Finally getting around to this...
I had to go to the Cancun area over Labor Day weekend for a family memeber's destination wedding. I figured I might as well go fishing. I thought about getting a group of cousins together for a off shore trip, but once I started looking into my options, I discovered that some of the lodges on Ascension Bay do single day trips, including round trip transportation from the Cancun resorts. Thoughts of my cousins immediately dropped from my plans, and I focused on booking a solo trip to fly fish for the some legendary species. Ascension Bay is a fly fisherman's dream, as it's one of the best places in the world to catch bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook in the same day. I booked through Yellow Dog fishing charters, and they set me up with Pesca Maya fishing lodge.
The lodge's driver picked my up at 5:30am. The drive did not speak much English, so we sat there in silence. We picked up 2 other groups from different resorts, and then some random guy standing on a corner in Tulum with a fishing pole. So, we are all driving on a terrible, bumpy, potholed gravel road, then, out of nowhere, the drive pulls off onto a small gravel road leading into the jungle, and he stops the van and tells us all to get out. We all look at each other, wondering if we are getting abducted. I don't have any money for ransom... He leads us down a path that leads to a short dock, a couple small boats are tied up. I was told to get in one boat, the other 5 get in the other. We untie and my driver takes off. The other boat is still docked.
30 minutes later, we pull up to another dock. My boat driver finally tells me he is my guide, and that we are at the lodge to check in and eat breakfast. I did not get kidnapped. He said the road between Tulum and the lodge is so bad, they opted to shuttle via boat for a smoother ride. The other boat showed up as we were getting ready to leave. Apparently, this lodge also does snorkeling trips.
It was another 20 minute ride to get to the ocean side of the peninsula to start the day. We were going to start with bonefish, as they are supposed to be the easiest of the 4 to catch. However, on our way, he suddenly stops the boat and tells me to start casting to schools of permit - they were breaking the surface everywhere. Fly fishing for permit/tarpon with a 8wt. rod, 16ft leader and a super heavy fly off the front of a boat is completely different than casting for trout in a stream 3 feet wide. Holy crap, I was out of practice at long distance casting, especially with my messed up casting shoulder. (I have some rotator cuff issues; my wife says it's from too much fly fishing). There were so many jacks around, it was so hard to keep them off the line long enough for the permit to have a chance. Nonetheless, I hooked 3. I broke the first one off horsing it in. The 2nd broke off with 200+yards of line out because the backing was knotted. I landed the 3rd!
Since the permit is the hardest of the 4 to catch, and that one on the board, we decided to go for the Grand Slam (which is a bonefish, a permit, and either a tarpon or a snook). I tried casting to some tarpon that were also around, but didn't get any takers. My arm was tired and needed a break, so we chased down some bonefish. We hopped out of the boat and waded around some flats but only saw a couple fish. Tried another spot and hooked up on the 2nd cast. One step closer to that Grand Slam.
By early afternoon, the wind had really picked up. We had to go into the bay for some protection. The goal now was to find the tarpon and/or snook. This was different fishing. I wasn't casting towards individual moving fish. I was casting into the base of the mangroves. I was much more accustomed to this. It took a little while, but I got a snook too. Grand Slam complete!
Could I get the Super Grand Slama, which is catching all 4 species? I just needed the tarpon. We we pushed around casting to the mangroves, and keeping an eye out for the huge shadows of a tarpon. We saw several, but my poor shoulder and terrible technique couldn't place the fly where it needed to be in those driving winds. No Super Grand Slam for me. By the end of the trip, we were almost back to the dock where they picked me up in the morning. I hopped on the shuttle with the creepy lone fishing guy we had picked up earlier. I was back at the resort around 6:30 pm, just in time for dinner with the family.
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