The Ultimate Guide to Deep Sea Fishing in Cancún
Aug 25, 2021 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Are you thinking of a holiday in the Caribbean? The Riviera Maya has it all! In Cancún, life revolves around the water with beaches, water sports, and even parties out on the open seas. But one of the most exciting activities during your vacation here is a Cancún deep sea fishing adventure. 

An aerial view of a marina in Cancún with turquoise and blue seas and a large hotel building in the background

The crystal clear waters of the Caribbean are calling you to explore their riches. Get ready for plenty of action and even greater rewards. You can go after some of the most sought-after creatures, not only in this part of the world, but across the planet.

Sure, you may need to go 20+ miles offshore to find the best bite, but that’s just what you’d expect in the Gulf when going for Red Snapper. And there’s far more than that on offer here! In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the prime species you can target, how to go about landing them, and more. By the time you’re done reading, we’re sure you’ll be getting ready to book that dream vacation!

Top Cancún Deep Sea Fishing Catches

Before deciding on casting your line anywhere, the first thing you need to know is what you’ll be targeting. Cancún holds a wealth of species inshore and on the reefs. But the deep seas hold the real jewels in the crown. Here’s our pick the cream of the crop…

Wahoo

An angler holds a large Wahoo caught in Cancún

Often referred to as every angler’s “favorite bycatch,” Wahoo’s reputation has been growing in recent years. That’s especially the case in Mexico, where captains and anglers love to take on these feisty creatures. They’ll run away with your line at a speedy pace, so get ready for a serious fight to hook ‘em aboard. And the best news is, they swim in small numbers, so there’s always the chance of another one around the corner!

These creatures are unfairly overlooked for their table fare qualities, we think. But locals in Cancún know exactly how to make the most of ‘em. Head back to shore with a Wahoo and the prospect of a fish taco will be just what you need after a day working those muscles!

Mahi Mahi

A smiling angler in sunglasses holds a brightly-colored Mahi Mahi on a Cancún deep sea fishing trip

Unlike its companion, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi is well-known all over the world for its taste. However, serious anglers often sneer at those who target these creatures. We can’t understand why. It sure isn’t for their propensity to fight nor their legendary taste, that’s for sure!

Mahi grow to impressive sizes in the Caribbean, and their color only adds to the impression they’ll leave on you. They’re a true all-round fish who’ll make you work hard to reel ‘em in, give you a great snap for the photo album, and a delicious dinner to boot. Just like with Wahoo, you’ll get to enjoy the well-earned fruits of your labor after your workout. 

Tuna

A family smiles while holding a Tuna caught on a Cancún deep sea fishing trip

If there was any doubt over the first two species on our list, nothing can knock Tuna off its perch as one of the world’s most sought-after creatures. Their meat qualities need no introduction and you may be surprised to know that they’re also impressive fighters. Oh, and they grow huge! That means one thing – you’ll need to work hard for your dinner.

When deep sea fishing in Cancún, there’s the chance of coming across a number of these beasts, with Skipjack, Albacore, Blackfin, Yellowfin, and monster Bluefin stealing the show. Get ready for year-round fun and even better rewards as you go after these prized fish. Again, you’ll be made to work hard, as they promise to dive deep with your bait once hooked. But that just makes the taste of success even sweeter.

Sailfish

Four smiling anglers hold a large Sailfish caught fishing in Cancún

Leaving the meat behind, let’s get into the serious business of game fishing. Sailfish are majestic creatures – possibly the most impressive fish in the entire ocean. And there are few better places in the world to go after them than the Caribbean. 

Not only can you find them in spades out of Cancún, but they also grow to bigger-than-usual sizes. They promise a serious battle, fighting for every inch of your line. That makes the incredible photo opportunity when you hook one aboard not only impressive to your friends and family, but also well-deserved when you look back for years to come. 

Marlin

A man and a woman hold a Marlin aboard a deep sea fishing charter in Cancún

Staying with the Billfish family, the next species on our list is a real bucket list fish. The holy grail of deep sea fishing, almost, Marlin are another level. You’ll want some experience with a rod and reel before taking on one of these, as they, not only run away with your line, not only grow to huge sizes, but also even leap out of the water in an attempt to get off your line.

Get ready for all your senses to be wowed when you take on these beauties. And yes, we mean beauties plural! Blue and White Marlin are available in these waters, giving you the extra chance of landing that catch you’ve always dreamed of. Time your visit right, and you could catch both along with a Sailfish, completing a Billfish Grand Slam!

And More!

Two anglers hold two Groupers each on the dock after a deep sea fishing trip in Cancún

That’s just the pick of the bunch when it comes to deep sea fishing in Cancún. There’s plenty more where they came from. On your way out to the offshore hunting grounds, you can encounter plenty of Snappers, Barracudas, Amberjacks, and Kingfish. Once you get to the serious deep spots, you’ll find some even more elusive creatures.

Swordfish and deepwater Groupers are the most popular catches, as they offer the best pound-for-pound action, and provide plenty of delicious meat. You’ll need to utilize a fishing method called deep dropping (more on that later), as you work all the muscles in your body to land what may just be the tastiest fish you’ll ever eat. 

