I normally try and keep my fishing adventures separate from family holidays but, with a Caribbean cruise looming, I couldn’t help myself. A quick trawl on the internet threw up endless possibilities. The trouble with cruising is the windows of opportunity for fishing are quite narrow and getting stranded on an island doesn’t even bear thinking about so catching anything was always going to be a bonus.
Then I discovered a fishing guide who not only hails from the UK - Nick Williams grew up fishing places like the Trent and Clumber Park Lake before washing up on the tropical island of Antigua. Talk about an unlikely coincidence.
Which is how I happened to be stepping out of a taxi in front of the Darkwood Beach Bar, facing out onto a near-deserted white sand beach, beneath an impossibly blue sky, probably several hours after the optimum catching time had passed. But imagine a scene from Death In Paradise and you’ll understand why I was not too disappointed.
Breathtaking as the location was, Nick and I were heading 50 yards back inland to the mangroves where he already had two float-tube boats set up and waiting. Our goal was to catch one of the many tarpon that live in these 50 acres or so of brackish waters ever mindful that tarpon are pretty skittish creatures and easily spooked.
The secret is to watch the water carefully for fish movements and then try to predict which direction they are heading. If you can place a bait in their path you are in with a chance, but hooking a tarpon and landing one is not quite the same thing. They are one of the most acrobatic fish on the planet combined with armour plated mouths. Although frustrating, losing tarpon goes with the territory. And as for the bites, well, Nick suggested they can be so violent I might actually hear the float disappear.
Although I’d prepared myself mentally for what could happen it still came as a shock when the rod was practically ripped from my grip as something stripped twenty yards of braid from the reel at lightning speed before hurtling six feet clear of the water. This tarpon fishing lark is definitely not for the feint hearted, I can tell you. But several chances came my way, and thanks to Nick I caught and still managed to get back to the ship with time to spare. The experience is one I’ll remember long after the holiday is forgotten and I’d do it again tomorrow, given the chance.
I’ve fished with a lot of guides over the years and Nick Williams is up there with the very best. His forte is fly fishing but he’s happy to swap to lures or bait and there are endless opportunities to fish for other species beyond tarpon. Fancy wading the flats for permit? Then Nick’s your man in Antigua. In fact don’t take my word for it, check out his web site which contains some amazing videos showing the different types of fishing on offer: http://www.antigua-flyfishing.com/
And perhaps have a look at the fabulous apartments you can rent out through Nick at very competitive rates: Reefview Apartments & Cottages