Living in the Pacific Northwest, many folks would instantly think I was talking about our beloved Coho Salmon. I was blessed to enjoy a spectacular group trip to Prince of Wales Island in July to do just that. The Silvers that I was recently chasing refers to the “Silver King” or magical Tarpon of the Yucatan Peninsula. I just returned from hosting six adventurous fly fishers to the land of baby Tarpon at both the Tarpon Cay Lodge in San Felipe and Isla Holbox fishing with my good friend Alejandro Cruz (aka Sand Flea).
We arrived on our direct Alaska Airlines flight in Cancun about 5:00 pm. We were met at the terminal by a much appreciated air conditioned van for our 3.5 hour wet, night time ride to San Felipe. We were all very happy to have a very competent local driver who negotiated the many checkpoints, speed bumps and small Mexican towns. Arriving in San Felipe at Tarpon Cay Lodge, we were met by Beto, our host for the next 4 days, with a refreshing tray of margaritas. He became our instant best friend!
Fishing at TCL was spectacular! What an amazing place to indoctrinate six Tarpon “newbies” to the game of casting to, hooking, fighting and hopefully landing these amazing game fish. Our guides were very helpful and professional. They offered ample advice when asked, and gave us all plenty of opportunity for success. We all really enjoyed the split fishing day. We ventured ou at first light. When the day became oppressively hot and humid, we returned for a delicious lunch and siesta. At about 2;30 pm we would venture out again refreshed, and ready for battle again. Most of the fish we caught were in the 5-25 lb range. No matter their size, these silver bullets put on quite a display for all of us. I definitely understand the allure of this magnificent fish on fly gear. I was lucky to fish both the new Sage Salt 890-4 with a Hatch 7+ as well as the new Winston Boron III Plus 890-4 with a matching green Nautilus NV reel. Both rods were loaded with the new AirFlo Bruce Chard “Tropical Punch” WF8F line which cast like a dream. I was hard pressed to pick a winner, though both had quite the workout on these strong, high flying fish. Both rods were able to throw almost the complete line when needed, and could also work tight, technical mangrove channels when needed. The flies of choice were both tarpon toads and some custom gurglers on the surface that lead to some explosive takes.
Beyond the incredible fishing, the scenery was truly spectacular. Fishing for these beautiful fish while flamingos fly overhead, and every type of heron, stork, egret,, Ibis etc serenade you was magical. The ever changing color of the sky and water at both dawn and dusk was magical.
A special shout out goes to my friend Dave Boyd for hooking and landing a six foot saltwater crocodile. I think that critter followed him for the rest of the trip looking for revenge!
The food at TCL was rustic, but delicious. Beto made it clear that we could have anything we desired. He delivered on this promise with some amazing local Mayan dishes as well as scrumptious seafood. The hospitality at TCL cannot be beat!
I have been dreaming about visiting Isla Holbox for a very long time. I recently had the privilege of guiding Tarpon legend Alejandro Vega Cruz (aka Sand Flea) on the Hood Canal. Alejandro told me tales of his beautiful island and the many tarpon large and small that inhabit its warm, tropical waters. When we arrived via ferry to the sand covered streets, colorful store fronts, palm trees and turquoise water, I knew my dreams had not been in vain.
We stayed in the lux Hotel Las Tortugas. The hotel was the complete opposite from the humble atmosphere of Tarpon Cay Lodge. It had a spa, swimming pool and deluxe European style restaurant. What they didn’t have was Beto…
Our Pangas met us in front of the “resort” at sun up. We ran 1+ hours to the clear, mangrove filled, Caribbean waters that were home to our elusive quarry. The fishing at Holbox was much more technical than San Felipe. Clear, shallow water, clear skies and spooky fish. This became sort of a “spring creek” style tarpon experience. We all learned to keep our double haul low, flies small and fly lines away from the fish. It was truly a humbling experience where the more line you could cast the better your odds were.
My final day in Holbox was a treat as I was guided by both Alejandro and his brother Darwin. We ventured into a narrow river channel in search of Snook and more baby tarpon. The game here was short accurate casts under the mangroves. Having two of the best guides in the Yucatan as tutors was both educational and exhilarating. The result was a number of Snook to the boat that we took home for delicious ceviche at Alejandro’s house that evening. Delicious!!!
All in all this was a terrific adventure. We all learned a great deal, and can’t wait to come back next year. There might be a spot for you… I know that all involved will be practicing their “double haul” in anticipation of the explosive strike of the Sabalito!
For more information check out the trips section of our website, or if you want to join me on one of my upcoming adventures, feel free to email me at bill@PeninsulaOutfitters.com.