The third annual Redbone “To Catch a Cure” Ascension Bay Super Slam took place February 19 – 23, 2014. Grand Slam Fishing Lodge, located on the fringe of Punta Allen in the Yucatan Peninsula, hosted the event again this year. This is a fly-fishing only and catch and release tournament. Shaun Lawson and Ian Davis from Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures hosted the tournament.
Sponsors included Yellow Dog Flyfishing, Winston Fly Rods, Hatch Reels, Simms Fishing Products, Thomas and Thomas Rods, Grand Slam Fishing Lodge and of course the Redbone “To Catch a Cure” Foundation. All sponsors generously donated gear and swag to raise money for cystic fibrosis.
The week kicked off at Sensatori Resort in Playa del Carmen, where participants have treated to an all-inclusive pool party and a private dinner with the resort owners. The following morning, the group headed southward, toward Tulum, to meet their guides for a practice day of fishing on Boca Pila Lagoon and “permit alley.” After a fun day on the water, the group continued on to Grand Slam Fishing Lodge, where freshly prepared margaritas awaited.
The group consisted primarily of return anglers from the previous year, which is a testament to the event and fishery. Grand Slam Fishing Lodge is the perfect destination for a Redbone event. In fine fashion, Gary Ellis welcomed the teams at the orientation dinner, Cal Collier outlined the rules, and Ian Davis discussed the fishery. Shaun Lawson, Yellow Dog Yucatan Program Director, served as official scorekeeper. Plenty of friendly “smack talk” was spread around the palapa bar during the first evening, which always adds to the anticipation of fishing. Of course it was all in good fun, as this event is about raising money for Cystic Fibrosis, seeing old friends, and fishing the expansive, beautiful flats of Ascension Bay.
On the first morning, the teams awakened to bright blue skies and some wind—pretty much perfect weather for chasing the devilish, sickle-tailed permit. Each angler and team is awarded a sliding scale of points for bonefish (which are worth least), snook, tarpon, and permit (which receive) the most points. Catching all four species as an individual angler and/or team is the main tactic to take home the Grand Champion trophy.
Over three days, the seven teams chased permit most of the time, because they are the most challenging of the four species to complete the super slam. As usual, the fish were not falling for the anglers’ well-placed flies, but tails were in the air and knees were shakin’. Most teams got quality shots at permit each day from hard-working local guides, who performed very well and were fun to fish with. The final results over the three days of fishing were 22 bonefish, 2 tarpon, 1 snook, and 5 permit, which was great because the snook and tarpon were not as plentiful as in years past.
Everyone was pleased with the fishing aspect of the weekend, which hopefully converted to more money raised for CF. In fact, the group together had a super slam (permit, tarpon, snook, and bonefish) on the first day, and Paul Dixon had his first grand slam on the last day!
On the final night, a Tulum mariachi band was brought in to kick off the final fiesta and awards banquet. All the guides and their families were in attendance for the truly authentic Mexican dinner spread, which was amazing. The camaraderie between the Punta Allen locals and Redbone anglers has become very tight from the first two annual events. This was the underlying concept for bring the event back to this destination for 2014.
After dinner, Gary Ellis presented the etched glass awards to the winners of each category. Guests then settled in for the live auction, where Ian Davis pulled off a comical auctioneer performance. As we all know, it is not about the fishing or who wins these events, but about raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis research. This group of anglers stepped up financially during the silent and live auctions to raise substantially more than the previous year’s event. Thank you to all the participants for your generosity! The live auction featured a Winston SX 9-weight fly rod, a Finatic Hatch reel, Simms Super Lite Cortex rain jackets and tons of Simms swag for the gift bags, a pair of Costa del Mar Sunglasses, a Thomas and Thomas fly rod, original conch shell artwork by Ian Davis, Confluence Films DVD packs, and Yellow Dog Buffs and hats.
Matt Benson and John DiCola took home the 2013 Redbone Super Slam Grand Champion Team trophy. Paul Dixon was Grand Champion, earned with a grand slam on the last day. Matt Benson caught the largest bonefish at 28 inches, a massive specimen for Ascension Bay; Benson also took the game for largest snook. Rick Clark caught his first permit on the last day, which happened to be the largest permit. Soon after, Paul Dixon landed the largest tarpon.
The Grand Champion guide was Jose Can from La Pescadora Lodge, who walked away with a nice cash prize for catching the most species! His brother Juan guided the largest permit and took second in total points. Guide Victor finished in third place, and Gaspar led his guests to the most total fish. All the guides worked extremely hard to put the competitors on lots of fish. There were solid numbers of shots at permit each day, but as usual, they are finicky fish.
Other memorable events from the weekend included Gary’s inspiring pre-fishing sermons. The addition of a lodge ping-pong table made for fierce competition; the games went late into the evenings, which typically progressed into battles of beer pong. As an added bonus, the group visited the fishing settlement of Punta Allen for beverages at the new Fisherman’s Lodge Bar.
We are looking forward to another Ascension Bay Super Slam event for next year around the same time. The 2014 participants have first right of refusal to come back in 2015, so space is very limited for this wonderful occasion.
and we can add you to the waiting list. For more information on the Redbone Foundation or to make a donation to cystic fibrosis please go to www.redbone.org.