It’s Not Just Fish We’re After at Mexico’s Grand Slam Lodge
Field Journals | Oct. 05, 2020
Thoreau wrote that “many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Among many interpretations of this quotation is that fishing connects anglers with nature and one another in a way that traces back to the origins of mankind.
Connecting with our fellow anglers is an edifying experience that abides within us in a uniquely powerful way. And there is no better place for this soul fulfilling experience than Mexico’s Grand Slam Lodge (GSL).
This spring, just before Covid-19 temporarily shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, Trek hosted its annual hosted fishing adventure to GSL. Our group landed a staggering number of fish, including bonefish, tarpon, snook and permit, the crowning gem of the flats.
GSL is a truly special place that checks off all the boxes required for an epic angling adventure:
Picturesque beach-front setting. Check. Authentic fishing lodge with spacious rooms, great food and world-class guest service. Check. Sensational, rod-bending action for anglers of all skill levels. Check.
GSL is ideally situated in the heart of Ascension Bay, one of North America’s most consistently productive flats fishing destinations. Locations such as Belize and the Abaco Islands may enjoy higher levels of prestige, however they truly have nothing on Ascension Bay, which delivers incredible fishing at a more advantageous cost.
Ascension Bay is renowned for its massive schools of bonefish. In fact, one pair of anglers in our group picked off 20 bonefish out of a single school, which their guide estimated to comprise more than 300 fish.
You may come here for the bonefish, but you’ll likely keep coming back for the permit, which are also plentiful here. The pursuit of this prized fish, which the locals here call palometa, can be a downright Quixotic endeavor.
Permit are perhaps the most discriminating fish you’ll ever chase.
Getting close enough to make an accurate cast is the first hurdle you must clear. With bulging eyes seemingly larger than their mouths, they seem to either see or sense danger better than any other fish. If you’re lucky enough to get close, calming your nerves enough to execute a good cast is your next challenge. There is scant room for error in casting to permit, as you must lead this fish nearly precisely in the direction it is heading.
Our client Richard, on his second trip to Grand Slam with Trek, did everything right up to this point on a permit of more than 20 lbs. Seeing the fish happily feeding nearly 50 yards away, the guide recommended that he and Richard hop out of the boat to stalk the fish on foot.
Wading in stealth mode, they were able to get within 30’ of this fish, and after conversing like a caddy with his golfer, the guide convinced his angler it was go time. Taking a few deep breaths to calm the nerves, Richard executed a near perfect cast three feet ahead of the fish, which instantaneously made a move toward the offering.
As he methodically stripped in line, bouncing the crab-patterned fly across the sandy bottom, the fish chased hard, nose down and jet black forked tail pushing out of the water’s surface. Anticipating a take with every strip, Richard’s hopes were crushed when the fish suddenly bolted, leaving only a cloud of sand in its wake.
Richard had learned the most important lesson of permit fishing. Sometimes, you do everything right and you still come up empty.
Adding insult to injury, Richard’s boat mate and friend from the U.K landed his very first permit shortly thereafter. Back at the lodge, Mike was presented with celebratory tequila shot that is customary in Mexico for accomplishing the feat.
This also happened to be Mike’s first tequila experience, and the entire group will likely never forget his reaction. Seeing Mike’s post-shot oh face knocked the edge off Richard’s near-miss of a lifetime fish.
Many members of our group have already signed on for 2021. With Mexico’s border now open for U.S. travel, Trek is in the early stages of planning our next hosted adventure. For more information on Grand Slam Lodge, please email [email protected].
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