When to Go Deep Sea Fishing in Cancún

An aerial view of Cancún with a beach and the ocean on the right hand side and bays on the left

So you know what you can catch, but what about when you can catch them? As you’re probably aware, Cancún boasts great weather year-round, meaning there’s never really a bad time to come. This also means that the waters are suitable for a number of different creatures right through the year, giving you the chance of a productive day out whenever you come.

Tuna and Wahoo are generally available year-round, but the best action takes place in Spring. From March through July, Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and Sailfish show up, meaning that the fishing action is off the scale. Reports of boats landing over 100 Sails in a day are not uncommon – although we’re not quite sure how anyone’s muscles could take it!

This is also when the weather is at its best too. And the clear skies make for calm waters, meaning it’s all go. Cancún has only suffered two hurricanes in the last 30 years, so you won’t need to worry about those. But if you are being extra cautious, the Caribbean’s storm season lasts from the end of summer through fall, so it may be best to avoid traveling then. 

How to Go Deep Sea Fishing in Cancún

We mentioned that you’ll need a special technique to land some of the deepwater creatures, but what about some of the other methods you’ll be using on your Cancún deep sea fishing adventure? In this section, we’ll run through the most popular ways of casting your line and hooking that prized fish.

Trolling

Trolling lines trail behind a boat with the sea in the background on a sunny day

The bread and butter of offshore fishing, trolling is when you spread multiple lines in the water as you drive around. With multiple lines come more bites, so it’s a very effective method of enticing fish onto your bait. 

Speaking of the bait, you’ll drag it around in a swimming motion, mimicking the actions of actual fish. That means that your target species is more likely to be tricked into believing that it’s the real deal. You can use dead or artificial baits to lure your prey, as you kick back enjoying the open waters, before leaping into action when you hear the reels screech. That means one thing – fish on!

Bottom Fishing

If you’re near the reefs or any sort of structure, then chances are you’ll be trying your hand at bottom fishing. This technique involves dropping your line to the bottom of the sea to attract creatures who feed down there. You’ll want to also try to mimic the favorite fish of the species you\re trying to target, so dragging it along the floor or jigging can be an effective technique.

You’ll most likely be targeting Groupers, Snappers, and Amberjacks with this technique, as they like to feed around structures. This may take place on your way out to the deep sea fishing grounds in Cancún, or around some offshore islands. Unless, that is, you’re trying our next technique.

Deep Dropping

A deep-dropping rod hangs off the side of a fishing boat offshore from Cancún

While deep dropping is effectively a form of bottom fishing, it usually requires some specialist equipment. After all, you could be hunting in waters up to 2,000 feet deep, so you’ll at least need a longer line than usual! But that’s not all, as it takes some strength to reel in creatures from that far down, you could use some electronic rods. Although purists and iron pumpers do try it manually!

Swordfish and deepwater Groupers will be the prime target when fishing at these depths in Cancún. These creatures need no introduction, as they’re known for their meat qualities and willingness to put up a fight. As we said before, that makes the taste of success even sweeter!

Fly Fishing

Three anglers aboard a boat, with one holding a Sailfish in the water by the bill and another holding a fly fishing line

Now, you may be surprised to see fly fishing included on a list of deep water fishing techniques. Yes, this art of catching fish is usually reserved for wild mountain streams, but adventurous anglers will know that there’s nothing quite like big game fishing offshore.

As we mentioned with trolling, many of your target species like to feed close to the surface, and flies are a good way to entice the bite of these hungry beasts. Sailfish, in particular, are popular targets on the fly. But you’ll need an incredible amount of strength to reel ‘em in. This method is strictly reserved for the more advanced among you, so do you think you have what it takes?

Cancún Deep Sea Fishing Regulations

An infographic with the Mexican flag, a picture of a boat and text stating "Cancún Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a blue background

Before you head off on your offshore voyage, you’ll want to make sure you’re fishing within the law. Fishing from a boat in Mexico requires you to have a fishing license. While some charter operators may cover it for you for a nominal fee, it’s always worth checking beforehand, as you can always get your own from the GOB.

When it comes to restrictions on the fish themselves, Mexico is quite lax. While many captains may prefer to release Billfish, it’s not mandatory. However, only one Billfish a day can be kept, and that takes up five of your quota of 10 fish per day. Among almost all other fish, you can only keep five of each species, but that’s plenty if you want a tasty treat!

Anything else?

There are just a couple of other things you ought to consider before heading off to battle the fish of your dreams. First of all, we’re sure you’ll want to keep some of the tasty creatures you’ll be targeting, but policies vary from charter to charter. Often, the captain and mate may keep the catch or at least split it with you. Be sure to clear this up before traveling to avoid any awkward situations at the end of your trip. 

You should also make sure to bring plenty of drinks and snacks – in the event that your captain doesn’t provide them. You’ll need at least a full day on the water, so it’s important to stay refreshed and energized. Shoes with good grip are also advised. After all, you’ll be doing battle with a monster possibly triple your size. Anything to help you stay on board is welcome!

And You’re Good to Go!

Coloured letters spell out Cancún as the sun sets behind the sea in the background

They say the party never stops in Cancún and that’s true of the deep sea fishing action, too. Prized fish await you in the pristine blue waters, with plenty of charters ready to take you offshore. Come and make the most of your Caribbean adventure and land the fish of a lifetime!

Have you ever been deep sea fishing in Cancún? How was it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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