For the second year in a row I had a chance to take part in the Fishwest trip to the Northern Yucatan town of San Felipe to fish for sabalitos (Spanish for baby tarpon) with the great guides and staff of Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures at their outfit, the Tarpon Cay Lodge (TCL).
Building off my experience from last year I felt much better prepared this time around and went in with plenty of practice under my belt. I will share more on that later. For now, I want to take a moment to share a few things that I learned on this tarpon filled experience.
Tarpon Flies aren’t always big:
The flats and creeks surrounding the TCL and generally pretty shallow when searching for the baby tarpon. A lot of the flies that are utilized in these shallow areas are extremely lightweight slow sinking flies or top-water “dry flies”. One of the most surprising things to me was that the guides always seemed to reach for really small and sparsely tied offerings. My overall impression is that the smaller & simpler patterns yielded the best results in these shallow water situations.
Bad weather? No Problemo!
During our stay at the TCL we were greeted with tropical storm Harvey. High winds and extremely heavy volumes of rain were prevalent during Harvey’s visit. The heavy wind created some interesting casting situations and made things a little bit more challenging. However, when the wind calmed down a little the fishing was still great in the rain. I would even venture to say that at times it was even better than in sunny weather. The surface disturbance of the rain allowed us to get in to lagoons & creeks almost undetected, these were lagoons & creeks that I don’t feel we would have had a chance to fish as effectively otherwise. Despite the wet conditions we landed a bunch of fish each session. The lesson here is to not shy away from rainy conditions when it comes to tarpon fishing. Just break out the Gore-Tex and get out there!
Tarpon are aerial acrobats:
Unlike other saltwater species, I feel that the hardest part of tarpon fishing begins as soon as the fish eats the fly. First and foremost, a good hook set is mandatory. Even then that is no guarantee that the fish comes to the boat. Tarpon are extremely acrobatic and will jump numerous times throughout a fight. For example, I hooked a fish that went airborne nine times over the course of our time together. Each time, as an angler, you increase the risk throwing the hook if you don’t “bow to the king”. This means simply lowering the rod tip down and pointing the rod in the direction of the fish. This act takes pressure off of the line and increases the odds of landing these powerful fish. This sounds simple in theory. However, it can get pretty crazy. Whether you land the fish or not seeing these majestic creatures fly through the air gets your heart pumping as an angler.
Keep these tips in mind when chasing the silver king and you are bound to have success! Stay tuned for more about the pursuit of the silver king coming soon!