It’s cold, real cold. Cold and snowy, wait cold and now rainy. The best of everything, cold and wet. The ice in my glass seemed to be warmer than the weather. Sipping tequila and thinking about warm tropical places, my mind traveled a long way, across el Caribe to the Yucatan. The Boca Paila Fishing Lodge, where I went on my first “real bonefish” trip.
I sat in the bar, nervously, this is my first trip to a real lodge, while the bartender, whips up a real margarita. Let me just say, I’d go there just for the booze and the bar. He mixed up my drink and passed it on to me. After the first sip, I knew I had arrived in yucatan paradise. Some “regulars” walked into the bar, wealthy folk from some place in the US who owned a place up the beach. They stayed for a drink, told me how great a time I was going to have. The bar, lounge and dining room set the stage for the rest of the week. Between sips, I scanned the scene. Thatch roof, rattan furniture and cream colored adobe stucco walls with pictures of giant permit, tarpon and bonefish and the anglers who scored their grand slams made this room exactly what a flats lodge in the Yucatan should be. Four guys from the UK and two from the US had been fishing here for the past two days, and were staying for three more. These would be my fishing companions for the bulk of my stay. These guys were on their annual trip to an exotic locale to chase fish. I felt out of place, with these serious anglers, but the bartender handed me another drink and me that I had nothing to worry about.
I woke up early splashed some water in my face and headed for breakfast, nervously anticipating the next couple of hours. Grabbing a cup of coffee, I took a seat on the patio next to a 3ft iguana and watched the sun come up over the ocean. Fishing started at 8, following a great breakfast I grabbed my rods, 8wt for bones and 10wt for permit and headed through the jungle to the dock on the lagoon. There, I met up with the guide who would drag my sorry hide around the back country for the next five days. Luciano didn’t say much, although he spoke good English, and went straight to work getting the show on the road.
We zipped our way though mangrove channels and open lagoons in a modern flats skiff, raising all sorts of tropical birds. Egrets, herons, spoonbills you name it, all took flight as we passed. About 15 minutes later, Luciano climbed up to the spot he would occupy for most of our time together. From atop the poling platform he would call out “11 o’clock 30 feet, cast, no, more left, more left, cast again…spooked.” I didn’t see a freakin thing and figured Luciano was making fish up. This was the first half of the morning’s routine and I thought that this was going to be a long day. All that was about to change with one word…Permit!