of one of the cars in the parking lot.

Tie Tie presented all three of our problems to the mechanics. The first guy took the alternator from High Rocks saying he could repair it. But before he could fix it, we would have to buy him some two-part glue across the street. We did that and returned it to the mechanic. The second mechanic took off in a car looking for a used alternator to replace the one for our main generator. The third guy also took off to find another injector for us.

We soon left the parking lot to continue our shopping for food and hardware for the lodge. Upon our return, all three problems had been solved. It was $30 to rebuild the one alternator, $30 for another used injector, and $80 for the used alternator. Yippee! A 100% day at the rodeo.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, more guests were starting to arrive. Jeff Wiese and Perry Herst Jr. were set up in cabanas 1 and 2. We bid a fond farewell to Jean and Dorothy, and their cabanas were now occupied by our first contingency of Frenchmen from Paris.

Neil Harrison booked in for a 12-day visit and soon became part of our staff. He refused to move off our Breakfast Flat just outside the lodge. He and Miguel fished it each day, determined to outsmart the plentiful bonefish.

Neil then took out our new Hobie Kayak, which can be peddled. Because it moves through the water by peddling, his hands were free to fish. He successfully caught a needle fish, a barracuda, and various jacks and snappers.

He also proved fearless by dropping his fly on an alligator. He thought it was a tarpon but Randy quickly let him know that he may not really want to land that one.

Feb. 12 saw the final movement of the batteries up the hill to the solar panels. It took 2 days and every man on the property. The most of the first day, the guys insisted on using brute strength to move the batteries up the hill. Halfway through the day, they finally saw the light. The use of pulleys and a long rope would make the job a lot easier. Tie-Tie and Kessel took charge of moving the snatch blocks and the rope as the battery mobile zig-zagged through the trees.

John Logan arrived here on Feb. 18. Terry and Patrice had hired him in Durango to give Julie and I some relief. John, 23 years old, had just graduated college and wanted an adventure. What better place than Honduras? Within a day, he was moved into the boathouse, and training started.

He quickly learned Panga driving, skiff driving, going to the rodeo, generator starting, and tending bar at night. Yippee! And not only that, he is learning how to do some of this Web development stuff. Our latest fishing report was written by John. He is an avid trout fisherman and is looking forward to learning saltwater fly fishing. That’s is, if he has enough time to go play.

Throughout the month, Manuelito continued with his concrete/clay tile walkways. When he finished them, he painted our generator house. Next, he pushed on to paint our main lodge.

That’s about it for this month. Here is a photo of Randy shows his skills with a machete by deftly husking the perfect coconut for a coconut cream pie.

Ed Kettyle

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Fishing Report: February 2007

Photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Perry holding a tarponWindy conditions in the last few days have made things more challenging for some of our fisherman out on the flats as the fish have been hard to spot and access to some areas has been limited. Despite these blustery conditions, there has still been much success. In fact, in the last couple of weeks, guest Perry Herst Jr. and his guide, Perry, were able to catch a pair of good-sized tarpon in the wind shelter of the mangrove canals, and earlier in the month, guest Phil Clough landed a great-looking tarpon in a steady rain.

Fly selection has been the real key recently. A more discerning population of bonefish has required fly patterns that differ from the standard fare. According to the guides, the smaller-sized olive or dark brown bonefish bitters (with weed guard) have been producing good results in the shallow flats around the lodge. And, after experimenting with a number of patterns, Herlé Hamon was able to land a nice-sized Permit on a Merkin crab imitation with his guide, Tie-Tie.

For many of the fisherman, their stay at Mango Creek gave them shots at other species of fish as well. Both Perry Herst Jr. and Jeff Wiese brought in 3-foot-plus barracudas that not only gave the fisherman a good fight but also provided dinner for the families of the guides as well.

Photo of Neil holding a barracuda while in a kayak in front of Mango Creek LodgeFinally, cheers to Swiss guest Neil Harrison, who took advantage of our Hobie kayak and set off to do some fishing on his own. Neil loved the sleekness and stealth of the kayaks, and the pedal system allowed him to keep his hands free to troll and cast while still driving the kayak. Plus, he said paddling around all day was “a blast” in and of itself. Hopefully, the arrival of five more kayaks within the next week or two should allow more anglers the chance to venture off on their own and enjoy not only the fishing but also the scenery of the island.

