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This past spring, I was pleased to see a notice in The Angling Report (see April 1998 issue, page 5) that Trek Safaris would be letting children fish with their parents on certain trips for half price during the first week of August. Not one to pass up an opportunity to take my son fishing, I called Milton Hanburry at Trek about their trip to Caratasca Lagoon on the Moskito Coast of southeastern Honduras. Hanburry explained that this trip is only for those who are happy to "rough it" in a primitive camp, but that it offers good snook and tarpon fishing in an area that hasn’t seen 50 American anglers. This kind of trip appeals to me, so I ended up booking the trip for myself, my son, my cousin and my cousin’s 18-year-old son for the week of July 29, 1998.

The four of us set out from Miami for the two-hour flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. There, we boarded a Sosa Airlines twin-prop for the half-hour hop to La Ceiba, where we spent the night at a modest hotel. Early the next morning, we flew out of La Ceiba and into Puerto Lempira, about 1 1/2 hours away on the Caribbean edge of Caratasca Lagoon.

The rain had started just before our arrival at Puerto Lempira, making the landing on the dirt runway an interesting splashdown. Tim Muery, who runs the operation for Trek in Honduras, met us at the airstrip and as the rain settled, we gathered our belongings and headed into the village for breakfast. For those who have not experienced the small villages of "backwoods" Latin America, Puerto Lempira is right out of the movies, with dirt roads, chicken and pigs everywhere, and mostly barefoot people, slowly moving around as if waiting for something to happen. It was wonderful. We were in the Moskitia region of Honduras, where the majority of the population are Moskito Indians. The people were nice, gentle and seemingly happy.

After a breakfast of rice, beans and beef (unusual, yet delicious), we loaded our gear into two skiffs for the hour ride to camp, deep into Caratasca Lagoon. As we got further away from Puerto Lempira, the water got sweeter. By the time we reached camp, the water had no taste of salinity.

The area was impressively large and there were few signs of civilization. We did see an occasional Moskito camp and some dugouts traveling within the area. Our camp was in one of these small Indian villages, consisting of five hand-hewn wood buildings, with some covered areas for cutting wood. The village was a kind of farming outpost with a variety of animals and about 15 locals. Amenities included an electrical generator (for early evening power only), an entire backwoods area for a bathroom and one of the largest bath tubs – the lagoon – I’ve ever used. Our homes were comfy two-person tents with clean sheets and small mattresses. As for food and drink, there was bottled water on hand, along with beer and soft drinks, and plenty of rice, beans, fish and some local potato-type plant.

After a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (we brought our own, just in case), we headed off to fish, two fishermen and a guide per boat. The area was reminiscent of the Florida Everglades. We started fishing by trolling rattletraps. When we found schooling fish, we stopped to cast to them. We promptly caught a fair number of two to five-pound snook and several "machaca," a local freshwater species and a favorite food of the tarpon and snook. No large fish were caught the first day, although we did jump a tarpon.

The next morning, the roosters started their wake-up call at 4:30 a.m. After a bath in the lagoon and a nice breakfast of eggs and sausage, we headed off to fish a river mouth, which would prove to be one of the finest fishing spots I have come across in 40 years of fishing. When the fishing turned on, one could catch a large snook or tarpon on every cast. Figuring out what turned the fish on or off was the trick. We assumed it was the wind, water color, sunlight, moon and a variety of other speculative causes. However, it would turn on with regularity, and when on, sometimes for hours, one could catch at will.

We took this opportunity to experiment with some surface plugs. Our guide, Tim Muery, who had previously sworn an allegiance to swimming, diving and rattling plugs, was more than a bit skeptical when I brought out the Zara Spook. Once I proved the reliability of the tried and proven Spook by catching a half dozen snook to 25 pounds, I broke out the magic weapon. Left over in the tackle box from a Belizean adventure were a couple of five-inch Creek Chub darters. After another half dozen large snook, a 60 to 70-pound tarpon took the lure and broke me off. In the interim, my son was using jigs and other lures of choice to catch as many, if not more, fish than me. Both of us caught fish until we had to rest. I am sure an experienced fly fisherman would be able to get into much the same kind of action we did.

Ultimately, in five days, we caught hundreds of fish, primarily snook, but with about 10 percent of them being tarpon. My son had one tarpon on for about 10 minutes that would have easily tipped the scales at 150 pounds. The largest snook I had on must have weighed over 30 pounds, and we saw one that I’m sure weighed 50 pounds.

Each day, when we returned from fishing, our tents were clean, beds made, the camp site swept and clean and our clothes were cleaned and folded. Overall, I highly recommend this trip for those who want to visit an area that is remote, unspoiled and as close to virgin fishing that you can find in this hemisphere. Just bear in mind that the trip in and out is formidable and so are some of the inconveniences. – Steven M. Shapiro.

(Don Causey Note: The current cost of this trip is $1,695 per person, all-inclusive from Miami or Houston. As noted above, however, Trek is currently outfitting a 110-foot military landing craft as a floating lodge, which is expected to be ready to accommodate clients by January 1999, says Trek agent Milton Hanburry. He says the "mothership" should help make Caratasca Lagoon acceptably accessible to less rugged angling clients. The cost of a mothership-based trip will likely be $2,495, says Hanburry. For more information, contact Trek Safaris. Incidentally, the first fly angler into this area who brings back useful insights on how to catch the snook and tarpon here on the long rod will be in line for inclusion on our Honor Roll.)

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