Fly Fishing Playa Del Carmen, MX [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Fly Fishing Playa Del Carmen, MX

11-16-2006, 03:15 PM
My wife and I bought a timeshare in Playa that we just visited last week. I did some exploring around the beaches and there seems to be quite a few fish along the beaches. I starting thinking about next year already and am planning to bring my fly rod. Does anyone know if you can legally wade out and fish off the beach there? Do you need any special license or permit? if anyone has done this, any advice would be greatly appreciated!

11-16-2006, 04:14 PM
This info is years old but in my spinning days I walked North along the beach from PDC throwing lures and would hit big snapper etc... had some kind of fish hit that almost spooled me!!

A fellow told me to keep walking to Punta Bete near the old Posada Capitan Lafitte...maybe about 5km-10km and there were Bonefish and Permit in the that area.... I never saw them though..

I dont know about the license....

It would be great to get a report from you on your experiences..

11-17-2006, 08:01 AM
A licence is required to fish saltwater in MX and can be obtained before you travel.

CA based tackle shops in the San Diego area should be able to help.

This info was good 18 months or so back:

Applications for Mexican Sport Fishing Licenses can be obtained at the Mexico Department of Fisheries office in San Diego, however, most people purchase them through their local fishing and tackle store or Mexican Insurance dealer. If you receive your application from the Department of Fisheries office, upon completion, applications should be submitted to:

Mexico Department of Fisheries
2550 5th Avenue, Suite 101
San Diego, CA 92103

The office is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 2:00 pm to answer any questions. The phone number is (619) 233-6956.

Applications sent to this address must be accompanied by a cashier's check or money order for the exact amount due, and made payable to Oficina Recaudadora de Pesca; personal checks are not accepted. For mail orders, be sure to include a stamped self-addressed return envelope.

The Mexico Department of Fisheries also has offices in Mexico (Oficina de Pesca), but it is advisable to obtain fishing licenses before crossing the border.

US Customs Regulations: Sportfishermen may bring into the United States only fish for personal consumption. US Customs requires that the fish catch must be accompanied by a California Declaration of Entry form, obtainable at California Fish and Game offices and at the US Border ports of entry. (Note that different regulations may apply if you live in a state other than California; for information regarding your state's regulations, contact your local Department of Fish and Game or your local US Customs office) The number of fish must not exceed the Mexican bag limit. Fish transported across the boarder can be eviscerated but must be identifiable; usually the head, tail, or patch of skin left intact will suffice.

Anyone bringing fish into the United States will be asked by Customs officials to present a valid Mexican fishing license or a Mexico Department of Fisheries form covering the purchase of the fish.

For more information:

California Department of Fish and Game
1350 Front Street San Diego, 92101
Tel: (619) 237-7311

11-18-2006, 11:25 PM
I researched this topic to death a number of years ago and as far as I'm aware...things haven't changed (fished the area for the last 5 years).

A person is permitted to fish Saltwater by foot without a license except in specified protected areas such as the Sian Ki'an Biosphere Reserve. Any Saltwater fishing taking place from a boat...the angler(s) have to be licensed.

I've fished the beaches from PDC down to, and through Boca Paila in the SKBR with never a problem other than Mexican Military (drug interdiction) spotchecks/searches. Those were sort of intimidating...having these guys go through your rental vehicle/tackle/gear while in full cammo make-up holding AK-47's.

Dependant on time of year. you can usually count on plenty of Jacks and Snappers from the PDC area beaches as well a isolated pockets of schooling bonefish. In the winter/spring time, there are also decent populations of Snook cruising the beaches. Typically, they hang/feed along the first trough/dropoff off the beach...just where the trubid water from wave action enters the clearer water beyond. I found that decent numbers of Ladyfish also hang with the snook so there's usually something willing to grab your fly. These "poor mans tarpon" are a blast Jump! Jump! Jump! Awesome!!!

Watch for pelican/diving bird activity along the beaches to point your way to schools of sardina's...preditory fish are usually right there aswell. Schools of marauding jacks come in fast...create a commotion...and leave down the shoreline just as fast. You have to be quick and make the best of your shots to get on them.

