Second Annual Silver Scales Xcalak Fly Fishing Tournament 2018
Written by Rob Mukai on Jul. 30, 2018
This was the second edition of the Silver Scales Xcalak Fly Fishing Tournament. To see the write up of the first tournament click here. So this year we had 10 boats and 20 anglers including Alejandro "Mr. Sandflea" Vega, Jose "Careto" Ucan who won the Del Brown Permit Tournament this year, Guides from Holbox and El Pescador in San Pedro Belize, along with competitors from Argentina, and the US.
As last year, the registration dinner was the Thursday night before the tournament. Well attended by the new Municipal President, as well as other representatives and government officials. Also had Dr. Aaron Adams from the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust stay with us at the Inn and joined us for the Dinner. The dinner was catered by the Culinary School from Chetumal again and it was delicious. It was also great to meet and talk to all the competitors and get our visors and new shirts. Shirt artwork was created by Jesus Elias Garcia Lopez.
This year, along with Victor as our guide, I had a teammate in Holden Hughes from Livingston, MT. Last time I had fished with him and Victor in Xcalak, I got a grand slam and he got a Super Slam. So I figured we should do ok. We went out after all the speachifying looking for permit. We ran a flat that we had found them before on the beach side. We saw some nervous water and some tails. Holden got up on the bow and threw an Acocote Drum Majorette and jumped a tarpon! What the... I guess we all had permit on the brain and when we saw the tip of a fin we all assumed it was a permit. The funny thing is about 20 minutes later we did exactly the same thing. Weird how your mind plays tricks on you.
We then went down to a bonefish flat and actually caught two bonefish that counted. Bonefish needed to be 15 inches to count. We do have 15"+ inch bonefish here of course, but they are definitely in the minority. So catching two over 15 was a great deal. So we had points.
Next we went looking for baby tarpon on the beachside. We came up on a large group that were working a pretty large area. We stuck 7 or 8 and landed two. We thought, ok, let's go get a permit and complete the slam. But as we were reeling in, tarpon were rolling near the boat. Made a few more casts, but it was getting late and we wanted the permit so we left. Looking back on this, this was a strategic mistake. We should have hung around. I'm sure we could have caught a couple more tarpon and scored more points, but all we had was grand slam on the mind. In the end, we didn't get the permit or the slam, but we got a bunch of points anyway. Good first day.
We decided to run up the north beach near the Inn and look for permit. Unfortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover and it made it really hard to see the fish. We ran over some, had some really good shots at others but no luck. On reflection because of the cloud cover, we probably should have gone back to look for the tarpon at first, because they are easier to spot without sun. But we did eventually go back looking for the tarpon, but couldn't find them. Finally we came up on a large school of what looked like pretty good sized bonefish in deeper water. We caught 6 of them, and they ALL measured 14.5 inches! Aaaragh. Talking to Dr. Aaron Adams afterwards, he said that this is pretty common for a cohort of bonefish to be exactly the same size. I guess we will have to find them next year when they should be bigger than 15 inches. So Day 2 ended with a big goose egg. The good news was even with a zero on Day 2 we were in tied for 3rd place.
Night of the 2nd day was a barbeque dinner. Alejandro Vega brought sausages and rib eye for some great stuff. This is the night that I crashed on my moto last year, so of course I drove my truck :)
Day 3, we had noticed that all the boats were staying on the beachside so we decided to hit Chetumal Bay. Fishing down Punta Chelem, one of the best permit flats in the bay, we saw a large school of permit cruising. Victor had to pole like a madman to keep up with them. As we neared a point, the fish stopped and started feeding. Got a cast out as they started moving again and came tight. Yeah, landed a 17 inch permit! Also happens to be my 16th. As we started polling down the flat again, another school comes down the same path, again, Victor poles like a madman and again the fish stop at the same place. This time Holden is up and comes tight to a permit. We had 2 permit in the first 40 minutes of the day!
We run to the bonefish flat that we caught the big ones on day 1. We caught 4 or 5 bonefish. The largest was 14.5 inches. What is up with that? Then we moved back to where we saw the tarpon. We worked them for hours. But they had lock jaw. I guess 3 days of getting pounded put them off the bite. So after getting 2 permit in the first hour, we didn't get another fish that counted. Oh, well that's fishing.
So this year, Alejandro "Mr. Sandflea" Vega won the tournament and his guide Chucho won best guide. This year the prizes were definitely upgraded as first place won a motorcycle. Sandflea gave the moto to Chucho. So Chucho is running around town with a new bike. 2nd place went to Gil and Cesar Acosta, two brothers and guides at El Pescador in San Pedro, Belize. Third went to the La Pescadora team from Punta Allen, Dr. Fernando Negron and Jose "Careto" Ucan. Careto won the Del Brown Permit Tournament in Key West this year. Holden and I came in 4th. Pretty happy to land here given who came in ahead of us. We actually won a prize, a TFO BVK reel. One quick note, everyone got a participation trophy and certificate. They used a picture of Victor and me from last year as the background ;)
So we are already looking forward to next year. Start looking at the last weekend in July 2019. Also, if you are at all interested in participating you should start planning early. The good guides book out fast and we were completely full thiis year as well. At this time, we do have 3 suites available for the 2019 tournament. So if you are interested in trying your hand at tournament fishing. Contact us!
So this is my second year participating in this tournament. And it is a little weird competing in a sport that I have done my entire life solely for pleasure. But the thing that will keep me coming back to this tournament, and who knows, maybe other tournaments in the future, is the awesome people you get to meet and hang out with. For example, I finally got to meet Dr. Aaron Adams from the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. He really knows his stuff, and he is a fun guy to hang out with.
Got to meet and hang with Careto who won the Del Brown Permit Tournament in Key West a couple of weeks ago.
And it's always a pleasure to hang with Russo, or Mr. Sandflea.
I guess the key here is all the competitors, although they want to win, are really here for the fishing of course, but also for the camaraderie. This is a tournament without the intense people and it remains a lot of fun. Like I mentioned above, I never would have thought I would like tournament fishing, but I think this tournament is different. Looking forward to 2019.