With the spring months just around the corner, the wind should begin to settle, and we’re looking forward to calm, sunny days full of action on the water.

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Start of Busy Season

The morning of Jan. 7 started with a bit of a scare! Chena arrived for work a little flustered. Now, to come to work, she has to leave her home in Calabash Bight and head out through the reefs in her small skiff into the open ocean. She then travels a mile or so in the open ocean until she goes through the reef into the protection of Port Royal. Sometimes, the waves in the open ocean can be very large. Many times, she does this trip alone in the dark with high wind and waves. This is normal for the Roatanians here; their small boats are their cars.

Well, she told me that while she was out in the big waves, her 15-HP Yamaha motor had broken down because of bad wires. She started working on the motor and was drifting back toward the reef when she spotted Kessel coming her way. Kessel, one of our guides, was going to rescue her. She was sure of that. But when she looked back, he was gone! Undaunted, she managed to get her motor going and finally pass through the reef and arrive at Mango Creek for work. But she was worried now about Kessel. “He must be broken down, too,” she said.

Well, it was time for rescue boys. Terry Kyle and I hopped in the Panga, our big boat with the 60 HP on it, and headed out into the ocean. We tracked back toward Calabash, and sure enough, we spotted a small boat battling toward us. It was Kessel with his 16-year-old son, Jake, and they were crashing into the waves head-on and launching into the air off each crest. As they passed us, Terry and I slipped down into the hollow of a wave. Kessel and Jake’s boat launched off the the crest of the next wave, and we were actually looking up at the bottom of their skiff! The only part of the boat in the water was the prop! Kessel had that question-mark look on his face that said, “What are you gringos doing out here?”

Everyone arrived in great shape, but as Kessel pointed out after all, he had his paddle and was never in any danger … . These people are tough, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

Projects, projects, projects! We were into them.

Miguel and Jake were put to work painting our boat house. We had decided that something had to be done to modify it to resemble the rest of the Cabanas and the restaurant. Julie selected color schemes, and Terry came up with an idea to add some thatch to the structure. Painting began Jan. 8.

A new satellite dish was bought to improve our ability to communicate. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to get someone to install it. Finally, we tracked down Michael Senn from the mainland, and, boom, the job was done.

Terry worked away at trying to get our wind generators up and running again. He got one fixed, but it was apparent that the other one had to come down for repairs. Tie-Tie and the rest of the fishing guides and Randy are seen here lowering the towers–a tricky operation at best.

Meanwhile, Julie and I had to have fillings fixed. Off we went to French Harbour for our appointments with Dr. Carla. She worked on me for almost 3 hours giving me a new composite filling in my huge cavity. Julie was in the chair for 1 1/2 hours, too. The bill was $45 for me and $35 for Julie. Not exactly back-home prices.

On the way back, we stopped at The Galaxy ferry to pick up the axles that Terry had made up for a wagon we were making. We also picked up a winch to help bring down our wind generator.

We were expecting a shipment of batteries to arrive from China. These batteries would replace the lodge’s aging house battery banks. The shipment would be made up of 24 batteries, each weighing 600 lbs. We needed to move each battery up the hill to our solar arrays–hence, the need for the wagon. Not a fun thing …

Once back at the lodge, of course, it was discovered that the axels for the wagon were the wrong length and would have to be machined further. This is Honduras. What were we thinking? Terry dropped the parts off the next day for fixing and returned the day after for pickup. He also dropped off plans for a plate to be made up to be used for our backup generator.

When we got there the next day, we were informed that the parts had been picked up and paid for (!) by another gringo in Port Royal. But who? We called everyone but to no avail. Two projects were now on hold until the parts turned up.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the thatching of Cabana 3 was in full swing. Leaf had been purchased for the roof and had been drying for about 2 weeks. Randy, Kessel, and Tie-Tie removed all the old thatch. Next, new leaf was carried up by ladder and placed carefully by Randy. Fishing nets were then placed over the full roof to protect the thatch from big winds.

The painting of the boat house continued with Miguel and Jake working away with multi-colored paint.

The front doors to the restaurant were taken away to be sanded and revarnished by Antonio and Rafael. They temporarily nailed up a large piece of cardboard to keep the weather out.

