Campeche, Mexico

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Campeche, Mexico
Tropical Fly Lines
Spey Rod Party
Spey Clave Prizes
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Campeche, Mexico    (Pronounced: Cam-paych-ay)   By: Brian O'Keefe

Judith O'Keefe with a baby tarpon.


The best statistic I heard prior to our baby tarpon trip to Campeche, Mexico was that Cancun gets as many tourists in one day as Campeche gets in a full year. My kind of place. On April 6th, myself, my wife Judith and fishing buddies Steve from Bend, OR and Anthony from Silverton, OR all flew from Portland to Houston to Merida, on the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula. From there our hotelís van drove the last hour and a half to Campeche. Our outfitter was Raul Castaneda, a Campeche native and skilled fly angler. Raulís company,

Tarpontown Anglers, has been in business for five years and he and his guides know both the best

shallow water flats and the maze of mangroves that start a 100 yards from town. Campeche has the combination of over 100 miles of mangrove shoreline and the largest expanse of turtle grass in Mexico. This area has been the home to juvenile tarpon since long before the Spanish Conquerors discovered Campeche in 1517. 2,000 years before that the Mayans were active in the area and built an amazing city 40 miles from Campeche, called Edzna. We spent a half day there, marveling at the 200 foot high temple

Tarpon are jupers!

and other well preserved constructions. Our fishing days started out with a papaya, pineapple and  

Campeche has over 100-mile of mangrove shoreline.

watermelon platos frutas and then a four minute walk across the street to the boats. We started the engines at around 7:00 am and were casting to rolling tarpon in less than a half hour. There are miles of flats and mangrove and you can go farther but why leave fish to find fish. We all took eight weights for the five to twenty five pound tarpon.  After a couple days I rigged two rods, one with a Mastery Salt Wet Tip Clear for

mangrove and shallow, two to three foot flats and another with a Mastery Streamer Express Clear

for the deeper four to eight foot flats. They are both easy casting lines that can go long when needed, but have the stealth factor, also. I fished non-IGFA leaders with three feet of thirty pound fluorocarbon tippet uni-knotted to a stiff four foot chunk of a saltwater tapered leader. Lots of action and changing flies makes the long shock tippet handy.Our guides would pole the open water flats, getting us into casting range of the rollers. We caught tarpon on all kinds of flies and

Flying through the mangroves.

all colors and sizes. The best hookup ratio was on 1/0 hooks. Even though they are small by Florida Keys standards, you still need a good, and sometimes long cast, and a powerful strip strike, just like


for the big ones. It was common to get twenty shots in the morning, and as we had a rising  tide around mid-day, get another two dozen shots along the mangrove shoreline in the afternoon. The guides Chino and Camoron were pleasant companions and super hard polers. Remember that we were fishing from the angler friendly panga, a twenty seven footer no less, not a light weight, little skiff. Raul had customized two super pangas with level, elevated casting decks, large enough for a full sized pool table, plus comfortable chairs, a huge ice filled cooler with drinks and lunch. This was not a one water, one Coke cooler. We had six waters, six soft drinks and six

cervsas, por favor. The water on the flats and in the mangrove is very clear and there are hundreds

of places to hide from the wind. April through September is less windy and the prevailing East to Northeast wind comes across the land first, so there is very little wave action even on breezy days.After fishing we would wash off the reels and head for the pool. As Campeche is world famous for its beautiful downtown and many excellent restaurants, we would soak for an hour and plan our evening. The quality of the food in Campeche is hard to describe. Ceviche appetizers are to die for. The area has a large shrimp and crab industry so menus are filled with those fresh offerings. My favorite meal was a cobia fillet, rolled up with crab, shrimp and bacon inside.  Toothpicks held it all together while it baked and then it was covered with a not too spicy but flavorful verde sauce. Worth the trip. After dinner a stroll through the town center was in order. Colorful store fronts, historic architecture, friendly locals in seventy five degree comfort. We took to having

Maya ruins.

chocolate cake and flan at an upstairs Cuban restaurant that over looked the square. Anthony, a

Down town Campeche.

cigar aficionado, took advantage of the ten dollar Cohibas, also. Campeche will not always be an inexpensive tarpon town with rich Mayan and Spanish history, and a movie set appearance. Mel Gibson just shot a movie in the area and it is bound to get more attention from non-fishing tourists. Check out for the latest on Campeche and look at for accurate fly fishing information.

Raul speaks perfect English; gracias, gracias.

Scientific Anglers was first to offer specialty fly lines for saltwater fishing!

Saltwater Taper Bonefish Taper, Sinking Tarpon Taper, Sinking
Bonefish Taper, Floating Tarpon Taper, Floating Billfish Taper

 Scientific Anglers is the larges maker of saltwater specific fly lines.

We are continually asked, "How do you fly fish in saltwater?"  Saltwater fish species and habitats are so diversified that there is no simple answer.  Saltwater temperatures run from both arctics to the equator and from inches deep to miles deep.  The fly lines listed here are designed for tropical temperatures.  For most temperate and arctic water temperatures, many lines

used in colder fresh water will do well.  Warm tropical saltwater and the fish that live in it do pose some daunting problems for the average fresh water fly line.  The polymers that fly lines are coated with have a certain suppleness at specific temperatures.  They get stiffer when cold and limper when warm.  This becomes painfully clear when your favorite steelhead line coils on a 100-degree boat deck.  It gets limp to the point of being sticky and will tangle nearly every cast.  Scientific anglers attacked this problem with a full selection of lines coated with polymers that give

Mark Bachmann with captain Chris Morrison in the Florida Keyes.  This Jack Crevelle ate a green popper cast with a Masery Saltwater Taper line.

maximum performance in tropical temperatures.  In addition to their special coatings, line tapers are designed to penetrate the wind with large flies.  This coating is to some degree armor plating against the abuse of heavy fish and the abrasive environment that many of them live in. 

