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During a trip this winter to Aruba, where I attended a medical seminar at Sonesta Resort (*) in the town of Seaport Village, I turned up some fly fishing that may be of interest to fellow subscribers. First, I should point out that Scott Haywood of Angling Destinations (*) in Sheridan, Wyoming, was very helpful in my search for information on the fishing available around this Caribbean island. He sent me a list of offshore charter boat captains, including Captain Kenny Pichardo (*), who runs a 35 foot Bertram.

I "paid my dues" with Pichardo and chartered him for a half day of offshore trolling. I landed four wahoos weighing from 10 to 30 pounds, plus a 20 pound barracuda that we caught while trolling within 500 yards of shore at the northwest end of the island. In return for my charter, Pichardo’s brothers, Melton and Anthony both eager fishermen tried to line up a small Boston Whaler for me to fish the reefs. The motor was "broken," however, so they turned me over to another angler, Lorenzo Erasmus (*) whose boat, "Sweet Mary," was said to be suitable for reef fishing. John Freeman, a fellow attendee at the medical meeting, and I spent two hours one morning with Erasmus fishing a reef in 60 feet of water. We saw multiple bonita breaking the surface but were unable to hook up. In the meantime, Erasmus and his mate steadily brought in reef fish including yellowtail, snapper, etc. from the bottom with live bait. We moved to a shallower location on the reef near a wreck and almost immediately hooked into a 15 pound barjack, which was quite a thrill. We also caught several yellowtail at this reef.

The following day, Freeman and I explored Sonesta Island, a one to two mile long island just offshore from the Sonesta Resort, by way of a boat that ferries hotel guests to the island. Freeman had been out to the island before and had hooked some reef fish on a fly rod, but no bonefish. He recommended I try the extreme north end of the island, where he had seen nice flats of about 50 acres with turtle grass and sandy spots. I fished there alone for about 45 minutes and hooked a strong fish on a three inch, #1 chartreuse and white Clouser Minnow. It took me into the backing twice before finally coming to hand. To my surprise, the fish turned out to be a five pound, 26 inch bonefish.

Unfortunately, I was unable to fish for more than a hour on these flats, and only caught the one fish. There are constant 15 to 30 mile per hour winds that prevail from the northeast at all times of the year. Nevertheless, I was excited about this discovery. Perhaps this is an undiscovered bonefishing opportunity? The prospect really gets exciting when you take into account that there are several other smaller islands around Aruba with accessible flats.

Overall, I would not recommend Aruba as a fly fishing only destination, but if you are planning to be on the island for other reasons, do bring your fly rod (7, 9 or 10 weight, because of the winds) and explore for bonefish and reef fish. I recommend a floating head or sink tip for reef fishing and floating line for the reef and flats. Locals told me there are also tarpon in the near shore waters.

There are many good eating places in Aruba, but Roger Coster’s Waterfront Clam House at Seaport Marketplace gets my nod for lunch and dinner. I also like Chez Mathilde. General information on Aruba can be obtained by calling the Aruba Tourism Authority at the number shown below. Carl W. Hoffman.

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