With the Arrival of High Rocks, the new sports fishing boat, came two new projects. The first was a new dock for the new boat. Perry Terry (our mayor and contractor) had a whole gang of his men busy putting in pilings and building our new dock.

In the meantime, Manuelito, a magician in concrete work, was hired to build a new pathway to the new dock. Sand and gravel were dug out of Mango Creek for the concrete walkways.

Rigo mixed the concrete in a wheelbarrow, and Don Julio broke up clay roofing tiles to make the inserts for the walkway. As the days passed, Mango Creek Lodge increased her gardens and pathways.

During the month, we were also visited by a number of customers. Phil Clough from Toronto spent a week chasing all our saltwater fish. After catching numerous bonefish, he became totally focused on catching tarpon and permit. He was very successful, and here is Perry with one of his tarpon. After this catch, he decided that landing them in the fishing skiff was not so cool. This fish almost destroyed his rods!

Miguel got his first day fisherman from Reef House. They went out spin fishing and caught a bonefish and a nice 60-lb tarpon. The fisherman, Dave from Philadelphia, was very happy and promised to return with his wife next time.

The last week of January, the fishing really heated up. All four of our cabanas were booked, with two men per cabana. Four were from West Virginia, and four were from Utah. All eight were fishing. All our fishing guides were busy and so were all the cooks. Each evening at dusk, the tired men would return looking forward to a cold beer and a home-cooked meal.

Our luck was good in the restaurant, too. Every day or so, a local fisherman would come by our lodge selling lobster, shrimp, wahoo, and snapper.

Unfortunately, Terry left us mid month just as things were heating up. He returned for the expected birth of a brand-new grandson.

Having everyone busy fishing was good for business but bad for the projects. The answer was to hire some summer students to help out with the work.

Jake, Kessel’s son, helped with yard work, and Rebecca, Ilee’s sister, helped with the laundry and cleaning.

Eventually, the missing parts that were given to the wrong people by the machine shop down island were returned to the machine shop. And then they eventually made their way to Mango Creek. We never knew who the strange gringo was. So our workshop got busy right away and made up a go-cart the looked like it was on steroids. Each wheel was a special wheelbarrow wheel on bearings. We all passed inspection and decided it probably could carry a 600-lb battery. After all, it passed the Rigo test, and he bounced as hard as he could on it.

Ed Kettyle

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Christmas at Mango Creek Lodge

Nov. 27 saw the arrival of Thomas Horton and his girlfriend Natalia. These guys had visited us previously day fishing but had so much fun they decided to come back for a few days and stay over in Cabana 1 (closest to the restaurant).

They wanted our guide Tie-Tie to get them “hooked up” with bonefish and permit. The method of attack was using light spinning rods with crab on the hook of the fly. Tie-Tie (whose real name is Terry) was pretty excited. Natalia was 25 years old and model material. This would put extra pressure on Tie-Tie. The other fishing guides were seriously jealous.

Special meals were prepared around Natalia’s diet requests, which consisted primarily of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, lemon, artichokes, egg whites, and grilled chicken. Now this was a challenge for our Honduran cooks. How can they cook for these crazy gringos? That problem was quickly solved by Natlia, who took over the galley and won over the cooks with her crazy sense of humor. All we could hear from the front of the restaurant was the laughter, so we knew they were having a good time.

Thomas was happy with his fishing. Each day he managed to land bonefish with the aid of Tie-Tie and our resident land crabs for bait.

One day Natalia decided she would rather hang out with the lodge managers and opted for an exciting trip down island to buy supplies for the restaurant. She was given her own shopping cart to run up and down the isles. She arrived at the cashier with a cart full of every kind of junk food imaginable. All it was a great hit when we arrived back at the lodge.

After a couple of days fishing, Thomas sent along the rest of his family for a visit to Mango Creek Lodge. A wild and crazy time was had as we got to know Thomas’ family and friends. More visits were sure to follow. We met his mom and stepdad, his uncle Tony, and Sue.

