Silver Scales Tournament 2021
I have been a little quiet online of late with all the preparations going on for the Silver Scales tournament, hosted by the truly wonderful Javier and Mauricio Osorio of Escamas Plateadas. Events like these are important for the community for a multitude of reasons, but most importantly, to help bring the community together to reconnect and celebrate, especially after such a difficult 18 months during the global pandemic.
The Silver Scales tournament is a fun event, fished over 3 days, with the aim being that to win, each team has to chase the 'Grand Slam' to score maximum points. Catching a 'Grand Slam' on a normal day is hard enough, but adding the tournament element can make things much more difficult.
This year was the first year I entered a team into the tournament, as last year's event was postponed for obvious reasons. Team Fly Fish Costa Maya consisted of myself, good friend Rex Hannon, and the truly excellent Moises Cordova as our guide. We were one of 13 teams, all vying for a chance to hoist the golden Permit trophy at the end of the 3rd day. Our plan for the tournament was simple yet far from easy; we had to get the Slam! Catching a 'Grand Slam' per day would be enough to see us maintain a top spot in the table and hopefully place by the end of the event.
Day 1 started at 8am with a Bimini start, initiated with the launching of a flare from the main dock in Xcalak. After that, we took off at full throttle, heading south through the canal and stopping at Punta Chelem. We aimed to catch an early Permit and then continue for the Slam. Sadly the 'powers that be' had other ideas as grey clouds rolled in and stayed for the majority of the day. Nevertheless, we managed to catch 8 Bonefish in between showers and gusts, with only two fish measuring longer than the 15inch minimum sizing.
Apart from that, we saw little else until late afternoon when Rex had a good chance at a group of Snook holding close to the mangroves. After a good cast and feed, the Snook chased down the fly and inhaled it. Sadly, the line never came tight in all the commotion, and we ended the day at the weigh-in with 2 Bonefish and 150 points. Our 150 points total was enough to put us in 8th place in the rankings, with many other teams struggling to get on fish in the poor weather.
Moving on to day 2, we were treated to much better weather and a renewed sense that we were still in the running to place with a good score. We knew we needed a Slam, and that's exactly what we did! Heading out into Chetumal bay and across to Mala Noche, we entered deep into the inner lagoons in the hope of landing a quick Tarpon.
After making it into an inner lagoon, we immediately saw a group of 3 large Tarpon cruising the shoreline. Rex was up on the bow and made a great cast in front of the group, leading them by a few feet to let the fly sink before beginning his strip. After a few slow strips and a pause, the lead fish swam over and inhaled the fly. Rex set the fish, and the fly came out of the fish's mouth without coming tight. He placed another cast back into the school, seeing the rear fish eat the fly but not hook up on the set.
After this, we continued down the shoreline in the hopes of another chance at a Tarpon. A long hour passed of seeing very little, but we eventually found a final school of 3 fish in the middle of the lagoon. I made a short cast and slow feed, instantly hooking up and quickly boating the small Tarpon to get us on the board. From there, we knew we had a chance at the Slam. We polled out of the series of lagoons, taking turns at schools of Bonefish and landing 4 Bones between us that taped out at over the 15-inch minimum. From there, we had one final goal, hooking the Permit to secure our 1500 bonus points.
Heading across to a favourite flat, Moise quickly spotted a school of fish pushing in the distance. I quickly tied on a white crab fly that Moi had instructed me to tie up the night before, and I jumped out of the boat to chase the school on foot. Reaching the school, I made a single well-placed cast, a few slow strips and quickly hooked up. After a nervous fight, the fish was boated, and my Slam was achieved.
Whilst leaving the flat, Moi spotted another school of Permit cruising in the distance. Rex hopped out, grabbing the Permit rod and making his way over to the school. Once he reached the school, he made a well-placed cast and hooked up to a similar-sized fish. After that fish was landed, we knew we had a great chance in the standings. We ended the day looking for Snook to try and secure the super Slam. I was on the bow and managed a few half chances, but nothing that came very close to hooking up.
After our half chances at Snook, we headed back to Xcalak for the weigh-in and to find out where we would place at the end of the day. Having waited for all the teams to weigh in, our Slam had pushed us up to 5th in the table and 2450 points, with only a few hundred points off 3rd place. So day 3 was going to be an interesting one for sure...
Our 3rd day of the tournament started similarly to the first, with poor weather and even worse visibility. Again, it was a case of taking as many chances as possible and not leaving anything out there. We managed shots at Bonefish, and some smaller Permit, with 4 Bones landed and 3 fish measuring over the limit. Apart from that, we didn't see much else and ended the day unsure of how we would sit in the table.
An hour or so passed after the final weigh-in before the prizes ceremony began, and the winners were announced. The tournament was treated to some great angling displays, and placing anywhere in the top 5 would be a huge achievement. After speeches were made and the biggest fish prizes were given, we felt very proud to learn that we had risen to 4th place in the table, narrowly missing out on 3rd by a few hundred points. This was a huge honour and made even better by being presented with our prizes by the one and only Sandflea!
Fishing in a tournament like this is a huge privilege and something that means a great deal to me on a personal note as there are very few non-native fishing guides in the state of Quintana Roo, let alone in this small corner of the state that I call my home. Getting to this point, working and growing a business here in Mexico was far from easy, with many unforeseen challenges and a lot of sleepless nights. However, placing in the standings and having this recognised by many of my fellow guides and angling legends feels like the culmination of all this hard work. Receiving that recognition was a hugely proud moment and one that I will remember for a long time.
I am very thankful to Javier and Mauricio for arranging the tournament and working tirelessly to ensure its success year in and year out. I am also hugely thankful to Moises for his continued support, friendship and work ethic that allowed Rex and I to catch the fish that placed us in 4th. I don't know many guides both here in Mexico or further afield that put in as hard work as Moises does, and his persistence pays off with all of his clients.
I now have a week off to enjoy the achievement and relax before jumping straight back into guiding and putting clients on their dream fish here in Southern Quintana Roo. So here's to next year's tournament and the chance of chasing a win.
All the best,