Find the BEST Fishing on Isla Mujeres

By Michele Samal Kinnon

Isla Mujeres, the captivating “Island of Women” off the coast of Cancún, Mexico, is not just a tropical paradise for beach lovers; it’s also an angler’s dream come true. With crystal-clear waters, a wide array of exotic fish species, and a multitude of professional fishing charters to choose from, fishing on Isla Mujeres is one of the go-to destinations for a fishing escapade unlike any other.

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Why Choose Isla Mujeres for Fishing?

Isla Mujeres offers a range of compelling reasons for fishermen to consider it as a prime fishing destination. Isla Mujeres is located in the Yucatan channel. The Yucatan Channel is geographically significant for several reasons. It serves as a major passageway for oceanic currents, including the Gulf Stream, which flows through this channel into the Atlantic Ocean. This makes it an essential area for heat distribution and climate regulation on a global scale. 

The strong currents that flow through the Yucatan Channel serve to bring in nutrients from deeper waters, contributing to the area’s biodiversity and making it a highly productive fishing ground. However, these currents can also make for challenging fishing conditions, requiring both skill and experience to navigate.

Here are some other factors that contribute to its appeal:

Variety of Fish Species

The Yucatan channel is relatively narrow but quite deep, reaching depths of over 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) in some places. This means that Isla Mujeres is surrounded by diverse fishing locations accommodating an abundance of species ranging from sailfish and marlin to snapper, grouper, blackfin tuna and even inshore species like tarpon and bonefish. This variety can provide a full spectrum of fishing experiences, whether you are into deep-sea fishing, reef fishing, or fly fishing.

Year-Round Fishing

The island provides opportunities for fishing throughout the year. Different seasons offer different types of fish, so you can plan your trip based on what you would like to catch. Whether it’s sailfish in the early months of the year or marlin in the summer, you are likely to have a productive outing.

To see what´s biting when, see our Riviera Maya Fishing Calendar.

World-Renowned Sailfish Capital

Isla Mujeres is often referred to as one of the best places in the world to catch sailfish, especially between January and June. The waters around the island are one of the few places where anglers can experience the exhilaration of catching and releasing multiple sailfish in a single day. This is also the place to be if you are chasing the elusive Billfish Grand Slam!

Proximity to Other Fishing Spots

Isla Mujeres is close to other notable fishing destinations like Contoy Island and the waters around Cancun. This gives fishermen the chance to explore different terrains and environments, making for a more comprehensive fishing trip.

High-Quality Fishing Charters

The island is home to several experienced charter operators who offer boats that are well-equipped with the latest fishing gear and technology. Expert guides can provide invaluable local knowledge to make your fishing trip more successful.

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Stunning Scenery

Fishing is not just about the catch; it’s also about enjoying the beauty of the open water. The almost surreal turquoise seas, vibrant reefs, and beautiful sunsets make for an unforgettable experience.

Additional Activities

Isla Mujeres offers more than just fishing. The island is a great place for the whole family with activities like snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and beach relaxation available when you’re not out on the water.

Easy Accessibility

Just a short ferry ride from Cancun, getting to Isla Mujeres is relatively simple. This makes it an easily accessible fishing destination for both local and international travelers.

Sustainability Efforts

The water surrounding Isla Mujeres also have ecological significance, serving as a migratory route for various marine species, including sharks and rays. It’s an area of interest for marine biologists and ecologists studying marine corridors and the movement of oceanic species.

The local Isla Mujeres fishing charter companies that we recommend engage in sustainable fishing practices. Catch and release is mandated for certain species, to ensure that the rich fishing grounds around the island remain abundant for future generations.

Culinary Delights

After a day of fishing, what could be better than having your catch of the day cooked up to order in a local restaurant? Some of the best Isla Mujeres restaurants will cook your catch for you, offering a farm-to-table experience like no other. On Isla Mujeres, you can enjoy some of the best food in the region!

Fishing on isla mujeres. Have your catch prepared for you in a local restaurant

For these reasons and more, Isla Mujeres stands out as a top-tier fishing destination for both amateur and experienced fishermen alike.

Top 10 Tips for Anglers – How to Choose the Best Isla Mujeres Fishing Charter

Whether you’re a first-timer eager to learn or an experienced angler looking for a new challenge, the top fishing charters provide the experience, expertise and equipment to suit your needs. You’ll also get tips from seasoned local captains who know the waters like the back of their hand.