About this time, the jungle at Mango Creek decided to fight back. The heavy rains we had last month resulted in a spurt in the growth of all things green on the property. We were all waiting for Terry and Patrice (the owners of Mango Creek Lodge) to arrive in early December. We wanted the property perfect. So what happens? Both our remaining “weed whackers” died within a few days. In a panic, we drove all over the island trying to buy another one. Everyone else’s whackers had died, too, and there wasn’t a remaining one left on the island. I wrote a panicked e-mail to Terry to bring two down with him. I hinted he might want to bring down a hay baler with him.

We were doomed to fate worse than hell by the encroaching jungle. Our guides Kessel and Tie-Tie decided it may be a good idea to take some of the pressure off us. They pulled the carburetor off one of the whackers and managed to finally get it started. They also ran one of our large whacker lawnmowers over to Oak Ridge, where its front end was welded back on. Smiles were back, and grass flew everywhere. Within a few days, the property was looking good again. We hired Kessel’s son Jake, who was on school break, to help with the cleanup.

The first few weeks in December saw increased activity. Day fishing increased as local resorts began filling up with tourists for the season. Every few days, our guides would run off to BJ’s bar in Oak Ridge to pick up clients. The weather had turned much better, and the fishermen were reaping the benefits of ideal conditions.

We enjoy having the day fishermen because it gives us a chance to show off the property. Many of these fishermen return to Roatan, and the next time they come, they usually book to stay with us. Many return with their family because they realize that their spouses can be out snorkeling, sailing, hiking, or kayaking while they fish.

Terry Kyle finally arrived in Roatan! Patrice had stayed behind because her daughter was getting ready to make her a grandmother. They had managed to purchase a 32′ Albemarle Sport Fishing boat in Florida and had made arrangements to ship it down by to Roatan. Terry had made the trip on a roach-infested ship to accompany the boat. It took a day of paperwork to finally get the boat released from customs, and it finally sat on its mooring in front of Mango Creek Lodge by Dec. 7. It was full of goodies, including two new weed whackers (one of which died within a week of use on the jungle).

Terry got right back in the swing of things helping out solving problems and starting new projects. In this photo, he is bleeding in the main generator on the property just before we headed off to the Port Royal Day Party.

Dec. 9 was the 2nd annual Port Royal Day Party, hosted by Matt and Corrine, the owners of Royal Playa Dive Resort. The party was pretty much made up of all the residents of Port Royal. Also represented was the gang from the Hole in the Wall and BJ’s Backyard. The music was live, loud, and Caribbean. What a blast!!

Dec. 18 was the first run for High Rocks, the new sports fishing boat. We needed to go to La Ceiba to check out a catamaran that we were interested in buying. We also needed to run over a 40-HP 4-stroke Mercury outboard to the marina there, and since we were going, we would drop off our 86-year-old carpenter and his granddaughter Dagmara. So off we went with Terry on the wheel at 20 knots with all 600 horses pushing us through the Caribbean sea effortlessly. Two hours later, we arrived. Unfortunately there had been extensive flooding in La Ceiba. This meant that Joe, our regular taxi driver, couldn’t get through the mud to pick us up at the marina. Julie had arranged to visit three doctors while in the city, so it was a scramble.

In the end, Terry returned to Mango Creek alone and we stayed overnight at Banana Republic Hostel. The next day, we managed to get everything done by 4 p.m. and caught the high-speed ferry back to Roatan. We were to have been picked up by a taxi driver at the ferry dock, but he was a no-show. Never mind, situation normal for Honduras. So after 15 minutes, we flagged down another driver. The ride to BJ’s in Oak Ridge was kind of spooky, with our driver just barely managing to work his way around large pot holes in the road that we were barely able to see. At one point, we passed an accident where someone had obviously lost an argument with a large gravel truck.

We arrived at our pick-up point at BJ’s in the dark, but no one was there to pick us up. Yikes. For a while, we thought we would have to sleep under a table in the bar (not a good idea). However, it turned out that Terry had come out to pick us up in the panga but had missed his landmarks in the dark. It wasn’t long, however, before he found his way in through the reef to pick us up. We were saved!

Day fishing continued and the customers poured in. We recognized a real skill in Terry and decided to promote him to our director of sales, while still maintaining his position of visionary manager of projects.

