Western Yucatan Tarpon|
By: Ken Hanley
-The Gulf of Mexico's Western Yucatan Peninsula offers you an untapped resource for outstanding tarpon action. It's a place where flyrodding and light tackle reign supreme.
The area is home to a significant population of year-round resident tarpon. Plenty of larger migratory fish also ply the regions bays & estuaries throughout the year. The new arrivals are present, presumably to take advantage of the warmer waters and plentiful forage.
I've just returned from another week working the habitat based out of Isla Del Sabalo. I had the good fortune to ply the flats and tidal rivers exploring for silver treasures. It's a magnificent area to puppeteer a streamer in front of hungry tarpon. I was presented with the options of casting to schools of feeding fish over vast shallow flats, working amongst entangled mangroves to pocket pools & tiny creeks with single fish, and working the magic of sinuous rivers. I reveled in all three! There's enough variety in this game to keep anyone engaged.
A massive mangrove jungle dominates the coastal habitat. A series of short river-corridors bisect the jungle. Crystalline waters are the norm for the lower reaches as they empty into sweeping flats. On the other hand, rust-stained hues characterize the smaller quarters of the upper river and tiny creek habitats. The estuary habitat is superb; shallow sandy-bottomed grass beds, banks dominated by mangrove roots and green canopy, plus a short channel or two created by the river's current. The entire region sports an average depth of two to five feet overall. The dynamics provide you with a perfect window to sight-fish.
The estuary's open water affords fly fishers with 360 degrees of casting opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled scan for dorsals & tails, breezing baitfish, or erupting water and instant mayhem. The flats are a casters dream situation. The longer you can cast a line, the better your chances of reaping the harvest. Everyone standing on the bow of the panga gets to play quarterback throwing to a wide receiver. In my case, that would be visions of Joe Montana leading Jerry Rice right into the end zone! Oh yeah FISH ON!
There's another game I want to share. It's one of the most challenging environs you'll ever fly fish. The extensive system of rivers and creeks creates a theatre of extreme close encounters. It's an awesome place to explore. It's darn productive for feeding fish. This place isn't for the faint of heart however as you'll be challenged in all aspects of your angling skills. You earn every fish that comes to hand. I love this game.
The intensely thick cover and micro habitat dictated that we alter our field techniques dramatically. Much of our success was achieved with short-cast applications incorporating steeple casts, side-arm presentations, bow-n-arrow shots, and low-profiled roll casts. If you were lucky enough to have a clearing overhead, it was usually essential to scout the backcast before threading the needle. Often we used a technique from the steelheader's repertoire. We'd turn and face into the open backcast channel and make that our forward stroke. The actual presentation to the fish would happen on the reverse stroke. Once the fly hit its mark a tarpon wouldn't waste any time with their reaction. The results would create a scene of pure pandemonium squared!
Isla Del Sabalo is a perfect place to base your operations along the Yucatan's Western Shoreline. The lodging is brand new offering anglers well appointed cottages. Solar panels now provide for private showers, lighting, and keep the restaurant in great shape as well. The staff is highly attentive to your comfort and requests (but keep in mind there are some limitations as this is a remote location). The bonus is being situated literally just a few yards away from your boats. It doesn't get any better in my mind.
This is a fishery that makes for lifetime memories. The guides and lodge hosts will certainly add their special touch. If you're interested in more travel details please contact the following resources:
Check out: Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures
Angling on the Fly