Monday, September 08, 2014

Paradise Lodge-2014

Isla Blanca. 
Finally, it was to be a reality!

 Although challenging, there are good numbers of permit and baby tarpon just a few minutes north of Cancun, and 4 million people. Once again, our host, Marco Ruz, arranged an excellent guide for us-I had fished with Luis before and I knew we would be in for some great fishing.

 As Luis, poled the small panga, in and out of the mangrove patches, we kept quiet and kept a sharp eye out for tarpon cruising the shadows.  The crystal-clear water meant they could see you just as well as you hoped you could see them!


 A well placed, slow sinking fly, like the Deep Cover Shrimp, was the recipe for success with these high flying tarpon


With the high winds, one day, we poled into a deeper bay, and found a nice pod of tarpon waiting forour offerings.  With water a bit deeper, I switched to a sinking fly-the 
Foxxy Griz Minnow.
The olive version proved the right choice!

 The wind was finally down, on our second day, and we moved to the permit flats.  We found permit, had a number of shots, and I finally connected with my first permit of the trip.

Once again, crabs were on the menu, and the Crusty Crab was just what they were looking for!

After 3 days fishing Isla Blanca, and both Mike and I with a permit and tarpon, we headed south to the very bottom of the Yucatan.  Paradise Lodge would be our home for the next 6 days.


Paradise Lodge

Paradise Lodge is remote, and requires long, rough transfers to reach the 2 primary bays-
Chetumal Bay and Espiritu Santu Bay.  
This area is not for the casual fly fisherman!
We fished Chetumal Bay, near Xcalak, and were rewarded with many great chances for big permit.  

 Awesome flats of Chetumal Bay
 Although these permit keyed on shrimp/type flies in the morning, it was the crab patterns that they wanted in the afternoon.  The change in behavior was subtle, and we made the switch.                     Once again, the Crusty Crab came to the rescue!

 Typical bonefish.  They were small and there were thousands of them!  No joke! 
On one occasion, I tried singling out a permit, feeding with the bonefish, and it proved impossible.  Bonefish are just too quick.

In addition to the bays, there are a couple of inland lakes, fed by cenotes, from the ocean.  Ocean fish can be found in these saltwater lakes, and they are a lot of fun. At Mosquitero Lake, a small tunnel was cut through the mangroves, for launching a boat. 


 Rigged and Ready to fish Mosquitero Lake

We found good baby tarpon action, right at daybreak.
 Fishing a tan and chartreuse Neutralizer was the right choice!
 Shortly after my first tarpon, Mike was into his first fish, caught on his favorite tarpon fly...
...the Gurgler!

 Nice Double!

Later that afternoon, while searching the mangroves for tarpon, a school of Cubera Snapper were spotted, coming fast along the mangroves.  I was able to intercept them with a Neutralizer, and the lead fish enhaled the fly.  These fish were all 8-10 lbs. and put up an exceptional fight!

Cubera Snapper

A couple of our group had found good calm seas, and some big adult tarpon rolling in the channel, leading to Espiritu Santu Bay.  They did manage to catch one of the smaller tarpon, but lost several more of his larger cousins.  Mike and I decided that if the weather would hold, we would give those big tarpon a go, even though we were "undergunned" with 10 wt. rods.  
[Lesson learned:  Don't leave home without a 12 wt. if there is a chance for adult tarpon]

 Mike and I both landed big tarpon this morning
and it was a highlight for the trip.

 End Game...45 minutes later!

After a strong fight, during a downpour, the big tarpon was at the boat!

This was Alejandro's first big tarpon, and he insisted that we bring her on deck for a quick picture. Mike and I were reluctant, but finally agreed that we should get a couple of quick pictures and get the fish back in the water! 

 Alex and his staff were amazing, and did everything they could to make our stay comfortable and successful.  The food was all authentic Mayan and Mexican, and was terrific!
We were joined by 6 other passionate fly flyfishermen.  No whimps in this group!  They were a great bunch of guys to share our experience!

Also, many thanks to Mike Scott for a great trip!