When a couple of months back my wife, Alison, told me she had found a nice holiday for us staying in a beachfront hotel at Tulum, Mexico I replied that it sounded perfect, offering plenty of sun, sea and sangria, along with the opportunity to visit the various famous historical Mayan sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. Secretly my head was already starting to fill with thoughts of flats fishing at the Sian Ka án Biosphere located just south of Tulum, and sure enough when later I had chance to Google Tulum & bonefishing I discovered we were staying just 20 miles north of Boca Paila, from where some excellent flats could be reached from the road.

Flats at Boca Paila

Flats at Boca Paila

Locals fishing from the bridge at Boca Paila

Locals fishing from the bridge at Boca Paila

The first full afternoon we were at Tulum I left Alison sunning herself on the beach and escaped for a few hours in the hire car. I drove down to Boca Paila, parked near the famous bridge, followed a narrow path through dense mangroves for a few hundreds to a creek, swam across the creek and arrived at the most perfect flat. I started seeing fish immediately and at first dismissed them as mullet, but very quickly realised my mistake; they were bonefish! First cast a bonefish followed the fly right back to my feet, second cast one ate the fly, the loose fly line was ripped out through the rod rings and the reel sang out as a nice bonefish scorched across the flat. Five minutes later I was holding a nice 2-3lb Mexican bone, about average size for the area.

A nice 'bone' from the flats at Boca Paila, Yucatan, Mexico

A nice ‘bone’ from the flats at Boca Paila, Yucatan, Mexico

During the week I fished these flats almost every day for a couple of hours, and caught fish on most occasions. Always it was very windy, which was something I could just about deal with by working out the best angle to cover the flat, but on some days cloud cover made spotting fish very difficult, especially when working with a strong wind and wading. That said, being able to successfully self-guide myself to some truly excellent bonefishing was tremendously satisfying.

Spoilt for choice, but light or tan coloured Charlie's & Gotcha's worked best, as is often the case

Spoilt for choice, but light or tan coloured Charlie’s & Gotcha’s worked best, as is often the case

Throughout the week I got several excellent shots at permit, too, but as things stand I am still to catch my first permit on fly. One or two fish I completely spooked with my casting, a few others I made what I had considered to be a decent enough presentation with my fly, only for the fish to totally ignore it, but thats permit fishing.

All in all we had a great holiday, & I would highly recommend the area for any angler looking for the ideal destination for a beach holiday offering the possibilities of some first class flats fishing. If you don’t want to do your own thing like me, then there are plenty of excellent guide operations in the area, who will pick you up at your hotel & drop you back. Oh, and aside from bonefish, those Mayan sites are well worth a look!

Chichen Ittza

Mayan temple at Chichen Itza, one of the seven natural wonders of the world & well worth a visit

I’ll be adding the full story of my Mexican trip to the ‘Memorable Trips’ section of this site in a few weeks, as I am just about to leave for Islamorada and Bud n’ Mary’s Marina with this years group trip, and apparently both the fishing & weather are great!


2 thoughts on “MEXICAN BONEFISH

  1. Dave, going out to Tulum in December staying at the grand Bahia. Can you tell me if I can fish from the shore around that area or will I have to travel further afield? I am keen to catch most anything that swims by. Found your blog after booking holiday and your article has made me really keen now! Many thanks. David

    • Hi David

      The area I fished is just south of Tulum, about a 30 minute drive from the reserve gates at the southern end of town, the road is bad so its a slow drive. Park in the lay-by just before the Boca Paila bridge & follow the path through the mangroves to the flats I fished, bay side. The last bit involves a short neck deep wade through the end of the channel, but the water is warm & its worth it, there are a lot of bonefish. I didn’t catch a permit but saw several. Actually I just booked to go back next March, so I’ll be interested to hear how you get on. Take a look at: There are other places to fish both ocean & bayside, but the Boca Paila flats were so good I didn’t try anywhere else, and that where I’ll be fishing next time.

      Good luck


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