The Faraway Cayes are part of a massive reef system stretching for hundreds of miles offshore of Honduras (and eventually into Nicaraguan waters). It is not continuous, but cut through with channels, and with blue water separating sections of reef. The depth is variable, with deeper flats comprising the majority of the terrain, but with plenty of cayes, sandbars, turtle grass flats, and other shallow structure on the back side of the solid coral. The shallow water is clustered in select areas along the reef, often separated by long distances in between.
These are not the endless ankle-deep flats of the Bahamas. But that topography presents a tradeoff most fly fishermen will take. Vast flats can mean hours and miles of poling or wading without any action. More circumscribed flats often concentrate the fish; this is true at the Faraway Cayes. The shallow turtle grass is full of permit, and lots of triggerfish. The sandy patches hold huge schools of bonefish.
The Faraway Cayes are home to permit of all sizes, all the way up to jumbo. Even though they have experienced no fishing pressure, they are not dumb or easy to catch. They are permit; smart, selective, and tough to fool, anywhere they live. Wild creatures in any pristine environment are attuned to anything new or different. The Faraway Cayes are quiet and empty. The permit there are not used to the sounds of outboard motors, the crunch of a push pole or footsteps on the flats, a fly slapping the water — so they notice these things. But if it were easy, permit would not be so rewarding or surrounded by such mystique.
While Faraway Cayes cannot deliver dumb fish, it does offer lots of opportunity. During the right tidal periods, permit tail all over the skinny turtle grass flats. On tides not conducive to tailing, they hunt by hiding underneath eagle rays as the rays cruise around slightly deeper flats. The fish hiding under rays will follow and eat flies aggressively. It is a wild and unique sight to suddenly see a permit materialize where there was only a ray, chasing down a rapidly stripped shrimp fly.
Under normal conditions, anglers will have encounters with dozens of fish tailing and cruising the skinny flats for part of the day, and plenty of additional opportunities at fish in other scenarios (with rays, for example) the remainder of the day.
The Faraway Cayes also boast large schools of bonefish of all sizes, with fish of similar size tending to school together. They are usually easy to locate, since the ultra-shallow water is limited. They are not selective and generally very willing to eat.
Some of the bonefish are trophy sized — much larger than elsewhere in Central America. With coral fringing most of the flats, landing the big ones is another matter. Sometimes the biggest fish are solitary, but often they are with schools, so part of the challenge is getting the grandaddy to eat when he is surrounded by hundreds of other fish. All this is to say that anglers targeting bones will have a heyday in the Faraway Cayes.
Faraway Cayes boast lots of big triggerfish. Unlike in many locations, these triggers will actively chase and eat flies. They are not pushovers, and it takes a well presented fly to avoid spooking them. It can also be difficult to set and keep the hook home, since triggers have teeth and hard mouths. However, they are a good-sized fish that tails on the flats, provides a challenge, and will expose your backing in seconds when hooked — what more could you ask for?
Triggers frequent the same water as permit and will eat the same flies, and thus require no time out from permit fishing. They are great targets of opportunity and we consider the fishing for triggers a huge bonus.
Tarpon, huge barracuda, jacks, snapper, sharks, and other reef and blue water species are present as well. These species each have their unique qualities and provide variety for anglers who like to mix it up.
WADING VS. POLING
Typically, the fishing at Faraway Cayes is split about half and half between wading and poling the skiff. Anglers chase tailing permit, bonefish, and triggerfish while wading, and fish from the boat for permit under rays and when the tide has the permit cruising the slightly deeper flats.
The wading usually takes place on turtle grass flats or shallow reef. These areas have plenty of coral rubble, rocks, conch shells, etc. and thus require high quality wading boots to protect your feet. However, the bottom is hard and the flats are relatively small, so the wading is fairly easy and the wades are typically pretty short.
The guide team assembled by Fly Fish Guanaja is impressive. At Faraway Cayes, the guide to angler ratio is 1:1. That means each angler has his or her own personal guide while wading (typically about half the time). It is a great system for maximizing fishing time.
The guides not only know the water and fly fishing, but have that passion, enthusiasm, and good humor that separates good from great guides. They all speak good English, in addition to Spanish and Honduran Creole. They are awesome both to fish with but also just to hang out with around camp.
Most anglers bring their favorite permit and bonefish rods. However free loaner equipment is available (Douglas rods and Orvis reels). This helps to pack light for the helicopter, with backup rods staying at home. The loaner rods can be used in case you break your primary rod(s), or in case you decide to try your hand at species like tarpon or big barracuda.
CAPACITY / LIMITED FISHING PROGRAM
The Faraway Cayes program is set up to keep the flats as wild and pristine as they were before the operation began. Capacity is five anglers per week. The season is only three months long, with a three week on, one week off schedule. This adds up to only around 50 anglers per year total.