Occassionally, some really big permit will cruise the more "marly/rocky" sections of the shoreline, so a person does have a realistic chance at one of these. Don't confuse "Pallometta" as young or baby permit...a different fish altogether! other than their genus relationship (Permit/Pompano/Pallometta).

Another overlooked species of fish found in the marly/rocky areas are Grey Triggerfish. They are aggressive for a fly and pull like stink. Only problem is...getting the hook to stick. Your fly will also get alot of attention from small grunts and bothersome needlefish.

Early morning and sunset are great times to get into Jacks and Snook.

Good luck down there and enjoy your timeshare!

Best regards,

11-20-2006, 03:08 PM
Wonderful info everyone! It is really appreciated! I had no idea where to start and you get so much conflicting info.

Were you at all nervous when you fished from shore for the first time without a license? How did you find out that you don't need one? Also, are thier any species that you mentioned above, or that you know of that are protected or anything like that I should be careful of? Did you ever keep any for dinner? :)

A few additional questions I have:
Is a 7 wt rod going to be OK? Should I invest in a heavier rod?
are thier any additional gear essentials I need to bring? I plan to pack light. just the rod, a box of flies and some extra line. I suppose I'll need a hook-out.

I figure some sort of shrimp flies, and maybe some crab flies are what I would want.

When I go, I will definitly put up a big post detailing everything with photos.

11-21-2006, 01:38 AM
Not nervous at all about the no license thing. Also, at the enterance to the Sian Ka'an biosphere where you're checked-into the reserve, we paid our 10bucks to get in and didn't even get a receipt or proof of admittance. Other times there wasn't even an attendant. I got my info. directly in a reply to an email I sent to the Canadian/Mexican consulate here in Canada. I'd send you a copy, but it got lost when my old PC's hard drive bit the dust. The only thing that did make me nervous was the occassional PETA sympathetics that would frown at you while fishing populated beaches.

Strictly catch and release in the reserve. Also no fishing in designated eco-parks like Xpu Ha, Xcarret and also Solomon bay I believe.

Typically, it's very windy (onshore) down there and you might find yourself getting blown around alot with the 7wt. Plus, there are some awfully big Crevelle Jacks around and you'd likely get smoked if you hooked up.

A size 4 chart/white or brown/white clouser works great for just about anything in the swim there. For low-light early and late fishing, you should seriously consider a few surface poppers in about a size 1 or 2.

Good luck,


11-25-2006, 11:20 AM
That is great advice. I believe you about the license it just makes me nervous in a foriegn country cause you get so much conflicting info all the time. I really appreciate your info and taking the time give a little background on your sources.

I may invest in a heavier weight rod then. You have a good point on the wind there, plus there is always a chance I'll hook into a decent fish.

So, are the reserve parts marked well then? You mentioned there was no attendant one day. I assume they have some sort of an entrance then? How about the non populated areas north of Playa. Can you keep any fish at all there? I wouldn't mind having one fish dinner:) We kept a Spanish Mackerel once in Costa Rica an my father in law who is a professional chef made one of the best fish dinners I ever had there.

I make sure to keep an eye on PETA! :)

01-01-2007, 02:18 PM
have been three times to pdc and south 15 miles, first time did the sandiego license drill, then found out if you are on shore no license needed, apparently this is soon changing and a license will be needed. the Mexican shoreline belongs to the govt. and as such you may have access to it

Lone Palm Rods
04-25-2007, 12:59 PM
going in 20 days to Playa. any info would be great.

04-26-2007, 09:21 AM
a 7wt on the PDC carmen bones would be perfect. Just make sure the reel has plenty of backing. Make sure you have some light weighted shirmp pattens a long w/ some med weight as well. Size 4 and 6.

Bro was there last year and fishing the surf in w/ a size 2 chrt and wht clouser with a wire leader catching bonefish!

I fished around the beaches had no issues last summer. Did a one guide trip w/ Pesca Maya TOTALLY worth it. I'd do it again in heart beat. Worth the long ride down.

04-26-2007, 01:57 PM
My trip to PDC isn't till Nov. but I am already preparing. I am planning to take my 7 pc. 7 wt. rod I use when I kayak. I am just palnning to fish from the beach and it sounds a 7wt would do the trick for that. There are definitly Bones there, you can see them in the surf. I'll have to spend a little time snorkeling to see what they are feeding on. I was looking at the Cabelas 54 piece bahamas Bonefish fly kit. Has anyone looked at this. It seems like a good start to what I might need for flies. I am also picking up a few odds and ends at local shops. Some shrimp and crab imitations.