Stella and Ben Khan, all the way from London, England, dropped by to take a look at the place. With Terry’s enthusiastic tour, they were soon out fishing, and Ben was thrilled to land his first permit! Stella jumped into our new Hobie sea kayak (which is powered by peddling instead of conventional paddles) and had a blast exploring while her husband battled on the fishing flats. At the end of the day, they both had smiles on their faces.

We were now rapidly approaching Christmas, and our new tree was decorated by Julie and Chena, our cook. Preparations were being made by Julie for a good, old-fashioned turkey Christmas meal complete with stuffing, gravy, and pumpkin pie. Joining us for our meal would be all the staff, sailing friends anchored in the harbor, our good friends and ex-managers of Mango Creek Graham and Pam, and visitors Tony and Lauren–18 people altogether.

It was a great time. A big leg of pork had been prepared by Elavese for all the local staff. I tried it, and it was delicious. They generally prefer the pork to the turkey we like in North America. Chena, with Julie’s help, cooked her first pumpkin pie. We moved through Christmas and New Year without seeing a snow flake. Indeed, the temperature never really got below 80 F.

Tony Hughey and his wife Lauren Kerr, from Washington DC, arrived on Dec. 23 for a one-week visit. As the week fished on so did the work at Mango Creek. Mr. Terry (as the locals call him) ratcheted up the number of projects ongoing at Mango Creek.

Our new sports fishing boat took up all our remaining dock space. This situation demanded the addition of another dock. Our local mayor, Perry Terry Bodden, was given the contract, and soon the place was swarming with another 10 workers.

To link the new dock to the rest of the property, it was necessary to build a new pathway. Manuelito was hired on contract for that job, and soon he was up to his elbows in cement and broken tiles for the steps.

Our main generator used for charging our batteries had sprung leaks in its radiator. Our backup Isuzu diesel was in bad shape with either a bad piston or valve and couldn’t be used. Terry made a deal with Matt next door to exchange our old batteries for his Kubota Diesel. He and Tie-Tie then settled into pulling apart the old Isuzu and installing the new Kubota. Now this was not that easy because the old generator didn’t want to bolt directly to the new diesel. Terry designed a plate to try and fix the problem. When he went down island to get it built, he lucked out. The machine shop had one already built!

He also was making up a trolley for moving our new batteries that were coming. We are off-grid, you see, and the new batteries would replace our old tired set. There were 24 batteries coming, each weighing 600 lbs! All the batteries would have to be moved halfway up the mountain to our solar panels and wind generator. Ugh! The same machine shop was to make the axles for the trolley. Terry was told to return at 3 p.m. and everything would be ready. At 3 p.m., Terry, Julie, and I all returned to pick up the parts. We were told they were already picked up for us by another “gringo”. Guess what? We still don’t know where the parts are.

As all of the projects continued in the background, the carnival was still going on. Tony continued to catch fish, and Lauren enjoyed her days snorkeling, paddling, and peddling our new kayak and reading.

One day just before supper, Lauren and Tony were pulling the kayak out of the water to secure it for the night. I was over by the boat house talking to some of the men when we heard a loud splash. Lauren had fallen in trying to move the kayak on the dock. It was obvious she was “OK,” but she sure did look like a wet hen.

There was no way I was going to let this go by without a good heckle, which I promptly did.

I then went to help Tony finish moving the kayak. I took one step back, and the damn dock disappeared! In I went over my head!! Now Lauren and Tony and every worker in the lodge had a good laugh. Later that night, Tony fell in while trying to retrieve a lure while fishing off the dock. We think we should order new t-shirts that say “I fell in at Mango Creek.”

At the same time Tony and Lauren were visiting, we were joined by Gord and Cathi Joyce from Mississauga, Ontario. A few days into his visit, Gord managed to hook a huge permit. Perry, our guide, maneuvered our fishing skiff while Gord fought the monster. By the time they actually landed the fish, they had been dragged halfway down the bay. But there were big smiles on everyone’s faces when they returned to the lodge for sundowners. Gord and Cathi also opted to go snorkeling with Randy, our resident snorkeling guide extraordinaire. Cathi took some excellent pictures of dolphins as they were surrounded by a school of over 100 on their way to the end of the island.

JR, his wife Kim, and daughter Gabby from Calgary arrived the end of December to celebrate New Year’s with us. JR was an enthusiastic fly fisherman and started tying his own flies. Each day he fished our flats with Tie-Tie. Meanwhile, his wife and daughter were busy each day snorkeling, sailing, and kayaking.

