Rio Piratos - Global FlyFisher

GFF logo



   
Article All pictures

Rio Piratos


Where the sabalo grande - the big tarpon - roam


By Martin Joergensen

All 109 pictures




10 kilos or 20 lbs. - at least!
10 kilos or 20 lbs. - at least!
Lars with a really nice tarpon - albeit not nearly as big as they come.
6 o'clock
6 o'clock
Waiting for the boats in the early morning light.
A 10 lbs./5 kilos tarpon
A 10 lbs./5 kilos tarpon
Happy me with a nice 10 lbs. or 5 kilo tarpon - probably the largest I caught on the trip.
A classic
A classic
A typical position: Waiting for the tarpon in the stern of boat with fly and rod ready.
A rise!
A rise!
Talk about challenging. Below this ring a tarpon up to 10 lbs. may be hunting. Hook it, and you are in for a job keeping it out of the trees! And that's the part of the trees in the air! Not in the water...
Afternoon treat
Afternoon treat
After fishing we typicaly spent an hour or two on the porch with rhum, cokes and chips.
Baby
Baby
A typical small 3-4 lbs. or 1-1½ kilos baby tarpon from the magrove.
Beers
Beers
After a long day at sea, a clod beer does good.
Blisters
Blisters
The heat can be intense, and in spite of heavy duty sunscreen I managed to get blisters on one of my hands and my shoulders.
Boat
Boat
The boat style id typical: long, slender, spacey and with 40 or 60 horse power outboards.
Building style
Building style
The typical Mexican building style defies all logic. You can't really see what all structures are ment to do. This is the management building for the hotel.
Caballeros
Caballeros
The cowboys waiting to be let into the arena to catch the bull after the toreodores have done their job.
Calm
Calm
Although we are miles offshore there is no wind at all and the heat is doing its best to kill us.
Candy box
Candy box
Lars' fly box was an old candy box mounted with rubber bands and some spikes in a small piece of wood. Abel go home!
Carlos
Carlos
Carlos poling in the calm water after a thunder shower in the mangrove.
Cervezas
Cervezas
The first Mexican beer late in the night in the airport in Mexico City.
Chino
Chino
Our guide for most of the days: Chino. A really nice guy, an excellent tarpon spotter and very good at the pole - which is quite important when fishing the shallow mangrove waters. As you may be able to see we are trying to escape a heavy shower behind us.
Chino and Kim's toolshop
Chino and Kim's toolshop
Kim has unpacked and is ready to roll. Chino scouts for fish that are ready to roll.
Christo
Christo
Christ was watching out for the pescadores - the fishers - on the way out of the river.
Cigar box
Cigar box
Kenneth's fly box was a cigar box. Ready to lure fish all the way from Cuba!
City lights
City lights
Night falls and the street lights come on.
Claus
Claus
Claus with his first tarpon. An estimated 6 lbs. or 3 kilos fish.
Close quarters
Close quarters
Yes, we saw many tarpon in here - and even caught some!
Clouds
Clouds
Clouds building up over the mangrove and mainland as they did almost every afternoon.
Cool
Cool
It might seem cold and tempting, but the water is very hot.
Detail
Detail
A top eye on the backdrop of the mangrove.
Docking
Docking
Lars and Carlos returning in the afternoon right in front of the hotel.
Doing noyhing
Doing noyhing
What I watched all the day that I didn't fish.
El Muerte
El Muerte
El Muerte AKA Lars - so dubbed because of the very persistent and white sun screen he put on every day. The right name would have been "La Muerte" according to Lars who knows Spanish.
Enduro
Enduro
The two main propulsion sources in Rio Lagartos: the Enduro and the pole. The Hondas are almost as numerous as the people.
Even a small one
Even a small one
Lars did catch smaller fish such as this 2 kilos or 4 lbs. specimen.
Festival
Festival
We were in Rio Lagartos during a festival week, and saw processions, bull fights, dancers and many other things.
Fight
Fight
Fighting a small tarpon
First morning
First morning
On the way out to scout for large tarpon.
Fishing  boats
Fishing boats
Typical fishing boats, som with small dingies on the deck.
Flybox
Flybox
A boxful of flies for large tarpon.
Flywater
Flywater
Cristal is a big brewery that supplies Mexico with purified water and soft drinks.
Gang og four
Gang og four
Kenneth, Diego, Diego Jr. and Soeren were one of the three boat teams.
Garden