I am wondering if anyone has any recommendations or suggestions on Fly line. Should I get floating or sinking? what kind of tapers work well...etc... Any info is appreciated. I am thinking 8wt floating WF. then with the sinking flies it would be good for casting into the surf and have it sink below the surface into the school. Let me know your thoughts....


04-26-2007, 02:01 PM

I did call the CA office of the MX fisheries a couple weeks ago and spoke to someone there. I was told that when you are fishing from shore, you do not need a liscence. You do if you are on a raft, boat, etc.... I will be calling again to make sure the answer is the same closer to NOV!

Trevor B
04-26-2007, 05:01 PM
I stayed in a Resort just down from Playa a couple of weeks ago and fished the beach by the resort. I had great fun with pompano, Small jacks, Snapper and even managed a couple of bones, I was even broke off by a rather large Cuda that stole a small bone I was into (scared the crap out of me as it hit so fast and hard).
I did this a couple of evenings before I was told by one of the security guards that I could not fish there. I was doing this just before dark when no one was around so I did not see the problem. I therefore asked at the hotel reception why this was a problem with them and was told that it was illegal to fish off the beach and that there were only certain set areas for fishing also that the Mexican military patrolled it and I would be arrested and carted off to jail! To the very best of my knowledge I was not in any sanctuary area or anything else and there were boats constantly fishing just off of the shore so I doubted what he was telling me as being correct, but it scared my wife so much I agreed (reluctantly) not to fish any more. Thankfully my trip to Acklins a few weeks before made the lack of fishing not a real problem this trip.
Now I donít know if this was some ploy to get me to go on one of their ultra expensive fishing trips or what. so really I donít know whatís right or wrong here. I only know that when ever and where ever I travel too I like to fish a few hours and normally my wife, luv that she is has no problem with me disappearing for a few hours.
I doubt for this reason I will pick Mexico for our vacation again if I canít throw a fly for a few hours.
This was my experience with fly fishing in Mexico !

04-30-2007, 02:57 PM
I'd suggest a floating line.

Bone flies- For surf- med bead chain eyes, med and small lead dumb-bell. Tan Gotchas 4 and 6, and tan/wht clousers.

Bones flats- Small bead chain eye tan gotchas.

Mexico bones are not too picky more particular about sink rate and presentation.

When I visited PDC Stayed at Los Palapas (sp?) fly fished all around the beach no problemos. The locals were nice and when T-storms came one day I sat w/ all my fishing gear under a bar tent w/ a bunch of locals some came over to check out my flies and stuff. All were friendly I even gave a some of the fisherman a couple of flies.

I still rec. that if one goes to PDC to do a one day guided trip to Pesca Maya or a one of the bonefish guide services totally worth it. The'll pick you up and drop you back off for a 100 bucks. Shoot a 100 bucks is 2 trips to the gas station these days... :roll:

04-30-2007, 10:24 PM
There was an earlier post of a guy mentioning that he would be stared down but never really bothered (except by the machine guns) by the military personell patrolling the beaches. Apparently the MX government is the "owner" of the shoreline and as such they patrol it and govern it. I am thinking one of two things occured with the advice you were given... Either they wanted you to use thier fishing service, or if you were fishing in front of the resort, they probably didn't like that as much. I am not sure if you have been to MX before, but I have been there many times all over. I can tell you, that they will flat out lie to your face, or tell you "not the whole truth" when given the opportunity. I totally understand that you felt uncomfortable, but even your resort can sometimes be untrustworthy. That is just the way it is down there. You can get a little more reliable info if you speak fluent Spanish. Thanks for the heads up. I think I am still going to try it. Sounds like you had a blast while you were able to do it! :)

Thanks for the fly tips!!!!
I am putting together the box over the next couple months. Can't wait!!!

