The Fish

Fly fishing in Mexico’s Chetumal Bay – The Fish


Fly fishing trips to Mexico’s Chetumal Bay offer unique opportunities for catching all the Caribbean flats species, but bonefish remain the most dependable. Mostly because of our operation, Chetumal Bay now has the established reputation as the best location for BIG bonefish in the Mexican/Belizean Caribbean. The per client average catch rate during the fall and winter months is generally 6 to 10 bones per day, with days of 25 to 30 fish obtainable. During the summer months the fish are bigger, but catch rates are lower at about 4 to 8 fish per day.

While we generally expect the bonefish to be smaller on the average during the winter months, more recently this has been proven not to be true. The average fish is about 3 to 4 pounds, about twice the size of the real average in Ascension Bay. Big bonefish are around but not plentiful (7 to 8 pound fish), and over the years a number of trophy fish in the 10 to 16 (yes 16) pound range have been landed.


Fly Fishing for permit in Mexico’s Chetumal Bay. Probably the most interesting development in terms of the fishing is the apparently ever-increasing numbers of permit. We generally targeted these fish in the May, June, and July period. However, we now see them in good numbers year-round, and October and November are also productive months. In 2002 the Mexican Navy mostly completed a new canal that connects Chetumal Bay to the Caribbean, and essentially cut the Xcalak Peninsula in half. This increased daily water exchange appears to be one of the reasons for increased permit. Also, it does not hurt that as a species, permit are apparently on the rise in numbers. Adding to the successes is the fact that fishermen are simply getting better at catching these fish, and the guides better at teaching the special skills necessary to be successful. Tierra Maya is a great place to get that grand slam, with the average permit fisherman getting 3 to 10 shots per day.


Fly Fishing for Tarpon in Mexico’s Chetumal Bay. Chetumal Bay is not known for its tarpon fishery. Regardless, there is a good population of resident tarpon in the bay and in the small lagoons we fish. These are juveniles, generally not exceeding 40 pounds, and most are 20 pounds or less. We also see larger fish in the Bay, up to 80 pounds or so, and true giants in some of the reef cuts on the ocean side. If you want to maximize your tarpon fix, come in June or July.


Fly Fishing for snook in Mexico’s Chetumal Bay. From December to February snook cruise the flats of Chetumal Bay like I have seen nowhere else. The large numbers of snook present in the winter are a very real added attraction. We can now predict with some regularity the migratory patterns and time of this mostly winter fish. It is a real treat to catch these guys cruising the flats, much like bonefish, away from the mangroves. December through February is not uncommon for clients to land 2 to 5 of these 10 to 20 pound fish in a day of fishing. Resident snook, which tend to smaller, are in the lagoons year-round.

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