Thursday, May 16, 2013

Baby Tarpon in Campeche, Mexico

Wow, it's been FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR to long since I last posted.  I’ve been busy chasing a now 3 year old so my fishing time has been, to say the least, limited.  Two weeks ago I took my first vacation with my husband without our son to the Yucatan Peninsula. My husband has a fly fishing TV show (Conway Bowman’s Fly Fishing the World on the Sportsman Channel) so we were there to shoot two episodes…all tarpon…all the time!

My goal for the trip was to:

1)       Catch a tarpon…baby, juvenile or adult…I didn’t care.  I just needed one!
2)      Catch a tarpon on my stand up paddlboard.  I’ve bene thinking about this for YEARS!  Flats and mangroves are ripe for the picking with a  stand up paddlboard (SUP).  You can access areas that are tough to access with a boat, sneak up on your prey and fish with very minimal amount of gear (this could be a drawback however!).
3)      Relax, do nothing and lay in a hammock on the beach.

The long and short of it was…that’s exactly what I did.  The details…

First half of the trip (organized through FlyTreks ) was to Campeche on the NW corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Lodging: Ocean View Hotel - two stories - no elevator, super clean, great service, big rooms, pool, restaurant open early for fishermen, quiet, free shuttles to town, and close to Walmart if you forgot anything!  (Yes, Walmart!) I advise you bring your own coffee if you like good coffee both regular and decaf.
Fishing:  Baby to juvenile tarpon ranging from 5 to 40lbs in the mangroves and open water from pangas (or SUP)
Time of year: Early May
Weather:  HOT…HOT and HOT…95-98 degrees with 98 percent humidity.  Light breeze in the morning and 10mph+ by the afternoon.  

Tackle: Orvis 8wt Helio II with Mirage reel.  Floating line and 30lb tippit.  Flies varied…tarpon toads…cockroaches…surface poppers.

We never got the offshore juveniles in the 20-40lb range due to wind but the smaller ones in the mangroves were awesome!  They ranged from 5-9lbs. and they were plentiful...and I mean plentiful!  We were either sightcasting to rolling tarpon or blind casting to areas where tarpon would stage up and ambush prey in key spots in the mangrove.  From the time we hit the water until about noon it was game on!
 Making TV!

 Conway is up first!

 Making more TV!

 Loving those jumpers!

 Baby poon!

 My first one to the boat!

 Open water delight!

My biggest was found in the open water!

 Another juvenile poon.

 Hidden mangrove cave holding lots of baby poons!

 Poon bubbles!

 Conway got one in here...tough casting and fishing with the tight quarters!

 Hooking up on my first tarpon on my SUP!!!

I had to sit down in order to use my legs to backpeddle the fish out of the mangroves as I fought it.

 Fish on!

 It's a jumper!

 Landed it amidst a tangle of line!

 I was so stoked!!! You're looking at one happy fisherman...woman...whatever.

 Always released!

 Hooked 4-5 more that all jumped but spit the hook. This was my favorite photo captured by my husband.  Lots of factors working against me on a SUP...very little leverage to set the hook, get towed around by even the smaller fish, limited space for even a pair of pliers or extra tackle and feet dangling in the water that could attract other species.  But it was all totally worth it!

The boat launch was across the street from the easy, convenient and the hotel had awesome air conditioning!

 This thing got destroyed after a few fish slammed it!

 The colorful and historic town of Campeche. It was sacked by "pirates" over and over so they built a wall around the city.  There are also lots of old Maya ruins in and around town. 


We went through several of these...slow stead strip then BAMMO!!!!!!!!!!!!  Strip strike and just hang on for the jump!

 Tarpon toad, Helios II and Mirage reel...the tarpon slayer set up!

 Fighting one!

 Cockroach fly...another proven winner!

 Typical afternoon delight...fresh shrimp ceviche, mango with chili sauce and ice cold beer. 

Next blog will be the second half of the trip on Holbox Island on the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula.  Stay tuned...

Thanks to Fly Fishing the World, Orvis, Hobie Stand Up Paddleboards, Columbia Sportswear and Kaenon Eyeware!