Jul 22nd, 2014
The Sian Ka’an biosphere preserve on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula was established in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site one year later. This vast federally protected preserve extends along the eastern coast of the Yucatan from Tulum to just south of Espiritu Santo bay. The area encompasses some 3200 square kilometers of the Yucatan’s most pristine habitat, and rich saltwater environs.
Undoubtedly, the most famous portion of this incredible habitat for saltwater anglers remains Ascension Bay. This rich 12 square mile saltwater playground draws thousands of fly anglers per year hoping to tangle with a cornucopia of hard charging saltwater critters such as permit, bonefish, tarpon, snook, jack crevalle and barracuda to name just a few. These waters remain some of the most productive in the world for a multi-species thrill and accordingly a vast array of lodges, outfitters, villas and hacienda’s service guests that mainly hail from the U.S.
Fish Do Not Own Calendars
Every year we see the same pattern exist with regard to the timing of trips to Ascension Bay and anglers looking to take advantage of this fantastic fishery. Clients clamber for dates at various lodges during the prime time window from March through May. These months are highly sought after partly because the weather, for the most part, remains consistently good and party because this is when it’s easy for folks to get away. Kids are still in school, winter is subsiding and understandably anglers are ready to travel to someplace warm. These months also mean anglers pay prime time rates, can struggle to find availability, and consistently present flies to fish that are seeing a lot of pressure. Fish on the flats at this time can also be affected by a substantial increase in boat traffic from guides, eco-tours and locals. Guides may struggle to get their pick of the best flats and the potential exists that you may end up with second or third choice water at times. Luckily, fish do not have calendars and are just as hungry in April as they are in July.
As June slowly rolls in and summer creeps across Ascension Bay, pressure from anglers drops off dramatically and for the better part of 4 months the bay becomes a relative ghost town. Many lodges slash rates in an attempt to keep the lights on or simply choose to close down altogether. Many times all but the most experienced and regularly booked guides have to look elsewhere for work in order to make it through the summer. This reality has everything to do with the lack of anglers, not a lack of willing fish as in the case of an Alaskan off-season for example. Meanwhile, the fish just keep on doing what they do enjoying free reign of the bay without being driven over or scared to death by flying bits of fur and feathers on a daily basis.
The two main concerns about booking a trip at this time usually fall in to one of two categories:
1. What about “hurricane season”?
The Caribbean Hurricane season runs from June – November. Whomever coined the phrase “hurricane season” certainly did a large disservice to the Caribbean tourism industry. Hurricanes are certainly a consideration, although often not for the reasons that many people seem overly concerned over. The threat of a hurricane affecting a trip only has implications in that your trip could be rescheduled, not because of a potential safety issue. Hurricanes are forecast well in advance of a dangerous situation and all of the lodges we work with offer programs to hold a credit for you in the event your trip is cancelled. Travel insurance can be purchased to cover airfare and hotels. Since 1900 a handful of powerful storms have impacted the Yucatan with severe consequences, but thankfully these events are very rare and modern forecasting tools give us plenty of notice if a storm will affect your trip. In any event, the lodge wants you nowhere near a hurricane and wisely choose instead to re-book you at a later time without penalty.
2. Isn’t the summer and fall season too hot to fish Ascension Bay?
The summer months on the Yucatan are only slightly warmer. In actuality this can be a great thing for the fishing. High temperatures tend to activate tarpon which rise to the surface more readily to breath air, making them easier to find. This time of year also gives you the greatest chance to find migratory fish in the bay as well as happy resident juvenile tarpon. There’s also less of a chance of weather from the north at this time which can really cool things off and play havoc with the fishing. Cool water on the flats is more destructive than warm water when it comes to Ascension Bay. This season plenty of weather from the north infiltrated the March – May season on the Yucatan which at times made things relatively difficult.
The reality is that most anglers booking during the highly sought after dates in April and May see average temperatures from 87 – 89 degrees while the season often deemed “way too hot” from June – September see only a slight increase from 89 – 91 degrees.
Above graph courtesy worldweatheronline.com
Advantages of the “Off-Season”
Ultimately, every season we have anglers traveling to Ascension Bay in July, August and September and very often those reports come back glowing about responsive fish, good weather and a relaxed lodge atmosphere. Anglers willing to give the “off season” a chance take advantage of some pretty enticing bullets in the pro column.
- Un-pressured flats and more responsive fish
- Rates decrease between 20% – 30% or more
- Uncrowded lodges
- Reduced airfare
- Migratory tarpon opportunities
- Your pick of top guides
If you’re willing to accept the very remote possibility of a rescheduled trip due to a hurricane and slightly higher temperatures overall, a trip to the Yucatan’s Ascension bay in the summer or fall can offer you multitudes of willing fish, greatly reduced prices, fantastic tarpon opportunities and uncrowded operations. Anglers in-the-know are taking advantage of the benefits and I encourage you to take a look at making a trip during Ascension Bay’s “off-season”.
Now is the time!
There is still plenty of time and availability to book an off-season trip for this summer and fall! Give Dylan a call at 800.552.2729 to put a trip together this summer or fall to Ascension Bay.
For a full list of our summer/fall discount programs please click HERE.