Thursday, 4 June 2015

Mexico Segunda Parte

Three days after my big game trip I had a much lighter session planned. Fly rods and spinning gear aboard a light skiff, targeting Bonefish, Tarpon, Barracuda and anything else that was around. My hope was that this would be sight fishing but the water around the mangroves was cloudy and visibility was pretty much zero.
I met the guide at a rickety old marina in an area best described as proper old Mexico. His mum Fatima had picked me up twenty minutes previous from our luxurious hotel lobby and we had travelled only a few miles down the road when the Tarmac had given way to dirt track. We passed numerous shanty huts and a rough looking bar (that probably sold the most amazing Tequila!) before turning into an area worryingly surrounded by broken boats and clapped out old engines presumably only kept for their spare parts. I jumped out of the van to be greeted by Rocky(named after Balboa!) a vicious looking but thankfully friendly dog.
 Fatima spoke excellent English but had not bothered teaching her son(my guide!) but we got by on our mutual Spanglish and the universal language of fishing.
I jumped aboard the rough looking skiff and we made our way across the bay towards the mangroves. My confidence was increased by the amount of seabirds that were working the area, Cormorants that are obviously a close relative of our own but are in fact a different species, the Olivaceous Cormorant

and the huge Frigatebirds or Man O'Wars as they are also called.
The Frigates are everywhere, they have the largest wing span to body size ration of any bird in the world and can spend up to a week on the wing not even landing on water. They are fish eaters, mostly flying fish but also participate in kleptoparasitism, harassing other birds to force them to regurgitate their food so they can eat the part-digested contents! Lovely!

 A sparkly shrimp pattern was attached to the leader but blimey it was tough going. Trying to cast a heavy fly into the stiff breeze coupled with my ring rustiness, I haven't fly fished for months, made presentation poor. The guide punted the boat along the mangrove edge but it wasn't until we came down the opposite bank with the wind at our backs that I was really able to work the fly as I would have liked. The Tarpon showed occasionally but they weren't feeding with any gusto in the searing Mexican heat.

Having worked the whole of the first bay we headed to the next. This involved another trek through the mangroves. The temperature outside the mangroves was approaching thirty degrees but inside the added humidity made it feel ten degrees hotter.

We sweated our way through a particularly narrow pass, my guide on the pole at the stern and me sat on the bow pulling and pushing at the protruding branches trying to steer our pass. Stupidly we had laid the fly rod down on the boat and the tip caught on a branch and snapped clean off two rings down. That was the end of the fly fishing then. At one point while we were wedged between two trees deep in the heart of the mangrove jungle I felt like Jeremy Wade exploring deep in an inhabitable savage land.

Just above in the trees the vultures patiently watched our lack of progress. The noises coming from unseen wildlife were like nothing I have heard before and every now and then there would be a large splash. At the sound of one particularly large splash I glanced at the guide, his one word reply was 'crocodile'. His lack of English didn't fail him that time! This felt like real adventure fishing!

Eventually we reached our destination a beautiful bay completely enclosed. I threw a shrimp like lure into every likely looking hole but only one Tarpon made a move at the lure. I saw the flash of its stunning mirror like scales but it missed its target and we ended our circuit fishless again. I was working extremely hard for very little reward.

Our passage back through the mangrove pass into the first bay seemed easier than before and we steamed off to a completely different area in search of better sport. Around twenty minutes later we reached the flats. The water was much clearer here although there was plenty of weed with random clear patches dotted around. This was Barracuda country with copious amounts of places for these aggressive predators to hide ready to ambush any unsuspecting victims who may wander too close. First cast and the rubber shrimp was nailed instantly.

It was only a baby but the speed of these creatures in the crystal clear water is a sight to behold. More Barracuda and the odd Snapper followed but nothing of any size so we headed out to deeper water in search of bigger Barras.

We saw them, they followed the lure but they hadn't grown big by being stupid like their naive smaller brethren. I changed to a popper with similar results, the odd follow but no takes. The icing on the cake of a quite frustrating day came from the sky when a huge frigatebird took the lure and flew off with it. Thankfully none of the trebles caught in its beak and with a slight tug it dropped its inedible prey. I wouldn't fancy unhooking seven feet of angry 'seagull'! The adventure was over and we made our way back to Rockys place.

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