From the Archives – My -2″ Cuban Grand Slam

(originally published May 9, 2012)

The tarpon was first and that was clearly the pig of the trip.  After we finally released that fish we went looking for some bonefish.

We found them.

Really, I think the guides could likely produce bones pretty much all day, but they like chasing the tarpon when they are in, since they don’t stick around all year and the window is about three months long.

The bones weren’t big, maybe 3 pounds, but they fought well and we even had one little cluster Fuque where I got a knot in my running line that went through the guides.  Jim worked on getting the knot undone and I hand lined the fish, which meant it had PLENTY of slack.  The thing turned around and started swimming leisurely back toward us. The thing came so close to the boat that I just figured I’d wait and pull it’s head out of the water. That’s exactly what happened and we managed to land the bonefish pretty much without the rod.

The next flat we went to was ocean-side and as I got up on deck Jim asked the guide “you ever see any permit here?”

“Sometimes” was the reply, although it should have been “Sure, in about a minute.”

There was Mr. Permit cruising right toward us.  No time to switch rods, the bonefish fly would have to do (a Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp). The fish lit up on the fly, started chasing it down doing a little erratic dance behind it. I SWEAR it ate, as did Jim, but I was tight to the fly and there was never any sort of resistance on the line. Just like that it bugged off and I was left, about 2″ from a Cuban Grand Slam.

Kind of cool to come so close.  I know it is mostly luck and “right time/right place” that gets you those Grand Slams and I was pretty damn close to getting it right.

That’s why we keep fishing.

Photo by Jim Klug, Tarpon by Cuba

Really… I can’t complain at all.



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  1. I wonder how many other people have been 2″ from a permit in their slam pursuits? I’m guessing more than a few.

  2. bonefishbjorn

    I’d guess many more than actually made it happen. I’m in good company for sure on that one.

  3. 2″ is way more better than 1000 miles. Just sayin’

  4. When I was in Boca Paila about 9 years ago, I caught a nice snook (10 lbs) in the morning on my own. Then a bunch of bones with the guide. After lunch I landed my first ever permit, a decent 8lb’er. Then the guide, sensing a tip would be coming, asked if I wanted to get a tarpon. “Sure”, what did I know. We went deep into the mangroves, and I blind casted for about an hour and a half with a 10wt. No fun. After hooking and landing 6 different species of fish that day (cudas, snapper, etc) I finally got a Tarpon. It was about 3 or 4 lbs, maybe less, but it counted. I got the elusive super slam that day. I didn’t appreciate it as much back then, as it was my 2nd or 3rd bonefishing trip. Now I know what an accomplishment it is. And to be honest, it’s probably 90% luck. Luck that you have a hungry fish that isn’t picky. Your fly gets in it’s line of sight. A cuda or shark doesn’t spook it. Anything can go wrong. It’s a miracle that slams happen.

  5. bonefishbjorn

    I figure it is about 30% skill, 70% luck. You have to do something right to catch bones, tarpon and permit, but luck is the major factor. Funny how it works like that.

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