05-03-2007, 10:51 AM
I've stayed and fished the resort beaches in and around PDC a total of 7 times. Six times out of the Barcelo Maya Resort in Akumal and also once at the now Royal Maeva (formerly Robinson Club Tulum) just a few Kilometers south. Both places had fine fishing offering all the desireable species. The first few years at Barcelo, we weren't bothered at all when fishing the it 1999 and 2000. After that, we started getting approached by hotel security who said that the area is a protected "Zoneo's Ecologoicos" and fishing was prohibited. That didn't stop us...we just changed the hours of our fishing to very early mornings and late evenings when hotel guests were doing other things than lounging and playing on the beaches. That worked for a bit! The last couple trips there...the hotel management and it's security crew seemed to have re-doubled it's efforts at keeping folks from fishing and it up with a rod in hand and you didn't even get a chance to cast before somebody was on your ass!. I've not been back since despite that fact that we love the resort. At the Royal Maeva, things were slightly different. They didn't like you fishing off the beach but condoned fishing off of their small warf or along the beach outside of their property. That was fine untill when snorkling, I discovered a resident school of 500 bones that habituated the freshwater springs in 4 ft of water directly in front of the beach restaraunt!!! It was like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey...I was bound and determined to get a few casts off. Well, when I did...I got bones like crazy till the staff and security came running up and berated me for fishing in front of dozens of folks. I was given a proper "dressing-down" that reslulted in the audience of patrons giving a rousing and embarrassing cheer!. For the rest of the vacation, I couldn't walk around the resort without hearing the snickering comments from this person or that. It basically spoiled my vacation...I didn't touch my rods again and had to choke down my bile each time I saw bones tailing on the beach in the morning or sit idly by as a pod of monsterous permit cruised by during my afternoon stroll on the beach.

I do offer that on my recent trips to Cuba, the attitude is completely the in not only's encouraged!!!??? Hotel staff including security approach you not with admonitions but with fishing advice and questions about the tackle you're using. They offer to get you bait and also request you keep a few for their consumption.

I love the Mayan Riviera...the area is beautiful...but for fisherpersons it'll likely be hit and miss. Either you fish an area between resorts and hopefully not get bothered or you go sulking back to your room with your tail between your legs. The sight of resort guests feeding schools of bones or pods of 20lb permit "fruit loops" or chunks of banana blows my mind!!!

Oh well, the beaches in Cuba are nicer anyways!!!


Trevor B
05-04-2007, 04:11 PM
I am really at a loss to understand why it is such a problem in Mexico to fish, I only fish either at first light or just before dark when no one is really around.
The whole thing did put rather a damper on the trip, time doing that type of fishing does not come around very often so you like to make the most of it.
I have fished the beaches of both Cuba and the Dominican rep and had no problems at all there, and like you say the only thing they look for is maybe a fish or two to take home.
I also agree the beaches in Cuba and DR are much nicer than Mexico.

10-12-2007, 04:45 PM
I have done the research, heard the tales, & put together a fly box. I am heading out the beginning of November. One last question about landing....
So, what am I dealing with in Saltwater on Landing the fish? Should I bring a small hand net, or gloves, maybe a hook out or something. Any tips are greatly appreciated. Also, any other gear tips I may not think of.....

10-14-2007, 05:26 AM
Hi KokanEE
landing the fish is pretty straitforward, you don't need a net of gloves, a small pair of pliers can be usefull.
Fishing with barbless hooks also make releasing the fish easier.

Very important is to take a lot of good quality high SPF sunscreen.

Have fun.


10-14-2007, 08:18 AM
Kokanee.....unless of course you have the misfortune of landing a Lion it and look at some pic's.....not sure if the little buggers are hanging around the Yucatan....but I now:eek: carry a wading stick to spear them if they end up on my line.

11-11-2007, 08:47 PM
Just got back from Playa Del Carmen. Had a great time. Tried casting for bones for the first time in my life, in fact, it was the first time I had casted a fly line in saltwater. What a blast! I just walked in from shore on the coral up to my waist. After casting about 15 min and getting the hang of the wind and timing I had my first hit. WHOAH! Man when they hit, they HIT. I really didn't know what to expect so I was a bit startled when my line started to peel off! I fought it for about 7 minutes or so letting the fish pull drag as needed. The fish was jumping out of the water as ever minute went by! It did hit the backing but only about 10% of it. I thought I would be able to land the fish in the water but I was mistaken. I got it up to my waist and sure enough it was a Bone. Between the waves, and it darting all around, not to mention the strength those things have, my first strike ended up in a bite off. Oh well, I lost my Pink Crazy Charlie but I had more of them and now my adrenaline and interest was at its peak!

