(originally posted 2/16/2015)
I thought this might be an interesting story to share, and that provides some insight to guiding anywhere in the world. My guide in Jardines de la Reina Cuba this past January was Bemba, one of 3 brothers who guide this destination. On our first day, we started wading for Bonefish. In the later morning, Bemba looked at his watch and said "I would suggest that we go look for Permit now, because the tide will be perfect soon." I love it when a guide says something like that, and quickly agreed.
We found Permit in the first two spots we poled, but they were not willing or my casts were off target. On the third flat, we immediately saw several fish moving parallel to the boat, and sure enough I hooked one. Bemba was enthusiastic, but stoic at the same time if you can imagine that, talking me through the fighting of the fish. When it finally was close to the boat and ultimately on its side, he jumped down from the poling deck and tailed the fish. And immediately, he started screaming! "Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!" he shouted. I kind of thought, "what the hell?" but switched my thoughts to taking photos of the fish and getting it released.
It was lunchtime, so Bemba powered up the boat and started us on our way back to the Avalon Fleet ll. He finally said to me, " I was kind of excited about that fish wasn't I?!" I told him that I did indeed notice. Bemba then explained. He said "I have been guiding Jardines for 18 years. I have probably landed 5000 Bonefish, and nearly 1500 Tarpon. I guide many people each year, but I only get about 25 anglers who can see fish and cast well. And, everything has to go perfectly to catch a Permit. The fish have to be here. I have to see them, and the client has to as well. Then, they have to make a good cast. And, most importantly, we have to find a Permit who is willing to eat the fly. We have to land the fish without the line tangling around the butt of the rod, and the leader breaking on a piece of coral. So, with all the other fish I have had customers catch, that is only my 53rd Permit!"
I really thought this was remarkable. It also made me feel great about getting that first Permit, and very lucky to have had everything come together. The last day at Jardines, it came together again, and Bemba was up to #54.