I have many passions in life; 2 of which are scuba diving and fly fishing for bonefish. The small island of Cozumel, Mexico is famous for diving, and for good reason. Impressive coral heads, wall dives, pinacles, caves and swim throughs make this island a gem. Turtles, sharks, large eels, grouper and many other marine life inhabit these reefs, completing the dive experience.
What Cozumel is not (yet) famous for is the bonefishing!
Bonefishing In Cozumel
The bonefish population in the North Lagoon (South Lagoon is National Park, and no fishing is allowed) is healthy and the bonefish are big and strong!
I recently fished these lagoons with 3 other friends, of which 2 had never fly fished for bonefish. We all were successful at catching 4+ bonefish each, plus tarpon, snook, barracuda and a few other species.
I attribute our success to our guides, Nacho Jr. and Albert Euan, who own Bonefish Cozumel Guide Service. (Their website is spotty, but they have a strong Facebook presence.) Both guides knew the lagoon extremely well, putting us on shallow tailing bones in the morning and schools of feeding bonefish the rest of the day.
Nacho Jr. arranged for a vehicle ride from San Miguel to the boat launch. The Euan's had the boats ready to go, and after a 30 minute boat ride to the north, we arrived at the lagoon where we were greeted with many shiny tails of hungry bonefish!
As the temperature warmed, the bonefish moved from the shallows to deeper water. Nacho and Albert knew exactly where to move to, and kept us on the fish all day long!
Picking Your Fly Patterns
Cozumel bonefish have a strong preference to shrimp patterns, and I love to catch a fish on a fly pattern, then change it to see if I can catch a fish on another fly pattern. Most people don't fish like this...but I do!
The following flies work well in Cozumel for bonefish. Size 6 works well, but having some flies in size 4 is a bigger "bullseye" for the bonefish to see and pursue. Shallow water bonefishing requires a light fly (i.e. a beadchain eye) and a delicate presentation, or you will spook the fish. Once the bonefish move to deeper water, the fly needs a lead eye so that it can sink quickly.
Bonefish reacted well to a fly that is allowed to sink completely, followed by 3 quick strips, pause, and repeat.
12-15 Pound fluorocarbon Tippet tied to a 15 pound tapered leader is ideal.
Fishing For Permit In Cozumel
There are a number of Permit in these lagoons, and Nacho Jr. gets pretty excited when he spots one. You will too! Permit like crab flies, and need to sink quickly. #4 and #6 are good sizes. Here are some great options for Permit:
Cast the crab well in front of the Permit's trajectory, let the crab sink to the bottom, then strip with a slow, steady strip once the fish is within eyesight of the fly. Nacho and Albert will let you know!
Getting To Cozumel (And Where To Stay)
There are many places to stay in Cozumel, and it is easy to get to, with flights from United, American, Delta and Southwest landing in Cozumel daily. Our favorite place to stay in Cozumel is Grand Park Royal Resort. The resort features all you can eat and drink, and is very clean. The people who work there are incredibly hospitable.