I headed in to shore to replace my fly thinking that next time, I had to do a shore landing. I headed back out and went at it again. Over the next hour, I had managed to land two Ladyfish (I think) and a bite off. The ladyfish as I will call it, was kind of a bit narrower and all silver with the fins being a bit pointier and about the same size as the bone about 2#. The Ladyfish fought as hard as the bones, sometimes even harder as they tended to dive more. The second one I had on peeled almost all of my backing off. I was able to land them by working my way to shore.

After about 4 hours of fishing on my own, I had landed 2 bones, 2 Ladyfish, 2 bite offs, and 2 missed strikes.

Then my last bite of the day happened. It was about 45 min to sunset, I got a good hit, set my rod up high and snap! there went my rod. A 7 WT. Cabelas Stowaway 7 cracked midway up the right at one of the eyelets. Fish was off (luckily!). I retrieved my parts packed up and went back to my resort. Regardless of the final outcome, I had a blast, it was fun, exciting, and I was able to do it all on my own with absolutely no knowledge except what I have learned talking with all of you folks! I can not thank you all enough for the tips, advice, and guidance. I will definitely be back there doing it again next year. I am going to upgrade the rod though!

I also wanted to note: I called the San Diego Dept. of Fisheries 4 times throughout the past few months to ask if I needed a license. Every time it was NO as long as I was wading out from the shore and not using any sort of flotation or boat. I asked my resort concierge and she also told me the same thing. I never encountered any hostility or negative feedback from anyone regarding my fishing there. although, I was careful to fish away from swimmers and other guests. In fact, there were many walkers on the beach that would stop and watch at times.

I have no doubt that the guided services would be fun too. In fact, this outing has peaked my interest enough that I am going to book a guided trip as well for next year. There is something about going at it once on your own though, especially when you are successful. Isn't that why we all fly fish to begin with?!?

Feel free to write me if you have any questions. I received a lot of help from all of you, and I will certainly return the favor if I can somehow.

Thanks again!


P.S. Sorry I don't have photos. I was doing it on my own and didnt want to get my camera ruined in the surf! NEXT TIME FOR SURE!

11-12-2007, 09:41 AM
Hi KokanEE
Thanks for the report. It sounds like you had a great time.
Are you sure that you caught bonefish because bonefish don't jump. Ladyfish jump like crazy but bones just pull.


11-12-2007, 11:37 AM
Hey Petevicar,
Actually, I can not say I was sure. This was my first time doing this, and I could certainly have mis-identified a fish. I am going by some photos I have seen through this site. What is odd now that you mention it... is that of the two bonefish I believe I caught only one of them jumped. Same thing for the Ladyfish. Not sure what to make of that. Again, I didn't really know what to expect, so none of this behavior seemed odd to me. Has anyone else out there had a bonefish jump? Maybe I didn't catch bonefish. If not, what else could it have been?

Trevor B
11-12-2007, 12:49 PM
It's really good to hear that you had such a great trip, sounds like a much better experience than I had earlier this year. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to fish on or even close to the resort and that I would be carted away by the Mexican army if I were seen!
I have caught a few Ladyfish and they can be very acrobatic indeed and are a lot of fun on light gear.
Any way, saltwater fly fishing really is a lot of fun but it is also very addictive indeed and all other forms of fishing seem pale in comparison, welcome to a new world!

11-14-2007, 10:34 AM
Maybe I didn't catch bonefish. If not, what else could it have been?

It is impossible to say with no photos.

Mat M
11-14-2007, 11:40 AM
I have had bonefish splash on the surface several times after their initial run. They don't really get airborne though. Ladyfish are similar looking to bones but as has been said impossible to say without seeing a pic.


