Fly Fishing for Bone, Permit and Tarpon in Quintana Roo, Mexico
There's great flats fishing in Quintana Roo!
Bone, Permit and Tarpon (the elusive grand slam) thrive here in the remote saltwater flats and shallow brackish bays of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere. Farther south, in the remote village of Xcalak, the fishing in Bacalar Chico is great too. There are fishing services & camps in Boca Paila and near Punta Allen, as well as Xcalak.
- November through June best months, generally
Sian Ka'an Reserve
Boca Paila, Punta Allen and Ascension Bay
The Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve is roughly 90 miles south of Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is a 1.3 million acre reserve which includes a long narrow barrier strip of land on its eastern shore. This thin peninsula has the Caribbean to its east and the saltwater flats and estuaries of the Sian Kaan to its west. It stretches from the inlet at Boca Paila (north end) to the fishing village of Punta Allen on its southern tip. These areas are easily accessed by boat via the fishing services and lodges in Boca Paila and Punta Allen. There is also extensive flats in Ascension Bay, off the tip of the barrier strip that ends at the fishing village of Punta Allen.
Xcalak - flats fishing
Costa de Cocos offers offshore fishing charters with typical trolling and casting regimes and they are the experts for fly fishing. They have experienced guides who continually search for the most productive flats, yeilding a fly fishing destination which many say is the best in the world. More than 30 productive flats & lagoons have been mapped and they continue to explore new areas in the mangrove labyrinth that surrounds Chetumal Bay. Clients seldom see another fly fisherman during their week stay and all of the booked trips have been successful.
Chetumal Bay - Bacalar Chico River
For some of the best fishing from Xcalak, for bonefish, permit and tarpon, a 7 mile boat trip is required to reach the waterway that leads to the remote fishing flats around Chetumal Bay. Many of the bonefish down there are larger and less accustom to seeing anglers. For those who like large numbers of bone fish, November is probably the most productive month, although the fish are plentiful year round. May, June and July have produced the largest bone fish, one believed to exceed the current fly rod world record. Then there is the ocean side fishing, with more permit and bones on turtle grass flats. Giant tarpons move into the area in June and July. A maximum of 4 fishermen are booked per week to ensure that the flats are not over pressured and that the anglers will have a solitary experience. Accordingly, the service and attention to detail on these trips are excellent.
Bonefish are plentiful
Bonefish travel on both hard and soft bottom flats so fishing will be about ½ wading and ½ boat casting. If you have fished in the Bay of Ascension you can expect fewer but larger fish in Xcalak. The average being 3 to 4 pounds. The average fishing person can expect to catch 6 - 12 bonefish per day. These "ghosts of the flats" swim about 27 miles per hour... the average trout 9 miles per hour.
- Available all year long
Permit are the perfect target for the solitary angler... they are difficult to locate and picky when you do. Smaller permit are found in the bay and at the lagoon mouths. These fish sometime school in numbers of five to 20 and rarely stop very long. The larger permit feed both in the turtle grass flats along the ocean on the incoming tide, and in Chetumal Bay in the mornings. The best months for fishermen specifically targeting permit are May, June and July.
- March through July best months
Tarpon live predominantly in Chetumal Bay, the bay side lagoons and along the ocean front just beyond the barrier reef. You can cast to mangrove edges in 6 to 10 feet of water and fish the flats and shallower lagoons. Don't expect to hook up on every effort. Expect to land one out of every five you hook. Tarpon weigh from 5 to 70 pounds except on the ocean side in June and July when the bigger tarpon move in. These fish are in the 130 to 180 pound range.
- November, December and February through June best months
Snook live along the mangroves in the numerous lagoons. Some people prefer to blind cast diver, popper and slider patterns to the mangroves, while others will enjoy the early morning spotting of the larger fish along the open point, flats and deep cuts. There are larger fish in the 10 to 20 pound range. The smaller Snook are called "robalitos" in spanish.
Barracudas swim about 30 miles per hour so they can scare some of the others off. When you hook a barracuda they will make powerful jumps in the shallow lagoons where there is no where to go but up.