US visitor completes Little Cayman Grand Slam

| 08/05/2013

Landed-Permit (264x300).jpg(Southern Cross Club): A guest at the Southern Cross Club guest achieved something many fly fisherman only dream about last month when he landed a Permit, a bonefish and a tarpon within a 24 hour period to complete the Little Cayman Grand Slam. Considered the world championship of saltwater fly-fishing, this is the stuff of lore in the shallow flats and beach bars of the island. “I’m pretty excited,” said Schofield from his home in Traverse City, Michigan, “but I’m more excited about catching the Permit than the Grand Slam because you can go your whole life and not catch a Permit on fly.”

Permit are hard fish to find and harder to catch. Schofield had been trying to land one in the waters of Little Cayman for 12 years, so when Christopher Gough, the club fishing guide, rushed over with the news that a Permit was in shallows near the dock, he grabbed his gear and decided to go for it – not really expecting to catch it.

“I had no hat, no sunblock − I figured, the Permit would swim away just like the last 12 years,” he said.  Schofield cast his fly about six inches in front of the fish, worked his fly-fishing skills, and he was happily surprised when the Permit went for the hook. 

The battle between man and fish was on, right in front of the Southern Cross Club.  Peter Hillenbrand, owner of the resort, was watching from his porch. “I saw the hook up, gave a YEE HAW, grabbed the camera, and ran down to the beach to watch the fight,” he said. 

Word got around and soon there was a crowd watching the action.  “Peter said to me, ‘No pressure or anything, but half the island is watching!’” recalls Ross Schofield with a chuckle.  Being near the shore, Ross saw people sitting under trees, on the dock and on the dive boat watching his fight with the fish. When he landed the permit after an hour and 15 minutes, the crowd went wild.  “It was grand stand fishing!” laughs Schofield. “It was pretty exciting and really fun.”

“It was better than watching your favorite team win the championship – Ross holding up his Permit like a trophy in front of a full stadium!” said Chris Gough.   Having landed and released the permit first, angler and guide decided to go for the Grand Slam. Schofield landed a bonefish the same afternoon just before dark, and they tried for the tarpon that evening in the Little Cayman Tarpon Pond, but it was too dark so they stopped. Little Cayman is one of the few places in the world with a landlocked tarpon pond.

Ross and Chris went back to the pond the following morning, Ross finally landed his tarpon and the celebration was on.  All three fish were caught in about 15 hours, well within the 24 hours required for the Grand Slam.  Peter Hillenbrand says there have been four Grand Slams completed during his 18 years as owner of the Southern Cross Club, and he was delighted to see Ross Schofield, a long time repeat guest, complete his. 

“Ross Schofield has been diving and fishing with the Southern Cross Club for so long we forget when he originally showed up on our stoop for a dose of salt water adventure,” he joked. “His wife Sherry comes down to dive, but Ross likes to mix it up and he enjoys the thrills both in and on the water.” 

Ross agrees, saying Little Cayman, with its diversity and beauty, is special. “You can go blue water fishing one day, diving the next, fishing in the flats the day after that, or you can just lie in a hammock and read.” And although achieving the Grand Slam gives him a lot of satisfaction, Schofield says his real reward is the Little Cayman experience. “I love being outside and walking around in the flats seeing other things, like a little octopus, a baby shark, or little barracudas − you see everything in the sea.”

Little Cayman is acclaimed as a dive destination, but the fishing here is also world class, both inside and outside the reef. Fly-fishing in shallow water flats offer bone, tarpon and Permit fishing all year long. Anglers going for the big pull in the deep water off the island’s famous drop-off can hook wahoo, tuna and marlin. At the Southern Cross Club guests step out of theirbeach bungalow and can wet their line within 15 minutes. 

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