I try not to build high expectations for any trip. But sometimes it is impossible for me not to attach some goals to another adventure. This trip had been 50 years in the making and 5 years of saving for it. My wife, Judy, and I planned to celebrate our 50th (Gold) wedding anniversary at Isla Holbox, Mexico. We planned it to coincide with the presence of large and baby tarpon literally surrounding the island. Tarpon are found close by; to the East, South, West and North of our second honeymoon location. I proposed to Judy again down on one knee (I wasn’t 100% sure I was able to stand back up—I did). I asked her if she would be willing to be my wife for the rest of our lives. She said YES! She accepted another wedding ring from me. It was all a surprise for her. It was a perfect evening at the home of one of my best friends (Sandflea) with his family and with some mutual friends.
We stayed at the Holbox Fly Fishing Lodge. It was perfect and we were treated like royalty. We had romantic dinners, good meals, long enjoyable walks, witnessing beautiful sunsets. The expectations I had in mind were blown away and replaced ten-fold by running into old friends who live there and reintroducing ourselves to the island, that has changed considerably in the more than 20 years we have known her. It is still as pleasing as ever, even with more people and hotels around.
Now, I did mention tarpon (Silver), earlier. They were there and they were hungry. We still had to work for them, but all of the fishers there had opportunities, jumping big tarpon (100+ lbs) and a few of us even landed them. We divided our time between the big parent tarpoons and the babies (up to and over 30lbs). My first time fishing Holbox was is 1995 with Alejandro Vega Cruz (a.k.a. Sandflea). He and his family have been like part of my family. We have worked together since then; me helping to book and grow his guide service and he providing the best (only) fly fishing service on the island. Some day I will document Sandflea’s flyfishing accomplishments over the last 30 years. He is an excellent fly caster (either hand) and instinctively knows fishing. A very fishy guy.
We fished four days together this trip (August 16- 24, 2016). I have included more photos than usual since they speak louder than my words. It was perfect weather (low 90’s each day) winds calm in the am and sunny incredible visibility in the water.
We had one day when there were four boats of us looking for big tarpon. I hooked the first one and landed it about an hour later. My first big tarpon (120 lbs) in 8 years. Mostly because I haven’t been able to travel to them as often as I used to. Then all of the boats sort of ended up within sight of each other again. First, Sandflea hooked into a big fish, then another client of Tarpon Club Isla Holbox (Sandflea’s business) from Germany hooked one, then Pat Madden and his wife Jonette (good friends of ours) jumped fish. All four boats had fish on at the same time. God, it was awesome. As it turned out Jonette was the only one to land her fish. The others un-pinned after 30 – 45 minutes of playing with the fishers.
I had one other day fishing with Sandflea. He had a good sized (80 – 100 lbs) fish to hand in about 10 minutes. He really put the cork to it. Although, the poon had its way with his fly rod, breaking it just forward of the fighting grip. With a joint effort between me and Sandflea, he played it without the bottom section of his rod while I controlled line with the reel.
We both laughed and reminisced about the last 20 or so years we had fished together: other broken rods, lightning and thunder downpours and tarpon jumping in our boat. And we future-tripped about fishing together in the years to come. I love that guy. We’ll fish together again.
Judy and I topped off our trip with a flight to Havana, Cuba for the last 4 days. It was over the top for us. Can’t tell you what a good time we had (another story).
It is still a funny occurrence that when I am in tropical areas, fishing, I end up talking to others about the unbelievable fun of fishing steelhead and when in cooler climes wading and swinging flies for steelhead I end up parading the joys of tarpon and bones and flats fishing. It is all good stuff.