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March 23, 2011

Q & A: Fishing for Inshore Slams

Experts in top-producing locations give their tips

The IGFA has accepted 331 inshore grand slams, defined as catching three of four species - bonefish, tarpon, permit and snook - in a day. While the first inshore slams became IGFA record in 1995, many previous catches - dating back to 1982 - earned acceptance due to proper documentation. In 2004, IGFA added Atlantic inshore grand/super grand slams (striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, Atlantic bonito, little tunny) and shortly after, Pacific inshore grand/super grand slams (white seabass, yellowtail, halibut, dorado). So far, only 28 Atlantic slams and three Pacific slams have been recorded.

For a glimpse at what top guides and resorts ­recommend for inshore slam seekers, we queried experts in top-producing locations, including Turneffe Island Resort (Belize,, Belize River Lodge ( and Capt. Bob Beighley (lower Florida Keys, Among the three, only Belize River Lodge regularly encounters numbers of snook; the others primarily target flats slams.

Q: What is it about your location that produces regular slam opportunities?

Turneffe Island Resort (TIR): We're in an area heavily ­populated with marine life, where it's catch-and-release only for bonefish, tarpon and permit. We don't overfish our areas, and we have many square miles to work with. The area behind the island is also a marine reserve.

Belize River Lodge (BRL): We're located 3 1/2 miles upstream from the mouth of the Belize River; our guests have an opportunity to see all four species daily, or at least regularly. The coast along both sides of the river and the nearby cays hosts extensive red mangrove forests.

Capt. Bob Beighley (BB): The abundance of fish and the quality of the fish, matched with our unique tide situation (four daily tides - two lows, two highs), give us a huge ­advantage over other locations.

Q: What's the best time of year to target a slam at your location?

BB: You can catch a slam any day of the year, but the best times are spring and summer. In spring, all three flats species are present in the greatest numbers. However, the summer produces the most consistently favorable weather.

TIR: June through September, as the elusive tarpon come in with full force.

BRL: No real best time, though windier weather generally occurs during January, March and December, making it tougher to cast a fly to a permit.

Q: Do you actively target slams with clients?

BRL: We don't push for slams unless guests specifically express interest. Most are happy to continue catching a specific species that's biting rather than leave feeding fish to catch another species.

BB: We like to target slams in the lower Keys, because they're the ultimate challenge. No matter how many fish you catch in your lifetime, you'll never take a slam for granted. But slams are not for everyone. They're usually for people who've spent years catching all three species individually.