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These are our top 10 tips to help you book the best fishing charter on Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

1. Determine Your Fishing Style

Decide what type of fishing experience you’re looking for. Whether it’s deep-sea fishing, fly fishing, or bottom fishing, knowing your preferred style will help you narrow down your charter options. The fishing charters we recommend all offer a variation of the following:

  • Deep Sea Fishing For a deep sea fishing trip, you will need a minimum of 6 hours in order to travel further out to find sport fish such as sailfish, white marlin, blue marlin, dorado, tuna, kingfish, wahoo and more. For avid anglers, these trips can be extended to 8 hours for an additional charge.
  • Bay Fishing This is a 4-hour trip during which you will head to the best fishing spots in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres.  You can choose between bottom fishing or trolling. The boats will be equipped with both light and heavy tackle. Here you will find barracudas, grouper, snapper, yellowtail, king mackerel among others. Most bay fishing trips offer you the chance to make a snorkel stop along the way. These trips are recommended for families and people wanting to stay closer to shore in a calmer water area.
  • Fly Fishing The duration of an Isla Mujeres fly fishing trip can vary, but half-day (4-hour) and full-day (8-hour) excursions are the most common. Fly fishing on Isla Mujeres is primarily conducted in the shallow flats around the island and off the coast of Isla Blanca. Most charters provide all the necessary equipment, but if you prefer to use your gear, ensure it’s suitable for the species you’re targeting which can be tarpon, bonefish, permit, snook and barracuda.

2. Research and Read Reviews

Look for online reviews and ratings to get an idea of customer satisfaction. Personal recommendations from friends or family can also be invaluable.

3. Check for Experience and Credentials

Ensure that the charter has experienced captains and crew who are knowledgeable about local waters. Licenses and certifications are signs of a reputable operation. All of the Isla Mujeres fishing charters we recommend are fully licensed and insured.

4. Consider the Boat Size and Amenities

Depending on whether you’re going solo, with family, or in a group, choose a boat that fits your needs in terms of size, amenities, and comfort level. 4 hours is a long time to be out in choppy water in a panga with no WC. Depending on your group, you may want to spend the extra money for a fishing boat with a head and an air-conditioned cabin.

5. Ask About Equipment

Make sure the charter provides all necessary fishing gear and safety equipment. Most of the professional charter boats will be fitted with advanced technology like GPS and fish-finding radar. Some even offer underwater cameras to capture your experience.

While all of the Isla Mujeres fishing boats that we recommend supply all the equipment required, if you are an experienced angler accustomed to traveling with your own rod and reel setup, ask if you can bring your own.

6. Clarify Costs and Inclusions

Get a clear breakdown of the costs involved and what’s included in the package. This should cover things like the charter fee, licenses, equipment, bait, and any additional charges like cleaning and packaging your catch. You may want to clarify if food and beverages will be provided on the trip or if you should bring your own.

Depending on your catch, the crew may offer to clean and filet your fish onboard and make you a delicious ceviche!!

7. Inquire About Catch Policies

“Catch and Release” regulations do exist here in Mexico and they are mandated for certain species. Billfish like sailfish and marlin are catch-and-release targets to promote conservation, However, most of your catch you should be able to keep and enjoy your own fish back at your condo or villa!  

Even if a species is not strictly catch-and-release, there may be size and bag limits that dictate how many fish you can keep. Make sure you’re clear on the charter’s policy beforehand.

8. Check Availability and Timing

Prime fishing seasons can book up quickly, especially if you’re targeting specific species. Make sure to inquire about availability well in advance and confirm the best times to go for the fish you are targeting. To see what´s biting when, see our Riviera Maya Fishing Calendar.

9. Know the Cancellation Policy

Weather conditions can be unpredictable, especially during hurricane season. Make sure you understand the charter’s cancellation policy, including any potential refunds or rescheduling options.

10. Prioritize Sustainability

Choose a charter that practices ethical and sustainable fishing to ensure the conservation of marine resources for future generations. Whether mandated by law or not, it’s good practice to use circle hooks and other equipment that minimizes harm to the fish, making catch and release more effective.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can make an informed choice and set yourself up for an unforgettable fishing experience on Isla Mujeres.

Recommended Fishing Guides/Charters in Isla Mujeres

These charters have earned great reviews from anglers and will offer you great value. The captains are knowledgeable and professional and are sure to put you on fish. 

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Types of Fishing on Isla Mujeres

Deep Sea Fishing

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-packed adventure, deep-sea fishing on Isla Mujeres is your ticket to the thrill of a lifetime. This popular angling method takes you into the azure expanses of the Caribbean, where you can encounter formidable game fish. Equipped with heavy-duty tackle, you’ll pit your skills against magnificent bill fish like sailfish and marlin, as well as other powerful species such as kingfish, wahoo, and mahi-mahi.

