The lower Yucatan is known for offering one of the most species diverse saltwater fishing experiences available in the Caribbean. From shallow sandy flats to backcountry lagoons, it is a fishery that offers different styles of fishing for numerous species including bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook, barracuda, jack crevalle and more. Palometa Club runs traditional Mexican Panga boats with comfortable seating, poling platforms, customized rod storage, and a nice casting deck. Unlike smaller flats skiffs, pangas make the run on choppy days across the bay manageable and still access the skinniest of flats.
Depending on the conditions and what species you are targeting, it may be possible to get out and wade skinny, hard, sandy flats for bones, pole and wade in a little deeper water for permit, or lurk the lagoons and backcountry mangroves for tarpon and snook. You also never know when you are going to run across a hungry cuda, a school of hard pulling jacks, or any myriad of other species such as tripletail, grouper, snapper – or even cobia. Ascension Bay has it all.
OWNERS AND THE GUIDES
Experienced saltwater anglers know the difference between a great trip and a total disaster can often hinge on what type of experience and opportunity your guide can provide. Enter Kaye and Dick Cameron, the owner/operators of Palometa Club, and the former operations managers at the nearby Ascension Bay Bonefish Club. They have taken several years of experience on the bay, as well as a wonderful standing within the Punta Allen community to attract and employ an incredible guide staff. Palometa Club hangs their hat on not having a weak link on the guide staff – and anglers typically rotate throughout the roster of guides throughout the week.
1:1 GUIDE ANGLER RATIO
The Club uses one guide for each angler (2 anglers and 2 guides per boat). This is not to be confused with one proper guide and one “apprentice guide” that serves as a boat driver. Each angler gets their own experienced guide dedicated to ensuring no fishing time or opportunities are wasted.
Palometa Club runs a program designed to target all of the different flats species available on Ascension Bay, but with a particular emphasis on targeting permit. Ascension Bay is known as perhaps the greatest permit fishery in the world, with 90+ square miles of sandy flats and isolated islands protected by a barrier reef along the eastern edge of the bay. It is a shallow and seemingly endless fishery that is chock full of perfect permit habitat. Encounters with huge schools of teenager, 5-12 pound permit are pretty much an everyday occurrence, and you will get your shots at the smarter and more solitary beasts up to twenty or thirty pounds. Dick Cameron recently landed a fish estimated at over 50 pounds! (That is an unofficial world record by the way).
The Club’s scientific approach to permit fishing techniques, tackle, and areas fished is very evident in the guides’ infectious enthusiasm and obvious desire to get the most out of every second in the fishing day. The guide staff is constantly comparing notes, tweaking fly patterns, and exploring new areas to find fish. The Palometa Club has succeeded in creating a culture of revved up guides with a smile on their face and genuine love of chasing permit – all of which translates to more opportunity to close the deal and get one in the boat!
Even though permit are the high profile species, it is impossible to ignore the great bonefishing on Ascension Bay. Yucatan bones are typically smaller in nature than bones in the Bahamas or other Atlantic / Caribbean fisheries, however are found in huge numbers year round. The tremendous population of bonefish makes this a great destination to consider for beginner flats anglers looking for some easier reward. Ascension Bay has extensive, hard sandy flats that are great for wade fishing as well as deeper flats better fished from the boat – which also allows for possible encounters with permit or tarpon as well.
Although there are definitely a lot of small “schoolie” bonefish that are easy to catch, there are also sometimes encounters with larger bonefish in the 4-7 pound range at times. Ever since the commercial netting ban was put into place 18 years ago, we are beginning to see a larger age class of bonefish in the Bay again.
BABY TARPON & SNOOK
Although you should not consider Ascension Bay as a dedicated tarpon destination, there are plenty of juvenile “baby” tarpon in the vast backcountry lagoons in the area. A majority of these fish are residents which remain in the area throughout the year, providing anglers with consistent opportunities for completing the fabled Grand Slam. Adult migratory fish often busting the 80-100 pound mark also begin to show up in the beginning of May and numbers will increase significantly through July & August. Snook are also definitely worth the effort of poling around the mangroves, with multiple 20+ pound trophies landed each season.
There is a wide variety of underrated, under-fished species in Ascension Bay that will match the skill of the most sophisticated anglers. The fishing for jack crevalle is certainly not to be overlooked, and barracuda are also at the top of the list of alternative species. This wonderfully fast species can be caught on the fly or with conventional spinning gear. Don’t forget about snapper, grouper, cobia, tripletail, and ever some offshore opportunities with the right conditions.