Cody Catherall with a beautiful Guanaja permit. Photograph by Nick Price

The Way – Fly Fish Guanaja

Since ancient times, wise ones and sages often lived by water. When you live by water there is catching fish, catching people, being caught by catching, and catching the way.

—Dogen, Japanese Zen Master, 1125 AD

The story of Fly Fish Guanaja is written in the stars and laid out most simply by Dogen. We started catching fish, then people, we were caught by catching, then caught the Way.

It’s not a fairy tale, rather an unforseen destiny, powerful and steady as the mightiest river flowing relentlessly to the sea. There’s been unforeseen drops, eddies that seemed inescapable, channels meandered away, and storms we couldn’t see through.

Yet the river of Fly Fish Guanaja continues on a steady path of growth, friendship, and lifetime memories.

Guanaja was the unknown Bay Island of Honduras, it’s first wave of tourism wiped out by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Through a series of connections, coincidences, and explorations, I started Fly Fish Guanaja sight unseen, relying on hearsay, legends, and Jack Samson’s book Permit on the Fly. Jack adored Guanaja for large permit and good people.

Mangrove Bight looking east.
Rankin Jackson poles Cody Catherall onto a school of bonefish.

Catching Fish
We adopted a permit logo upon arrival yet had no idea how to catch them. We caught 2 small ones the first season and got blanked the second. We were a bonefishing lodge with a permit logo, reinventing wheels daily. Locals still ate permit, and nets were used around the island, sometimes to catch bonefish for shark bait.

Locals now protect permit, bonefish, and tarpon through an ethic developed organically by creating jobs, industry, and client-driven philanthropy. We’ve landed over 140 permit so far in our 15th season. The logo has come to frution, and we have come a long way.

Always easier to see with a birds eye view even when they’re close. Edwin Medina points ’em out to Jed Lyttle.
A small school of bonefish.
The south side of Guanaja.
A squall moves toward Dome Flat.
Mary Ann and Jarold. Mangrove Bight, Guanaja.

Catching People
Fly Fish Guanaja catches people. Like me, anglers come to fish, and fall in love with everything else. Guanaja is a mountianous, Caribbean island that grows some of the freindliest people the world. The island is surrounded by flats full of taling bonefish, permit, triggers and more. Beyond an angler’s dream, Guanaja is paradise lost, then found.

Passing squall.
An eel swims along the shoreline.

“Fly Fish Guanaja catches people. Like me, anglers come to fish, and fall in love with everything else.”

Guanaja, permit.

Being Caught by Catching
This phrase is a little heady, especially if you haven’t contemplated Buddist principles. A few years into guiding I was struck with a revelation, the more fish we caught, the more we were actually being caught into the life of water and fly-fishing.

I thought “hey, wait a minute, I’m actually being caught here.” Even with an exceptional education, through graduate school, I was caught by life on the river, and like most rivers, I ended up in the sea.

Jed Lyttle and a Guanaja, permit.

Catching the Way
Fly Fishing is a way of life, and defines our relationship to Earth. It’s hard to imagine a better industry for a depleting Earth than one that takes only photos and leaves foot prints that are washed away on a high tide.

Fly Fish Guanaja owner, Steve Brown, searching for treasure.

Contributed By

Nick Price

Nick Price is an Idaho based photographer specializing in fly fishing, travel and outdoor lifestyle. His editorial work has appeared in The FlyFish Journal, The Drake, Anglers Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, and others. He travels regularly but has a love for Silver Creek, his home water. Nick also guides Silver Creek among other rivers based out of Picabo Angler. He’s married with two sons.

Contributed By

Steven Calaway Brown

Steven Calaway Brown is a Colorado native fly fishing guide and educator, specializing in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River and the Colorado.  He started Fly Fish Guanaja in 2008, married another career fly fisher, and raises 3 small anglers between Canada, Colorado, and Honduras. 

R.L Winston Fly Rods Catch Magazine


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