Guests at Imanta Resort Punta de Mita can accompany chef Olivier Deboise while he shops for ingredients at a local fish market. // © 2015 Relais & Chateaux
Feature image (above): Solmar Hotels & Resorts recently introduced the Hook & Cook program at two properties, allowing guests to catch their own fish then have it prepared by resort chefs. // © 2015 Solmar Hotels & Resorts
Thanks to its 6,000-plus miles of diverse coastline, Mexico is by nature a logical place for anglers. And with an array of fishing events and new programs that make it even easier for vacationers to enjoy their catches, the nation has lots of ways to lure fishing enthusiasts.
According to the Mexico Tourism Board, some 75 species of fish inhabit the waters, including marlin, sailfish, dorado and swordfish. Nearly every region of coastline has some prize-worthy catch, with seasons and species varying.
Los Cabos bills itself as the “Marlin Capital of the World,” so it’s no surprise that the destination is big on the fishing scene. Marlin is a popular catch throughout the year, and the best-known tournaments include the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament in October and the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament in November.
Among the hoteliers that cater to lovers of fishing is Solmar Hotels & Resorts, which recently introduced a new Hook & Cook program at its Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa and Playa Grande Resort & Spa. Guests can bring their catches back to the property and hand them over to Solmar’s team of chefs, who prepare the day’s bounty in any of a variety of ways.
Also noteworthy is Esperanza Resort, an Auberge Resort in the Relais & Chateaux collection. Esperanza recently introduced a new “Sea-Viche” cooking class and fishing excursion, which includes a fishing trip in the morning and a ceviche preparation class in the afternoon.
Relais & Chateaux also connects travelers with fishing opportunities at Imanta Resort Punta de Mita in Riviera Nayarit. In addition to fishing in the waters off the coast, guests at this property can accompany chef Olivier Deboise to the fish market in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, to learn how he shops for and prepares fresh seafood delicacies.
Riviera Nayarit also hosts several competitions each year, including the International Sport Fishing Tournament of San Blas in June. Two Mexico fishing records have been set in Riviera Nayarit: one for a 184-pound razor-toothed wahoo and one for a 709-pound marlin.
In beach towns Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, sailfish average 75 to 100 pounds, making for exciting catches. May through January is the best time for blue and black marlin, while November through January is the season for dorado. November through June is ideal for yellow-knife tuna, which can weigh up to 300 pounds. Bahia La Tortuga Fishing Lodge, about an hour south of the main tourist areas, offers multiday packages that include accommodations, guided fishing excursions and meals.
Tournaments are a big deal in Manzanillo as well — it is, after all, called the sailfish capital of the world by tourism folks — with blue and black marlin and tuna among the catches. Las Hadas Golf Resort & Marina is the host hotel for the International Sailfish Competition, which takes place in November. And whatever the season, companies such as Tlaloc Tours Manzanillo help visitors year-round with boat and fishing gear rentals.
Near Cancun and on the Caribbean coast, Puerto Morelos hosts the annual Sport Fishing Tournament in May, usually with a prize of $15,000 for the first-place winner. Throughout the year, Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort in Cancun offers professional docking and marina services for fishing vessels, while tour operators, such as Kianah’s Sport Fishing Cancun, offer expeditions in search of blue and white marlin, grouper, wahoo, blackfin tuna and red snapper.
On the nearby island of Holbox, a company called VIP Holbox Experience offers fishing tours for beginners and experts alike, with the captain preparing ceviche from the catch of the day. The company’s deep-sea expeditions are designed for well-seasoned anglers.