Garden
The "garden" behind the hotel. Very typical Rio Lagartos style.
Gear
Gear
The gear waiting on the small pier early in the morning.
Giulliano and Chino
Giulliano and Chino
Giulliano, son, and his father, our guide Chino.
Hand lining
Hand lining
While the big boys strut their stuff and cast with 500 dollar rods, Diego Jr. handlines a few snappers with some lead and some bits of octopus. He caught about a fish a minute...
Happy Lars, Unhappy Jack
Happy Lars, Unhappy Jack
This 10-15 lbs. jack is about to become "cumida" - food - and wind up in the bottom of the boat for later consumption.
Harbour
Harbour
The harbour and the lighthouse in Rio Lagartos.
Heavy gear
Heavy gear
Big fish require tough equipment. A class 12 Scott Heliply rod and a Lamson/Waterworks reel built for hauling cars out of ditches loaded with a Rio 400 grains sink tip line.
Hotel California
Hotel California
Probaly not its right name, but it was spooky enough to deserve the name. The hotel has looked like this for at least three years, and will probably never be finished.
Ice
Ice
Putting ice from the ice box on a hook set in a person can be a very good idea. It keeps the wound from swelling and facilitates the later removal of that nasty iron.
In the mangroves
In the mangroves
This is when we really go into the mangrove canals. And do we fish in here? Yes, sure! It takes some trick casting, and figthing a fish is close to impossible, but it's fun.
Internet café
Internet café
Even the smallest village seems to have one. This one was exceptionaly inexpensive: 5 pesos for 20 minutes.
Into a jack
Into a jack
Lars has hooked a jack and is applying all the pressure he and the gear can muster. Still it just rips off line.
Into the sun
Into the sun
Heading into the sunup in the morning.
Jack and Lars
Jack and Lars
We estimated that our fish were in the 10 lbs. range, but the guide Carlos judged them to be weightier - upwards 8 kilos or 16 lbs. And sure, they were hefty and massive fish.
Jack and Martin
Jack and Martin
My first jack ever - like hooking a freight train! I judged this fish to be 8-10 lbs. or 4-5 kilos, but our guide Carlos insisted that it was much heavier - maybe even 6-7 kilos or more. Well, he knows and sure these fish are massive and can cheat a first timer like myself.
Jack in tomato
Jack in tomato
One of the jacks we caught were served in tomato for dinner. Delicious!
Jack me in!
Jack me in!
This is a school of jacks in the 10-15 lbs. range that turns just under the boat after Lars has tried to get one of them to take a fly, which they would follow closely until just under the rod tip. Quite a thrilling experience!
Jaws
Jaws
A tarpon may not have teeht, but this is the gate to hell for any small baitfish even so!
Jump
Jump
Any tarpon will jump out of the water the moment it has been hooked - often shedding the hook in the first gill rattling head shake.
Kenneth and Soren
Kenneth and Soren
Watching the spectacular show during the Rio Lagartos Festival.
La Muerte strikes again
La Muerte strikes again
This time a fish in the 25-30 lbs. range or upwards 15 kilos fell for Lars' fly.
Leader tying
Leader tying
The art of tying a tarpon leader, shown by Kim (left) to Kenneth, who smiles in bewilderment over the complex process.
Los Campiones
Los Campiones
Guide Carlos in the front pronounced himself and Lars Los Campiones - The Champions - and rightfully so. It was Lars who hooked and landed this 20+ kilos or 40-45 lbs. fish, here presenting it to the photographer.
Mangrove tarpon
Mangrove tarpon
Lars with and absolutely decent tarpon from the mangroves.
Map
Map
A map of the area painted on the wall of the Isla Contoy.
Margeritas
Margeritas
They may not seem large, but trust me: they are!
Marrauded
Marrauded
After a few baby tarpon, this old fly was unable to do any good any more.
Money laundering
Money laundering
I didn't want to take pictures in the heavy rain, but we were wet to the skin - as was our money, here put out to dry on the bed.
Morning light
Morning light
The sun is about to rise over the waterfront in Rio Lagartos.
Night view
Night view
The view from the hotel at night.
No horizon
No horizon
When the water is this smooth and the sky is cloudy the tarpon are hard to see unless they roll - and really spooky on top of that.
On the lookout
On the lookout
