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A traveler’s perspective: Tarpon on the fly with Brandon Janosky

There are few images more iconic in the world of sport fishing than when your catch dances across the water on their tailfin. It’s the distinctive draw of trout and bass for millions. Their strong fighting ability and leaps from the water; it’s what turns many avid fishermen into fanatical anglers. While bass and trout garner much of the popularity, for acrobatics the Tarpon is truly king.

While this experience is still on my bucket list, Brandon Janosky is a fellow angler and St. Louisan that has just recently experienced their fighting ability first-hand. Between a demanding career, family life, writing a book, and a variety of other hobbies, Brandon is an angler with the goal to catch a variety of species with his fly rod. In this installment of Adventure Finder, we’re profiling from the traveler’s point of view, catching Tarpon on the fly in Mexico.

Can you share a bit about yourself: Along with my partners, I run a sports-tech focused venture capital fund and business development accelerator in St. Louis. When I’m not managing a portfolio of 25 early stage sports technology companies, I’m probably plotting my next chance to get on the water. Of course, that’s between keeping up with my 3 kids and all their activities. Athletically, I’ve focused on everything from triathlon (Ironman) to 100 mile trail races (sub-24 hrs), to the dog mile, when my vizsla and I ran a 4:35 mile. I have carved my own pipes out of briar, brewed my own cider, and even written my own children’ picture book. Needless to say, I’ll try anything.

What does your “normal” fishing look like? Lately, I have become fanatical about fishing, always looking for the next adventure and opportunity to get a line wet. Around St. Louis, I’m a fairly dedicated bass fisherman because it’s what I know. I’m trying to gain more skills and understanding around other species from catfish and crappie, to carp and gar. Catching all of these on a fly, is a goal I have set for 2018. But it’s what’s outside my region that excites me most. Places off the beaten path. Locales that have high adventure written all over them.


Where did you get the interest to fly fish for Tarpon? An email from an avid angler friend of mine immediately had me watching YouTube videos of tarpon. The hook this time? Volume. Tons of them. Baby and juvenile tarpon in numbers you couldn’t even hope to count. I had spent a couple days on guided trips in Florida being skunked, without even the chance to throw bait in front of a tarpon, so this was a warmly welcome trip. And warm it was!

How was your trip? Villahermosa, MX in the Tabasco region in November was spectacular. This is a highly underappreciated fishery. Little to no pressure makes for spectacular fishing. Everything about the logistics from airport transfers to lodging and meals is rolled into one quite reasonable fee for an international all-inclusive trip. Staying at a local Marriott, yet feeling like it was a customized trip, was a very pleasant surprise. My group could eat anything from the menu, or order something special. Gar ceviche! Snook! You name it! We also ate at several local restaurants, all with the company of our bi-lingual guide. We even had a special breakfast prepared for us before heading out early to fish each day. Quatro huevos revueltos, por favor.


The only thing not included at the hotel ($45/nt by the way) was alcohol – which was cheap! We took a 6 day trip that packed 4 full days of fishing in the middle. The river along which we fished was loaded with tarpon, and at other times of the year will have an abundance of Snook.

But the end of that yellow brick road, a large lagoon, is literally teeming with tarpon at times. Pods of 10, 50, or 100 were all over! So many fish it’s overwhelming because… where do you cast!? And it wore me out! On my “worst day,” I only brought 6 tarpon to hand, of the dozens that I hooked. On my best, 40 tarpon to hand and too many misses, spits, takes, shakes, drops, and breaks to count.

I split my time between fly fishing and spinning gear depending on the exhaustion level of my hand/shoulder, the wind, and the necessary cast distance. This was warmly welcomed by the guides. NO judgement there. Just people who want to put you on fish all day long.


What was your favorite memories from the trip? Taking a break around noon for a homemade lunch under the branches of exotic looking mangroves, the only sound was the screeching and roaring of howler monkeys. Spine tingling and relaxing at the same time! You’re instantly reminded that you’re in the wild. A jungle atmosphere, a cold Corona, and a seemingly endless supply of acrobatic tarpon ranging from a few pounds, to a solid 25. Sounds luxurious, sure, but it has a gritty feel from time to time that may put you out of your comfort zone. That’s actually right where I want to be.

I had a guide one day that literally spoke no English. Not. A. Word. I cobbled together a few phrase I could remember from sophomore year of high school to get me by. It was amazing that we were able to communicate still. We bonded over music that we both liked, and a shared passion for keeping the line in the water. “Uno mas” or, one more, became our go-to phrase. That was an experience I did not expect, but I am glad I embraced it. My guides the other three days spoke either good, or fluent English. The hospitality and amenities at the hotel were awesome. The staff, guides, van driver… everybody we met, was friendly. And the baby tarpon are ferocious.

They don’t do anything half-assed and they won’t go easy on you. Imagine trying to land steelhead, but they’ve got harder mouths, and like to jump more. Oh, and instead of freezing near-to-death in Michigan, your concern is keeping enough sunscreen on!  I can’t recommend this trip to Fly Fishing Tabasco, enough.

Whether you’re a fly fisherman looking to get your first Tarpon on the fly, love to travel outside your comfort zone, or are just looking for a warm escape, check out Fly Fishing Tabasco to learn more about this experience. Another accommodation option is the Hyatt Regency Villahermosa.
In addition to this trip, Brandon published his illustrated children’s book, Daddy Tries, on Amazon in 2017. This book aims to help bridge the gap between the edgy side of multisport and the side that makes health and fitness seem achievable to the youngest generation of athletes.

 



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Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC.  Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.