Costa Maya, Yucatan, 2017

Last year we booked a one day bonefishing excursion through Yellow Dog Outfitters, based in MT.  Pesca Maya Lodge was our host and arranged for the guides. Certainly an excellent experience for a first time fishing for bones. There are plenty of outfitters, Yellow Dog being one of the best, and plenty of lodges, so you have a vast array of choices when it comes to the all inclusive week or more stay.

We loved the Yucatan! My wife Mary and I decided to do a follow up trip this year and push further  into the Costa Maya. Instead of booking with an outfitter, we chose instead to do plenty of research, supply ordering (Hills Discount Flies) and DIY accommodation booking.

The first step is to fly into Cancun. Rent a car (a major learning experience…Mexico requires its own kind of insurance), and then head down to Tulum for an overnight. There are excellent restaurants and a fully stocked grocery in Tulum. Drive south to Mahawual the next day.

Nick Denbow of Catchafish will take you onto the flats, both north and south of the village.  Once a quiet fishing village, Mahawual is now a cruise port, with throngs of day trippers on its streets. South of the village we caught bones, a tigger fish (cool) and saw a few permit. North of town we caught baby tarpon (they love to jump) in the backwaters, and more bones.  Nick is a most knowledgeable and helpful guide.

Another day we spent on the flats with the charming Roberto Ferlin, who improved our DIY game.

February found us in Xcalak, a small (350 person) village in the southern most part of the Yucatan, a long distance cast from Belize. Unpaved streets and limited services (no bank or gas). But lots of friendly people who run tidy well stocked stores. Don’t miss the weekly visits of the food trucks (pickups) with fresh veggies, outlandish sized shrimp from Campeche, or local spiced pulled pork. Some accommodations will include a kitchen. But there are several places to eat out. Try  Costa de Cocos for lobster mango pizza and the fly fishing bar.

In terms of fishing, you must get out onto Chetumal Bay. Which means you need a guide with a boat.

Alex Beck, of The Flats Guide Services, booked us with Evaristo, who took us out for two productive days. Caught mostly bones, had numerous shots at permit, huge snook, and huge bones. Fished mainly from the boat, but also walked the flats. Evaristo is very skilled at fish sighting and putting you in the most advantageous position to catch them. The wind is a constant, and can change direction abruptly. Make sure you can double haul. Practice!

Later in the month we revisited the Bay, guided by fishing pro, longtime resident, and business operator Victor Castro (xcalak-flyfishing.com). Terrific guide and person. Spent extra time with Mary making sure she got her share of fish. She in the end caught the largest bone.

DIY fishing was possible most of the other days of our trip. Miles and miles of flats to explore that rarely see fishermen. You might even pick up a fragment of pottery from the ancient Mayans. Walking in the Caribbean ocean, experiencing the incredible greens and blues, training your eyes to sight fish, and enjoying the friendly, helpful folks at every stop, makes for a very satisfying way to spend winter.

Steven on the flatsMary in Chetumal Bay

Ascension Bay, Yucatan. January 2016

Headed south to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula for some days in the sun. Worked with my friends at Yellow Dog Fishing (www.yellowdogfishing.com) and they hooked my wife Mary and I up with the Pesca Maya Lodge. We fished Ascension Bay. The vision that the guides have for spotting bonefish is absolutely amazing. The weather was warm with broken clouds and the winds moderate. January is not high season, but we saw a good number of bones, some snook, baracuda. No permit or tarpon. We landed six fish which is considered moderate success. If I had been able to spot fish sooner and cast with an appropriate lead, probably there would have been a few more bones and a snook. I had purchased a number of bonefish flies from Stone River Fly Shop (stoneriveroutfitters.com) in Bedford, NH. Those guys were very helpful and “right on” with several choices. Rod choices for the day were Sage Saltwater 8 wt’s with floating line and 9′ Rio Floro leaders. Hatch reels certainly helped slow down those incredible runs. I have learned more about bone fishing since my return. Mary and I spent some time with Dick Brown (dickbrownbonefishing.com) at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show. He is a great presenter. We have purchased and read his book Fly Fishing for Bonefish. The book Steve & Ross Ascension Bay 2016contains an incredible amount of useful information. The second book that has provided a huge amount of info is Do It Yourself Bonefishing (diybonefishing.com) by Rod Hamilton. As I said, I have hopefully absorbed some learning for future fishing from the vast experience of these two authors. Anyway, Mayan ruins and Mexican bonefishing! We have the bug, and are planning on returning next year.

February 2015. Let’s be ready!

Sure it is cold and snowy.  We are sure to come out of this with some really great spring fishing.  The fish are experiencing a difficult winter as well.  Hard freeze and lots of ice. They always seem to survive, and come open water, they will be looking for food and lots of it.  Let’s be ready!

1. Check your rod.  Make sure guides are secure with no nicks or bends. Check your reel, clean and lubricate if necessary. Make sure no sand or mud has gotten in the drag. Check the reel seat.  We never want a reel coming loose, especially during landing a fish.

