Just home from what has become an annual two week trip to Tulum on the Yukutan Peninsula in Mexico. I fish throughout the extensive, productive saltwater flats within the beautiful Sian Ka’an biosphere. The flats around Boca Paila are one of the few places I know where you can experience good self guided sight fishing for bonefish with a fly rod, though in the years I have been visiting I have noted that the number of anglers fishing here has increased, despite the presence of saltwater crocodiles, and not surprisingly the fish have become very spooky.
This trip I managed to average a fish a visit, never fishing more than just a couple of hours in the afternoon. Last year I met Capt. Eduardo Gomez, take a look at my earlier blog, one of the best saltwater fly fishing guides I have fished with anywhere. Eduardo has 45 years experience fishing throughout Sian Ka’an, most of it as a full guide at the famous Boca Paila Fishing Lodge, which is no longer in operation.
This year I booked three full day trips with Eduardo and experienced some of the very best fly fishing I have ever enjoyed. We started off each morning focussing on bonefish, which generally feed best in very shallow water before the sun gets too hot. On the first day with four bonefish successfully caught and released Eduardo suggested we move and try for permit. I very nearly said I would rather stick with catching bones but luckily I listened to Eduardo’s advice, reeled in my 8wt and rigged up a 10wt Thomas & Thomas with a large crab pattern.
It was a windy day but luckily there was very little high cloud so the light for spotting fish was perfect. I soon got my first shot at a permit, but not surprisingly that fish showed zero interest in my fly, which is pretty much normal when attempting to catch these most spooky fish on fly. The second fish I cast at reacted very differently and as soon as the fly hit the water it turned to look at it and did everything but actually eat it. The fish did not spook and when I recast it once again turned and closely examined the fly, but refused to actually eat it. By now the fish was moving away from the boat at my extreme casting range and at an angle that meant the third cast would be directly into the wind. In my mind I had given up on catching it but cast anyway, and quite unbelievably the fly landed perfectly right in front of the fish; and this time it ate it. Ten minutes later Eduardo slid the net under my first ever permit caught on fly.
With bonefish and permit now in the bag I only needed a tarpon to complete a coveted I.G.F.A Inshore Grand Slam on fly, a lifetime achievement for any angler, and one that has been at the very top of my personal bucket list for many years. Eduardo knew a good place and with the crab fly swapped for one of my home tied Black Death tarpon flies I started casting. Within ten minutes I had hooked the first tarpon, which came cartwheeling directly towards the boat before throwing the fly, ditto the second fish. The third fish stayed hooked throughout three spectacular series of acrobatic jumps and as Eduardo reached out to grab the leader all looked done and dusted, until the line went slack. By now the clock was ticking but undeterred Eduardo took us to another spot where I connected with another tarpon, that remained hooked all the way to the net.
With my inshore fly caught slam in the bag my day was done and I made it back to the hotel in time for the 2 for 1 Margarita happy hour, the start of a most memorable hangover! Eduardo Gomez can be contacted through the following emails, his son’s at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com