First Annual Silver Scales Xcalak Fly Fishing Tournament 2017
Written by Rob Mukai on Aug. 02, 2017
The first annual Xcalak Silver Scales Fly Fishing Tournament just ended last weekend and despite a relatively short timeline, was well attended and a big success. I have never participated in anything like this, so I thought, “what the hell, give it a shot”. The tournament was based on the 4 saltwater flats species of bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook. You could only score 5 caught fish per species per boat per day. You got various points based on the size of the fish you caught. The one that was actually pretty hard was only bonefish over 15 inches counted. After having tagged over a thousand bonefish, it becomes pretty clear although there are a lo of bonefish bigger than 15” it is a relatively small percentage. The really big points come from grand slams and super grand slams.
Because the timeline was compressed, most of the participants were people living in Mexico. We had Alejandro “Mr. Sandflea” Vega from the Tarpon Club on Isla Holbox. He brought two of his guides as well, Rhett Schober from Akumal, Alex Beck from Xcalak, for a total of 15 competitors in 12 boats. We also had a number of dignitaries including representatives from Sagarpa, and the President of the Municipality.
The competition started with a dinner at the Xcalak Caribe Lodge right on the main drag in Xcalak. They went over the rules, the dignitaries gave speeches, and we had a really nice meal prepared by students of a chef school in Chetumal. They even brought in the Tacos Al Pastor guy that usually only shows up for the town anniversary and Easter week. It brought a festive feel to the town for the tournament.
My Experience Day 1
So for the first day, Capt. Victor and I decide to go for some migratory tarpon. The weather was pretty calm and it was a great opportunity to see if we could stick one. Had shots at about 6 or 7 schools but no takers. We then went looking for permit. And we found them everywhere, had over a dozen shots in a couple of hours. They were tailing in the calm water of the bay. Lots of looks, leans and follows but again no takers. Finally, we decided we just needed to get some points so we started chasing bonefish, but was only able to land a couple that were too small to count. So day one ended with no points.
My Experience Day 2
Day two we started the same way going after the big tarpon. This time, I hooked into one that was about 80 lbs., jumped it 3 times, then it went on a blistering run that ended when my line went slack. He had come unbuttoned. A few minutes later, got a shot at a school, was stripping in when they rolled again. Victor said to pick it up and cast again, but because it had a sink tip I had to strip It almost all the way in to the boat. About 15 ft from the boat I see a flash behind my fly, one more strip and I connected to a fish that was pushing 200 lbs. It jumped less than 10 feet from the boat. It was definitely taller than me, and I am 6 ft. Unfortunately, it threw the fly on that first jump. A couple of more shots later we decide to chase some bones just to get some points. We ended up sticking a 15” and 16” bone. Yea, finally got some points.
Next was trying for a permit. The tide was coming in so we got on a channel that the fish were moving up in. It looked like permit on parade. Lots of shots again, lots of looks, leans and follows. I had tried about 8 different flies on these fish, then I put on an Acocote Drum Majorette. We saw a big permit slowly meandering toward us. I threw the Drum Majorette about 10 feet in front of him and about 1 foot off axis. I just let it sink. The permit meandered up, turned slowly, grabbed the fly and continued on. I came tight on the strip set, but the fish didn’t even know it was hooked. I put a little more pressure on but for about 15 seconds he just kept meandering. When he finally figured out he was hooked, he ran about 100 yards. Capt. Victor started the motor and chased the fish. 45 minutes later, I had just caught the biggest permit of my life. Permit Number 12 was 27” nose to fork and pushing 30 lbs. Woohoo.
It was getting late, but wanted to try for a slam. There are sometimes snook near the pier in town, and I cast around until it was time, but only ladyfish seemed to be interested. So, no grand slam but still not a bad day of fishing.
It did get worse, there was a dinner in town for the participants, so I ran home, took a shower and changed. I hopped on my moto to ride back in to town, but on the way in, I hit the front brake a little too hard on curve, and the front tire slid out on me. I hit pretty hard on my right side. Good thing I wear a helmet, but I did have a bit of road rash, and a sore shoulder. I drove on down to the party anyway. I was able to clean up a bit at Polly’s house, Nataly also showed up and helped, and I even got Dr. Fernando Negron to examine me and get some anti-inflamatory, and wrapped my shoulder to stabilize it. That’s great health care!
My Experience Day 3
When I woke up the next morning, I could barely move my arm. And on top of that, my hip, which I didn’t realize I had hit, was so sore, it was difficult to walk. Needless to say, I was out for Day 3, the last day of the tournament.
So with 15 fishermen in 12 boats, there were 5 grand slams, 1 super grand slam, 22 permit, 14 bones, 8 tarpon and 3 snook caught in the three days of the tourney. First place was the boat of Angel Ancona and Carlos Ruiz, two guides from the Tarpon Club in Isla Holbox. They were responsible for 2 grand slams and a super slam themselves. Second place went to Pepo Marlin from Mahahual who got 3 grand slams (only one counted) and 6 permit. Third place went to Alejandro “Mr. Sandflea” Vega from the Tarpon Club in Isla Holbox. Alex Beck/Rhett Schober came in fourth, and I came in 5th even not competing the final day.
Other prizes went to the top guides, No. 1 was Alberto, No. 2 was Nato, No. 3 was Chucho. There was a special prize for the Super Grand Slam for Angel, and even I got a special prize for the largest permit of the tournament.
They now have dates for next year July 26-29, 2018, so if anyone wants to join in the fun, contact me. Earlier is better as I believe the best guides will get booked early. We do have suites available for the dates of the tournament next year.
Because the announcement timing was so late, and we didn’t have time to bring many people down, I had low expectations about the organization of the tournament. But the actual execution was excellent, the atmosphere was friendly, and the people were a joy to hang with. The scoring was quick, everything ran pretty much on time, and it was well organized. We had 12 boats this year with very little advanced notice. Next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 20+ boats. At the end of the day, it was a great experience, got to know a number of guys who I had heard about but never met, and got to hang out with a bunch of friends old and new. If you are a saltwater fly fisherman looking for something to do next July. Give the tournament a try, it was a hoot.
Also more images and info at the FB Page for the tournament (Right click and hit translate)