In January 2017, I was presented with the opportunity to fish a relatively new and untapped destination in Southeastern Mexico, an oil-heavy region along the Gulf filled with jungles, lagoons, and healthy numbers of tarpon and snook. Without hesitation, my partner and I booked a three day/four night trip in mid-August with Fly Fishing Tabasco, a family-run guiding service based out of Tabasco’s capital city, Villahermosa.
Tabasco is the place to learn how to fish for tarpon. Tarpon can be picky and intimidating, but they were numerous and many were willing to eat my fly in Tabasco. Prior to this trip, I had jumped three tarpon, but never landed any. Here are some reflections on my trip to Tabasco.
The guide: Paco Marroquin Jr. is a young, but very talented, friendly, and patient guide. He provided superb service. Paco grew up in the industry, as his father owned Southeastern Mexico’s only fishing outfitter and even had a television show called “Let’s Go Fishing with Paco Marroquin”. He helped me perfect my double haul, put us on so many fish, and kept us laughing from the time he picked us up before sunrise to when we said goodnight after dinner in the evenings. He adores his clients and by the end of our trip, he has become a dear friend.
Food and accommodations: The food was incredible. From dinners at the hotel restaurant to Paco’s mother’s homemade breakfasts and lunches on the boat, everything was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had better food on a guided fishing trip before. Smoked pork sandwiches, chicken salad, tacos al pastor, barbacoa Tabasqueña...even the snacks like plantain chips were awesome.
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Villahermosa. It was a convenient location to the airport, with a beautiful lobby, comfortable beds, large outdoor swimming pool, and modern amenities. Our bathroom had a stunning rainfall shower that felt so good after fishing in the sun for 8+ hours a day.
Weather: Hot, humid, and sunny...except for one afternoon thunderstorm which felt amazing. Apparently it’s like this year round. But you get over the warmth when you are out on the boat. Wear your sunscreen and breathable, longsleeved clothing, and you’ll be fine. You could also jump in the lagoon to take a quick swim, although we chose to simply splash water onto our feet and shoulders while in the boat.
Mosquitos: The only time that we encountered mosquitos was when we pulled off to use the bathroom in a field with tall grasses...perfect mosquito habitat. Needless to say, I learned how to pee off the side of the boat real quickly after that.
Gear: Between the two of us, we packed two 8 wt and one 9 wt rod with two reels, both with floating line. Lots of sunscreen, longsleeved clothing, which we sprayed with insect repellent prior to our trip, hats, sunglasses, Buffs, and medical tape to wrap our fingers to prevent line burn. We fished toads, Clouser’s and a few foam poppers in white, chartreuse, blue, pink, and yellow, all in size 2/0 and 3/0. Paco also tied us a few toads and baitfish patterns while we were down there--we brought him some white bucktail and hooks, as they are hard for him to acquire in Southeastern Mexico without having to pay astronomical taxes and shipping fees. The next time we go, one of those reels will have intermediate line on it, in order to fish down deeper where the larger tarpon lurk.
Lessons learned: Make sure to really utilize your rod and not your body to exert power. Otherwise, you’ll be exhausted by lunchtime. Never trout set and ALWAYS “bow to the king.”
Fly Fishing Tabasco is not intended to be a luxurious lodge, but an all-inclusive, no-frills yet clean, comfortable and safe destination for people who want to catch a lot of juvenile (and larger!) tarpon. I’d be surprised if anyone has ever gotten skunked on a trip out with Paco. He’s that good and the tarpon population is that numerous!
You can book a trip with Paco Marroquin Jr. at the Fly Fishing Tabasco lodge right here on Fisher Guiding.
Alysson Cwyk is an angler from Philadelphia, PA, and also president of the Delaware Valley Women's Fly Fishing Association. You can follow Alysson for more of her fishing and life adventures on Instagram: @femmeonthefly. Check out more pictures from Tabasco below!