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Tarpon Fishing in Mexico

Discover the baby tarpon of the Yucatan Peninsula

April 16, 2018
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Tarpon Fishing in Mexico
Tarpon Fishing in Mexico Jim Klug

The vast estuaries, mangrove coastlines and flats of the Yucatan Peninsula are home to some of the best locations anywhere for small- to medium-size tarpon, offering pristine and productive fisheries on a year-round basis.

Most tarpon range from 5 to 20 pounds, with larger trophy-size fish found in a handful of locations. Anyone who says a 20-pound silver king on a 9-weight fly rod or light spinning rod is too small obviously lacks appreciation for great fishing!

Read Next: How to Catch Baby Tarpon on Fly

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From remote islands and mangrove coastlines on the northern tip of the peninsula to the well-known bays of the south, including Ascension, Espiritu Santo and Chetumal, tarpon spots in the Yucatan run the gamut. If you’re considering a tarpon trip to Mexico, then the following Yucatan destinations should be on your short list.

Tarpon Fishing in Mexico
A juvenile tarpon gets a safe release, none the worse for wear. Jim Klug

Campeche

Campeche, on the northwest side of the Yucatan, while not as species-diverse as the waters of the southern Yucatan, offers some of the finest and most consistent fishing for baby tarpon anywhere in the world.

With a large variety of activities, cultural sites, Mayan ruins and interesting day trips, the picturesque city of Campeche, a United Nations UNESCO World Heritage Site, is in itself a special destination. But the biggest incentive remains the impressive number of tarpon. The fishing near Campeche takes place in the huge network of mangrove lagoons, flats and creeks that begins on the edge of the city and runs north for more than 180 kilometers, uninhabited and undeveloped.

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Read Next: World’s Top 12 Tarpon Destinations

Anglers who fish this untouched mangrove wilderness return to the city every afternoon to enjoy the historic accommodations, amazing food, and the distinctive culture that defines Campeche.

Campeche Tarpon; campechetarpon.com

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Tarpon Fishing in Mexico
Youngsters provide all the challenge of their adult counterparts. Jim Klug

Ascension Bay

Perhaps the best-known fishery in the Yucatan, Ascension Bay is home to the most established fishing lodges and seasoned guides in the region. Known for the prolific numbers of bonefish and permit, “A Bay” is also home to a thriving population of tarpon in the 5- to 30-pound range throughout the year, with larger migratory fish moving through in the spring and summer. Juvenile tarpon are common in parts of this huge bay, often adjacent to prime snook waters, and bonefish and permit flats. Whether you’re looking for a single day of guided fishing or a weeklong, all-inclusive lodge package, Ascension Bay delivers tarpon and a full host of flats species.

Pesca Maya Lodge, pescamaya.com; Casa Blanca Lodge, casablancafishing.com

Tarpon Fishing in Mexico
Size has nothing to do with acrobatic ability. Jim Klug

Isla Blanca

Just north of the beach resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen sits the expansive and productive fishery of Isla Blanca, with its strong numbers of tarpon in the 5- to 40-pound range. If you are staying in Cancun, Playa del ­Carmen or Tulum, this easy option allows you to combine great fishing with a resort stay, family vacation or business trip. From single-day trips to multiday fishing packages, Isla Blanca offers great action in a pristine ecosystem; you’ll quickly forget you’re only 45 minutes from the heart of the Cancun hotel zone. This is a massive ­undeveloped mangrove wilderness area, home to abundant tarpon and snook, and occasional schools of permit and bonefish.

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Cancun Flats Fishing; cancunflatsfishing.com

Tarpon Fishing in Mexico
Casting to shoreline tarpon takes the fight into tight quarters. Jim Klug

Isla Holbox

On the northeastern tip of the Yucatan, the barrier island of Isla Holbox established itself as one of the Caribbean’s truly outstanding tarpon fisheries. Here, anglers find tarpon of all sizes throughout the year, from resident juveniles in shallow, secluded lagoons to trophy tarpon in the ocean. It is the larger migratory fish, arguably the largest tarpon found anywhere in Mexico, that make Holbox such an appealing destination. In April, the big fish arrive to feed in the clear waters off the village of Holbox, and during June, July and August, the fishing for tarpon in the 75- to 190-pound range is frequently fantastic. This fishing can be hit-or-miss depending on the weather and overall conditions, but if you are ­s­erious about focusing on tarpon, large and small, Holbox is your place.

Holbox Fly Fishing Lodge; holboxflyfishing.com

Tarpon Fishing in Mexico
Baby tarpon, a spittin’ image of the giant grown-ups, offer abundant opportunity to hone your skills. Jim Klug

San Felipe

Undiscovered San Felipe, a fishing village in the northern part of the Yucatan, is the base of operations for one well-run fishing lodge and a small group of guides plying the nearby protected marine reserve that is home to incredible numbers of juvenile tarpon. This is hands down one of the finest fisheries in the world for anglers to focus on quantity over size. The tarpon range from 5 to 15 pounds, with the occasional fish breaking the 25-pound mark. Anglers can expect comfortable accommodations, a laid-back village setting, and long days on the water. Tarpon Cay Lodge; yucatanflyfishing.com/tarpon-cay-lodge

Tabasco

While technically not a Yucatan destination, the Tabasco city of Villahermosa is blessed with some of the hottest tarpon fishing in all of Mexico. Like most tarpon fisheries in the region, size takes a back seat to numbers. The result, however, is an opportunity to experience nonstop action while catching dozens of fish in the 3- to 15-pound class over the course of a day. There is a fantastic tarpon-focused outfitting and guide service that caters to both conventional and fly anglers.

Accommodations include the Villahermosa Hyatt Regency Hotel or locally owned hotels in the small town of Centla. A far cry from the polished and established lodges of the southern Yucatan, a trip to Tabasco offers full immersion in the real Mexico, an authentic, off-the-grid travel experience, and great tarpon action on waters that have seen few anglers.

Tarpon Fishing in Mexico
Flights to the Yucatan Peninsula are plentiful. Tim Barker

Easy Access

Access to the Yucatan Peninsula, and some of the best tarpon action anywhere, is easy. Flights from major U.S. cities to Cancun and Merida are reasonably priced. And the relatively low cost of lodging and fishing packages makes the Yucatan the best value in the world of flats fishing, as well as the perfect destination for both the first-time flats fisherman or anyone looking for abundant opportunity to improve their saltwater game. For complete information and arrangements on all Yucatan fishing destinations, contact Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, yellowdogflyfishing.com.

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