Costa Maya, Yucatan, 2017

Last year we booked a one day bonefishing excursion through Yellow Dog Outfitters, based in MT.  Pesca Maya Lodge was our host and arranged for the guides. Certainly an excellent experience for a first time fishing for bones. There are plenty of outfitters, Yellow Dog being one of the best, and plenty of lodges, so you have a vast array of choices when it comes to the all inclusive week or more stay.

We loved the Yucatan! My wife Mary and I decided to do a follow up trip this year and push further  into the Costa Maya. Instead of booking with an outfitter, we chose instead to do plenty of research, supply ordering (Hills Discount Flies) and DIY accommodation booking.

The first step is to fly into Cancun. Rent a car (a major learning experience…Mexico requires its own kind of insurance), and then head down to Tulum for an overnight. There are excellent restaurants and a fully stocked grocery in Tulum. Drive south to Mahawual the next day.

Nick Denbow of Catchafish will take you onto the flats, both north and south of the village.  Once a quiet fishing village, Mahawual is now a cruise port, with throngs of day trippers on its streets. South of the village we caught bones, a tigger fish (cool) and saw a few permit. North of town we caught baby tarpon (they love to jump) in the backwaters, and more bones.  Nick is a most knowledgeable and helpful guide.

Another day we spent on the flats with the charming Roberto Ferlin, who improved our DIY game.

February found us in Xcalak, a small (350 person) village in the southern most part of the Yucatan, a long distance cast from Belize. Unpaved streets and limited services (no bank or gas). But lots of friendly people who run tidy well stocked stores. Don’t miss the weekly visits of the food trucks (pickups) with fresh veggies, outlandish sized shrimp from Campeche, or local spiced pulled pork. Some accommodations will include a kitchen. But there are several places to eat out. Try  Costa de Cocos for lobster mango pizza and the fly fishing bar.

In terms of fishing, you must get out onto Chetumal Bay. Which means you need a guide with a boat.

Alex Beck, of The Flats Guide Services, booked us with Evaristo, who took us out for two productive days. Caught mostly bones, had numerous shots at permit, huge snook, and huge bones. Fished mainly from the boat, but also walked the flats. Evaristo is very skilled at fish sighting and putting you in the most advantageous position to catch them. The wind is a constant, and can change direction abruptly. Make sure you can double haul. Practice!

Later in the month we revisited the Bay, guided by fishing pro, longtime resident, and business operator Victor Castro (xcalak-flyfishing.com). Terrific guide and person. Spent extra time with Mary making sure she got her share of fish. She in the end caught the largest bone.

DIY fishing was possible most of the other days of our trip. Miles and miles of flats to explore that rarely see fishermen. You might even pick up a fragment of pottery from the ancient Mayans. Walking in the Caribbean ocean, experiencing the incredible greens and blues, training your eyes to sight fish, and enjoying the friendly, helpful folks at every stop, makes for a very satisfying way to spend winter.

Steven on the flatsMary in Chetumal Bay