Sometimes I feel like bad weather seems to always follow me wherever I may travel to. This past week that feeling loomed over my head as I sat and watched howling winds, dark clouds and rain, eat up my first day down in Ascension Bay, Mexico at the Palometa Club. Does it bother me or was I angry? Of course not! Sooner or later you get used to the fact that you simply can’t control the weather. If you are superstitious and wear the same pair of underwear everyday to keep the weather away while on a fishing trip, I’m sure you’ve had your luck, but honestly, I’d rather have a clean pair of shorts if you know what I’m sniffin’. Just pick your head up, enjoy your company and be thankful you aren’t back at home in the office.
So — Ascension Bay, Mexico, more specifically Punta Allen, a small fishing village within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. I’m staying with some of my most favorite hosts and friends, Dick & Kaye Cameron, owners and operators of The Palometa Club. For those of you that know us here at Tailwaters, you have likely heard us raving about this destination or “club” as we like to call it. It’s essentially that. When you arrive, you are welcomed with open arms and you are immediately part of the family, from Dick & Kaye, Digger (their fluffy white dog), the kitchen staff, all the guides and pretty much everyone you may encounter in-between. It’s one of those places where you truly do not want to leave when the time comes.
This past week, I paid a visit to go fish a little and shoot a ton of photography. I had the privilege of meeting multiple repeat guests such as Stephen Pod and Joe Seelig in addition to some newcomers who were all great guys. As previously mentioned, my first day we experienced a rare occurrence when Dick had to make the call and cancel our day on the water. When I say rare, I mean only 5 times in the history of the club that a day of fishing has been waved off due to weather. Safety of the guests comes first, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was probably a good thing we didn’t go out that day – it was flat out nasty. As the remainder of my stay progressed, the weather continued to hover overhead, but by the end of the trip we had bright, sunny days that were perfect for permit fishing. On a side note, there is one thing I love about bad weather – it’s very photogenic. Storm clouds are flat out cool looking and provide very unique lighting.
Joe and I were fishing buddies for the rest of the week as we set out to catch permit. Joe is a seasoned angler as he was in search for his 43rd permit (all caught here at The Palometa Club); I on the other hand was still in search of my first, but I was there to shoot images so my time on the casting deck was short and sweet. Each day we set out with high hopes, but with clouds above, we really had no light to work with, so we relied on the exceptional eyes of our guides. They always do an amazing job of finding and seeing fish, no matter the conditions. We were primarily looking for “nervous water” and obvious disturbance in the surface of the water that is a telltale sign a fish is swimming nearby (usually a permit but sometimes a ray or cuda). We still managed to have a ton of shots which is what every angler could ask for, but in the end, no eats. At least the Osprey were having some luck plucking fish from the water.
It wasn’t until our last day, Saturday, that the skies opened and we had an epic day of sunshine for spotting permit. And spot permit we did. In Joe’s words, “this is been one of the best days of permit fishing I’ve had since I first starting fishing here”. Our first flat Joe spent half of the 3 hour duration in the water chasing fish. I’d bet that he cast to at least 12 fish in the first 3 hours. The funny thing is, they weren’t very particular on eating the flies that were being presented. Shocker huh? Being rejected by a permit on a beautiful day?! That never happens!! As the day progressed, so did our continuous encounter with presenting a fly to new permit. And still, they persisted to reject our flies. Why? Who knows, but that’s part of the game. That’s why when you do stick one and hold it up high, there is no better feeling in the world.
Our last hours were spent chasing a rather large permit, 25-30 pounds according to Jonathan and Jorge, our guides that day. It couldn’t have been more incredible. Seeing a fish of that size tailing at sunset with not a whisper of sound to be heard. Guess what, that fish didn’t want to eat either. Honestly, at that point we really didn’t expect it to. It was one of those days where it just wasn’t going to happen. When Joe turned to me and asked, “Would you rather have two shots all day and come away with one fish, or have 30 shots at 30 different fish all day and no fish”? Sit back and think about it, you might be surprised at your answer. We did have 30 shots at 30 different fish, and honestly I can say that was one of the best days I’ve had on the water in a very long time. It was non stop, heart pumping action.
All in all, the visit was outstanding. Dick & Kaye, the guides and staff made us feel right at home. Kaye’s famous margaritas were plentiful, the cerveza was thirst quenching, and the food as always, was nothing short of perfection. Did I mention the road in and out of Punta Allen was a breeze in the super comfy Toyota transport van? I’ll be returning back to the club in May for the big permit Tournament. It’s going to be incredible!