11-15-2007, 10:33 PM
Yeah, I am not sure. I know there was two different species I caught. Looking at the photos online, one looked like a bonefish, the other like a Ladyfish. Both were very close in size, but the Ladyfish was a bit narrower, and the fins were a bit pointier. Also they were mostly silver, whereas the other fish had the dark markings on the fins and stripe like the bonefish. The only thing that makes me doubt my identification is the behavior patterns, and the fact that I have never had anyone actually show me the fish and identify it. I am only going by photos.

11-28-2007, 12:36 PM
Which reesort did you stay in? I am thinking of booking a trip with Ascension Bay, it is about an hour ride from where I am staying but I figured what the hell I am there why not go for it at least one day.

11-29-2007, 03:07 AM
We own our timeshare at the new Royal Hacienda's development. Very nice so far, but still under construction. It is about a mile north of Playa.

11-30-2007, 06:36 AM
Jumping and "bite-offs" sound like you might have been in baby barracuda country? They are usally hangin' around looking for trouble on the bonefish flats.

The smaller ones have been known to fool even the most 'seasoned flats veterans' on occaison :lildevl:

12-11-2007, 06:10 AM
That's good thinking Adrian. That's happens many many times. Why didn't I come up with that.
My brain is still very muddled with Mojitos.

10-09-2009, 03:48 AM
Was down in Playa del carmen in late Sept and brought my rod with me. Stayed at the Wyndham maya all inclusive...I walked south down the beach past all of the hotels in Playacar, about 1/2 mile, and caught some nice lady fish that I saw in schools along the beach, was using steamers in white and blue. Also got broke off by a nice Jack I suspect, they were crashing bait early one morning. Didn't see any bones or tarpon while out there...not that they weren't there. Those ladies put up a good fight lots of fun. Caught some other Palmettos too. Only got hassled a bit by hotel staff when i tried out in front of our hotel.

10-09-2009, 03:11 PM
I have come across ladyfish numerous times on my travels but have never had any luck with them striking. They seem to completely ignore everything I throw at them. And tips? I am heading to the PDC area at the end of Dec (not the DR anymore, which I posted about earlier) and it would be nice to finally hook into a lady.

10-10-2009, 03:04 PM
You know while I was down there I had the best luck spotting the Ladies in areas where the water and or baitfish seemed to get trapped along the shore. Where rock creates small jetties and on either side the water is a bit deeper. I was using blue and white clousers and epoxy head minnow in white and silver that worked real well. When I was there the ladies real very aggressive, I used a pretty fast strip.

10-11-2009, 10:11 PM
Ok thanks. I haven't had a problem finding the ladies, just getting them to strike. I'll give the clousers and epoxy head minnows a try. I usually came across them while looking for bones, so I usually had a crazy charlie or gotcha on when the ladies came by.
Hopefully the more "aggresive" flies will have some success.

10-13-2009, 08:09 PM

10-21-2009, 11:31 AM
I've never seen any ladyfish in playa, but i've spent most of my time on the north end beach. I saw some snook this june, one monster that a local netted, I caught a small spanish mack and a couple of these.
The best beach fishing I've found in the area though is south of Tulum . Baracuda everywhere, schools of bonefish and big Jacks cruising the shoreline.

10-21-2009, 01:24 PM
That is a sweet jack. When you fished "south of Tulum", was that on the ocean side or in the lagoon?

10-21-2009, 02:20 PM
I fished on the ocean side. There is a small resort south of where i was at called Xamach Dos that has some ridiculous pictures of fish caught down there. I stayed a little north of the entrance to the sian kan biosphere and that was the area i fished. Link up with me on facebook and i can put you in contact with xamach dos and a woman that owns a small resort in punta allen as well.
Where are you staying in playa and when? Its a really fun place with alot of really nice people. There are also some beaches south of playa not too far that i have caught bones at that you can get to for a couple bucks if you take the collectivos or 15 bucks by taxi......Here a link to a trip report my wife did on our last trip to Playa
the guide i went with was named eddy pena, I wanted to try fishing the outside of the reef for jacks and baracuda this luck at all for me.....he and his mate caught a bucket full of snappers and other reef fish on handlines though, we trolled back and we had one hit on a ballyhoo, but missed the fish.
I went with this same guide in March and caught 2 bones, missed another much bigger bone....he charged me, caught 7 or 8 blue runners and 5 or 6 pargo.
here a link to my wifes trip report from when I took that trip