A Fishery Reinvented – Ascension Bay & The Palometa Club

Palometa. photo by: David Leake

Despite having been in the fly fishing travel business for nearly eleven
years, I am still a relative new comer when compared to the industry folks
who enjoyed the fly fishing boom of the 1990s.  We are battling in a much
more competitive marketplace today, but more noteworthy to me personally, I
am often reminded I have missed the boat on exploring and developing some of
the world’s greatest fisheries during the R&D phase of their discovery.

The ship has already sailed on places like Christmas Island, Mongolia,
Tierra del Fuego, New Zealand and Brazil.    Even Cuban charters and
outfitters buy more ad space in the fly fishing rags than anyone.  As the
fly fishing world continues to shrink right before our eyes, I often wonder
where we can leave a footprint in the travel side of our industry.   How can
we really be involved with something new and exciting?  How can we offer
something truly special to our customer base – and really distinguish
ourselves from every other booking agent out there with a website and an 800
number?

To our credit, we have been involved with some of the world’s greatest and
less developed fisheries just about since they first appeared on the fly
fishing radar screen (Kamchatka and Seychelles for example).  However,
throughout this soul searching process, I also began to wonder if perhaps
there are still golden opportunities to be rediscovered right here in our
backyard.

Why does the newest, most exotic, sexiest, and sought after fly fishing
destination have to be 10 time zones away and have a name that is difficult
to pronounce?  Maybe there is a fishery closer to home that has already been
uncovered, but is being reinvigorated by new blood with a new approach?  Is
there some place out there that is affordable and easy to get to – but still
has a phenomenal fishery and business opportunity?

Destination:  The Yucatan Peninsula
Fishing Lodges have been a part of the landscape on the Yucatan since the
1960s.  Boca Paila Lodge set up camp there for the fly fishing elite 20
years before I was even born.  Odds are you have heard of a half dozen or
more outfits in this part of the world – and maybe even visited a few of
them by booking a trip to Ascension Bay or Espiritu Santo Bay with
Tailwaters Travel?  The fishery is certainly not a secret to anyone, but in
my opinion has been in need of a reinvention.

Just like home. Except on the beach next to Ascension Bay.

Enter The Palometa Club in Punta Allen.  They have quietly developed a
reputation in the industry by setting a new standard in flats fishing on
Ascension Bay.  The Palometa Club is anything but a “fishing hotel”, rather
a boutique, old-school fishing lodge in its purist form.  Owned and managed
by Americans, Dick and Kaye Cameron, TPC in my opinion, has defined the
reinvention of a fishery by focusing on the aspects of what make a good
fishing trip an excellent fishing trip – a lodge that you will migrate back
to year after year.

The Palometa Club is an operation that has flown relatively undetected under
the radar screen for the last five seasons building an incredible resume.
Rather than try to throw up smoke and mirrors by offering deep discounts or
installing flat screen TVs and Jacuzzis to attract guests, TPC has actually
done the inverse by focusing on being the best at the core basics of why we
book a fishing trip in the first place.  Simply put, everything about the
place is SOLID AS A ROCK:

The Big Lebowski.

1)   The best and most consistent guides in the region. Anyone who has
been on a flats fishing trip will tell you a good guide is the difference
between a successful day on the water and an expensive boat ride.  Palometa
Club has a staff of guides that rival any we have seen in the Caribbean, all
speak great English, and are on the water 365 days a year guiding or fishing
the lobster.  They know what is going on!

2)      Comfortable accommodations with excellent food. The Palometa Club
is nothing fancy, but the building is new, fresh, and perfectly designed to
house a group of salty guys and gentile ladies alike.  It is ideally located
on the beach in Punta Allen – a stone’s throw from Ascension Bay.  No, there
is not a satellite TV rolling stock tickers or a spa therapist offering
manicures and facials, but it has everything you need including cold air
conditioning, quiet rooms, hot water, wireless internet, a beautiful
beachfront bar, and home cooked meals that won’t leave you hungry.  I would
take my family there.

3)      Owner operated and managed. Dick and Kaye Cameron opened the lodge
in 2005 following 5 years as manager of the Ascension Bay Bonefish Club.
They are incredible hosts and capable outfitters that are not only
professional inn keepers but tons of fun.  They are firmly established in
Punta Allen and have built a supporting staff around them while becoming
well respected residents of the village.  As agents for TPC, we have a
direct line of communication with the Camerons to ensure a very personalized
experience for our clients, and that every special request is tended to by
the folks who pay the bills and issue the marching orders.

4)      Phenomenal flats fishing resource right out the front door. As
their name implies (Palometa is Permit in Spanish), there is perhaps no
better place in the Caribbean to catch a permit.  Of course they have the
other species dialed in (bonefish, tarpon, snook, jacks, ect), but it is
their successful emphasis on chasing the most coveted of all flats species
that makes them so unique.  The proof is in the numbers…As you know from
reading the cover article, TPC landed their 500th permit in a little over 5
seasons (note they are only open January – June)!  This season alone they
have already landed 83 permit (and counting), with 8 more weeks to go before
they shut it down.  Make sure to check out our web page for TPC, brochure,
blog posts and trip reports for all the reasons they have set their fishing
program apart from their competition in the area.

5)      The Intangibles.  It is called a “Club” for a reason. Many lodges,
hotels, and resorts spend so much money, time and energy on amenity, growth,
and general marketing B.S. that they forget about cultivating the
intangibles that really keep people coming back.  The hardest part of any
hospitality or service business is creating an electric atmosphere around
the house that is warm, fun, and hospitable.  Lodge owners can offer deep
discounts and give away fly rods to their guests, but building a crew of
dedicated guides and support staff that believe in the mission is what makes
a place special.  Dick and Kaye have cracked this code.  When you visit TPC
you sincerely become part of a family – and you will want to return.  As
Dick Cameron always says to me, “Get them down here.  We will get them
back”.

To also quote Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia Clothing
Company, “Sometimes we need to turn around and take a forward step”.  In a
way this is what The Palometa Club has done in their simple reinvention of
Ascension Bay.  They have succeeded by sticking to the core values of what
make an angling holiday solid and memorable.  Nothing more.  By staying
focused on what is most important to the more discerning fly angler, they
have built something truly special.  Gratefully, they have also provided
Tailwaters Travel with something new and intriguing to offer our customers
and friends; and perhaps the opportunity to leave the footprint we hope to
plant firmly is this industry.

For More Information contact David Leake (david@tailwatersflyfishing.com) and check out our web page for the Palometa Club.  Make sure to download the digital brochure as well.

CLICK HERE to view web page and brochure for The Palometa Club.

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This entry was posted in Bonefish, Fly Fishing, Mexico/Yucatan, Permit, Saltwater, The Palometa Club, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Fishery Reinvented – Ascension Bay & The Palometa Club

  1. Brenda says:

    I suggest adding a facebook like button for the blog!

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