The first Grand Slam at Acocote Eco Inn
Xcalak, Mexico October 2015
Since this was a work trip we didn’t get as many days to fish as would have liked however, we were able to have some fun and one of us nailed a flats grand slam in the process.
Fishery: Chetumal Bay and Xcalak Reef Park
Accomodations: Acocote Eco Inn (www.acocoteecoinn.com or Facebook www.facebook.com/AcocoteEcoInn email: email@example.com)
Guides: Capt. Victor Castro (Independent Guide) and DIY
Day 1: We only had a couple of hours in the afternoon, so we decided to DIY it and headed out to a flat in Chetumal Bay that is accessible from the road. Unfortunately we had some odd winds coming from the west that brought a bunch of silt into the flat and made it impossible to see fish. We did some blind casting hoping to get a barracuda or jacks to bite, but no luck. Came back to the Acocote Eco Inn for some relaxation on the beach.
Day 2: Another DIY day. Again only a couple of hours of daylight. We went to a flat off the beach less than a Kilometer from the Inn. The wind was dead calm. When we waded out into the flat we could see “nervous water” all around us. The problem is in such calm conditions, gin clear water, and only 6 inches deep, the fish are super spooky. We blew up multiple schools of bonefish with inaccurate casts. Even so we managed to land a fish or two.
Day 3: This time we went out with a guide. If you are relatively new to flats fly fishing I highly recommend going out with a guide. They know where the fish are and will help you get the right cast to them. You will definitely catch more fish with a guide than DIY’ing it. On top of that you are helping the local economy and the guides are relatively inexpensive at usually less than $300/day/boat. In any event, we headed out to Chetumal Bay. First thing in the morning we hit a mangrove cenote that usually holds tarpon. Unfortunately, they weren’t cooperating. So we went after some permit. Tough fishing, even though we had multiple shots at them, permit being permit weren’t eating. Casting to permit is one of the toughest things to do. For some reason, when they come up on you, you forget everything you know about casting a fly line. It is buck fever times 100.
After a couple of hours, multiple shots, and no fish we headed over to a bonefish flat. We got out of the boat and waded for about 100 yards. Even blowing up a few schools with poor casts we each caught 5-6 in just an hour or so. Bonefish in Chetumal Bay are not the behemoths you find in the Bahamas, but they are plentiful, and for anyone used to catching trout, the strength of a bonefish will surprise you. A 15” bonefish will rip you into your backing in a flash.
After lunch (a ham, cheese, jalapeno sandwich, chips, and cokes), we spent the rest of the afternoon going after permit. Again, because of the dead calm conditions, we could see permit pushing water all around us. Multiple shots, with no luck. Finally, Greg gets a large school of smaller permit. He casts in the middle of the school, all the fish start heading away except for one that turns on the fly and inhales it. Fish On! Ok so it is adorable. But there is no such thing as a small permit! They all count! So now Greg has 2/3rd of a grand slam.
My turn. I get on the front of the boat. Multiple shots. Either poor casting or permit being permit and not eating. Finally, get a school of 4-5 fish coming at us, cast is right in front of them. I see a fish grab the fly and turn. Strip set… and nothing there! Hate that. More shots. Finally, see a school pushing water. Make a cast to them, see the fish turn on the fly, grabs it, hook set. Fish on! Unfortunately, I could feel some head shaking. Permit don’t do that. Oh well, it turned out to be a nice Jack Crevalle. I’ll take it, but it isn’t a permit.
Day is done. We head back to Acocote Eco Inn. We go into our 2 bedroom suite and grab a beer on the balcony and realize that Greg has 2/3rd of a grand slam. It’s still only 5:00 let’s go get that Tarpon.
There are a few lagoons near the Inn that hold baby tarpon. So we grabbed the Dave Scadden Stand Up Paddle boards the Inn provided and head to one of the lagoons. It is getting close to dusk, we hit some cuts in the mangroves and see a few tarpon rolling but don’t get any real good shots. We head over to an area in the lagoon that holds a cenote and we start seeing baby tarpon rolling all over the place. We creep up on them and wait. Suddenly a tarpon rolls 40 feet in front of Greg. He gets a cast out, two strips and an explosion. The tarpon is leaping out of the water. Hit him, hit him! You need to drive the hook hard as tarpon have mouths that are as hard as a 2×4. Several jumps later, Greg has his grand slam.
Grand slams are not easy. I have been doing this for 10 years and I don’t have one. Greg has only been fishing for tarpon and permit once. And he got both in the same day. Not what normally happens but it can. In Xcalak and Chetumal Bay, the water is pristine and they protect their game species of fish so the numbers of particularly bonefish and permit is unmatched. Few places offer an opportunity like this for a grand slam.
About Acocote Eco Inn – The Inn is located 7.8KM north of Xcalak, on a pristine white sand beach. The Inn has 3 suites, each with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living/dining area, and a full kitchen. There are bonefish flats within walking distance and other DIY opportunities abound. The Inn can connect you with knowledgeable independent guides or help you with your DIY days. The Inn also boasts the only fly shop in the Costa Maya, so if you have forgotten anything like leaders, tippets, flies, or even broken a rod or reel, the fly shop can get you back fishing in no time.
About Xcalak – Xcalak is a small (population 400) town on the Yucatan coast, just 8 miles from the Belize border. It is the gateway to Chetumal Bay. The town has 3 really good restaurants (Toby’s, Silvia’s and Gringo Dave’s) There are a couple of other restaurants further up the beach as well (Costa de Cocos, Tierra Maya). Even delivery pizza and craft beer are available. The Mexican government has declared the reef off of Xcalak a national marine park, so the reef and the surrounding lagoons are protected.
Getting to Xcalak – You do have to work a bit to get to some of the best salt water flats fishing in the world. Your best bet is to fly in to Cancun. From there, rent a car and take the 5 hour drive down to Xcalak. The drive is mainly on well-maintained multiple lane roads. There are also numerous Mayan ruins you can explore on the way down if you want to make a day of it. It is recommended that you don’t drive after dark, as it is harder to see debris on the road, or the topes (speed bumps) that the Mexican road crews put around to slow you down. So if your flight into Cancun lands after about 12:00 pm, you are better off spending the night in Cancun, or you can drive a bit of the way down to Playa del Carmen or Tulum. Then make the rest of the drive the next day.