Fish & Gear

At Xcalak, we have used a catch-and-release program for our snook, permit and bonefish for about ten years and our salt-water fly fishermen swear by the program. It has kept our waters plentiful with these older, larger, wiser fish (which our fishermen love) and also provided the breeding stock to keep the populations growing. Now that Xcalak is a national park and preserve, all fish are catch-and-release. Below are some observations and recommendations about snook, permit, bonefish, tarpon, and barracuda for those planning a salt-water fly fishing adventure down our way. Jose has a collection of rods, reels, and tackle to rent if you are without equipment.



Snook

Snook – an exciting and powerful game fish -- tend to the shallow coastal waters where temperatures are not too cool, mangroves are plentiful, and there are nurseries of smaller fish to feed upon. Typically the snook we find here are in the 4 kilogram range but can get quite large – upward of 12 kilos. Most guests use a #7 or #8 rod with a 50# tippet. Favorite flies include cockroaches. Summer months are typically off-season for snook here.


Bonefish

Bonefish in Xcalak tend to intertidal flats, mangrove areas, river mouths, and deeper adjacent waters. Bonefish feed near or on the bottom on various baitfish, crabs and shrimp. They are renowned for their sustained, powerful runs after the hook set. Typical size is ½ kilo to 1 ½ kilos. Expect to use a #7 rod and a 12# tippet. Favorite flies include chili peppers, Gotcha and shrimp. Spring is the best time of year..


Permit

Permit are an easily spooked fish that inhabit shallow water and travel solo or in very small groups. Here in Xcalak, we wade for permit because sounds of waves against the boat hull spook the fish, so a good pair of wading boots is needed. Great fighters, our permit typically range from 2 to 10 kilos. Usually a #9 or #10 rod and a #40 tippet are good; flies include crabs.


Tarpon

Tarpon are large, very strong fish that battle hard and often make incredible leaps during the fight. Here in the Xcalak, they are found in salt flats as well as in deeper reef waters offshore. These beautiful, silvery fish range from 3 to up to 7 kilos. Expect to use a #8 or #9 rod and a 50#, 40# or 20# tippet. Favorite flies include the cockroaches. May, June and July are the low months for tarpon in Xcalak..


Barracuda

Barracuda are found in almost all parts of the Xcalak reef system and are a very fast swimming fish. They can grow to ten to twelve kilos and are a voracious feeder on all kinds of fish. Here, we do not find much variation in seasonal availability. Expect to use a #9 or #10 rod with 50# tippet. Rapalas are effective lures.

Best time to fish

MONTH SNOOK BONEFISH PERMIT TARPON BARRACUDA
JAN BEST GOOD BEST BEST BEST
FEB BEST BEST BEST BEST BEST
MAR BEST BEST FAIR BEST GOOD
APR BEST BEST FAIR BEST GOOD
MAY BEST BEST BEST FAIR GOOD
JUN BEST BEST BEST FAIR GOOD
JUL BEST FAIR FAIR FAIR GOOD
AUG FAIR FAIR FAIR BEST GOOD
SEP FAIR FAIR FAIR BEST GOOD
OCT FAIR FAIR FAIR BEST GOOD
NOV BEST GOOD BEST BEST BEST
DEC BEST GOOD BEST BEST BEST

Tarpon Flies

Bonefish Flies

Permit Flies