Even Though Guys Get Chapped Lips & Sun Burnt Skin
Think you're tough?  Wait 'til the tropical sun makes your lips look like two strips of fried bacon.  Extreme Elements Lip Protector can prevent "bacon lips".  Not only for the tropics or vacation, lip protection is a factor anywhere the sun shines or the wind blows.  What is sunblock?
No one like chapped lips.

A sunblock physically blocks the sun's UV radiation of the skin, both UVA and UVB. Examples of sunblocks are clothing, umbrellas, and trees. Chemical sunblocks scatter, reflect, and physically block UV radiation. Sunblocks lesson or prevent sunburn.  Sunburn is thought to be a major cause of skin cancer.  Whether or not preventing skin cancer is your major concern, we all know that sunburn is uncomfortable and peeling skin isn't regarded as pretty.  In most of us, our skin develops its own UV inhibitors over a period of time.  We tan.  It is

when we drastically change amounts of sunlight that we are at the most risk of getting sunburnt, such as moving indoors to outdoors or changing elevations from high to low or latitudes from temperate to tropical.  The Extreme Elements Products on this page are proven to us in the field.

Lip procector.

Extreme Elements
Lip Protector SPF30

UVA/UVB Sun Protection
Waterproof PABA-Free

Net wt. .14oz/4g
Handy Adjustable Stick With Cord
Item Description Size Price To Top
BL LB 01 Extreme Elements, Lip Protector SPF30 .14 oz. $3.50


Waterproof sunblock.

Extreme Elements
Sunblock Lotion SPF30

UVA/UVB Sun Protection
Waterproof PABA-Free

Item Description Size Price To Top
BL SUN 04 Extreme Elements, Sunblock Lotion SPF30 4 oz. $9.95

BL SUN 05 Extreme Elements, Sunblock Lotion SPF30 1.5 oz. $5.95


Have you put it on the calendar & booked your motel/hotel room for:
The Greatest Spey Rod Party On Earth?
The Sandy River Spey Clave, May 14, at Oxbow Park on the Sandy River
Don't miss: Mike Kinney 10-10:30am or Dec Hogan 1:30-2:30pm - May 14

Mike Kinney with client Ludwig Schmidt.

Mike Kinney
By his own admission, he was there at the beginning of the modern Spey casting era in Northern Washington and started using the short-head (Skagit style lines) early on. Like many of the "old-hands" in the Pacific Northwest, he is essentially self taught because there wasn't any one else around to learn from.  Mike is a steelhead guide on Washington's "S-Rivers": the Skagit, Sauk, Skykomish, Snoqualmie and Stillaguamish.  As a fly fishing instructor, he much sought after by the rich and famous and a free giver to the masses.  I asked Mike Kinney if he had other hobbies besides fly fishing?  His reply, "Not really. There is no time."  I asked him what makes a great spey rod.  His reply, "Feel. A great rod lets you feel the cast forming." When asked what are the hallmarks of a good spey caster? His reply, "The things that are important to me are that you can

get your fly to totally turn over before it hits the water and that you can cast on either side of the river from straight downstream to straight upstream and all in between, and that you don't need a lot of room to do it, a good spey caster can tuck into any place and be able to cast. Beyond that, to me, a good Spey caster is the one who looks like he isn't working hard to make these casts."
We couldn't agree more.  If you love to fly fish for steelhead, don't miss Mike's presentation.

Dec Hogan
Probably no other name is more recognizable in this era of spey casting than Dec Hogan.  He was a fulltime steelhead guide for 15-years on such legendary rivers such as the Skagit, Grand Rhonde and Deschutes.  His passion for steelhead and other fly eating anadromous fish has lead him across the length and breadth of North America.  Everywhere he has fished, he has left an impression with not only his rich "groupie" clients, but nearly every other angler in each watershed.  Everyone who has fished with Dec will attest that he is a brilliant fly caster, angler and fly tier, but what really sets him apart is his passion for rivers and the fish that live in them.  To the amazement of most of us, due to a personal situation, this "Jedi Master of Spey Fishing" quit guiding and instructing several years ago and dropped out  

Dec Hogan.

of the "game". This left a hole in the "force" that surrounds our sport that could be felt throughout the "Federation".  Dec will be in our area for a very brief time Sunday afternoon. 

The title says it all.

So What Has Dec Been Doing?  Writing This Book !!!

This book covers all the basic techniques proven on thousands of steelhead hooked, selecting the best fly for various river conditions, choosing the tackle that's right for you, effectively covering different water types, learning to cast, etc.  It offers highly original look at how steelhead take (or refuse) a fly. Is illustrated in color and pencil drawings.  Over 300 pages.  There will be a pre-publication offer of a special, personalized "Spey Clave Autographed" edition.

Thanks to the GENEROSITY of the manufacturers participating in the Sandy River Spey Clave this year, there will be free drawings for some incredibly expensive prizes. There will be a special Spey Clave Meiser Rod, plus rods from G. Loomis, Sage, Winston, T&T, etc.  
Must be present to sign up for the raffle.

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes


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