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Thread: Isla Holbox, Mexcio - July 8th thru 13

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    Default Isla Holbox, Mexcio - July 8th thru 13

    Isla Holbox, Mexico
    July 8-13, 2010
    Anglers: Chris Sumers and Jim Farley

    In 2009, with things as they were, I decided not to take a vacation and fished locally. But, I told my wife that in 2010, I was going somewhere to catch a large tarpon with my fly rod. After an extensive search and many e-mails, I decided on Isla Holbox, Mexico and Capt. Alejandro ?Sandflea? Vega was going to be my guide. I sent him the tides and moon charts for June through September. Sandflea picked the days, July 8-13, I made the reservations and the wheels were in motion. I spent most of the winter tying flies and attempting to learn how to cast a 500 grain sinking line. Many thanks to Rick Pope and the gang at TFO for their assistance in getting me outfitted with the right rod (and the many other accessories) for the job.

    Well, the time came for the trip and so did the tropical weather. Two weeks before I was to leave, Alex moved across the Yucatan peninsula and a week later, another weather system came through. Sandflea gave me the option of rescheduling to another time but there was no guarantee that I wouldn?t have the same weather problems then. Also, I was ready to go fishing so, Jim and I moved flew down to Cancun, met the taxi and enjoyed our trip to the island. It?s about 2 hours by taxi from the Cancun Airport and then a 20 minute or so long boat ride to the island. We were met on the other side by Capt. Vega and we were set up to start fishing.

    The first day, the weather didn?t cooperate so we ended up fishing the lagoon. An extra high tide made fishing the flats difficult but we happened on a creek flowing back into the mangroves and we managed to snake a couple of nice snook and 2 baby tarpon out. After lunch, we moved to another spot and we both C&R another nice tarpon each.

    Day 2 started off with a calm sea and bait all over the place with large schools of bonito slashing through them. This was not a good day to be a sardine. Although we spotted a few tarpon on the surface, we could never get in position to get a cast.

    Day 3 was pretty much like Day 2, weather wise and the sardines were starting to show on the surface but, no bonito. In one of the other boats, Santa Claus hooked up to a fish so hopes were high. It wasn?t long until we were in position and while I was beginning my cast, the line slipped from my fingers and collapsed around me. I quickly gathered my line (as well as my composure), got a cast away and started stripping. A couple of quick short strips and I had a fish on my fly. The line came tight, I struck back and the fight was on. About 30 minutes later, Sandflea had his hands locked on the lower jaw of a nice 60 pounder, my first ?large? tarpon on the fly. It didn?t take long until Jim was hooked into a nice fish with conventional tackle (with a TFO travel rod). It was a good fight and the fish was close to the boat but in a last little run, the line went slack and it was over. Upon inspection, it appeared that the fish had wrapped itself in the line, causing it to cut. So, after a short re-rig, we found another school and Jim was on another good fish, this one in the 100 lb range. Once again, it appeared that the fish was ready for release when she jumped at the boat and spit the soft plastic. This was kind of a downer but still, we were all happy that I got my fish.

    Day 4 and 5 were pretty much the same as day 2 except that on Day 5 we went back in the mangroves to try for some small fish. The high tides killed us and we couldn?t convince the fish to take our offerings.

    Day 6 started much as the previous day, the Gulf was slick and life was good. We got out to the fishing grounds early and started scanning the waters surface. Soon the bait showed and we knew the tarpon would be right behind them. Finally, we spotted a single slow roller followed by a few more. These fish weren?t going any where, just laying below the surface. Sandflea positioned the boat, Jim got up on the casting deck with me at the ready amid ship. Slowly the fish appeared, just out of casting range, then, just barely into Jim?s casting so he let?er rip. Then I let loose with my fly. Just about the time he was going to pull his jig out of the water, a tarpon struck and just about the time he came tight I had one suck down my fly. They both jumped at the same time, not 5 ft from the gunwale. Off the went, first in the same direction, then in opposite directions, both fish putting on a show. During all of this, Sandflea was more interested in getting some shots with my new little video camera than how much line we had out. Still, after a good fight, Jim had his fish to the boat in 25-30 minutes. After a short revival and a good release, all attentions were directed to my fish and, about 15 minutes later, Capt. Sandflea was removing my Purple Death from the tarpon?s jaw. Jim estimated my fish at 100 lbs. and Sandflea thought Jims fish was 10-15 lbs larger. Two nice fish at one time. Later in the morning, the wind kicked up and we were forced back into the lagoon with no luck but, our day had already been made.

    Here are a few of my lessons learned on this trip, first and foremost, you can never spend too much time working on your casting skills, casting at odd angles or in weird positions, short distances, in gusty winds (especially when they are blowing into your casting shoulder) and when you jump up to line weights or types you seldom or never use (mine was the Rio Leviathan). While you only need 3 flies for your trip, use the internet to assist you in your search for other productive patterns, colors, sizes, etc. The people on this board were invaluable sources of information and all seem most happy to share that information. Be sure to rig with the best equipment you can, don?t skimp on anything. If you are not used to tying knots with large line, practice. And, learn line management, especially if you can?t take a casting basket or VLMD along.

    Even with 3 water haul days, I can?t begin to tell how much fun we had and I?m already planning for next year?s trip. Thanks go out to Capt. Sandflea for keeping us entertained all week and putting us on some great fishing. Also, to the folks at the Faro Viejo for the great accommodations, excellent food and the many cerveza fria. And most importantly, my good friend Jim Farley who I was glad to got to share my adventure, too.

    Tight lines, Chris
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