Words written by Yellow Dog Mexico Program Director Sam Mebane
Exiting the airport after arriving in Cancun, Bryan Gregson and I were met by a rush of hot air and humidity. A familiar sensation that both of us welcomed with smiles. We finally made it to Mexico after traveling all the way down from snowy, cold Bozeman, MT. We were embarking on a two-week trip traveling from Cancun to Xcalak, and visiting ten lodges along the way.
Our first stop was to visit Miguel Encalada with Fin Chasers out of Cancun. We stayed with him for two nights at the Punta Blanca Boutique Hotel. It was a fantastic way to start off the trip, as we got a day of fishing with Miguel and his son Rafa while also visiting the Grand Palladium and the Elegance Majestic Resorts. The baby tarpon welcomed us to Mexico as we jumped plenty and landed a few.
Following our time with Miguel, Bryan and I headed south to Punta Allen where we were going to fit in most of our lodge visits. While staying at Grand Slam Lodge, we were able to visit Pesca Maya Lodge, Kay Fly Lodge, Palometa Club, and Ascension Bay Lodge. All of which were as welcoming as visiting a favorite family member. We were greeted with open arms, smiles, laughs, and a margarita or two at each lodge as we discussed operations and defining aspects of what makes each one unique.
One of the defining moments of our stay in Punta Allen came while we were fishing the mangroves of Ascension Bay. As we motored our way through the maze of saltwater vegetation, the boat immediately stopped after Jorge screamed to Luiz, “Palometas! Palometas!” We had found them. It was a huge school of large permit that, luckily, were still feeding. After taking a few shots, I finally connected with a permit that will live in my memory for as long as I am alive. Pushing twenty pounds, it fought for its life for what seemed like an hour until we could grab ahold of its tail. We all howled up to the sky in victory, as it was a huge team effort to land.
After staying in Punta Allen, Bryan and I kept south as our next stops were to Casa Blanca Lodge and Playa Blanca Lodge. Located on a private island in the thick jungle of the Sian Ka’an biosphere, we felt completely secluded and detached from the rest of the world. This feeling only grew stronger as we toured the ancient Mayan ruins located right on the property. The ruins had definitely eroded a lot over time but were still in good enough shape to get a feel for what used to be there. Walking on the same ground that the ancient Mayans had lived on was truly an amazing experience, one that every traveling angler should see while in Mexico as they are spread out throughout the country.
Finally, after a great stay at Casa and Playa Blanca, we made our way down to Xcalak to close out our trip and visit Costa de Cocos and Xflats Lodges. These lodges provided the same open-armed greeting, laughs, and great times as we visited with each owner. The highlight was seeing Chetumal Bay – the southernmost bay in Mexico between the Mexico and Belize border. We found plenty of permit that decided to turn their noses up to our flies – all we could do was laugh and try again. Although we did not bring any permit to hand, seeing Chetumal Bay, Xflats, and Costa de Cocos Lodge made it all worth it to close out an amazing trip.