Big Bone/Bad Ray

“Now that DIY is officially and wonderfully a great way to explore the worlds fisheries, there are a few things you need to consider when not paying a guide to keep you out of trouble.

The day started by picking up the Scott and Buff rep John Dobson for a little fishing trip down to Boca Paila. We made it to the bridge and decided that since we brought the SUP, he would walk out to the beach and I would blow up the SUP and paddle out. We met at the beach, set up camp, had a beer and rigged up.

Since the wind was out of the north northwest the ocean was relatively flat and clear. So, we decided to walk the beach in search of snook. Not only was the surf line full of baitfish but we started to see a few Stingrays.

DCIM100SPORT

Since the sun was still low, we were walking out in the water on the turbid line looking for the big snook that cruise in and out of that line with the sun low behind us to our right.

About 15mins in, a very large object came out of the deeper water to our right and passed us. John, very casually, made a back cast behind his right shoulder to what we thought was a decent snook. After 2 strips the fish ate a big 2/0 white Clouser and the skunk was out of the boat.

A few pretty heavy runs later as the fish was reeled in closer, we noticed it was a huge bone.

DCIM100SPORT

John landed what we estimated to be a 8 ½ to 9 ½ pounder. A monster for the Yucatan. We took some shots and let her go. After we celebrated being kings of the universe, we got back to wading the beach for snook.

Typically since the sand is hard off the beaches of Boca Paila you can usually see stingray’s easily and we were.

As we walked further we came upon several rays grouped together. Since John was inside of me in shallower water,  barefoot,  and I was in neoprene wading shoes we were shuffling very cautiously as I pointed out the rays to him.

I pointed out 2 more, shuffled my right foot and then put some weight down, BAM, I got hit.

I felt the movement and looked down to see the tip of the tail bounce off the outside of my right knee and felt the spine jab into the top of my right foot. As you might imagine, just the pain of being stabbed was horrible.

I hopped out over to John who had backed way out on to the beach when he heard me shout. Blood was already coming out of the hole on the side of the boot.

BP2

I took the boot off and there was a centimeter wide slash into my skin and the blood was oozing. Just as I sat down the first light waves of pain came on. As I walked back to camp, those waves came on stronger and stronger.

It was time to go. Fortunately, we had the paddle board and my lovely girlfriend Liane paddled me to the car and drove me home. I had read and heard that hot water is the only way to dull the pain.

BELIEVE ME, IT WORKS. From the moment I put my foot into the water which was almost unbearable, the pain went away immediately.

BP3

Oh, did I mention that on the hour car ride home and the 15 mins until my foot hit that hot water, I was screaming bloody murder in so much pain that cutting off my foot was starting to be an option?

Moral of the story, if you are DIY wading and you get hit by a stingray, get to the nearest hottest Jacuzzi you can find! Oh yea, and consider packing some ray guards. More on those later.”

Boca Paila Permit

“Inspiration comes in many forms. For me it has been my daughter Beniko. Her patience, kindness and intelligence helps me to be a better person. After spending a month with her up in Colorado I came back home to Mexico with a better sense of myself and it certainly paid off.

 

My first day back in the water down at Boca Paila started off to be a very frustrating experience. I really didn’t hit it right as I completely forgot to check the tide for the best time to fish the place I truly love.

As you may know, the Caribbean Coast of the Yucatan has been experiencing an influx of Sargasso sea weed for the last 6 months. Some days it is really bad and some days very light. Although not a factor when fishing the inner lagoons, it is a relatively big factor when fishing the ocean side beaches and bays. At the Boca Paila cut, it is best to fish around the low tide which allows the outgoing current to push the Sargasso away from the north and south points, as well as the sand bar just in front of the cut.

Unfortunately, I hit it just at high tide and although there really wasn’t much Sargasso fouling me up, it wasn’t the best time. The beach was cooked so I headed out on the sandbar. It was very quiet. So, back to the beach for a beer and some dog time to wait out the tide. Then it all started to happen, the high tide was over and the mouth began to change.

My first shot was at a 20lb snook heading around the north point. I dropped my beer and grabbed the rod. I had several shots before he rushed it but I missed the hookup. Dejected, I started walking  back to that lonely beer and then saw a nice Jack riding in just a few feet from the shore.

 

The buildup of Sargasso along the beach hides a lot of baitfish, which is a good thing. My fly, a white 2/0 clouser hit just to the side of him and he turned to hammer it. I was hooked up but an instant later nothing. At least I had that beer to go back to. Still walking back I noticed more snook coming around the corner. A few more shots but no luck. I started scanning further out and noticed a huge ray over the sand bar but what was next to it really started me up. A 80lb tarpon was moving right to left about 50 yards out.

