Fishing in Tulum

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My friend Tina and I slipped down to Tulum, Mexico for a few days to escape the cold.  During our trip, we visited some cenotes, explored the Tulum and Chichen Itza ruins, relaxed at the hotel beach, and went fishing.  Given we are not avid fishermen, we weren’t sure how much we’d like it, but it’s always fun to be on boat. Fishing in Tulum did not disappoint!

How to Book Fishing in Tulum

I learned about fishing in Tulum from my former Denver neighbors who charted a boat while they were in Akumal.  Technically, I should mention we stayed in Akumal too (just north of Tulum).  But I digress.

Anyway, after searching the internet, I found a four, six, and eight hour option for a private fishing charter on the Ocean Breeze Akumal website.  I used the online chat with Mark to figure out which trip would suit us.  Since we were not sure how much we’d like fishing, we selected the six-hour expedition which also included ceviche and the opportunity to snorkel.

After working out the details, we paid $150 to Mark via paypal and paid the $450 balance to Thomas, the boat captain upon completing our charter.  My biggest mistake was booking through Ocean Breeze.  Guests received a “$100 discount”, but since we weren’t staying there, that extra $100 (plus $50) went to Mark for booking the trip.  Seems like a steep commission for 20 minutes of his time!

I found out later that I could have booked directly through Thomas if I only had his phone number, as he gets most of his business through word of mouth. He doesn’t even have a website for his Catch, Kiss, and Release fishing company because he is so busy. So I am providing his number (1-630-880-8788) save my readers money. 

About the Captain

Thomas was born in Northern Italy, but his family moved to Chicago during his grade school days so he and his brother could pursue their hockey careers.  After many family vacations in Mexico and too many hockey injuries, Thomas is now a fishing boat owner in Puerto Aventuras!  Seeing as how he speaks English, German, and Spanish fluently, he can easily answer any questions you have on Whats App when you call.

I might add, his helper Lucas speaks French and Spanish.  So only the many Russians who visit Tulum might run into a language barrier, but most other Europeans and Americans will be fine.  Lucas moved to Playa del Carmen, Mexico from Paris after falling in love with his now wife while vacationing on Tulum’s sandy beaches.  It sounds like a movie, I know.

At any rate, while Mark said Thomas could pick us up, we had rented a car (which was a great choice), so we drove 14 minutes north from Akumal to Puerto Aventuras to arrive at a gated community around 7 am.  Once passing through security (info provided by Thomas), we parked at the dock where Thomas and Lucas were waiting for us on a nice boat, complete with sonar.

Fishing in Tulum

We boarded in a little drizzle and cool breeze. Consquently, we huddled under the canopy as we hoped for improved weather.  Uniquely, this was the only day which was forecasted to be sunny, yet the other days were much nicer! The seas were rolling, but not too bad, at least for those who don’t get seasick.  Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to get to deep water, so we were not far offshore.  In fact, we could easily see the hotels along the coastline as we trolled in snaking fashion while paralleling the Yucatan peninsula.

While we weren’t in Tulum during peak fishing season, we managed one Wahoo strike. The fish took the line quickly as I shoved Tina toward the rod to take the first go at reeling it in.  Unfortunately, it got off the hook, and we never had another bite while trolling.  But that’s OK, we had plenty of other bites while actively fishing.

After a few hours of trolling, we regrouped and turned to active fishing in shallower water so we could enjoy ceviche for lunch.  Thomas and Lucas baited our hooks as we dropped the line down 100 or so feet.  It took us a little while to get the hang of setting the hook, but after great coaching from the handsome young men, we were reeling in triggerfish, red snapper, yellowtail snapper, and grouper regularly.

Of all the times I’ve been fishing in the Gulf of Mexico (which isn’t a lot), I never knew that the fish inspect the bait with the first two nibbles and the third time is typically when they bite, and it is time to set the hook!  Thomas also explained how some fish suck the bait all the way into their mouths and then release it. With such a great visual, that it was easy to hook all sorts of fish and the competition was on, Tina and Thomas vs. me and Lucas.

Each time I had a fish on the line, Lucas was yelled “Vamos Vamos” which means let’s go, let’s go. But then he warned, “tiburon” (shark). That’s when I realized he was saying hurry, hurry so the shark didn’t eat my catch. I supposed I reeled just fast enough because I didn’t get any fish taken, but I was rather slow compared to him!

In the beginning Tina had me, but as the day progressed, I passed her up and pulled in lots of other fish including some not so tasty grunts, a poisonous eel fish that finned Thomas, and a porgi.  You should have seen the boys’ eyes light up when I reeled in the porgi.  Lucas, in particular, was so excited.  It was the first time, in all his fishing, that someone had caught a porgi.  Apparently, they are really good eating and that was the catch of the day!

Making Ceviche

While we threw back most the fish after giving them a kiss, we saved a couple for homemade ceviche with mango under nicer skies, but not blissful enough for snorkeling.  We loved learning how to make the ceviche.  Thomas fileted a grouper, a triggerfish, and a snapper that Lucas marinated in lime juice for 5 minutes before adding diced onion, tomatoes, cilantro and mango.  Not only was the rainbow colored ceviche pleasing to the eye, it was delicious.  Thomas pointed out the different texture and flavor of each fish!

Some might be wondering why we didn’t filet the porgi.  Well, we saved it and a snapper to take to a restaurant in Puerto Aventuras that would grill it for us for a fee.  But given we finished the charter in the late afternoon after adding on two more hours because we were having so much fun, we wanted to head back to the hotel and weren’t ready for dinner. Aside from that, who could deny Lucas the porgi. He was like a kid in a candy store when he saw it.

On our way back to the dock, we trolled for tuna, but the big fish eluded. Regardless, we had a great time and learned so much. We even learned how the triggerfish got its name. Its dorsal fin won’t go down when pushing on it. But there is a little trigger to press below the fin and then it flattens. so cool!

Anyone who likes going out on a boat and remotely likes fishing, should charter with Thomas.  With his sonar where he has marked his previous catches, you are guaranteed to reel in something while fishing in Tulum. It could be a plastic bag or a piece of coral like we did or the big one that got away. Of the fishing I have done in Mongolia, Alaska, and in South Carolina, fishing in Tulum was the most fun! ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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