I would be willing to say that most things in life require that you start off learning the basics before you jump right in and start off with the real deal. Let's face it, no one picks up a bat and heads right off to play in Major League Baseball. It takes years and years of practice to compete with the upper echelon of any category and fly fishing for tarpon is no exception to this rule. From the land of chocolate and water, I'll tell you why fly fishing for tarpon in Tabasco Mexico is one of the most rewarding tarpon experiences.
On the first night of our arrival, we met with Paco Jr, Paco Sr, and their team of guides for a dinner. Laughs, beers, expectations, and a few drinks of mescal were all shared among us that evening, as a group of 12 or so people that have never met before got to know one another before the expedition to chase silver kings went underway. The one thing that we talked about is that during the trip we would actually be visiting a chocolate museum. Curious right? I thought so too.
Fast forward it to the next day. That chocolate museum trip we talked about. Surprise its today. Due to some unforeseen circumstances we had to move the schedule around. I was pretty bummed to be doing this on the first day because up to this point, I had never fished for tarpon and needless to say I was beyond excited to get into fish. That said though, the trip to the museum ended up being one of my favorite aspects of the trip.
At the museum we got the opportunity to learn how cacao is grown and cultivated and eventually turned into chocolate. The first leg of the trip takes place among the cacao trees that progress through the first several stages of the growing and harvesting process. Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the tour were all of the interactive stations that allowed us to sample the cacao at all of the different phases. Did you know the fruit of the cacao plant can be tuned into a rather delicious drink? Wrapping up the tour, we sat down to share a meal together before hitting the road to visit other tourist highlights around town. It was a pretty low key evening that night as we all settled down in anticipation of chasing tarpon the next morning.
5:00 A.M. This has never been a time that my body has ever agreed on. Thats not to say that I am lazy or I just sleep all day. I just have always been the type of person that would much rather get up at 8 or 9 A.M. and go to bed around 1 or 2 A.M. For tarpon though, we all make sacrifices. Our goal to hit the water was 6:30 and for a group where 90% of us are in media in some facet or another, it takes a while to get all of the fishing equipment loaded up among the cameras and of course cervezas. I'm fairly certain I fell asleep in the van for 100% of the short trip out to the boats. Once we got there though, it was game on.
Going back to the start small so you can dream big message that I started out with, tarpon are a unique species of fish that require you to fight them in a very different manner than any other species. If you've ever researched tarpon fishing at any level, its likely that you've heard the term "Bow to the silver king." Reading about it and doing it come show time are two completely different things. For those of you that have no earthly idea what it means to bow to the silver king, in a nutshell when the fish jumps, and they jump a lot, you must extend your rod as far as possible towards the fish often resulting in a bowing motion to relieve pressure on the line to minimize hook pullout.
What makes Tabasco unique in this aspect is that it is a FANTASTIC juvenile tarpon fishery. While the tarpon are young and smaller, the waters around there are teaming with fish. Now not every fish there is a small tarpon. A member of our group Sarah who was with us ended up catching the lodge monster of the trip with a tarpon pushing 100 lbs. The best part, she hadn't caught tarpon on the fly until that trip. So before throwing hundreds if not thousands of dollars to go fly fishing for tarpon in the keys where you might have a chance at one or two tarpon, consider getting some rounds in at Tabasco where you'll have ample opportunity to land tarpon after tarpon. Its not uncommon for a boat to land 5 tarpon an hour in the mornings.
After two full days of jumping fish and making new friends, our time came to return home to the states. Luckily, all of our connecting flights were in Houston where we were able to grab one last beer and reminisce on all of the highlights of our trip. Well most of us anyways. I myself had to go through additional screening at customs for putting $90 worth of chocolate in my fly rod case.
If you have any desire to go chase tarpon in Tabasco Mexico, reach out! I would love to make the trip back down there with some new friends.