May 24, 2022
Steve Trippe’s annual “3T” tournament was hosted in May by Alejandro Vega (“Mr. Sandflea”) at the Holbox Tarpon Club. The event raised more than $10,000 to support BTT’s conservation efforts in Mexico.
Vega is a leader in the flats fishery of the Yucatán Peninsula. Not only has he trained many of the guides now working throughout the region, he’s leading the way in conservation. Much of the area where the Tarpon Club operates is protected, with expansive wetlands and seagrass beds that support prolific numbers of juvenile and baby tarpon. Since healthy habitats and clean water are essential to healthy flats fisheries, this is great news for the future of the fishery. But, as in many other locations, gillnets are still used in the area, which likely keeps the number of bonefish and permit low in the lagoon (Permit are abundant on nearby ocean flats). Dr. Addiel Perez, BTT’s Belize-Mexico Program Coordinator, will continue to work with Mr. Vega to address this issue—not just in the Holbox lagoon, but throughout the region.
At BTT’s 7th International Science Symposium & Flats Expo in November, Vega will share his experiences and challenges as part of the Caribbean Conservation Panel, which will also include panelists from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Belize, and the Bahamas.
The 3T Tournament continued its tradition of conservation and proper fish handling in Mexico with a focus on finding, feeding and releasing fish with minimal exposure to air. Trippe, the tournament’s founder, explained that, “the perfect release on tarpon for our tournament is when you have jumped them a couple of times and then just shake the hook out or break them off. The anglers fishing this tournament are not about subduing fish or breaking their spirit. After tricking the fish into eating a fly, we would rather have the fish win the battle. In this way maybe our grandchildren will be able to follow in our footsteps. We started this effort to try and change the mantra of fishing for tarpon a while back. I really have to thank Captain Will Benson for changing our direction of focus from landing big fish to the path we are on today. I truly believe it is the sustainable path for tarpon fishing going forward, and I think we have more than a few converts.”
The tournament had great weather and the fishing was spectacular—the habitat surrounding Isla Holbox is nothing short of amazing. The tournament was won by BTT’s Director of Science and Conservation, Dr. Aaron Adams, with Tim Smith and Jeffrey Forte following behind in second and third place.
BTT thanks tournament sponsors Sage, Rio, Orvis and YETI, and Captain Benson for suggesting that the 2022 tournament take place in Holbox. A special thanks to Mr. Vega and his entire crew for their hospitability and fishing expertise. And thank you to the tournament participants whose entry contributions directly support BTT’s work in Mexico.
Photo: From left to right, Dr. Addiel Perez, Dr. Gannon Dudlar, Steve Trippe, Dr. Aaron Adams, Jeffrey Forte, Timothy Smith, Gary Garland.
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