Author: Tucker Ladd
Simply put, when your wife asks you to plan a trip to a flats fishing lodge, your response should be simple and concise: 'yes, when and where?' In my case, the when was the first week of February, and the where was The Grand Slam Lodge. Located just outside of Punta Allen on the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, Grand Slam Lodge is a new offering in this mecca of flats fishing operations. Part boutique hotel, part fishing lodge, Grand Slam is designed to offer more of a hotel atmosphere, where non-anglers (a.k.a. wives, girl friends, or better halves) can have an enjoyable vacation while fly anglers (a.k.a. husband, boy friend, or companion) can get in their salt water fly fishing fix.
You can get to the Grand Slam lodge two different ways. The ride from the Cancun International Airport takes about two and a half hours via car/truck. Another great option if you can arrive early enough, the staff will pick you up via boat in the town of Talum and take whisk you through the back lagoons to the lodge. The boat option is nice because you can avoid a bumpy ride on a fairly long dirt road.
Upon arrival, it was clear that Grand Slam was going to far exceed my expectations, and more importantly, Whitney’s as well.
For five days we explored the flats of Ascension Bay, each day making an effort to chase the various species that inhabit this legendary fishery. The guides at Grand Slam were world class, and were equally enjoyable to be around as they were effective at finding and spotting fish. As is typical of fishing in Ascension Bay, each boat has a guide for each angler, ensuring that novice fisherman are given the best chances for success.
We spent days one and two getting our feet wet with some bonefish and snook. Days three and four I was given the opportunity to chase permit while Whitney worked on her tan (one more reason that I love my wife), and day five concluded our trip with an effort to catch anything that would chase a fly. The fishing was very productive throughout the week, with plenty of fish to hand in addition to missed opportunities. It was a great challenge for Whitney as well, and although she was left a bit frustrated at times, her understanding that this was a learning process allowed her to appreciate and enjoy the experience that much more. For me, watching her casting and angling skills steadily improve day by day, in addition to seeing the excitement in her eyes when her line got tight on a fish, made every non-fishing moment as exciting as catching a fish myself.
But as life goes, all good things must eventually come to an end. At the end of our last day, I was sitting on the bow of the panga, beer in hand with my wife by my side, gazing out over the expanse of the Caribbean ocean with only one thought running through my mind; this is paradise. We were about to start our long motor back to the lodge. This is always my favorite part of any fishing trip, a time to sit back and enjoy your surroundings, all while taking stock of the adventure that is about to conclude. This was by far my best fishing trip to date, not because the fishing was epic or a fish of a lifetime was caught, but because I was able to share this unique and often overlooked side of fly fishing with the woman I love. I have always held the belief that fly fishing will take you to the most amazing parts of the globe, and allow anglers to experience things not possible without a fly rod in hand. Before this trip, this was a fact that Whitney didn’t fully comprehend or appreciate. Fly fishing had always been something that defined our relationship, particularly seeing as we met in the very fly shop I own today. But to expose her to this side of the sport, and watch as she experienced the very things that have ultimately defined my life, is a memory that I will cherish forever.