I was ready with my line coiled in my hand to keep from fouling on the Sargasso and walked out about 20 yards. The tarpon was coming my way and I made one short cast but too short. I picked up and made a beauty about 4 feet in front of him to the inside. He turned and ate it. This is where the Colorado trip didn’t do me any good. What did I do? You guessed it, trout set!!!!!

Ok, so now you get the picture and then I start to think about my daughter and all the patience she showed and revealed to me. So, time to sit down and reflect. After a couple of minutes I see a few of those lovely silver ghosts with that hint of black in the tail. Five 8-10 pound Permit cruising about 10-20 yards off shore. Again, I grab my rod and hit the water. They aren’t interested.

 

As I am walking back to the beach, out of the corner of my eye I see a big solo Permit about 20 yards out, cruising slowly. Again, I am ready, as I never reel up until I am on the beach. I turn and make one cast about 4 feet in front a little to the left. I am throwing the same all white 2/0 clouser. The permit sees it and BAM, I am on.”

 

 

SUP on the flats!

“The challenge that many travelling DIY fly fishers face is the ability to carry along some type of watercraft that would make fishing the flats or deep waters simpler. That challenge is now easier to overcome with the advent of the SUP or Stand Up Paddleboard.

Badfish inflatable SUP

Boardworks Badfish MCIT Inflatable

I have tried many traditional options like the folding Kayak by Folbot and the blowup Sevylor Kayaks. However, we all know that elevation is key and those options actually put you into a lower position and view angle. My choice, this time, is the inflatable Badfish Stand Up Paddleboard from Boardworks SUP out of Encinitas, CA. Great name but after experiencing the fantastic fish ability of this craft, I would change the name to BadASSfisher. This SUP is especially perfect for the travelling fly fisher person. At around 35 pounds it comes in a very easily packable open burrito folding type bag. We all know that when something like this comes from the manufacturer, it fits perfectly in the packaging. However, after a few uses, it is almost impossible to get it back in the original bag. Not in this case (pun intended)!

 

Badfish at work

The Badfish comes with a double hand pump as well but you want to get the additional pressure gauge so you don’t over fill it. Additionally,they also included 3 Scotty Paddle Sports accessory mounts, one at the bow and two on both sides of the stern. I have decided to get the anchor lock, the fly rod holder and, of course, the Scotty drink holder for the occasional frosty Pacifico that might happen to be in the cooler. Cooler you say? Yes, the Badfisher is 39 inches wide and has a pre-mounted D-ring configuration at the bow and the stern to strap down equipment. In my case, I removed the bungee  cord from the front of the two back D-rings and strapped down my Coleman cooler. Can you say poling platform? I can, and it is the perfect setup. Although it might seem unstable, it is not. I used an older Coleman cooler that is a little shorter but I am sure that one of the newer Yeti type coolers would also be perfect and even more stable. It took me only a few minutes to get my sea legs up there and soon I felt very comfortable. The next consideration is a paddle and/or sectional push pole. In my case, I purchased a 3 piece carbon bladed SUP paddle from Boardworks. Luckily, for me, several years ago I purchased two sectional push poles called the Stealth Stick from Cataract Oars. Boy, that was a good decision. The anchor is also important to have as more often than not, the flats can be too hard to jam in your push pole or paddle. If that is the case a small folding 4 prong drop anchor will do the trick and will usually grab enough to either slow you down or stop you entirely so you can make a cast.

 

Badfish with real fish

Now, back to the fact that the Badfish is extremely stable because of the side sponsons, which you blow up separately and makes the SUP even more stable. After you blow up the main center section, attach your cooler and any other accessories, you are good to go. Being very fortunate and living down in Mexico on the Riviera Maya in Akumal, I have some of the best DIY fly fishing around at Boca Paila. My first trial was very good and I could see Bones up to 150 feet away. Although I didn’t see any Permit, I know that I will the next time. My second trial was down in Xcalak and I fished two mangrove lagoons with several chances at Tarpon but the best day was fishing in one of the ocean side bays for Bonefish. Even when the tide went out, the Badfisher quietly cruised over the shallow grass flats allowing me to creep up unannounced and make a cast. The reason for this silent approach is the fact that the Badfisher comes with two small low profile fins on the bottom with the option of including a larger removable fin for deeper water. Obviously you wouldn’t install the larger fin for very shallow conditions and keep it for better tracking in deeper water and windier days.

In conclusion, the Badfisher is a perfect set up for fly fishing traveller, period.”