classic sight fishing; it can be extremely exciting and very productive, especially on the overcast days that make sight fishing difficult. Snook often suspend in the shadows of overhanging mangroves, ambushing their unsuspecting prey. Tarpon swim in and out of the mangrove roots, flushing and attacking baitfish. Their explosive strikes are often startling, and the next move for the angler is to turn a determined fish away from their mangrove sanctuary. Flats fishing guides have tremendous eyesight, spotting fish in seemingly impossible conditions. When sight fishing becomes difficult it’s critical to work with your guide. You may not see the fish, but he does. Follow his directions for casting and retrieving your fly during challenging conditions, and you will increase your success.
Winter (January and February):
While snow and ice line the banks of your favorite river in Montana, you can fly south to the Yucatan and wet wade the flats in comfort. The occasional cold front crossing North America may still send a chill down from the north, but the water temperature on flats warms up quickly in the tropical sun, and the bite after the front can be off the charts. Snook warm themselves on the flats on sunny afternoons, and permit eat crabs and mantis shrimp like it’s their last supper.
Spring (March, April and May):
One of the most predictable seasons on the Yucatan Peninsula, with long sunny days and a shift towards the typical south east wind pattern. The cold fronts have all but disappeared, and if they do pass through, they are typically short lived. The warm south-east trade winds are the norm with sunny, clear-sky days, perfect for sight fishing. All of the flats fishes are fat and sassy by now. The permit are happy and are available in schools, singles and doubles.
This is saltwater flats fishing, and there will be wind. But please remember, the wind is your friend. It’s much easier to present your fly to a fish in skinny water when the surface is lightly ruffled by the wind, than to land a fly in front of a bonefish or permit in slick glassy conditions. If this is your first time to the flats, you will significantly increase your success by taking a casting lesson from an instructor who has saltwater experience, and practicing your double haul before the trip. This is a game of accuracy, and you should be able to place your fly on a dinner plate at forty feet in the wind with three false casts.
Spring is the most popular time for saltwater flats destinations, and making your reservations well in advance is strongly suggested.
Summer (June, August and September):
Summer can be some of the best fishing of the year, with lots of daylight, consistent water temperatures, and generally mild south east winds. The bonefish and permit are feasting on the flats with far fewer anglers on the water. Permit in this region are in their post spawning phase during August and September, and anglers often post their highest success rates for this notoriously finicky gamefish during these months.
There can be strong winds, rain and clouds associated with localized tropical storm cells, but it usually lasts only a short time, quickly returning to light winds and sunshine. Hurricane season officially begins June first and continues through November. With modern forecasting methods, we will never be surprised by a hurricane. They begin to be tracked off the coast of Africa, monitored twenty four hours a day as they move to the west. We will always know well in advance if a hurricane threatens, and will take appropriate actions as needed. Trip insurance is always advised, especially during the summer season.
Fall (October and November):
This season may be the most pleasant time of the year to fish, and the sight fishing for snook on the flats can be unbelievable. The air temperatures are very comfortable as the autumn sun slides toward the southern horizon. Sometime in mid to late October, the weather will start to change and begin to cool.
Snook spawn during the new and full moon phases in the mouths of bays and passes during June, July and August. Their post spawning phase sends them hungry and feeding on the flats of Esb. It’s not uncommon to find them in small schools on the flats, sunning themselves in very shallow water.
There have been relatively few anglers on the waters and the fish are comfortable. The weather is the real key to this season. The fish are willing and the weather is good, and the fishing is great.