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Short casts: Flies for vets, winter and escaping to Mexico

Photo courtesy of Tony Martino, The Missoulian

How’s this for awesome? Members of the West Slope Chapter of Trout Unlimited got together over the weekend and tied more than 1,000 flies to used by veterans who have been recently introduced to fly fishing. This is just one example of how TU volunteers make fishing better for everyone. This event was selfless and generous, a true depiction of how TU members can find a common cause and get behind it, regardless of all the political noise and distraction we’ve seen of late. Cheers to the women and men of the West Slope Chapter in Missoula, Mont. You’ve made us all proud, and we’re grateful for the good work you did this weekend!

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And more on the way. Ugh.

For those of us living in the Intermountain West, I can attest that it has been a pretty solid winter. If you live anywhere between the Sierra and the Rockies, you’ve seen your share of Arctic cold and La Niña snow this winter, and as I write this, more is falling from the sky. You embrace it, like Patrick McEvoy did on a recent ski trip to Vail, or you curse it, hunker down and tie flies for the foreseeable future (I kind of fall somewhere in the middle). Either way, know that winter snow bring spring snowmelt and good water for the West’s trout this summer. With 2016 officially the warmest year on record, it’s good to know that this winter’s snow will make for better conditions for trout come longer days and warmer temperatures.

Speaking of warmer temperatures, about this time last year, I was getting ready for a trip to the Mayan Riviera to chase bonefish and permit at the Palometa Club, run by my friends Dick and Kaye Cameron. After a week at the club, I lit off on a do-it-yourself adventure that I truly enjoyed, driving from Cancun to Akumal and all the way south, almost to the border with Belize, fly rod in hand. It was a great trip, and as I look out the window at the snow piling up on my driveway, I’m about ready to do it again. It’s not in the cards for me this year, but a TU friend of mine in Boise got me thinking about it after asking some questions about my trip last year.

For the DIY angler, it’s totally doable. Rent your car in Cancun (it’ll run you about $500 for the week), and then drive south. There are lots of little bays and beaches that are accessible along the way, and as you get away from the crazy “24-hour spring break” feel of Cancun, you’ll get to experience a Mayan authenticity that is truly amazing. The people are warm and friendly, and the beaches aren’t crowded. Bays where you can walk for miles across sandy flats are pretty easy to find, and the fishing is as good as you make it. Highly recommended.

And the final tip. Don’t miss the little burgeoning beach town of Mahahual. It’s beautiful, affordable and stunningly beautiful.

— Chris Hunt