Jul 12th, 2012
Four hours into our eight hour journey across the Yucatan our cab driver pulled his tiny broken down taxi into a gas station. As I made my way to the men’s room, I briefly thought about first returning to the cab to collect my passport, travel cash and iPhone… Just in case… Figuring that our cab driver (whom Rob and I came to know as “Speedy”) seemed like a trustworthy enough fellow, I bypassed the notion and continued to the restroom for some much needed relief. As I exited the bathroom and headed over to the refueling pump, neither Speedy nor the taxi cab were anywhere to be found.
Upon realizing that all of my belongings had been jacked, my heart immediately launched into my throat and I felt the panic begin to surge through my veins. I had no clue where I was, no identification, didn’t speak the language and did not possess a dime to my name. Dumbfounded, I turned to head into the gas station to track down Rob and begin the process of collecting myself. Walking back to the station I finally glanced up from my depressed gaze in to the cracks of the pavement and looked up to see Rob doubled over in a burst of guttural laughter with the cab parked behind him. Speedy also thought the whole scene was rather hilarious as his big gold toothed smile radiated from behind the wheel. Never in my life was I so happy to see a tiny, broken down Mexican taxi cab.
We eventually made our way to the small town of Mahahual that lies on the very southeastern corner of the Yucatan, only a short distance from Belize. It is here that Joe Labore and his wife Maureen have completely renovated a beautiful, four bedroom villa called Casa Que Canta (House That Sings). Quite literally, the house does sing as a small collective of finches and songbirds weave a beautiful chorus in the main courtyard.
This classic Mexican villa sits ocean side on a supremely soft stretch of sandy beach just outside town. Spacious rooms, air conditioning, private patios and ocean vistas adorn the villa. Sandra’s exquisite home-style Mexican cooking warms the soul; while Emanuel’s special Margaritas kick the festivities off each night. Joe and his staff are experts at making their guests feel relaxed and at home.
Joe has teamed up with veteran Mexican fly fishing guide Carlos Castillo to head up his extremely diverse program. Carlos has spent years plying the waters of Chetumal bay for bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook. Anglers who are familiar with the fishery in Ascension Bay will find Chetumal be a breath of fresh air. The limited fishing pressure and remote locale of Carlos’ favorite waters mean flexible schedules, virgin flats, and opportunities for eager fish. Carlos is also a Belizean citizen, which enables him to fish the Belizean side of Chetumal Bay to offer an even greater plethora of opportunities for bonefish and baby tarpon.
Surrounding Mahahual are countless numbers of inland lakes that are fed by deep underground portals to the ocean called cenotes. Tarpon inhabit these lakes in great numbers and can offer a nice distraction from the classic flats fishing experience. These lakes are accessed with small flat bottom skiffs and are productively fished with surface and subsurface fly patterns. Blind casting techniques are standard operating procedure in the tarpon lakes as they are often tannin colored.
Adding to the diverse fishing opportunities Carlos sometimes launches a small Boston Whaler at the mouth of a local river and travels upstream to access a massive system of mangrove lagoons that are stuffed with 5lb – 15lb tarpon. Offshore options also exist as a panga sits on the beach in front of the villa and is available for trolling sessions to target barracuda, tuna and jacks. Unfortunately, our time in Mahahual was marred by bad weather. The rain came down in sheets for most of the time and the abrupt low pressure system that pounded us made the tarpon angling very difficult. We did however manage a few very nice fish in the lakes and on the Belizean side of Chetumal Bay.
The beauty of this destination relies unquestionably in its unmatched diversity. One day you’re plying the rich waters of Chetumal Bay from a Hells Bay skiff and the next you’re cruising up a river in a Whaler probing ever deeper into a vast array of entangled mangrove swamps. Carlos is a top notch guide with the knowledge and resources to produce a varied and rich fishing game plan every day. To really experience all that Mahahual has to offer, anglers should be prepared with a full array of tackle options to handle everything from blue water brutes to backwater snapper. The relative affordability of a trip to Pesca Majahual makes this destination even more attractive. Anglers will need to be prepared for 45 to 60 minute car rides each way to the boat launch on fishing days. Travel time to launch the boats is a small price to pay for the unmatched diversity of the fishing options. The warm family atmosphere, low pressured fisheries and Carlos’ expertise make a trip to Pesca Majahual an easy choice.
Rob sums up his time at Pesca Majahual appropriately when he states:
“This location remains to be the last remaining part of the Mayan Coast to be explored and fished. This was my fifth trip to that part of the coast. I’ve seen new water on each trip. The flat water on the back of the reef to the beach; Rio Uach , Rio Indio , 8-10 inland lakes , and Chetumal Bay (both Mexico and Belize) have fishing opportunities far beyond that of Espiritu Santo. Joe’s accommodations and flexibility are a refreshing experience compared to the necessary rigors of most larger lodge schedules. Carlos remains the most avid fishing guide on this coast. Anglers need to pack it all to cover this system’s variety and be prepared to whittle it down each morning when “the plan” comes together.”
My trip to the Yucatan could not have gone any better. The beauty of the land, sea and people that inhabit this corner of the world has left an indelible imprint on my soul and changed this angler to the core. The truly out-of-this-world fishing was realistically just icing on the cake. A safe, warm and hospitable Mexico is just waiting for all those with an adventurous spirit and a pesky desire to meet some of its most beautiful finned creatures up close and personal.
Please check out part 1 of my Yucatan trip report HERE.
Please check out part 2 HERE.