MEXICAN BONEFISH

I’ve just returned from a week staying at Tulum, a truly delightful Mexican town conveniently located about a two hour drive south of Cancun and, most importantly, right at the entrance to the Sian Ká-an Biosphere. I first visited and fished the amazingly productive flats located within the biosphere a couple of years ago, a trip during which I enjoyed some superb self guided wade fishing on the white sand flats around Boca Paila, check out my earlier blog.

A nice fish from the Boca Paila flats

A nice fish from the Boca Paila flats

Keen to put a bend in my fly rod I headed down to Boca Paila on the first afternoon of my trip. It was really good to see that the road had recently been regraded, so the trip to the flats from our small hotel was a little over half an hour. The flats were just a beautiful as I had remembered, but a relentless 20 knot north-easterly wind and intermittent cloud cover made spotting bonefish a challenge.

Another self guided bone caught on my albino Gotcha

Another self guided bone caught on my albino Gotcha

I broke off the first fish that ate the fly just as I was lifting off to recast, but throughout the course of the next few days I enjoyed some great fishing, catching as many as three bonefish in a few hours fishing, which was all the more satisfying given the testing conditions. Top fly of the trip was a home tied albino Gotcha, consisting of a wing of white craft fur tied on a size 4 Tiemco 811S hook, with brass eyes and just a minimum of flash. I am sure most of the standard Gotcha and Crazy Charlie patterns would have worked, but once you find a fly that does work, why change?

The successful fly

The successful fly

As before I had to walk through dense mangroves and then swim a short distance through a deep channel to access the best flats inside the lagoon, which was not especially difficult indeed given the relentless heat was actually enjoyable. One afternoon as I returned to my hire car I spotted a group of tourists on the Boca Paila bridge clearly excited as they watched something in the water. Thinking it was probably a manatee I strolled up with my camera, just in time to watch a 12-15ft saltwater crocodile ease its bulk from a sandbar into a deep channel; the channel I had just swam through barely 100 yards upstream!

The channels at Boca Paila, nopt a great place for a swim!

The channels at Boca Paila, not a great place for a swim!

Enquiries at the hotel confirmed that yes, recently at least three crocodiles had moved into the area, and one guide I spoke to confirmed that a few months previous a local fisherman had been killed by one. As you can imagine that kind of took the edge of my self-guided swim/wade trips on the flats. Alison was with me when the guide offered this news, also adding that signs had been erected to warn of the dangers of crocodiles, but that they had been removed. “Why don’t you book a guide for a day instead”, she suggested, “I can spend the day enjoying the beach and the hotel spa”? Well, if you insist my darling!

Eduardo with my first fish of the day.

Eduardo with my first fish of the day.

The following morning I met Capt. Eduardo Gomez who guides for Sian Ká-an Fly Fishing, and we set off on what turned out to be one of the most enjoyable days fly fishing for bonefish I have ever experienced. Eduardo clearly knew the plethora of flats and mangrove islands within the biosphere with an intimacy that can only come from many years of first hand experience. With great skill he consistently positioned the boat in the optimum position to provide shelter from the worse of the wind, the best angle of light to spot fish and, most importantly given the strong wind, give me the best shot to cast my fly.

Another great bonefish caught with Capt Eduardo Gomez

Another great bonefish caught with Capt Eduardo Gomez

We caught fish at a steady rate throughout the day, beautiful bonefish fish with a respectable average size of between 2-4lb. Mostly we found them in small groups of two, three or four fish, frequently tailing in shallow water. It was a day of classic sight fishing for bonefish, and my nine hours passed in no time at all. This experience alone is enough to ensure I will be returning to Mexico to fish the Sian Ká-an biosphere at the earliest possible opportunity. For more information contact Sian Ká-an Fly Fishing on Tel: +521 9841845871 or email: bambi_020@hotmail.com

This is one area where you really can combine some first class fishing with a great family vacation. There’s lots of things for all of the family to do, with several historic Mayan sites located within a short distance, one of the nicest being right on the coast at Tulum itself. Downtown Tulum has loads of small funky hotels, we stayed at and recommend the perfectly located Hip Hotel: http://www.hiphoteltulum.com The hotel has a good restaurant, and there is a great choice of places to eat out or sample the local tequila, all within easy walking distance.

Last one to the top buys the donuts!

Last one to the top buys the donuts!

Watch out for the local tequila, it does strange things to your head!

Watch out for the local tequila, it does strange things to your head!

The beautiful Mayan ruins site at Tulum

The beautiful Mayan ruins site at Tulum

A good quality pair of sun glasses are an essential item of equipment for any flats trip, and over the years I have tried most of the best quality brands available. I am a huge fan of Costa Del Mar glasses and this trip I wore my new Costa Permit green mirror glasses, which are fitted with Costa’s industry leading 580 glass lenses. As I have said at times given the prevailing conditions spotting fish was a challenge, and I am absolutely convinced that on this trip those sunglasses helped me spot fish I certainly would not have seen had I been wearing some of my other polarised glasses. If you are planning a trip to the flats be sure to check out these and other glasses in the extensive Costa range fitted with 580 lenses. For more information visit: https://www.costadelmar.com

My Costa Del Mar Permit sun glasses: amazing!

My Costa Del Mar Permit sun glasses: amazing!

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5 thoughts on “MEXICAN BONEFISH

  1. Hi Dave,

    I’m heading down this way in March 2016, saw you your first post about bonefish in 2013 and got excited about some self-guided bonefishing. Now this new post with the crocodile story has me thinking a guide might be the best way to go. Did you find any flats you can access without swimming across a channel? I don’t imagine crocs are on the actual shallow bonefish flats, are they? Or is it possible to walk into one on the trail? Thanks.

    Tom Tero
    Portland, Maine

    • Hi Tom

      Great to hear from you.

      OK, the crocs seems to be focussed in the main, deep channels & sand bar very close to the bridge. This is close, too close, to my original access point to the flats as described in my earlier blog: but there is an alternative. Walk back from the car park towards Tulum for about 4-500 yards and you’ll find an easy access direct onto a flat that leads to the main areas I have described, it’s reputed to be very good for permit here but I never saw one. Keep in shallow water away from the channels & I very much doubt you’ll have croc issues, but it’s your call! The bonefishing is still very good, and they are truly magnificent flats to fish.

      OK, guides. Drive through the park gates at Tulum & after about five minutes you’ll find a small beach bar car park on the left. Call in here & ask to speak to Ultimo Maya or Eduardo Gomas; tell them I sent you! They run an outstanding guide operation using guides with many years experience working at the various high end lodges in the area. Try emailing bambi_020@hotmail.com or Tel: (1521) 9841845871. I think the rate is around $450 for a full 0700-1700 day, during which you’ll see a lot of fish. I’d love to hear how you get on & get an update on the Boa Pailia croc situation!

      What do you fish for in Portland?

      All very best

      Dave

  2. Thanks, Dave. I appreciate the info. I will definitely get in touch with those guides.

    I do a lot of striped bass fishing in the Portland area as well as Cape Cod. There is lots of great flats fishing where you’d swear you were in the tropics. I also go after brook trout in northern Maine. Lately I’ve been trying some local pike spots to no avail. Later this spring a trip up north for musky is in the cards.

    Thanks again, I’ll let you know how I do in Boca Paila.

    Tom

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