On the Fly: Love and tarpon
On the Fly
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.
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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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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.