I had a hidden agenda. I was familiar with Honduras'
Brus Lagoon as an excellent location for tarpon. But
over the years the focus was so concentrated on the
biggies that smaller tarpon as well as other species
had often been ignored. I suspected there was a larger
piscatorial bounty to be plundered. When the owners of
brand new Sikalanka Lodge invited me to see their
operation I had a chance to test my suspicions.
Barely 6 months old, inviting Sikalanka Lodge
overlooks a lagoon of the same name. The camp
is reached through a winding, mangrove shrouded
canal that joins the Sigre River about a mile
above where it melds into Brus Lagoon itself.
Sikalanka offers attractive, comfortable
accommodations for 8 anglers and easy access to
Brus' enticing fishery.
After an afternoon at the lagoon's mouth, and a few
hours in the rolling ocean, I had enough of the hunt
for giant tarpon. Make no mistake, they were there
and during our visit, we spent time trying for them.
One of our party, Ron Libel, landed a handsome l40
pounder and Jim Veugeler, who has fished these waters
often, battled an estimated 180 pounder to a standstill,
only to lose it at boatside. Aside from a very steady
stream of jacks, big tarpon were scarce and I was far
more anxious for action than the seeming long shot of
tangling with a giant silver king.
Jim and fellow angler Gerry Poger had also tired of
the same geography and ventured up the Lost River.
At dinner they were giddy with excitement. "It was
perhaps the fastest small tarpon fishing I've ever
seen, and I've had some good days before," reported
Jim. "We jumped over 40, maybe 50." The next morning
the six of us, in three boats, found ourselves on the
Lost, anxious for similar rewards. The Lost is not a
large river, perhaps 40-50' wide on average, with a
tight runs and the occasional larger lagoon. We fished
where creeks joined the main river. If you waited a few
quiet moments, dark backs would begin to lazily roll on
the surface. The anticipation was tremendous but if you
disturbed the tarpon right away, the game was over.
Once things got heated up, you could remain for quite
a while and still get plenty of strikes.
Jim Veugeler and I fished together, taking turns casting
as close to the far shore's overhanging tree limbs as
possible, the river erupting with the antics of 5 to 25
pound tarpon. We spent almost three hours in one spot
and jumped well over 30 fish. The strikes were hard,
the tarpon up in the air as soon as they felt the hook.
Gerry, fishing near us, hooked a tarpon well over 80
pounds which leapt almost to eye level just feet away
from his boat. Later a snook, perhaps 20 pounds tracked
his lure nearly to boatside, then swam away indifferently.
It was the kind of fishing I had dreamed of finding.
On another day, Gerry and I fished Mokabila River.
While the other rivers had shorelines thick with
vegetation, from broad leafed banana trees to massive
Ceiba trees, the Mokabila's shoreline was savannah
like, spiked with a few spindly trees. Storks, white
egrets, ibis, and a variety of songbirds voiced their
welcome to us. We drifted with the current, casting
tight to the shoreline. A silver sided snook flashed
in the dark water but missed our offering. My flies
enticed small tarpon from under the mangroves, the
brief fight punctuated by reckless leaps. Eventually
the river split into two narrow channels our boat could
not fit through, though ahead tarpon frolicked, as if
to mock us. Gerry and I took turns standing at the bow,
throwing our lures and flies into the narrow gap. I
landed a nice ten pounder. Gerry jumped a 25 pounder
which put on a spectacular aerial show in this very
confined space. Behind us the water under overhanging
mangroves would occasionally erupt. "Beeg snook," our
guide Timo said. "No catch." I tried repeatedly to
pitch a lure into the impossible spot, knowing if I
hooked the monster it would break off instantly. Not
We didn't have a chance to explore all of the rivers
of Brus, nor some of the large interior lagoons. We
ran out of time. I missed a chance to fish the scenic
shoreline of Sikalanka Lagoon itself, right out the
front door. Crystal clear water held the promise of
freshwater guapote, mojarra and machaca, perhaps even
a tarpon or snook.
I don't want to diminish the potential of the bar mouth
and the ocean. You can pretty much always get into the
ocean there, but during our visit, the waters were roiled,
which puts off the tarpon.. When the ocean is calm, as
it was, naturally, on the day of our departure, it's not
unusual to see large schools of tarpon breaking the
surface. Calms seas also allow anglers to reach the
blue water a few miles off shore, with tuna, wahoo,
dorado, jack and kingfish all possibilities.
So much to do, so little time. It was as if you were
missing out on the fishing if you went fishing!
The camp runs a small fleet of 22' fiberglass pangas
with front casting platforms, rod racks and spacious
open decks ideal for two anglers. New, 40 HP outboards
moved the boats around nicely. All of the guides
spoke English, had worked in the area previously,
were good boat handlers and most pleasant companions.
While enjoyable fishing always puts a positive spin
on food and lodging, it really wasn't necessary as
Sikalanka has plenty of its own charms no matter what
your piscatorial luck. The lodge is entirely built
of attractive native hardwoods. Duplex guest cabins
feature two large, double beds in each spacious room,
plus attached bathroom with tiled shower and washstand.
Outside, there's a small veranda overlooking the lagoon.
There's plenty of light from the camp's large generators,
overhead fans and good cross ventilation. The main
lodge has both a bar/lounge as well as large dining
room. Not elegant but quite charming throughout.
Meals were another pleasant surprise. While I didn't
expect gourmet fare we were all very pleased with the
food. If anything it was too plentiful: well prepared
main courses - lobster, fresh fish, shrimp, chicken
and pork, plus plenty of side dishes.
Trips to Sikalanaka run on a weekly basis. Anglers
begin by flying, via either Miami or Houston, to San
Pedro Sula, Honduras. Both American and Continental
have late morning departures that get anglers to SAP
by noon. From there it's a short commuter flight to
La Ceiba and overnight. We had a most enjoyable dinner
at a local restaurant, with the bill for 8 of us,
including a glass of wine here and there, for well
under $100.00. The following morning, early, a twin
engine plane flies guests onward to Brus Lagoon, and
boats transfer you to the lodge from there. This is
Central America and things don't work on the same
clock like schedule we like to believe is always
true in the US but generally, even if things are
somewhat delayed, you'll still comfortably be in
camp by late morning, with plenty of time for a
full afternoon of fishing that same day. On the
return leg, most guests will be able to make it back
to home on the same day they depart the camp. At
present, flights between La Cieba and Brus Lagoon
operate only on Monday-Wednesday and Friday, and
thus anglers are restricted to coming and going on
days that fit that schedule.
Weekly packages are a most reasonable $1995 per
angler, including transportation from San Pedro
Sula to the lodge, hotel overnight in La Cieba,
all meals, accommodations and guided fishing.
Bookings can be made through: Angling Escapes:
email: email@example.com. Toll free phone:
~ Paul Melchior