We didn't fish these sandy beaches, but the animal life was impressing: ladyfish, mullets, stingrays, barracudas, anchovies and much, much more.
Our hotel
Our hotel
Hotel Villa de Pescadores
Pelican
Pelican
Pelicans are all over the place. This one rests just outside the hotel.
Pink Cadillac
Pink Cadillac
A local girl riding the carussel during the festival in Rio Lagartos.
Porcupine fish
Porcupine fish
My first catch at all would suck in air with a funny sound and blow itself up to twice its normal size.
Positions
Positions
Lars transferring positions between two GPS'es.
Proud caballero
Proud caballero
This guy was saddeling up right in front of the hotel. When I aimed my camera he looked proudly at me and put his hand in the side. They sure have style, these guys.
Rain
Rain
A front moving in in the afternoon.
Rain moving in
Rain moving in
When the sky looks like this, you know it's gonna rain.
Release
Release
Most tarpon have to be held a little before release. Other swim away right away.
Room
Room
The hotel was primitive but nice enough. Here I'm writing the very story that you are reading right now.
Sabalo grande!
Sabalo grande!
The biggest catch: Kim has hooked himself in the belly with a 6/0 Owner tarpon hook - the strongest hook in the world as he said.
Safe
Safe
Rio Lagartos is safe and quiet. Gear for thousands of dollars was left outside the hotel room every night.
Sky
Sky
There's not much to say, is there?
Small tarpon
Small tarpon
A typical small tarpon - often referred to as a baby. This one may weigh 2 kilos or 4 lbs.
Snook
Snook
I managed to land three snook in this size range.
Speeding
Speeding
The large outboards give the boats a good speed. Here we are leaving Rio Lagartos in the early morning.
Street
Street
We saw many horse in the streets during the festival.
Street signs
Street signs
The corner of the harbour street (Galle 9) and the street next to the hotel.
Street with no name
Street with no name
A typical Rio Lagartos street - this one Galle 15. All streets have numbers. Notice the building materials blocking a couple of places. That's just how it is. No car passes here until the material is used up - which can take quite a while.
Stripping
Stripping
Lars stripping (in more than one sense) in an effort to get a jack to take. It didn't work.
Sun
Sun
The sun can be immensely sharp and hot - even in the morning.
Sunset
Sunset
We watched sunsets like this every evening from Isla Contoya while dining.
Sunup
Sunup
Looking for tarpon in the early light.
Swimming
Swimming
Soeren "swimming" in the large pool that formed in front of the hotel after the heavy rain.
Table soccer
Table soccer
During the festival this table soccer arcade was very popular.
Tarpon fly
Tarpon fly
A typical tarpon fly: bare hook shank, hackle and splayed feathers.
Tarpon Killer
Tarpon Killer
The fly that took all Lars' large tarpon. The hook is 6/0.
Text messaging
Text messaging
We hadn't left the airport yet before the first text messages were zooming off to the girlfriends at home.
The right fly
The right fly
We had good luck with pink flies in the mangrove.
The team
The team
From left: Claus, Kim, Kenneth, Diego Jr., Soeren, Lars (front) and myself, Martin (far right).
Thirst
Thirst
Anything cold was welcome in the intense heat.
Three men in a boat - and a boy
Three men in a boat - and a boy
Diego, Diego Jr., Soeren and Kenneth.
Tortuga
Tortuga
We saw lots of tortugas - turtles - often mistaking the for fish in an instant, but their breathing reveals them as something else.
Waiting
Waiting
Every morning at 6, we were ready by the small bridge in front of the hotel.
Waiting in line
Waiting in line
In the airport in Copenhagen, still pale. From the left: Lars, Kenneth and Kim.
Weighty
Weighty
Not the tarpon, but me! This picture made me realize that I might want to shed a few pounds around the waist - and maybe a bit more than the 4 lb.s or a couple of kilos that the tarpon weighs.
Well dressed me
Well dressed me
Proper clothing - and enough of it - is essential in the intense heat. The sun can burn you through a cotton T-shirt!
Wet wading
Wet wading
Lars and Kim demonstrating the depth of the puddle in front of the hotel.
When it rains...
When it rains...
...it really rains! A true thunderstorm and the streets would fill with water in minutes. Great fun to watch from the porch in front of the room.