Destination: Costa Mujeres, Mexico/Cancun area
Fishing Style: Near Shore, trolling and reef fishing
If you are heading to Cancun or the vicinity and want to get out on the water to experience a little tug love in Mexico, I’ve got a cool and easy trip to share with you.
I recently traveled to Cancun with my family. My sister wanted to take a trip before my next nephew arrives and Mexico was our destination of choice again for many reasons. I have traveled a couple times to Mexico since the break of the pandemic and it never disappoints for ease of travel, safety and budget.
This week our destination was Costa Mujeres. A bit further north from the Hotel Zone and a quiet coastline just a short ferry ride away from Isla Mujeres.
We stayed at the Riu Palace Costa Mujeres for the week. An all-inclusive hotel with the amenities you need for a wonderful family vacation. I’ll have to elaborate more on that on my next blog.
Let’s get to this fishing trip!
My crew went a little hard in the paint on sunshine and tequila, but I was not leaving Mexico without a chance to drop a line in.
One of the best things about our sport is how it connects us with one another. No matter where I am in the world, I have been able to reach out and connect with friends and like minded souls who have either experienced the adventures I seek or know how connect me with those that can. This time, l reached out to my good friend Alicia Gonzalez who had just taken an all girls fishing trip in Isla Mujeres. She connected me with Captain Armando and his brother Ricardo via Facebook. Armando was quick to respond and even met me at the Icebar during one of our excursions for a quick run down of what to expect.
I hopped into our rental car one morning and made my way to my next adventure.
Maldos Tours is the name of their business in Isla Mujeres. Armandonand Ricardo l specialize in all types of water activities, snorkeling, diving, eco-tours, spearfishing and what I got to experience, which was panga boat fishing. Although my planned crew of four became just me, Armando and Ricardo were still able to accommodate me for just $300 USD. We trolled and dropped baits over reefs for 5 hours. I caught an array of species, some were a new one for my bucket list!
Because our hotel was not on Isla Mujeres, Captain Armando offered to pick me up at a nearby marina. We met at Punta Sam Marina which is a short 13 min drive south of Riu Palace Costa Mujeres.
Parking was about $4 USD at Punta Sam. Ricardo greeted me at the gate and I made a quick stop to the baños to get ready for a morning on the water.
We started fishing within 15 minutes of embarking. A skirted ballyhoo trolled on each side of the vessel as we managed the lines and waited for a bite. Our target species could be anything from yellow tail snapper, barracudas, sierra mackerel and even sailfish. I was not so lucky for sails or sierra, but that‘s OK. My consolations for the day were much more delectable!
Yellow tail snapper were first to slime the deck. We caught a hand full of them trolling. I managed to hook up (and lose) a 2 ft. barracuda and a moray eel. We then moved on to troll another reef, but soon Captain Armando made a call to change it up. I was not opposed. For one, I typically trust a captain’s plans, they don't spend days on the water for me to tell them where to fish. I would much rather get on some action than to continue trolling on a short morning trip if it’s not happening. I’d like to also add how exceptionally courteous and accommodating the brothers were for me. Being a huge advocate for sun protection, I was delighted and grateful for their hospitality. The boat had a canopy for shade, but every time they saw me basking in the sun they repositioned me to keep me shaded and even gave me some Neutrogena sunblock to use.
We found a reef nearby to drop our baits down. The water was crystal clear straight to the bottom. Various snapper and trigger fish hovered over the reef. If there’s anything I love to do, it’s bottom fishing for a meal.
I used a spinning rod and reel setup and j-hook to drop down on strawberry grouper, juvenile dog snapper and a new one for me, a soldier fish!
Apparently,these spiny little reef dwellers get their name from the military formations that they make while swimming about the reefs. While I dropped my baits, the guys hand lined in various reef snappers.
Captain Armando spotted a school of big triggers. Looking from the top, you’d never think they were this big. We dropped a chunk of cut bonito down and up came the BIGGEST trigger I have ever wrapped my hands around!
I was ecstatic, a feeling accomplishment came over me for this little solo expedition in Mexico and all I could think of was how excited my dad would be see this fish. I looked up to the sky and thanked him for watching over me. I shared stories with the guys about hand lining fish as a kid with my family. What a nostalgic feeling they brought back! A simple way of catching and filling a cooler for the family when we fished the gulf back home. A hook, some weed wacker line and a electrical cable wheel was all we used on nearshore platforms and reefs. Unconventional yet effective!
Losing my dad, my best friend and one of biggest fan of my fishing adventures this year was the hardest things I have ever endured. Every chance I get to be on the water makes me feel a little closer to him again.
After the trigger, we changed it up one more time. Free lining chunks of bonito for yellow tail that we could clearly see. I have learned from fishing for mutton snapper in the Florida Keys, that snappers can be quite finicky. Free lining baits and making sure it looks like natural flowing bait in the current is key. Tight lines and sudden jerk movements can often deter my prey in past experiences.
We managed to haul in a few more sizable yellow tail and it was coming up on noon so we wrapped it up and headed back to dock to clean up our harvest.
I watched as Armando filleted the tough hide on the trigger. Trigger fish are impeccable table-fare! I honest have to say I prefer them over snapper. my dad used to nail the tail on a tree, make a slit and skin them with pliers like catfish. I know he would have been thrilled to see the size of this one. Their firm white meat makes excellent sashimi and sushi as well.
He gutted and scaled the snappers for me to have fried whole. I texted my family at the resort to contact the chef to see if I could bring them back for them to prepare and the answer was “Absolutely! It would be our pleasure!” Pumped, I gathered the meat and said my farewells.
What an easy and enjoyable experience the brothers at Maldos Tours were able to provide for this little Texas girl, just trying to check off an adventure in Mexico while my family reaped the benefits of our resort amenities.
The hotel had me a sign a quick waiver releasing liability in case any of my harvest made us sick and I brought the chef my catches.
A few hours later, my family and I gathered around a fabulous spread of my harvest to celebrate. It was such a treat for our last night on vacation together.
I would recommend Armando and Ricardo of Maldos Tours to anyone looking for a fair and pleasant experience of fishing in Isla Mujeres!