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Articles: Gran Slam en Isla Blanca (Cancún México)

by: Daniel Beilinson

My fishing guide Humberto picked me up at 4.30 am because that was my last fishing day in Isla Blanca. I had to take my flight to Miami in the afternoon, so I just had 6 hours for fishing. Fortunately, the weather was fine, a bit windy and some clouds were announcing a shower but that is normal in Yucatan in June. Humberto was driving his car from the seventies slowly while we were organizing our fishing day. We got to the marina at 5.15 and were sailing down to our first spot at 5.30.

The area is just 20 minutes from the shore. It is an open area with turtle grass bottom, with deep pools where small sardines hide and tarpon hunt. Humberto turned off the engine and moved the boat with his white-mangrove wooden push pole. The water was calm and the sun hadn´t risen yet. Once in a while we heard the typical sound tarpon make when they roll in the water but we couldn´t see them. As the sun was rising, we started spotting them. We could see them everywhere but they were very far from each other. Humberto said they were probably eating. We approached an area where we had seen a tarpon rolling; I tried casting to one side and the other without any good results. There was no movement in the water to call our attention; we were waiting for another tarpon to roll again. When it did, it was ouf of reach. It was obvious that there were a lot around but the fly had never been close enough to tempt them. 45 minutes had gone by, so we moved to an area with deeper pools where Humberto had seen tarpon activity. We waited to see if there was any movement. We could see some of them rolling; I was at a cast distance of about 45 feet. I cast to where the tarpon were heading. The fly touched the water, I waited for it to get deeper and started to retrieve gently (it was a Gummy Minnow on hook size 2/0). I had just made three strips when I felt a tarpon taking my fly. I could feel the tension of the line with the flash under water. I lowered the rod and pointed to my prey; I set the hook three times to get the hook in the hard mouth of the tarpon. The water exploded and the tarpon leaped in the air to remove the hook which had stuck in his jaw. It fell into the water and leaped again as soon as he felt the tension of my line. I had hooked a tarpon at last. After a 10-minute battle I managed to land it. A beautiful 5-pounder was in my hands. I had just released the fish back to the water when Humberto spotted a small group of tarpon 50 yards away from us. He had seen the back of a big one. We approached and when I was within cast distance I made my first cast with no result. My second cast was longer; I waited for the fly to fall deeper, repeating the ritual, and as soon as I began stripping back, another tarpon was on my line. Even though it was not the biggest, he gave me battle. I landed, released it and we headed off in search of bonefish and permit.
We carried on sailing towards the permit and bonefish area which was closer to the marina, because we had to be back by 12. It was already 8 am. We got to a white-sand flat. Humberto turned off the motor and moved the boat with the push-pole. The tide was a bit high, so no permit or bones could be seen. After moving 200 yards, I thought I´d seen a small bonefish school of 5 or 6 fish. Humbert headed the boat towards them skillfully despite the wind. When we were within cast distance, I made an accurate cast. The fly (a small white crab Humberto had given me) fell right in front of the bonefish. They charged at the fly energetically and one of them hooked, but managed to come unhook after a couple of runs. The other bones remained around and quiet, so I cast my crab again. They raced to it so I had a bone in my line again. Unfortunately, it also escaped so I checked my fly and noticed that it wasn´t sharp enough. I wonder if that was that the reason why the bones managed to unhook.

It was already 9.30 am and I had landed no bonefish or permit.
Humberto poled his boat for over an hour and a half. It was 11 am and we had only seen a few permit swimming by fast and far from our cast distance. We didn´t see bones again. I suggested going back to the area where we had spotted bones. So when we were getting there, Humberto spotted a permit coming towards us. When it was about 60 feet from me, I cast to place the fly right in front of the fish. Once the fly reached the water, the permit took it without hesitating.
After 15 minutes, a 3-pound permit was in my hands. After that, and without wasting time, I asked Humberto to keep going to get to the bonefish area. We got there by 11.30 am and we saw the same bonefish school we had already seen some hours ago, as if they had been waiting for us. Humberto approached them slowly and, when we were within cast distance, and after having checked the fly, I made an accurate cast placing the fly in front of them. One bone saw it, chased it and took it. It didn´t escape this time and I had achieved my Grand Slam!!! My fishing was over. I thought about the good luck we had and admired the expertise of my guide Humberto Marfil. I left the place dreaming about my next saltwater fishing trip.

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