I traveled to Mexico on Dec 5th, 2020 after a long period stuck home in Italy during the COVID lockdown in Europe. Mexico was a logistic decision. I had to go back to the USA for work and the only way was thru Mexico. The plan was to stay there for 2 weeks and then head back to Miami and NY. I fell in love with the place and the fishery so deeply that I ended up staying for over 2 months!! Over Christmas and New Years’, it was the best decision I ever made. The place is called Punta Allen, a small fisherman village at the very end of Yucatan.


I went there to primarily target permit (or as the locals call them las Palometas). Permit are a very finicky fish to get to eat a fly. If it ever happened that a permit decided to take my fly I wanted to feel what it was like to have the most elusive and difficult creature at the end of my line.

It’s no secret permit are every fly fisherman’s dream and although I’m fairly new to the sport I have spent most of my days thinking about fishing for these amazing creatures.

Permit live up to their reputation and I’ve got to admit it has been no walk in the park. The first week the wind was not cooperative at all and I spent my days mostly spooking them. I saw tons of fish but accuracy was not an option. The wind would blow my line back or the fish would be in the most difficult spot: against sun swimming with the current etc. Then slowly, day by day, I’ve come to figure out what to do. Stay calm, and do the right strip for each situation. Of course, I could have never done it without the help of local guides (Miguel, Tiziano at Punta Allen Fishing Club, Juan, and Benny) who over the course of 2 months have become very good friends of mine.

We probably encountered hundreds of fish, I can’t even imagine counting them… there was an incredible amount of them, either in schools of 3 or 4 fish up to 100 fish together. But the ones who cruise single are usually the big mamas.

I landed 24 in over a month and a half. This is pretty impressive since I’m no pro fisherman. Most of them over 10 pounds and my biggest was over 24 pounds. I lost a few very large fish as well that would have easily been 30+.

I believe the key to permit fishing is to keep calm and keep switching flies depending on the condition. I would also suggest trying fishing for permit even if the weather conditions aren’t great. Especially if it’s a bit windy as they get way less spooky and suspicious when there is a bit of chop and scattered skies as changes of light trigger them in my opinion.

We did a mix of wade fishing and fishing from the boat. For the first 2 weeks, I was mostly fishing from the boat. Then once I was introduced to the place better, I figured out the game and started exploring the beaches and reefs around. I’ve gotta say that the diversity of fish is also incredible. As there are so many different species to target: triggerfish, bonefish, giant barracuda, etc.

We caught a few triggerfish. They are a species that is very unique. I caught them on the reef a few miles from Punta Allen, about a 20-minute quad ride along the coast. It’s quite amazing to see them tailing on the incoming tide and at the end of outgoing.

They can be more difficult than permit at times. As they aren’t as aggressive when they are hungry, it’s really all about accuracy, being very stealthy, and finding the right fish as they can be temperamental.

What is really special about catching a trigger is that it’s not only hard to get them to eat but also once you have hooked one you are only at the beginning of your trouble. They are excellent fighters and a lot of the time you will lose them trying to keep them out of holes and coral reefs. The Atlantic grey and blue trigger is one of my favorite species to target

Punta is not just an amazing fishery but an incredible place to reconnect with simple things. The locals who I feel have now accepted me have taught me so much and they are doing an excellent job preserving the biosphere. Especially during these difficult times, it has been culturally and socially therapeutical for me. I really cannot wait to be back there soon….

Article and photos from Matteo Montanari, a talented photographer, and extremely passionate fly angler. Be sure to follow him at @matteomontanariphotography. Get in touch with the Punta Allen Fishing Club here.

Bluefin Tuna on the Fly

 

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