Guatemala, Casa Vieja Lodge, January 11-16, 2016 Trip Summary: To plagiarize a little bit from Jake Jordan’s website, Jake Jordan’s Fishing Adventures . . . “Greetings from Sailfish World: January 15th was the last day of fishing in my Sailfish School, here at Casa Vieja Lodge, for Chris and Diane O'Neill. This couple fly fished with me for four days aboard "Intensity" with Captain Mike Sheeder along with mates Minolto and Waldo. The results were amazing for beginners or even experts. On January 15th, Diane and Chris caught and released 11 Sailfish on fly for 23 bites. The final score for their first four days ever doing this was: They caught and released 41 Sailfish and a Blue Marlin on a fly - Amazing, Congratulations and big thanks to Casa Vieja Lodge for hosting my Sailfish schools.” Now to how the story began: In 2012, I caught my first ever billfish on a fly. Called a Short Nosed Spearfish, this scaled down member of the Marlin family is reputed to be one of the rarest billfish to catch in the world with the exception that they are common off the coast of Kona, Hawaii. At the conclusion of landing the Spearfish, the captain turned to me and said now that you’ve got the Spearfish on a fly, you might as well go for a billfish slam. A bill fish slam comes in many forms. It can be all members of the Pacific billfish family, or it can be a World Slam which encompasses every type of billfish in the world – a feat as of today that is still unaccomplished by anyone on earth using IGFA rated fly tackle. At the time, the suggestion of going after any type of billfish slam seemed remote if not entirely ludicrous and I didn’t put much thought into the matter again. What did pique my interest though was going after Pacific Sailfish. Having caught a number of Tarpon over 80 pounds, the thought of landing Sailfish seemed entirely within reach and with that I began to do research on the internet on how to catch Sailfish. Fast forward to the day I came across Jake Jordan’s website and his advertised “Sailfish Schools,” and this is how Diane and I ended up at Casa Vieja Lodge in Guatemala on January 11-16th, 2016. After 4 days of fishing, raising 150 sailfish, getting 78 bites, and landing 41, the quality of the fishing speaks for itself. In addition, Diane landed her 1st ever Blue Marlin on a fly estimated around 175 pounds. According to Jake, Diane may be one of the only women that has ever landed a Blue Marlin on a fly at Casa Vieja Lodge and this would not have been possible without his expert instruction. In addition to Diane’s Blue Marlin, we raised 4 others and I lost an additional Blue Marlin estimated to be around 300 pounds when it jumped and broke my leader. At the end of the day, Diane got to proudly fly her upside down Blue Marlin flag twinkling in the breeze with a pink fly on it to signify the fly caught Blue Marlin release. There is no doubt that this is the finest fly fishing in the world, but for me this trip summary wouldn’t be complete without looking beyond the veneer of numbers and statistics and taking a candid look at the wizard behind the curtain that helps make this all possible. There is absolutely no doubt that Jake Jordan knows his craft. Without him by our side, we are positive that we would have really struggled hooking and landing these magnificent fish. He has the technique on landing Sailfish so dialed that I am positive we have cut decades off our learning curve and saved a mountain of money by not trying to figure it out ourselves. It would have taken years of trips to get all of the knowledge and techniques and experience he shared with us in four days. The one day we went out fishing without him, we totally collapsed raising 24, getting 12 bites and landing 2 confirming why we needed this school. Fortunately he was able to prop us back up again and on our last day at the lodge, we raised 56, got 23 bites and landed 11. Specifically around the age of 75, Jake is a monster on the fly rod and knows every move these fish will try to make. He generally can get them to the boat in record time, and he has the rigging down to a science which allows us to land them on 20 pound tippet. Jake has some interesting factoids that he enjoys sharing about is billfish exploits like the time he hooked 100+ Sailfish on a fly before losing one, and then losing 5 in a row, or hooking 90+ Blue Marlin on a fly before figuring out how to actually land the first one. It is clear that his experience has been on both sides of the spectrum and that we are directly benefitting from what he has learned about these unbelievable fish. Jake is an extremely positive person, which is why he ends every report with how he “loves his job.” He is very patient on teaching, but will yell when you screw up like putting your rod tip up, or moving from the corner of the boat while fighting a fish. Of course we needed to be yelled at for doing stupid things and we tipped him extra for that. He knows pretty much everyone who has ever tried to catch a billfish on a fly, and has fished with many of the world’s best billfish anglers. He says he has gone on well over 1,000 Marlin trips where he didn’t catch a damn thing. Think of how many he has caught? He doesn’t care about being famous and will never write a book because he’d rather be out fishing doing what he loves. Jake has a great sense of humor, including the ability to laugh about his