Kim, Randy, and Julie did the big hike over to Paya Bay resort for lunch. Julie was a little sore the next day but thoroughly enjoyed herself as did Kim. This was Julie’s first hike since we arrived here and she managed to take pictures of the event.

Ed Kettyle

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Fishing Report: December 2006

December for Mango Creek proved another excellent month for our anglers.

Conditions for the the first two weeks were pleasant, with calm seas and sunny skies. This, combined with favorable tides first thing in the morning made it easier for spotting bonefish and permits on the flats.

We were joined by high school teacher Jeff Tonac for a day fishing at our lodge. Although lots of fish were spotted, unfortunately none took the fly, and he struck out.

Our next guests were Stella and Ben Khan, all the way from London, England, who dropped by to take a look at the place. They were soon out fishing, and Ben was thrilled to land his first permit!

Photo of Ben holding a permit
Stella jumped into our new Hobie sea kayak (which is powered by peddling instead of conventional paddles) and had a blast exploring, while her husband battled on the fishing flats. At the end of the day, they both had smiles on their faces.

Our next visitors were Eric Lider and his son Lars. They were with us on a windy and overcast day. They saw lots of bonefish, but the casting was difficult for them because of the wind. A large tarpon was landed, however. The next day, another father-and-son team landed their first permit in sunny, calm, perfect conditions. The son, 15, had never been saltwater fly fishing before, and so they were both very happy with their day.

On Dec. 27, a cold front arrived at Mango Creek, bringing with it more difficult fishing conditions. Day fishermen Kent LeMonte and his son Travis decided to give it a try anyway. Bones were spotted, but none landed. Undeterred, Kent returned for 2 days with his family (6 all together). He liked the place so much he wanted his family to see the lodge. He figured that there was so much to do here it would be a good spot to bring the troop while he fished. We are looking forward to seeing the LeMontes back here soon!

That cold front that hit us toward the last week in December had a negative effect on our fishing only for about 2 days.

Tony Hughey and his wife, Lauren Kerr, from Washington DC, arrived on Dec. 23 for a 1-week visit. Tony arrived with enthusiasm. We are sure he didn’t even get his bags unpacked before he was off to the flats with his guide, Kessel.

Photo of Tony holding a bonefish
An hour later he returned, excitedly reporting “There were so many bones on the flats you could practically walk on them.” The next day, he caught one bone before breakfast and another two that afternoon.

Tony was excellent at casting and continued to catch fish every day he went fishing. He did, however, take time off to spend with his lovely wife, Lauren. That included snorkeling with our guide Randy and kayaking.

All in all, we considered the month of December a success. We also added a 32-foot Albermale Sport fishing boat to our fleet. This could add a whole new dimension to our fishing fun here at Mango Creek! Stay tuned!

Photo of the 32-foot Albermale Sport boat

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Fishing Report: August-November 2006

The month of August in Mango Creek was hot and sunny. Winds were light predominately coming from the east at about 10 knots.

Tides were low allowing for frequent easy access to the flats. All of this provided excellent conditions for fishing.

Although August is considered towards the end of Permit season there were still plenty of them spotted on our flats. Bonefish are in abundance year round and August was no exception.

Photo of Jake holding a permit with Mango Creek Lodge cabanas in the backgroundSeptember saw a continuation of August weather conditions. We were visited by Jake and Lee Sinna. During their stay they landed numerous bonefish and Jake caught his first ever Permit. (He wrote: “I don’t have a vocabulary rich or deep enough to adequately describe the awesome experience you and your staff provided Jake and me at Mango Creek. A very heartfelt thank you. Dr. Lee Sinna”)

October and November are generally considered our rainy months. October this year was better than average, but November was worse than average. There were plenty of fish of all species spotted during this period.

Fishing conditions were dictated by weather. If it rained hard, it became difficult to see the bonefish and permit tailing. Tides were also high.

Photo of Adam, holding a permit, with guide, PerryOn the other hand, when the weather was clear, the fish were seen and caught. Adam Olmstead, a professional guide from Colorado, managed to hook up with four permit and landed two in difficult conditions. He also managed to land snook and bonefish.

