Introducing The DIY Fish Market presented by Airflo Fishing. Planning a fly fishing trip can be intimidating, from expensive lodge and guide fees to airline travel, but this shouldn’t be the end all be all. You can catch the fish of a lifetime on your own, with the money in your pocket, a few tools, and the right attitude. That’s why we are here to help you break down the costs of chasing fish on the fly. Our preferred metric for this series: the price per pound. How much does each fish cost to catch and how big do they get?
In this edition of the DIY Fish Market, we’re in Puerto Rico. With no passports required for US citizens and many state-side luxuries like Airbnb and Uber, your typical gringo can absolutely chase this month’s fish.
DIY Travel and Expenses in Puerto Rico:
Air Travel: Aguadilla (BQN)
If you’re an airline snob, you probably shouldn’t be reading this anyway. Go book a fully curated lodge package, you’ll have a great time, breakfast at 7!
Spirit and Fronteir fly into Aguadilla (BQN), this means cheap flights and the best bang for your buck. Just be sure to read the fine print for airline policies. The maximum amount of rod tubes that you can conceal to bypass the carry-on fee is 3. 4 is too many – resulting in a penalty of $59 (sometimes more than the flight itself). Tuck some tubes up and under a backpack and you’re golden. Evade this fee and you can round trip to Aguadilla (BQN) for less than $200.
Lodging Options in Puerto Rico:
Find a spot around Rincon, Puerto Rico. There are 5 options here all less than $100 a night. Split that 3 ways and we’re talking chump change. You’ll be on the beach all day, so the requirements here are minimal. You won’t need or use anything more than a coffee maker, bed, AC, and shower.
Food is a joke. Walk down the street and grab an empanadilla, there is no more authentic breakfast and you can’t beat the price. This $2 meat stick can put enough lead in your pencil for the long walk ahead of you. For lunch and dinner, any local chicken shop on the side of the road can slide you a mofongo plate for $7-8. Here’s what I recommend:
We bounced around Caddy’s Calypso and The Beach House. Google claims Caddy’s is closed, but wander down and it’s alive and well. Make your way there and you’ll be the only tourist. Caddy’s has everything, even your typical chicken fingers and french fries for the kids. The ambiance is great and the bar overlooks a reef. A few rum and cokes and a mofongo plate aid an easy afternoon beach session.
The Beach House is another awesome spot. Perched on top of a hill it overlooks the legendary domes beach. This famous wave break attracts surfers from around the world and the food’s not too shabby either. With a surfer vibe and 50 Adirondack chairs specifically positioned to catch the sunset this is a must-visit location. A friend we met along the way, Valdo, once said to us in passing “I boogie.” We weren’t sure what that meant, but after watching water walls crush the small bay at domes we could see the allure of coming back with a body board hoping to catch a few waves in between beach-bound tarpon.
Target Species in Puerto Rico, the Tarpon:
We’re chasing tarpon: an ancient predator that does not want to fall victim to a harmonica player from Maryland. While they can be particular and elusive, there is one way to guarantee a shot – one foot in front of the other. We walked miles each day, up, down, back, repeat. Put in the steps and you’ll collect your reward.
Tips to Target Tarpon in Puerto Rico:
The fish here hang very close to the shore, gliding the lapping waves in search of an inverted or off-balance baitfish. The first fish you see will surprise you. They are close enough to roll cast (although you don’t want to).
A 10 weight is ideal, for bigger flies and an onshore wind; often times you have to make a disgusting cast that puts the fly where it needs to be, an 8 weight can’t do this.
We threw big flies with some sinking characteristics. Unlike a redfish or drum that you usually have time to feed, you’re either stripping a fly across these fish in the waves or running down the beach after them when they spook. Stand back while you cast, the added stealth is worth it, and throw a fly that will sink quick enough to catch their eye. You want your fly a foot deep in 1 second. A deceiver or EP fly won’t sink fast enough and they’ll never see it. For us, eyes on some old favorites did the trick. We threw a sort of modified dumbbell eye clouser – looked stupid; worked great.
In 3 days we caught one right around 30 and another at 60. The 60-pounder is the fish used in the price-per-pound index below.
Recommend Gear for Fly Fishing Puerto Rico:
Floating lines are key. You’ll need the ability to pick up and shoot quickly. A sinking line would fish better, but you’d never get a shot. You’ll need to shoot fast and be ready to run another 40 ft and shoot again. The Airflo Superflo Ridge 2.0 Flats Power Taper is the preferred fly line of choice. It loads quickly, shoots fast, and gets the fly into the target zone accurately.
If you’ve ever beach-fished you know the painful obligation that is, line management. As you run down the beach your line flails behind you, coiling in the sand, catching rocks, sticks, marine debris, until it ultimately forms a knot restricting your already limited casting range. This is why we recommend Airflo. Airflo’s patented polymer repels water, dirt, and surface scum better than any material in the history of fly lines. What this means is when it’s time to shoot your shot, your line will go through the guides – no knots, no tangles. If you’re lucky enough to get a chance at setting the hook, airflo’s low stretch core’s can make a bad hook set good. The tug at your fingers is translated straight to the fish, a critical component when targeting tough-mouthed titans like the silver king.
Check out Airflo Fly Lines here.
Fly Fishing Math:
|Flight||ORD to BQN (Roundtrip)||$200|
|Airbnb Lodging||$31 a person x 3||$91|
|Breakfast||Meat Sticks x 3||$6|
|Lunch||Chicken Mofongo x 3||$21|
|Dinner||Rum & Coke + Seafood x 3||$60|
|Price Per Pound||$378/60||$6.30|
Price Per Pound:
Our preferred metric for this series: the price per pound. How much does each fish cost to catch and how big do they get? After reviewing my costs of this trip, airfare, lodging, and food, I calculated it out to being $378 to fly fish the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico. Catching Tarpon, weight can vary. Luckily our biggest fish at 60lbs made our calculation to $6.30 per pound. Where can you travel to on a budget, have fun, and calculate your trip by the species you catch per pound?
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