One of the most common saltwater fishing questions that I get asked or that appears on The Drake message board is some variation of, “I have to go to some stupid/gay/waste-of-time/soon-to-be-divorced-anyway wedding/business conference/family reunion down in Cancun. I’mstaying at (fill in name of cheesy resort, usually within walking distance of Outback Steakhouse or Bubba Gump’s), and I’m wondering if I can get away for a morning/day/eternity to fish instead.
The answer is yes, you can. And it’s easy. I’ve been lucky enough to fish at a few of the resorts surrounding Ascension Bay over the years, including Casa Blanca, Playa Blanca, and Pesca Maya–all of which are incredible places to fish. But last week I fished Boca Paila for the first time, which is the resort closest to Cancun, and can be easily reached in just a couple hours with a dirt-cheap car rental in Cancun. (I paid $12 for mine. No shit.) Boca Paila may not be the biggest or the best or the fanciest resort, but my guide got me two bonefish, a permit, a tarpon, and a snook in less than three hours, had me back in Cancun by 2:00, and this was the view from my room:
Here’s another cool thing about the Yucatan: If you’ve already done the traditional flats thing and just want to go for baby tarpon with a chance at some bigger migratory ones a little farther out, you can just go north from Cancun instead of south, where more and more baby tarpon options are opening every year. By now, many people have heard of Isla Holbox, about 3 hours north of Cancun, but how about San Felipe? If you’re curious, this is what it looked like from my hotel deck:
San Felipe is definitely a baby tarpon destination primarily, but there are a few bigger ones out there (Note my friend Andy in the background, also fighting a fifty-pounder.):
After San Felipe, we moved West to Isla Arenas, another emerging baby tarpon spot a few hours east of Campeche. I had been to this area in the fall with Manuel Angulo, but must say that Marco and the boys at Yucatan Flyfishing have made a lot of improvements to the accomodations. And if you don’t mind fishing out of these:
In water like this:
With sunsets like this:
Then you have no excuse for not taking at least one day, if not seven, to escape whatever joke of an activity you were supposed to be doing in Cancun in order to fish someplace cool instead.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.