‘We may get lucky,’ the Captain of the Tequila shouts to me above the roar of marine engines. ‘It’s the end of the season but…’ He shrugs. You never know.
I’m sitting with this salty Mexican on the very top deck of a fishing smack swaying like a metronome on the crossways Caribbean Sea. The sky above is a slab of grey while the dull water below is pocked with greenish yellow swarms of stinky seaweed.
It’s hardly Hemingway.
Roughing it out on the boat
The waves jink us to the left and then to the right before wallowing the whole boat into a sickening sway. Keeping my seat is like wrestling with epilepsy and I hold on for dear life. Fishing in Cancun is a bit more intense than I thought!
If I fall in I won’t get very far… the whole stern of the Tequila bristles with fishing lines dragging silvery hunks of fish on giant hooks through the churning wake. I would become the sport if I take a tumble, so I hold on tighter to the salt-crusted rails.
Check out the video here:
Down on the deck I can see two fighting chairs, the sort you often see fat businessmen with ruddy sunburn posing in with a cigar in their mouth and a bent fishing pole between their hands. The idea is that the Tequila drags the baited hooks through the water to lure in a fish and when one takes the bait someone can get into the fighting chair and reel it in with a fishing pole.
‘Let’s try over here,’ the Captain yells and swirls the wheel to port. The sea irons out and the swaying fades away. ‘Could be fish here,’ he says and lets go of the steering wheel briefly to rub his hands together. I’ll take his word.
A fishing novice
I’m not much of a fisherman. Until I went on a fly-fishing trip in Oregon in the USA a year or so ago I had never actually caught a fish. Now here I am, fishing in Cancun, scanning the horizon of the sea like some old salt, waiting for a mighty marlin or a barracuda to pull on the heavy-duty lines being dragged by the Tequila.
Sport fishing is one of the big attractions on the Yucatan coast and the villages around Cancun offer some of the best action around. As part of our trip to TBEX, a huge blogging conference in Cancun, Carmen and I got the opportunity to try it out on a press trip.
Usually press trips involve a lot of booze, guided tours and hotel rooms but this one is very much action packed. Later in the day we’re going to visit some cenotes, caverns filled with water, but to warm up we’re hunting big game in the deep blue sea.
Waiting for a bite
I’m joined up top now by Carmen, our mate in blogging Jeremy, and Joanna, a glamorous PR rep from the Cancun Tourism Board hosting our trip. We gossip and chat and kill time but the minutes tick by very, very slowly. Fishing in Cancun requires a lot of patience, and a boatful of travel bloggers keen for a story isn’t a place where that virtue is found in abundance!
I’m almost nodding off to sleep thanks to our early morning start when a yell sounds down below. ‘We’re on!’ The Captain’s assistant is running about on the deck, feeding fishing line into a long pole that’s bending so far down to the water it looks like it might drag us all with it. ‘Who’s going to try?’ the assistant bellows and Jeremy puts his hand up. Quick as a flash he slithers down the ladder and takes a seat in the fighting chair.
‘Pull him in!’ the assistant yells. ‘Reel as fast as you can!’
Hauling in a catch
Jeremy yanks the pole back and reels with all his might. He grits his teeth and turns the handle over and over. There’s something very big on the end of the line. The fishing pole is whipping around like mad and the closer Jeremy brings the behemoth to the boat, the more it fights.
‘Come on mate!’ I yell as all the others clap and cheer. Finally the thing comes in close enough and the assistant hooks it on a pole so Jeremy can stop reeling. He’s exhausted, but grinning from ear to ear as his catch is hauled on deck – a ferocious looking Barracuda, thick as a thigh, long as a leg, and with teeth so sharp they could open tin cans.
We all pose for a few photos and the assistant asks if we want to kill it and eat it back on shore. No thanks, we say and he throws it back. None of us have had any breakfast yet and the thought of ceviche to start the day is a little much. Besides, the only thing we’re hungry for is another fish to reel in.
My turn at a cast
Ten long minutes later I get my chance. One of the fishing poles begins whirring as its line sings out into the wake and we catch a glimpse of something silver thrashing about on the hook.
I sit in the fighting chair, take the pole in my arms and start reeling it in. It’s terrifically hard work. The reel’s circumference is no more than a grapefruit so turning the lever around and around with a big fish struggling against me is like an entire visit to the gym compressed into one crowded minute. But I win the battle and pull the fish in close. It’s not a barracuda but he looks pretty tasty.
I’m happy to pose for a photo though and throw the fish back in. He can be someone else’s breakfast!
Have you ever been sport fishing?
What you need to know
Cost: It depends on the fish you’re looking for, the time of year and how long you want to stay out.
When to go: It depends what you want to catch! The big attractions are Marlin from March to August, Mahi Mahi from March to July and Sail Fish from March to August. Shark and Tuna can be caught all year round, though the best weather is in summer of course! Here’s a good guide to the fish times in Cancun.
How to get there: The Tequla departs from the Marina El Cid in Cancun which can be accessed easily from the highway.
Thanks to El Cid Resorts Cancun who hosted us aboard the Tequila as part of a press trip organised by the Cancun Tourism Board. As always, our views are our own.
Dave – There’s nothing better than messing around in boats – so when we got the chance to do a spot of sport fishing off Canucn in Mexico we quickly jumped on board.
The idea is that the boat cruises along towing baited hooks – and when a big fish gets on the line we get to haul it in – a far cry from the hand lines I used to rock back in Australia!
It was pretty choppy out on the Caribbean Sea – but we were in good hands…
Captain Pepe – Tequila – My name is Pete, and this boat is the Tequila.
Dave – Do you think we’ll catch anything?
Captain Pepe – Ah, no maybe, yes, si!
Dave – Maybe he’s had a few tequilas already! Never mind – in no time Captain Pepe and his crew hooked us a big fish and our mate Jeremy from the blog Living The Dream hauled it in…
It’s a whopper – a great big Barracuda with a dagger-like mouth full of sharp teeth. Jeremy’s proud as punch to have hauled this beast in.
Jeremy Jones, Living The Dream – It’s cool. You know I thought it was a huge fish because when they’re fighting back it’s really hard and it’s like hard as you can and you can only turn the reel around one or two times. It’s cool, first time deep-sea fishing. Well, surface boat fishing! But, really good.
Dave – Jeremy chose to throw the big Barracuda back – nice move – and we kept on looking for more fish – in no time at all the fishing line had hooked another…and Carmen had a go.