Fly Fishing

For those seeking a more tranquil, yet equally captivating experience, fly fishing on Isla Mujeres is a must-try. This angling style is especially popular in the island’s shallower waters and the expansive flats near Isla Blanca. Whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned fly fisherman, these flats offer a rich playground teeming with elusive species like tarpon, bonefish, and permit.

Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing on Isla Mujeres offers a unique thrill—the excitement of not knowing what will bite next. This angling method allows you to interact with the underwater realm in a unique way, offering chances to hook some of the most delectable fish the Caribbean has to offer. Whether it’s red snapper, yellowtail snapper, mutton grouper, or roosterfish, these delicious species are often found in the shallower stretches of the Mesoamerican Reef surrounding the island.

Shore/Surf Fishing

Fishing on Isla Mujeres isn’t just for those with boats; the island also offers plenty of opportunities for shore, dock, and pier fishing. Surf fishing is particularly productive during early morning or late evening hours when the beaches are less crowded. Springtime stands out as the most favorable season for surf fishing in the area.

One notable location that lures many shore anglers is the area between El Milagro and Soggy Peso. Situated in a bay shielded by the protective reef, this spot provides a haven for a variety of fish species.

Isla Mujeres Sport Fishing: What to Catch When

Fishing on Isla Mujeres is nothing short of spectacular, but to maximize your catch, timing is everything. Whether you’re an avid angler or a beginner, knowing the optimal seasons and times of day for fishing can significantly elevate your experience.

Best Season for Fishing on Isla Mujeres

For prime fishing on Isla Mujeres, consider planning your trip between January and July or from November to December. These months are particularly fruitful for targeting a range of species. The most common fish found during this time are bonefish, bonito, king fish, mahi-mahi, white marlin, permit, Atlantic sailfish, Spanish mackerel, tarpon, and wahoo.

Targeting Specific Fish Species

The best time to fish on Isla Mujeres can also vary depending on the specific species you’re interested in. Different fish have unique feeding patterns and behaviors, making certain times of the day more promising for particular species.

Seasonal Trends: Navigating High and Off-Seasons

By paying attention to both seasonal and daily trends, you can make the most of your fishing expedition on Isla Mujeres. 

High Season: The Prime Times

The high season for fishing on Isla Mujeres typically extends from December through April. These months are the prime time for both tourists and angling aficionados, making it a prime time for trophy fishing. Given the high demand, it’s advisable to book your fishing charter well in advance to secure your spot.

Off-Season: The Hidden Gem

Though the high season boasts larger catches and more angler traffic, don’t overlook the allure of the off-season. Fishing on Isla Mujeres between May and November can offer a more peaceful, intimate experience. The quieter waters during these months are often just as rewarding, allowing you to connect more deeply with the ocean and its inhabitants.

What´s Biting When? 

Check out our breakdown of the most popular target fish species and the best months to find them in the waters around Isla Mujeres.


  • Best Time: January to June
  • Fishing Method: Trolling with skirted ballyhoo or artificial lures.
  • Note: Known for their acrobatic jumps and high-speed runs, sail fish offer one of the most thrilling angling experiences.

Blue Marlin

  • Best Time: April to September
  • Fishing Method: Trolling with large artificial lures or natural baits like mackerel or bonito.
  • Note: Blue Marlin are among the most iconic big-game fish, known for their power and size.

White Marlin

  • Best Time: April to August
  • Fishing Method: Trolling with smaller lures or natural baits.
  • Note: Slightly smaller than their blue counterparts, white marlin are equally exciting to catch and are known for their agility.


  • Best Time: November to February, but also found year-round
  • Fishing Method: High-speed trolling with heavy lures or rigged ballyhoo.
  • Note: Wahoo are incredibly fast swimmers and are prized for both their speed and their excellent table fare.

Dorado (Mahi-Mahi)

  • Best Time: May to September
  • Fishing Method: Trolling with small to medium lures or drifting with live or cut bait.
  • Note: Known for their vibrant colors and acrobatic jumps, Dorado are both fun to catch and delicious to eat.

Yellowfin Tuna

  • Best Time: April to August
  • Fishing Method: Trolling with feathered jigs, cedar plugs, or live bait.
  • Note: Yellowfin Tuna are known for their strength and endurance, often requiring a lengthy fight to bring in.


  • Best Time: Year-round, especially in winter
  • Fishing Method: Casting or trolling with shiny lures like spoons and plugs.
  • Note: Barracuda are fast and aggressive, providing an exhilarating fishing experience.


  • Best Time: Year-round
  • Fishing Method: Bottom fishing with cut bait or jigging in shallow waters near reefs and underwater structures.
  • Note: Snapper species vary in size and fight, but they are generally known for their delicious taste.


