Mexico boasts some of the best saltwater flats fly fishing to be found, from the tarpon rich waters around the Gulf of Mexico coastline to the permit filled bays of Espirtu Santo, Chetumal and Xcalak. In the middle lies the expansive Ascension Bay and Sian Ka’an Biosphere, the destination for anglers in search of Grand Slams and Super Grand Slams – bonefish, tarpon, permit and snook.
With direct British Airways flights from the UK to Cancun in Mexico travelling is relatively straightforward compared with many other saltwater destinations that offer flats fishing of this caliber.
Due to the prolific nature of these flats and the volume of fishable water there is a wide variety of lodges to chose from, each one offering a unique experience in this saltwater fly fisher’s paradise. Below we have selected five of our favourite.
Punta Allen Fishing Club
The lodge sits in the Heart of Ascension Bay and the small fishing town of Punta Allen, one of the Caribbean’s most productive flats systems. The bay features miles and miles of shallow flats, a perfect breeding ground for crabs, the cherished delicacy of permit, and the reason permit grow to world-record sizes here. The bonefish are plentiful, so your opportunities for landing these fierce fighters are numerous. Ascension Bay is world-renowned for its seemingly endless saltwater flats and fishermen come here primarily seeking the challenge of the elusive permit and bonefish, plus the chance to achieve a Grand Slam.
The lodge comfortably houses 6 to 8 anglers at a time in well-appointed twin rooms. Accommodation is generally shared but there are dedicated rooms that can be taken on a single occupancy basis, and for smaller groups single rooms can be provided for all anglers. Non-fishing guests are welcome, there are a limit range of activities that can be done including eco-tours and visiting Mayan ruins, but please note that Punta Allen is a small quiet fishing port with nice beaches.
Grand Slam Lodge
The lodge is situated just north of the small town of Punta Allen offering good access by both road and boat from Cancun whilst maintaining a remote sense of freedom. The lodge has access to the endless flats of Ascension Bay and the Boca Paila Lagoon system hosting some of the biggest permit in the world and enormous schools of bonefish. With tarpon and snook on hand too it forms one of the world’s best places to go for a Grand Slam or Super Slam. With all these fish around, it is evident why GSL’s wall of fame is filled with so many delighted Grand Slam anglers. It fishes all year round with prime time being February to early July and then again late October to early December. Anglers will often be collected in their boats directly from the beach in front of the lodge, but it also has a private dock to the back that offers access straight into the sheltered lagoon system.
The lodge has been designed primarily for anglers but it offers a very comfortable and relaxing experience for non-fishers too. Various day trips can be arranged for those who would like to explore the local area, try snorkelling or visit Mayan ruins or simply relax by the lodge pool. There are no fixed entry and exit days so trips can be tailored to suit.
Casa Blanca is located on northern tip of Punta Pájaros, on the southern side of Ascension Bay and built right on the water edge overlooking a beautiful flat. Due to its location it offers access to a very different part of the bay to the lodges in Punta Allen and Grand Slam Lodge on the northern side and also stretches into the Santa Rosa Lagoon system. This side of the bay also offers some of the finest Caribbean flats permit fishing along with bonefish and tarpon. The fishing is predominantly done from skiffs rather than wading and the adapted pangas that are used by the other lodges.
All rooms are spacious and well-appointed with remarkable ocean views, air conditioning, tile floors and mahogany shutters. Casa Blanca has ten seaside rooms and can accommodate 22 people comfortably. Whilst fly fishing is the main activity this pristine slice of paradise has much more to offer. Snorkelling and kayaking the turquoise waters, hiking and biking along 25 miles of private beaches and coves, touring the mangrove lagoons and the Mayan ruins, or simply indulging in a massage and a day of relaxation are just a few possibilities.
Playa Blanca, the sister lodge to Casa Blanca, is located on southern tip of Punta Pájaros, on the northern side of Espiritu Santo Bay and built right on the water edge overlooking a reef edge. Due to its location it offers access to Espiritu Santo Bay, a smaller bay than Ascension but with fantastic permit and bonefish flats. Due to the bay’s remote nature, fishing pressure is much lighter. the expansive hard white sand flats are ideal for wading and the countless deeper channels are often a great place to intercept passing permit. The bay is lined with miles upon miles of thick mangroves, perfect for hunting tarpon and snook.
All rooms are spacious and well-appointed with remarkable ocean views, air conditioning, tile floors and mahogany shutters. Casa Blanca has seven rooms and can accommodate 14 people comfortably. Whilst fly fishing is the main activity this pristine slice of paradise has much more to offer. Snorkelling and kayaking the turquoise waters, hiking and biking along 25 miles of private beaches and coves, touring the mangrove lagoons and the Mayan ruins, or simply indulging in a massage and a day of relaxation are just a few possibilities.
Located on the beautiful small island of Isla Holbox, just two and a half hours from Cancun. The Isla Holbox Fly Fishing Lodge offers a wonderful base to pursue tarpon, snook, barracuda and more in the glassy waters and flats of the Gulf. It offers a prolific year-round baby tarpon fishery and in the summer months provides anglers the opportunity to intercept huge migratory tarpon that run 75 to 190 lbs.
It is a great location for couples and fishers alike, the lodge offers non-fishing activities including horseback riding, swimming, island exploration, cultural and nature tours. The lodge is a five-bedroom villa located on a beautiful beachfront within a five-minute walk from town. The villa has a contemporary Mexican flair and accommodates up to ten guests.
Tarpon Cay Lodge
Tarpon Cay Lodge is located in the northern part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the small coastal port of Rio Lagartos. The lodge sits on a marine reserve and offers anglers excellent opportunities at catching baby tarpon. For anglers specifically targeting baby tarpon, this is one the best fishery in the world. The tarpon generally range from five to fifteen-pounds with the occasional fish in excess of 20 lbs. Migratory tarpon can occasionally be found as well as barracuda, jacks and snook. As the fishing is primarily in shallow water, often with surface flies, you will find fishing at here utterly captivating.
The Tarpon Cay Lodge offers comfortable and bright accommodation enriched with traditional Mexican decor. With the ocean at its doorstep, the sea breeze and beautiful scenery offer relaxation after a long day of fighting Tarpon. Spacious lounge and dining areas feature comfortable seating and a nice work space for fly tying or working on your tackle when not fishing.
If you would like more information about saltwater fly fishing in Mexico please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847 389.
About the author: Alex Jardine