The 0500 alarm calls out and you peel your eyes open to see darkness resting over the still waters of the Mexican Gulf. The smell of freshly brewed coffee slowly stirs you as you descend the stairs in search of breakfast. Fresh fruit, bacon & eggs builds you up for the tarpon day ahead. It, somehow, always seems easier waking when you know that you are about to go fishing.
Climbing into the boats as the sun begins to crest on the horizon, the humid air is comfortable without the full heat of the sun yet. It is time to head out in search of the silver king, tarpon. As the boat speeds off to your chosen destination, the sun slowly climbs higher. It is the morning that is favoured amongst the Yucatan tarpon operations, a combination of sun and wind playing a factor.
For baby tarpon, the chosen areas are shallow water (1-4 ft), often tucked along mangroves or inside little channels. This style of fishing is exhilarating and almost entirely visual. As you pole the boat along the mangroves you often hear the crash or ripple of moving tarpon before seeing them, then before you know it they are upon you. Rolling much like dolphins through the water. You quickly cast your surface fly in front of the rolling noses and begin to gently gurgle the fly back. The glassy early morning water goes still and oily. Your eyes scanning for the next movement… and then SPLASH! The calm erupts as a tarpon throws itself at your fly. Holding your nerve is hard, remember to set the hook hard before bowing to the king.
Getting the tarpon to eat is one thing but getting them to stay attached is a whole different ball game. They jump freely, high in to the air and shaking their head aggressively. Most times you see your fly disappointing spill out and come loose, but sometimes it sticks and your prize is landed. They may only be called ‘baby tarpon’ at this size but their regal heritage shines through.
If tarpon is a species you are yet to target then you must, and if you are already hooked on the king then the following two lodges should be high up on your list:
Isla Holbox Fly Fishing Lodge
Located on the beautiful small island of Isla Holbox, the Isla Holbox Fly Fishing Lodge offers a wonderful base to pursue tarpon, snook, barracuda and more in the glassy waters and flats of the Gulf. It offers a prolific year-round baby tarpon fishery and in the summer months provides anglers the opportunity to intercept huge migratory tarpon. It is a great location for couples and fishers alike, the lodge offers non-fishing activities including horseback riding, swimming, island exploration, cultural and nature tours.
Tarpon Cay Lodge
Tarpon Cay Lodge is located in the northern part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the small coastal port of San Felipe. The lodge sits on a marine reserve and offers anglers excellent opportunities at catching baby tarpon. For anglers specifically targeting baby tarpon, this is one the best fishery in the world. The tarpon generally range from five to fifteen-pounds with the occasional fish in excess of 20 lbs. Migratory tarpon can occasionally be found as well as barracuda, jacks and snook. As the fishery is primary in shallow water, often with surface flies, you will find fishing at here utterly captivating.
For more information on Mexico please do not hesitate to contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.