  • Best Time: Year-round
  • Fishing Method: Bottom fishing with heavy tackle and live or cut bait.
  • Note: Groupers are often found near underwater structures and are known for their ability to pull hard and seek shelter.


  • Best Time: Year-round but peak in summer
  • Fishing Method: Light tackle casting or fly-fishing in shallower waters.
  • Note: Known as the “Silver King,” tarpon are prized for their impressive jumps and incredible strength.


  • Best Time: Year-round but most productive in the summer months
  • Fishing Method: Fly fishing is the most popular method for catching bonefish. Light tackle and small jigs or shrimp imitations are commonly used. Sight-casting in shallow flats areas is a common technique.
  • Note: Bonefish are known for their speed and endurance, making them a favorite among fly fishermen.


  • Best Time: Year-round, with peaks depending on local baitfish availability
  • Fishing Method: Trolling with small lures or feathers is effective. Light to medium tackle is typically used. They will also take live or cut bait when drifting or anchored.
  • Note: Although not as prestigious as tuna or marlin, bonito put up a good fight and are often caught for bait or just for fun.

Jack Crevalle

  • Best Time: Year-round
  • Fishing Method: Casting with topwater plugs or trolling with spoons and lures can be effective. Jack Crevalle are also taken on live bait and cut bait. They are often found in schools, usually near the surface.
  • Note: Known for their fighting ability, Jack Crevalle offer a strong pull on medium to light tackle.

To get a more complete guide to find out what´s biting when, see our Riviera Maya Fishing Calendar.

Night Fishing on Isla Mujeres

Night fishing is possible around Isla Mujeres and can offer an incredible fishing experience. Given the unique challenges and considerations of night fishing, it’s highly recommended to go with a licensed guide or charter service experienced in night fishing for the safest and most rewarding experience.

What You Can Expect to Catch

  • Snapper: Species like yellowtail and mutton snapper are often more active during the night and can be caught bottom fishing near reefs or structures.
  • Grouper: Like snapper, grouper are also more active during the night and can be targeted in similar habitats.
  • Squid: Squid fishing can be particularly rewarding during the night, especially when using specialized squid jigs or lures.
  • Shark: Some species of shark become more active at night and can be targeted using heavier tackle and larger baits.
  • Tarpon: In shallower waters and near light sources like docks, tarpon can be active during the night.
  • Barracuda: While generally more active during the day, barracuda can also be caught at night, especially near light sources that attract baitfish.
  • Other Reef Fish: Species like grunts, porgies, and others may also be more active at night near underwater structures.

Techniques and Gear

  • Light Sources: Underwater lights or floating lanterns can be used to attract plankton, which in turn attracts baitfish and predator fish.
  • Bait: Live or cut bait is often used for bottom fishing, while lures can also be effective, especially those that are luminous or reflective.
  • Tackle: Light to medium tackle is generally suitable for most species, though heavier tackle may be needed for larger predators like sharks.   

 Always check local regulations and guidelines, as some areas may have restrictions on night fishing.

Isla Mujeres Fishing and Hurricane Season

Fishing on Isla Mujeres can be significantly impacted by storms and hurricanes. Tropical storms are most common during the Atlantic hurricane season which runs officially from June 1 to November 30. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • During storms and hurricanes, it is generally unsafe to venture out on the water. Fishing charters will cancel trips if there is an impending storm or if conditions are deemed hazardous. If the Harbormaster closes the ports, no boats will be allowed out and all trips will be canceled.
  • Storms can affect the availability of marinas, boat ramps, and other facilities. They can also disrupt transportation to and from the island, affecting your fishing plans.
  • Storms can cause damage to fishing gear, boats, and other infrastructure, leading to the possibility of canceled or postponed trips.
  • Frequent storms during hurricane season can disrupt typical fish migration patterns. This could mean that some species may not be as readily available as they usually are during certain months. Storm currents can move baitfish around, which in turn can affect the location and behavior of predator fish.
  • Storms stir up the water, leading to decreased visibility and changing water temperatures, which can also affect fish behavior. Fish may move to deeper waters or different locations in search of more stable conditions. After a storm, it may require some time and local knowledge to find where the fish have moved.
  • While storms can create challenges, they can also lead to opportunities. The mixing of water layers often brings nutrients to the surface, which can actually attract baitfish and subsequently predator fish, potentially creating excellent fishing conditions once the storm has passed and it’s safe to go out.

If you are planning to book a fishing charter it is crucial to stay updated on weather conditions, especially during hurricane season, and to be flexible with your plans if you can. If you’re planning a fishing trip to Isla Mujeres during this period, it may be beneficial to purchase travel insurance that covers cancellations due to weather events. 