2. Check your lines.  Make sure there are no cracks or breaks. If they are ok, most important, clean them.  Put a small amount of detergent on a warm damp towel and pull the line, from the reel, through the damp towel. Apply enough finger tension on the towel to remove the dirt from the line.  When one direction is complete repeat the process in the other direction. Coil the line on large loops on the floor. When the cleaning is complete, run the line through a dry part of the towel to dry and polish the line.  The line will definitely cast and float better.  I’m always amazed how many dirt marks there are on the towel.  Now wind the line evenly, with some tension back on the reel.  Do this with all your lines.  If there is damage, it might be a good time to try some newer line designs.

3. Check or replace your leader.  Might be a good time to learn to tie your own leader. Check for Harvey leader designs on the internet. I quarantee that this type of leader will improve your fishing.

4. Wader check.  Look for wear and abrasions or maybe seams that have pulled away. A flashlight or light bulb inside will show light through the weak spots. Good time to patch or consider a new pair.

5. Inventory time. Enough back-up leaders, tippet, split shot, floatant and flies. Now is the time, before your favorite fly shop is sold out of your favorites.

6. Take a casting lesson...that’s right, it is not necessarily better equipment you need, but a lesson from a pro.  Having trouble with that 40 foot cast especially in the wind? Help is out there. Seek out a FFF certified casting instructor. Get off on the right foot. Really.

7.  Buy a license now!  Don’t wait until the last moment!  See you out there.  FFF badge

Salmon River

Steve Rowe fly fishing hosted Jonathan and Dick on a three day trip to the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY, May 1, 2, 3.  The first attempt was postponed because of high water (5000 cfs). The river was down to 1800 cfs, still high, but very fishable. There were lots of steelhead around. Some caught, some missed, and a bunch just danced away.

Looking forward to the second annual.

Dick on the Salmon River 2014

Dartmouth Ilead Fly Fishing Fly Casting Class Spring 2014

 

Ilead and Steve Rowe fly fishing fly casting class held its final session of the spring semester on Tuesday May 6.  The entire class showed up at the Meccawe Trout Club in Bridgewater, Vermont.  The weather cooperated for a beautiful spring day.

We reviewed our previous casts, knots, and bugs.  We pursued the roll cast on the pond with great success. In the final hour our skills were put to the ultimate test. Fishing on the pond.

A commencement party was then held in the Meccawe Club house. Great group. Wonderful adventure.  See you in the fall.

Ilead class, Meccawe, spring 2014

meccawee club

Tuck Cast

The Tuck Cast is an important cast throughout the fishing season. It is particularly effective during the spring and high water. We want to get those nymphs DOWN!, down to where the fish are and hopefully feeding.

Let’s assume we are fishing one or two weighted nymphs, perhaps a bead head pheasant tail and a copper john.Depending on the current, both of these flies will get you to the bottom, eventually.We want them on the bottom at the beginning of the drift NOT somewhere near the end. We need for them to enter the water almost straight down…with force. This is where the Tuck Cast, invented by Joe Humphreys, does its thing.

The key here is that after lifting the flies off the water at the end of the drift, the backcast is made with extra effort….more line speed and rod load… to a crisp STOP. The forward cast follows the same pattern…more acceleration to a CRISP STOP. Rod position is a classic 10 to 2 pattern. The key to the kingdom here is that the rod tip stays high (10 o’clock) after the HARD forward STOP. A very subtle lift of the rod tip might be helpful at this point.

The line travels straight, parallel to the water, as it is SHOCKED by the HARD STOP and gentle lift. This action causes the line and flies to jump back and the flies to enter the water first, on a powerful down path.

Now keeping the rod tip high,10 o’clock, you are in the classic “high stick” position. This position facilitates line control, slack and to gently lead those flies, drag free, on the bottom, through the drift. You should now be able to immediately feel a take.

Hints: a shorter leader might be helpful and the heavier the flies the better this will work.web photo magalloway

Rapid River with Doug Harp

Had a nice two night fishing adventure with Doug Harp.  Left Hanover Sunday afternoon and tried our luck at the Androscoggin River below Errol, NH.  Drifted nymphs, mostly prince and copper johns, switched to buggers and muddlers with no results. Off to Errol and a good early dinner and early to bed at the classic fishing motel, the Errol. Met up with guide Kris Thompson on the Rapid River road at 6 am Monday.  Fished the Rapid at Middle Dam.  Doug landed a nice 21″ salmon.  We both caught other salmon and trout. Size #18 black nymphs and #18 green nymphs were working.  Dropped down to fish the crib works at lower dam and also long pool. Water was very low.  We both caught fish, but  not as plentiful as earlier trips to the area.  Went back up to “pondy” which proved to be “crowded.” Waved to Aldro French on the way by his place.  Finished the day on the Magalloway River.  Again, low water, pouring rain, and few fish.  Always learn the rivers with Kris.