lifelong pursuit of the “Grander” which fatefully ended with the 1st mate failing to tie the fish’s mouth shut so when they weighed it on a certified scale, a 30 Lb. Yellow Fin Tuna slid out of its gut causing the fish to officially weigh in at only 998 Lbs. defeating his lifelong pursuit of the “Grander.” This happened right as they were doing a champagne toast on the boat and everyone’s jaw just dropped. To this day, he still reminisces about his “Grander” that narrowly got away. His philosophy on life is great. Upon selling his fishing reel company in the 90’s, he and his late wife took the proceeds and spent it together on bill fishing around the globe. His theory – live life to the fullest – you never know when your time is coming to an end. His wife did pass away before him, but not before they both had a lifetime of fishing together pursuing the sport they loved and shared. He has secret connections and might be able to get you clearance to land a G5 Gulf Stream jet at a private Guatemala military base if you need a parking area and security for it. His ties to Guatemalan bill fishing go back to the 70’s when it took 8 hours on a dirt road to reach the present day marina location now accessible by a modern paved highway and quick one and a half hour drive. He has stories about obscure fishing destinations, secret offshore FAD’s (Fish Aggregating Devices) and billionaires that spend massive amounts of money to catch billfish on flies. Legend has it that one of his clients thanked him for costing him $24 million in the pursuit of billfish when Jake got him hooked on landing Marlin on flies. This resulted in the purchase of a $10mm off shore boat, a full time crew, and homes and docking locations in the world’s best bill fishing locations. I candidly discussed life with him looking for that one scale in his armor where even he was vulnerable – and I found it. Not only could it be the holy grail of fly-fishing, but it’s something less than five people in the world have ever accomplished according to Jake – Catching a Swordfish on a fly . . . That World Slam is still out there for the taking and Jake has a better chance at it than most people alive on the planet. Casa Vieja Lodge is a first class facility. The service is great, the food is fantastic, the rooms are clean and comfortable , and it has an expansive pool area where you can lounge about, or cool off after a long day of fishing. It has a huge bar area under a broad thatched roof which serves as a central meeting place at the end of each day where anglers can share their fish stories or catch a football game while enjoying a cocktail and some first class cuisine. They offer complimentary laundry service which is super convenient for packing, and they have an onsite gift shop in case you need to pick up an item you might have left at home. It’s about a 3 minute drive to the marina each day, and the lodge goes out of its way to keep guests safe and comfortable. When you get off the fully chauffeured vans, a cold drink is always waiting for you at the end of each fishing day. If I was going to give people safety advice for this trip, it would be watch where the billfish is headed when it is hooked. On this trip I didn’t have Global Rescue Insurance and I narrowly escaped a mishap where a Sailfish made a U-turn leaping for the boat hitting the transom with its bill about an inch below the side of the rail and taking out a little chip of fiberglass. Another inch and a half and that bill would have either impaled me, or the fish would have been flopping around inside the bottom of the boat. When I hooked my Blue Marlin on a fly, it too did a giant circle and came crashing back towards the boat as Captain Mike Sheeder maneuvered us out of the way. When I asked Jake about the Marlin’s curious behavior, he said that these fish are so aggressive that they oftentimes do big arcing circles in an effort to attack the boat that’s aggravating them . A lot of the fishing happens up close and personal and it’s always a good idea to be aware of the direction the Sailfish or Marlin is headed, and be ready to take evasive action if necessary. Diane and I had a great time fishing at Casa Vieja Lodge and enjoyed alternating turns casting to fish. When one of us was casting, the other would be grabbing cameras and trying to capture shots of these fish leaping in the air or taking the fly. The photography is nearly as challenging as the fishing and Captain Mike Sheeder’s brother Chris Sheeder, who is also a Captain and an accomplished photographer with numerous magazine cover shots assisted us with camera settings and advice. Our final numbers for our four days of fishing were: January 12, 2016 with Jake – 41 sails raised, 20 bites and 15 sails landed. In addition both Diane and I hooked our first Blue Marlin on flies with her landing hers and me losing mine. What a great way to start out the trip! January 13th – 32 sails raised, 23 bites and 13 sails landed all under the instruction of Captain Jake Jordan. January 14th without Jake – 24 sails raised, 12 bites and 2 landed fish and 4 Blue Marlin raised, of which we collapsed and fell apart on all of them! January 15th with Jake again by our side, 53 sails raised, 23 bites and 11 landed fish. What a great trip and thanks to Captain Jake Jordan for making this dream a reality.

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In