Photo of Adam holding a snookThomas Horton was successful landing bonefish. He also hooked up on tarpon and is looking forward to returning.

The last week of November has been encouraging. Both weather and tides have returned to normal. Large schools of permit have been reported by all our guides, and bonefish are more abundant during this month than any other month of the year.

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Fishing Report

Weather conditions were variable during the months of June and July. The first half of June was calmer with easterly breezes between 5 and 10 mph. Later in the month until now, the wind has increased in strength but has been steady. This whole period, we’ve had regular passing thunder showers occurring at night, which has been great for keeping the water cool. As a result, the fish are staying on the flats for longer at low tide and are more active. The large schools of bonefish and permit are still seen every day.

Photo of man holding a permitEarly in June, angler Trent Shepherd and his wife had some good bonefish catches and were amazed at the wonderful sight of large numbers of tailing permit on the flats. He wrote:

Sunday, June 11, 2006 11:17 am
Subject: Thanks for a great trip!

We’re back home and still glowing Photo of man holding a bonefishfrom such a great trip to Honduras. Thanks … for the best fishing trip we have been on to date. Both my wife and I landed our first bonefish (and several more after that), had a chance at some permit, and even some tarpon. Can’t wait to go back to Roatan and the Mango Creek Lodge – the hosts were so friendly, the service great, and the fish aplenty.

Cheers, Trent

Angler, Al Winzerling landed good size bonefish each day, as well as 2 permit in one day. He said:

… Thanks again to you and your staff for a great trip. … Fish, fish, and more. There are so many Bonefish and Permit on the flats, there is hardly a break during a day of fishing. Most of these fish were spotted by Perry, my guide. Long before we spotted the tailing Bones or Permit’s dorsal fins, Perry picked out the “nervous water” way out there. Not to mention the rolling Tarpon in the Mangroves.

Variations of shrimp or crab were the fly to use.

Flats fishing for these amazing fish will tax the stalking, presentation, and landing skills of the best fly fisherman.

Al Winzerling
Durango, Colorado
(Trip dates June 3-11, 2006)

Paul and Bryan Shepard had good catches every day. They caught at least 6-8 bonefish on the flats daily, plus another 3–6 in deeper water, between tides. All were between 4 and 6 lbs. They each landed a permit (10 lbs and 5 lbs). Of course, there were jacks and snappers caught along the way, too.

Photo of Mango Creek Lodge guide Perry holding a small permitMike Holeman, too, was very happy with his bonefish catches, saying they were the biggest he has caught to date. He also commented on the large numbers of fish on the flats. He praised the guide on correcting his mistakes with helpful advice and instruction, leading him to bring in all the fish he hooked.

The weather is warming up, but we’re staying cooler than all the places suffering heat waves to the north! Come to Roatan and cool down!

Tight lines!
Mango Creek Lodge

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Guest Review

My son, Bryan, and I spent the first week of July at the Mango Creek Lodge for a fly fishing vacation. The folks at the lodge could not have been more pleasant or accommodating. The food was great! Most importantly to us was that the fishing was great also. We caught many bones during the week.

Bryan’s favorite pattern was the Agent Orange and mine was a bitters. Lightly weighted or no weighted flies were the choice.

Photo of Paul, holding a permit, and his guide, PerryWe each were able to catch a permit during the week. Bryan caught his on his first day of saltwater fly-fishing. Perry estimated Bryan’s at about 10 lbs and mine at about 5 lbs. I can’t say enough good things about our guide, Perry. He would meet us at 6 a.m., and we would wade fish until around 9:30 and then come back to the lodge for breakfast and to collect packed lunches and then off again to fish from the boat until the tides were right again for wading.

We would usually return to the lodge around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., where drinks were served and then a delicious dinner. Our last day, we fished for 14 hours with Perry. I have never been to a lodge before where the guides would spend a 12+ hour day with you. At other lodges I have been to, the guides would always have you back at the lodge by 4:30. Since I caught my permit at about 5:30 in the evening on the flats, I would not have had that opportunity at any other lodge. We greatly appreciated Perry’s skill and his dedication to our having a great time and catching a lot of fish.

Overall, we had a great fishing week and look forward to returning.

Paul Sheppard

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