On the Fly: Love and tarpon | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Love and tarpon

Writer Justin Moore with a tarpon caught off of Campeche on the Yucatán Peninsula.
Kara Lewis/Special to The Aspen Times

With the freestone rivers running brown, many anglers start thinking blue. For some, casting a fly into the salty unknown is as good as it gets — whether that be walking flats in search of bonefish, chasing the elusive tailing permit, or casting into the maze of mangroves to hopefully entice the tarpon within.

Recently I set out on an adventure to the Yucatan Peninsula in search of tarpon. My girlfriend and I flew into Cancun, where began our five-hour drive across the Yucatan to the beautiful city of Campeche, located on the Gulf of Mexico. After driving hours surrounded by jungle and what seemed like a butterfly migration, we finally made it.

Campeche is a baby and juvenile tarpon fishery, so most fish are in the 5- to 40-pound range. These tarpon call the endless maze of mangroves home, which provide a perfect sanctuary filled with countless bait fish and crustaceans. By 5:30 a.m. we were on the boat for an hourlong ride, watching the sun slowly rise creating a masterpiece of colors in the sky.

We began entering the mangroves, going down channels as wide as the boat, almost having to completely lie down to get through.

We eventually came to a hole in the mangroves that opened to a secret lagoon. It was filled with tarpon rolling throughout. It all had led up to this — from the research, tying countless flies, and all the travel from our home in the valley. I casted and weaved my fly into the mangroves, as I stripped toward the boat a tarpon began to follow, he eventually inhaled the fly and the acrobatics began.

The fight was nothing like I have experienced, jumping a dozen times nearly 6 feet out of the water. The trip was life-changing for me; not only did I hook plenty of tarpon, but I also got to ask my best friend to be my wife. I love you, Kara, and can’t wait for the adventures ahead!

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.

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