Tarpon Cay Lodge Destination Report by JC Weeks

JC Weeks - Fishwest Fly Shop July 09, 2024

I am just starting to recover (and dry out) from our most recent hosted trip to the Mexican Yucatan. Despite the weather, I find myself in awe of how great the fishing really was. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the new, and vastly improved, Tarpon Cay Lodge, which is in Rio Lagartos, Mexico.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the new, and vastly improved, Tarpon Cay Lodge, which is in Rio Lagartos, Mexico. This trip was from June 15th – 22nd, 2024 with six full days of guided fishing, with a day on the front and back of the trip to allow for what proved to be an easy transfer to and from the lodge.

From Salt Lake City, Utah I flew directly into Cancun via the daily flight offered by Delta Airlines which arrives sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 PM assuming everything is running without delays at the airport. All of us who flew via Salt Lake were greeted by the shortest line for customs and immigration that I have ever seen at this airport. After deplaning, we made our way to the customs hall to find an area that was completely devoid of all life. An area of the airport that usually resembles a line at Disneyland was completely empty and we happily strolled up to the front of the line to present our passports for our entry stamp.

One of the positives about the travel to the Tarpon Cay Lodge is that they offer a same day transfer to Rio Lagartos for anglers who fly in prior to 1:00PM local time in Cancun. Which makes for an easy travel experience. Unfortunately, due to the time difference and travel distance our group did not fall into this category. Our accommodation for the evening was the Marriot Courtyard – Cancun Airport, and it was perfect for an overnight in Cancun. A free shuttle to the hotel, a nice meal at the restaurant downstairs, and a good night’s rest and our group was ready to kick this trip off right.

The next day, after a relaxed morning a good breakfast our group departed the hotel and started our journey to the Tarpon Cay Lodge. After a short and sweet three-hour ride, we found ourselves at the Yuum Ha Boutique Hotel which serves as home base for the anglers fishing at the TCL. The hotel grounds feature an onsite restaurant, tiki bar, and pool, top it off with in room, icy cold air conditioning, WiFi, Smart TV, and super comfortable beds and you have the perfect setup for a group of anglers looking to rest after a great day of fishing.

One thing that makes the Tarpon Cay Lodge unique is the fact that the program is typically fished as a split schedule, starting with an early morning session, typically starting at 5:30 AM with the sunrise, till around 11:30 AM after which the guides return to the lodge to wait out hottest part of the day. Only to return to the water in the late afternoon after a nice lunch and siesta where you find yourself fully rested and ready to tangle with more of what the lagoons surrounding Rio Lagartos have to offer.

The next morning, our group was up early with an eager anticipation of what the day was going to hold. The excitement around the breakfast table was palpable as we rigged our gear, selected flies, and packed up our bags for the first session on the water. By 5:15 AM our group had wrapped up breakfast, finished off our coffee, and we made the long trek (across the street) to meet the guides at the dock.

The forecast for the week called for consistent variable rain throughout the week with winds varying from 10 to 12 knots which came to be found later was very good for the fishing conditions. The cloudy weather and rain on the water made for some super happy baby tarpon. These fish did not feel the pressure of the boat and were rolling much more confidently than I have seen on past trips. Over the course of the week, we saw many fish hooked and landed within 20 to 30 feet of the boat. Obviously, this was not the norm, and anglers with longer casts and a good presentation were often rewarded with an eat without too many refusals.

The number of baby and juvenile tarpon in the area is astounding, and due to that fact, there was never much down time to be had in between shots, jumps, or bringing another fish to the boat. This is as much a testament to the fishery as it is to the guides that call the Tarpon Cay Lodge home. Cresp, Martin, and Rafael have their fishery dialed, and dialed in so well, that they had an answer for fishing sessions that had more the look and feel of fall steelheading weather and not tropical flats fishing. Throughout the week, each pairing of anglers had numerous encounters with tarpon, and only two sessions out of 14 where one boat did not come back to camp talking about landing a fish.

Overall, I would consider this trip to be a gigantic success. For our group of six anglers, a total of 73 tarpon and well over two dozen Snook. The average tarpon ranging from 12 to 15lbs with the largest of the trip being caught by Rick, coming in at over 20lbs. Most of these fish were caught on a small handful of flies including the Megalopsicle, a Big Eye Tarpon, Black Death, and the always popular Tarpon Toad all fished on floating lines.

I would be remised if I didn’t touch on the off the water experience at the Tarpon Cay Lodge as it was a big hit with all our anglers (me included). The meals served at the lodge included an exciting array of local favorites like Mole, Ceviche, Smoked Pork Tacos, and a traditional Molcajete – filled with chorizo, asada, shrimp, and lobster. Couple that menu with the craft cocktails curated by our host Jose, that included, Paloma’s, Margaritas, and a bunch of variations on the Mojito and some of the group might have argued that the time around the table was the best part of the trip.

My final thoughts I wanted to share, if you are looking to get into saltwater fly fishing or if Tarpon are on your angling bucket list, the Tarpon Cay Lodge is the place to be. A super simple travel schedule, a fantastic lodge atmosphere, and phenomenal fishing with dialed in local guides. What more do you need?

JC Weeks from Fishwest Fly Shop will again be hosting a trip to Tarpon Cay Lodge next year. Contact Us for information on joining the group and reserving your spot on this popular group trip.

Landon Mace - Mexico Destinations Manager

Click below to find out more about Tarpon Cay Lodge by reaching our Mexico Destinations Manager Landon Mace.