Hooked on saltwater | VailDaily.com

Hooked on saltwater

Alex Beck has lived in the valley for over 20 years and has opened a fly-fishing guide and group sales agent business to bring fly-fishermen to Xcalak, Mexico, to fish saltwater for permit.
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eagle County anglers are getting away from the freshwater fly-fishing in the Rocky Mountains and heading for the small town of Xcalak, Mexico, where fishing for prized permits in saltwater is a whole new challenge.

“It’s a completely different game,” said Mark Wexler, a fishing guide with Gore Creek Fly Fisherman. “You have to prepare for it. Everything that you do for trout will work against you in the saltwater.”

Permit are considered the “holy grail” of saltwater fishing, and off the secluded beaches of Xcalak, the tropical fish are plentiful.

“They are considered perhaps the hardest fish to catch on a fly,” said Brett Elkman, of Vail Valley Anglers, who has caught over 13 permit on his trips to Xcalak. “There’s people who fish a lifetime and only catch one.”

It is the secret abundance of permit fishing, as well as the remote location, that is drawing fishermen from across the world to Xcalak.

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“I like to think of it as the end of the road,” Elkman said of Xcalak. “It’s a little gem, but nothing stays a secret forever.”


Alex Beck has lived in the valley for 20 years and worked as the general manager of The Dusty Boot in Beaver Creek for 16 years. Beck credits his former boss John Shipp, owner of The Dusty Boot, for getting him hooked on saltwater fly-fishing.

Shipp would take some of his employees on saltwater fly-fishing trips, and when Beck went on a trip to Mexico, he started thinking about opening his own fishing business in Xcalak with his wife.

“We’re chasing a dream of building a property and living part of our lives down there,” Beck said.

In the meantime, Beck and his wife own about 140 feet of beachfront property on the Caribbean in Xcalak and have created The Flats Fly Fishing, where he serves as a fly-fishing guide as well as group sales agent in bringing people to the small Mayan town.

“You’re in good hands when you go with Alex,” Elkman said. “If you’re looking to bag your first permit, that’s definitely a good place to go.”

Beck offers an inclusive fly-fishing trip to Xcalak for $2,000, which includes everything but the flight. Visit TheFlatsFlyFishing.com for more information or to book a fly-fishing trip to Xcalak.

“He’s a very passionate guy about permit fishing, which is one of the toughest things to do out there on the saltwater,” Wexler said of Beck. “And he knows it well because he’s got into more permit than most people will see in their lifetime.”

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

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