Archive for April, 2007

As I stepped off the plane at the Cancun airport I remembered how simple it was to get there from the West coast.  Many of my recent trips have been to South America where the long travel takes its toll but when I set foot in Mexico I was ready for the day, feeling good and ready to fish.  

I was met by our outfitter Marco and we took his new Ford Explorer for a three hour drive to the town of San Felipe and Tarpon Cay Lodge.  San Felipe is a charming and quaint fishing village of about 2000 people and about just as many pink flamingos. When we arrived at the lodge we were welcomed by the warm salty air, the lodge staff and an enormous plate of fresh fish salad and rice.  My room was quiet and spacious with one double bed and two twins leaving plenty of space for all of my fishing gear.  The oscillating fans and air conditioning kept me cool while the rooftop veranda gave great views of the waters which reminded me that I was ready to find my tarpon. 

The next morning I had breakfast and met my guide Chris. Chris was extremely professional, polite, and knowledgeable.  He helped me get set up and we were off to find some rolling fish in the mangroves.  The mangrove coastline holds baby Tarpon and Snook that love to eat a fly.  The Tarpon range from 5 – 15lbs and are great sport on and 8wt with a floating line. During the majority of my first day the tide was pushing these fish into the mangroves so most of our fish came from the mouths of different channels and sometimes way up the channels.  In one tight spot that we could only roll cast I jumped 3 and landed 1. Very small sabolito (small tarpon) but nice.  As the day was ending and the light was fading we returned to a mangrove bay and started seeing lots of rolling fish that were eager to hop on our flies.  Great baby tarpon fishing!
After a few days in San Felipe we returned back to Cancun to fish out of Isla Blanca.  Depending upon where you stay in Cancun the drive to the put in is anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour away.  And well worth the drive!  At the docs I met Edwin, my guide who had his panga ready to go.  We had about a 20 minute boat ride to our first stop where we found rolling tarpon along the mangrove coast.  Plenty of shots and no hook ups but sometimes that is the way the story goes.  Next we hit the permit flats.  We saw dozens of fish and again I had a number of shots but never closed the deal…bummer.
My next stop was Ascension Bay Bonefish Club. After the long dreaded three hour drive to Punta Allen I was happy to arrive at the Club.  ‘That road’ is well known – but I have to say that it is so much better than before. They even have a new bridge at Boca Paila Lagoon that actually looks like it will hold up.  ABBC has always been one of my favorite lodges in Mexico. They have great guides, intimate lodge setting, and wonderful flats to fish in Ascension Bay.  I was greeted by Natalie and Aaron.  They were delightful people who made us feel welcomed and got us excited about our upcoming days fishing at the lodge.  Ascension Bay Bonefish Club is a small, private house on the edge town and close to the water.  Bedrooms are large and airy, with overhead fans, and a full bathroom complete with hot-water.  Screened windows provide views of the Caribbean and garden as well as cross ventilation. A combination lounging-dining room and its adjoining patio are the natural focal points of the lodge.  One thing I love about the lodge is the fact that you have two guides per 23 foot panga who both work to find fish with you.  My guides Manuel and Christian were professional and knew the waters well. 
We were in the heart of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve that contains well over one million acres stretching along the beautiful Caribbean coast of eastern Mexico. Sian Ka’an (“birth of the sky” in Mayan) is the home of over 300 species of birds, and many rare or endangered species of land and aquatic animals such as the manatee and jaguar. Plus plenty of Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Snook and more.  Fishing Ascension Bay always excites me as one minute you can be poling for permit (and seeing plenty) and the next you are wading in white sand flats for bonefish. 
I then moved on to Casa and Playa Blanca lodges.  Casa Blanca is located on the southern tip of Ascension bay and close to some very productive flats.  The fishing at Playa Blanca Lodge is also remarkable.  You essentially have the Espiritu Santo Bay AND the Santa Rosa Lagoon to your self.  The area is home to many permit, bonefish, and tarpon as well as big Snook.   During my stay a young man landed a 25 lb permit, good size Snook, and about an 80 lb tarpon.  I was unexpectedly surprise by my average size bonefish being in the 2 – 2.5 lb range.  Most in the area are more like 1-2 lb fish. The 16 foot Dolphin skiffs are great to fish out of and very comfortable for the runs you make to the flats.  The flats vary but one could spend time in and out of the boat if requested. The guides speak great English and have extensive guiding experience on the waters. 
Traveling back down to the Yucatan is always a treat and I really enjoyed the new friends I made along the way as well as seeing some familiar faces from my last trip.  I continue to feel as if Mexico offers some of the best diversity in the saltwater world and is a great destination for advanced anglers looking for a grand slam and just as wonderful for those just starting their saltwater fishing carrier.

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