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The Backstage Pass

Targeting the Fabled Grand Slam in the Caribbean - Part Two

May 03, 23

Have you ever dreamed of getting your own Grand Slam? In the second installment of our Grand Slam opportunities in the Caribbean, we continue our conversation with Yellow Dog’s Cameron Davenport, Program Director for Belize and Guatemala to find out the best ways to make this coveted accomplishment a reality for your next Caribbean fishing trip.

Being Efficient With Your Time on the Water

“Out on the water when the time is of the essence, you want to be able to grab a setup and make a cast quickly,” said Davenport. “If you are going after the slam, it’s all about maximizing your efficiency on the water.

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Ask yourself…how much time are you re-rigging or how much time are you using when just grabbing a setup and getting a cast-out? Speed will give you the upper hand. You want to be quick on everything. So, if you have a buddy in the boat you will be better off working together where your partner can hand you rods or hand you gear.”

Clearing the Line

“Line management is just as critical as the placement of the fly,” said Davenport. “You want to get your line hand out and away so that as the line is jumping, it’s doing so away from the butt of the rod where anglers commonly get tangled up. Throw the butt of your rod into your belly button to prevent the line from wrapping around the butt of the rod or the reel.

Once you have cleared the line and you are on the reel, you will want to raise the rod if you are wading so that you can keep as much of your line out of the water. Fish can easily wrap around rocks while dragging the line behind them and cut the tippet or leader.”

Be Ready With the Right Set-Ups

If you’re going to go after the slam, you want to have a setup for each species. Davenport recommends an 8 weight rod for bonefish, a 9 or 10 weight for a permit, and two 10 weight rods for tarpon.

“Anglers will want to have a bonefish setup of an 8 weight rod, with a 12-foot leader down to 10lb tippet, use a weight forward floating fly line and add whatever bonefish fly you are most confident fishing,” said Davenport. “For permit, having a 9 weight setup with a shrimp pattern with a 15-foot leader down to 15lb tippet. Then I’d have a 10 weight setup for permit as well which would be a crab setup. You want this heavier set up so you can throw into the wind better using either a 15lb tippet or an 18lb tippet all on fluorocarbon. Lastly, for a tarpon setup, use a 10 weight unless you are going after really big tarpon.”

Roll With the Punches and Stay Focused

“It’s a shortlist of people that succeed getting a slam based on the number of anglers we send to the Caribbean annually,” said Davenport. “Getting a grand slam is all about focusing on the task at hand, and once you land one fish, you immediately move to the next,” said Davenport. “If slamming is your goal, your time on the water will not be about getting high numbers, rather it’s about getting that one species and then moving on to the next.”

While there are a lot of different ways to do this, Davenport said that the common denominators are the anglers that commit to getting a slam over the course of their whole week.

“The anglers that tend to do really well, are the ones that can let things roll off their back quickly,” said Davenport. “You’ll miss a fish, you’ll miss an eat or will break one off, forget about it and move right on to the next one. Remember, the size of fish doesn’t matter for a slam. If you can hook into all three, it doesn’t matter if it’s a one-pound bonefish or a four-pound permit, it’s still a feat to be able to get all three.”

Your Success Can be at the Mercy of the Weather and Conditions

“If getting a slam is on your radar, you want to try to manage everything you can in your favor including looking at conditions and general weather patterns of the area you will be fishing throughout the year,” said Davenport. “Oftentimes, a successful slam depends on getting the right conditions, the ability of the guides to find fish and fishing for species based on what the weather dictates.

If the weather is going to be good for snook, fish for snook. If the weather is going to be good for tarpon, fish for tarpon. If you get an ideal day or the weather conditions are just right… if you’re wanting to get the grand slam, then go out and give it your best shot.”