What About the Whale Sharks?

Whale sharks are one of the marine wonders that make the waters surrounding Isla Mujeres so unique. These gentle giants are the largest living fish species and are known for their filter-feeding habits, consuming plankton and small fish.

Best Times to Encounter Whale Sharks Around Isla Mujeres

The annual migration of the whale sharks, who come to feed in the nutrient-rich waters off the Yucatan typically between mid-May and mid-September. However, the official season for organized encounters is from June to August 22 (2023) and this is the only time it is permitted to swim with the Whale Sharks.

Many professional Isla Mujeres fishing charter boats also offer Whale Shark tours during the season. If you have never had the thrilling experience of swimming with Whale Sharks, Isla Mujeres is a really good place to do it!

The boats depart early in the morning, taking participants a few miles off the coast where the whale sharks are most frequently sighted. The arrivals of the pods are carefully monitored by environmental authorities and there are strict rules in place to protect them.

While in the water, it’s essential to maintain a respectful distance from the whale sharks, avoiding direct contact or anything that may disturb them. Despite their massive size, whale sharks are docile and pose no threat to humans. However, it’s important to follow all guidelines and instructions from your tour operators to ensure both your safety and that of the whale sharks.

Important Notes about Swimming with Whale Sharks

  1. Sustainability: Due to the popularity of these encounters, it’s crucial to choose a responsible and eco-friendly tour operator who follows ethical guidelines. Overcrowding and irresponsible behavior can be harmful to these incredible animals.
  2. Snorkeling Gear: Most tours provide snorkeling gear, though you can bring your own if you prefer. Scuba diving with whale sharks is not permitted in this region to minimize stress on the animals.
  3. Photography: While capturing this moment on camera or video is irresistible, flash photography is generally discouraged as it can startle the animals.
  4. Regulations and Guidelines: There are rules regarding how many boats and swimmers can be in the water with the whale sharks, designed to protect these gentle giants. Make sure your tour operator adheres to these regulations.
  5. Booking in Advance: Due to the popularity of these tours during the peak season, it’s advisable to book your Isla Mujeres Whale Shark tour well in advance.

Experiencing the grace and grandeur of whale sharks is one of the most magical activities one can enjoy around Isla Mujeres, offering a truly once-in-a-lifetime encounter with nature at its most awe-inspiring.

Best Fishing Spots near Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres and Cancun fishing trips generally will specify an area where the boat will target for fishing. Here are five top fishing areas around Isla Mujeres and what you can generally expect to find there:

Sailfish Triangle

  • Location: Waters north and east of Isla Mujeres in the Yucatan channel.
  • Fish: Most famous for sailfish but also a good area for marlin, wahoo, dorado (mahi-mahi), and tuna.
  • Best Time: January through June, especially for sailfish.

The Drop-off

  • Location: Waters to the east of the island where the sea floor dramatically drops.
  • Fish: Big game fish like blue marlin, white marlin, and sailfish. Also possible to catch wahoo and black fin tuna.
  • Best Time: April through August for marlin; January through June for sailfish.

Punta Sur Reef

  • Location: South of the island, near Punta Sur.
  • Fish: Snapper, grouper, yellow tail snapper, and other reef fish.
  • Best Time: Year-round, although some species have peak seasons.

Contoy Island

  • Location: North of Isla Mujeres, near Contoy Island.
  • Fish: Barracuda, snapper, grouper, king mackerel.
  • Best Time: Year-round, but particularly good in the winter months for barracuda.

Isla Blanca

  • Location: In the lagoons and flats north of Isla Mujeres and towards the mainland, off the coast of Cancun.
  • Fish: Bonefish, permit, tarpon, and snook.
  • Best Time: Year-round but most productive in the summer months.

Please note that Mexico’s fishing regulations, including seasons and bag limits, are subject to change and should be checked before planning any fishing trips. Always adhere to local laws and guidelines to maintain the sustainability of these rich fishing grounds.

When you decide to book a sport fishing boat on Isla Mujeres, don’t just go for any charter. Aim for the best to truly experience what the island has to offer. 

Booking the right Isla Mujeres fishing charter ensures a seamless adventure from start to finish and gives you the best opportunity to get “fish on”. 

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If you have any questions about this information, please feel free to contact us

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About the author

Michele Samal Kinnon

Despite the strong reservations of family and friends, in 2004 I moved from the United States to Mexico with my young family. Since then, I have made the Riviera Maya my home. I have raised two remarkable children here. I have celebrated amazing successes, made countless mistakes, and in the process, fallen in love with this beautiful country.