Walking pass security, i shook a little bit. Not because of the drug dogs, or the automatic rifles that lined the checkpoint, but because i had a 8WT rod and a handful of saltwater flies in my carry on…carbon fiber contraband.
My father had been very specific when the family trip to Cancun had been announced. I had been told in a rather heavy handed, parent like voice, that under no uncertain terms was i to bring a fly rod. Now arriving at the resort just south of Playa del Carmen, i was nervous as hell, thinking about the possible resentment i might face when the subject of my taboo four piece came up. Little did i know that this packed heat would be the least of my worries for the next 24 hours.
There are obviously a ton of people in the world that think that “All Inclusive Resorts” are the end all be all, but as soon as i exited the cab and stepped out into the Barcelo Resort that my dad had arranged for our family to meet at, i realized that i am not one of them. The first day or two were rough solely because, as was reaffirmed on this trip; i don’t like groups of people, have to be in control at all times, hate any sort of confined area (however big) and despise relying on others for any needs i may have. Basically, everything that an all inclusive resort isn’t.
Eventually, sick of my whining and moaning, my wife told me that she couldn’t take any more, and that i simply had to head out the next day and fish, so i did, believing that she understood the underlying frustration and wasn’t simply rewarding a petulant frenzy (which i’m sure she was).
After weeks of research that continually turned up nothing, i was convinced that the section of the Yucatan we were visiting was actually devoid of fish. The endless series of resorts made it almost impossible to find an open area free of snorkelers, swimmers, and other various obstacles to a fly. It wasn’t until i made the 25 minute hike south down the beach that everything came into focus. The resort that from a distance looked so magnificent and magical turned out to be an abandoned resort (above) that was slowly being reclaimed by the jungle, almost visibly being eaten alive by the lush surrounding and humid salt water air. I had found my comfort zone.
On the second morning of fishing, wandering the flats that laid directly in front of the dilapidated dojo, i finally felt my line go taut. The first strike was so shocking that i missed it all together while the second was ruined when i tried to trout hook whatever was nibbling on the streamer. By the third strike though i figured it out and landed my first fish in Mexico, an amberjack (above) that apparently had been wounded previously as it was missing the bottom half of it’s tail fin.
Later at dinner with most of the family i couldn’t contain my excitement and i mentioned that YES, i had caught my first fish in Mexico on the last day of the year, and YES i had in fact brought a rod and reel. I couldn’t tell what they more amazed by, the fact that i had the shrewedness to bring a rod or the fact that i had caught a fish on it without wandering more than a handful of minutes away.
The next day (January 1st) i found myself walking faster than i ever have, making my way back to the same spot slightly bleary from an amazing New Years spent with my wife, my brothers and their wonderful wives. My mission was clear, one hour tops. That meant 15 minutes of speed walking each way, leaving me 30 minutes to catch anything i could.
I know this sounds like unbelievable bullshit, but it was on only the second cast that my heart started skipping as it all came together. My line went tight and a sudden silver flash zipped over a chunk of dead coral, taking a good section of my line with it. I won’t lie and say it was the most amazing fight (the fish would have been ideal on a 5WT) but it was epic in a completely different way. Ever since i’d heard of this trip, all i wanted to do was land a permit, doubly so when we arrived and spotted them while snorkeling in front of our hotel. Suddenly, thanks to whatever, here i was slowly working one in.
Later at dinner i mentioned my permit and saw my father actually stare at me in disbelief. He mentioned the unlikely chances of me catching a permit at all, much less in the bay we were situated on. Then he mentioned without a trace of sarcasm that he had wished i had told him i was bringing a rod so that he could have too.
It was then that my nervousness washed completely away.
I’m pretty sure we’ll all be back again, but i imagine we’ll all be packing 8WT contraband when we do. After all, as a parent myself i can vouch for the fact that sometimes we don’t know what the hell we’re saying. So kids, listen to your parents, until it comes to following your dreams.
Update: Sometimes things aren’t what you think, and the fish mentioned above are no exception. A reader named Matt recently messaged me that these fish are actually a blue runner (not an amberjack) and a horse-eye jack (not a permit…damn), something that further research proved to be true. Either way, they’re both something i’d never caught or seen before, and for that i’m eternally thankful (though truthfully a little bummed).
I’ve decided to leave the article unedited since it captures all the emotion and elation felt on the trip. I’ve also left it alone because blog posts (at least here) inherently seem like photographs to me, a snapshot of a moment. Anyway, i’ll be back soon, and this over site will be corrected…eso guárdese pompano!