Cancun is one of the best fishing destinations that most vacationers don’t even consider. Knowing the best times and seasons to fish these rich waters can lead to even better fishing success than other anglers could dream of.
The best time to fish Cancun is from March to November. The offseason is wintertime with January typically being the slowest fishing month.
So let’s break down some of these species and when the best time to target them is.
|Fish Species||Best Times & Peak Fishing Seasons|
|Bonefish||Fishing is best May through August|
|Mahi Mahi||May through July is the peak, but good fishing can still be found into September|
|Billfish||Sailfish fishing is best March through July; Marlin fishing best May through July|
|Grouper||Best fishing is September through December|
|Snapper||Fishing is best October through December|
|King Mackerel||2 peak seasons in Cancun: Feb to April as well as September & October|
|Permit||Fishing peak is March through August|
Cancun is home to a vibrant population of deep-water species, including some of the most iconic fish such as marlin, sailfish, and tuna. What many don’t realize, though, is that the fishing in Cancun is one of the top draws of vacationers every year, and rightfully so.
Best Time to Fish Cancun
The best time to fish Cancun is between March and November, depending on the species you’re targeting. For example, sailfish peak from February into July while dolphin fish peak from May to August. One thing to keep in mind, however, concerning the best times to fish in Cancun is the peak travel season.
In Cancun, there isn’t a real peak travel time as it’s busy all year round. However, the summer does see an uptick, though spring and fall breaks are a popular time among students.
If you’re wanting to avoid some of the crowd, the best time to fish in Cancun may be closer to the end of Fall and into the winter months.
The tropical climate and warm waters keep the fish action hot even into the winter season. Snapper fishing is hot from October to January.
Cancun Species Breakdown (Best Fishing Times)
The bonefish fishing in Cancun is world-class as Cancun is home to many inlets, flats, and lagoons. These are the perfect places to sight fish for aggressive bonefish. Bonefish peak in Cancun from May to August with a slight cool down from September to October.
Summer is best, though, as the waters are calm making them easier to spot. This, though, makes them especially spookish so skill and luck are high on the required list.
What makes the mahi mahi fishing here so great is that action starts incredibly close to the shore, less than a mile in most places. This means you can start fishing almost as soon as you leave the docks and a half-day trip is more than enough time to land a dolphin fish.
The larger of the species, though, will be in deeper waters. Mahi mahi fishing peaks in Cancun from May to July and can be found up till September.
Billfish are the reason many get started in deep-sea fishing, and the billfish population in Cancun doesn’t disappoint. Marlin, both blue and white, swordfish and sailfish dominate the waters around Cancun starting about the 30-mile mark.
Here you’ll be able to go line to bill with some of the best billfish in the world. Sailfish enter the Cancun waters around February and peak from March to July while the marlin peak from May to July.
This bottom-dweller is a staple of the waters around Cancun, especially red and black groupers. While grouper fishing is great all year round, the peak is from September to December.
The goliath groper can also be found. Though it’s a strict catch-and-release species, catching this giant fish will be the experience of a lifetime and takes a great deal of skill and patience.
This tasty fish is popular among locals as its population is so diverse. The most popular is the cubera snapper which will take just about any live bait before diving to the bottom.
Mullet and yellow snapper are also found around Cancun. The snapper action is great at any time of the year, though it peaks between October to December.
Known as kingfish in the Cancun area, king mackerel loves to be in the reefs. The occasional leap mixed with the aggressive fighting makes this fish a great catch, not to mention they grow quite large in the Cancun waters.
The kingfish can reach a whopping 130 pounds and 6 feet. Though they hang out in the reeds all year round, the fishing peaks in February and go till April, and then again in the late summer months, from September to October.
This often-overlooked species is a staple in the waters around Cancun and a favorite about inshore anglers. Permit fishing in Cancun is great all year round, though they peak from March to August.
Recommended Fishing Charters in Cancun
These Cancun-based charters have earned great reviews from anglers and will offer you a tremendous service. The captains are knowledgeable, friendly, and are sure to put you on fish. By clicking the links below, you will be taken to the charter’s respective profile on Fishing Booker where you can read reviews, learn more about the charter, view photos, and book online at the best rate.
|Recommended Fishing Charters||Type of Fishing Offered|
|Fishing Cancún Charters||Inshore, Offshore, Billfish|
|Sportfishing Cancun – Mamacita||Inshore & Offshore|
|Cancun Light Tackle & Fly Fishing Tours||Inshore & Offshore|
|Samaki Cancun Charters||Offshore & Billfish|
|The Rusty Hook||Offshore & Billfish|
Best time of day to fish Cancun
The best time of day to fish in Cancun is definitely the morning time, especially during the peak fishing season of the summer. The morning brings the most activity for the fish, especially the inshore species. Tarpon and bonefish will head into the flats to hunt with the tide as the movement and extra water in the shallows bring in more baitfish. This is also when the water is calmest.
For a complete breakdown of the best time to fish Cabo San Lucas, please read this helpful article I wrote. For a complete breakdown of the best time to fish Cozumel, please check out this helpful article I wrote. For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish Mazatlan, please check out this helpful article I wrote.
Top Fishing Spots in Cancun (Best Fishing Times)
Akumal is an excellent choice for those looking to experience great fishing while taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
You’ll find the likes of sailfish, marlin, and barracuda here, as well as a dense population of bonito, a favorite among sports fishing species. The fishing here is great all year round thanks to the reef which also serves as a barrier to the Caribbean.
Just 9 miles from the Cancun shore, this Isle is accessible by ferry and speedboats but is well worth the added travel for some great fishing.
Offshore you’ll be able to catch marlin, as well as wahoo and mahi mahi, just to name a few. Inshore you’ll see the likes of tarpon and bonefish. In fact, the flats here are a favorite among fly fishing enthusiasts from all over the world.
Cozumel is the largest island in the Caribbean and offers some of its best fishing as well. The marlin action here begins to heat up from March to June, including the blue and white marlin. This is also the best time to target mahi mahi and other billfish species.
For the remaining part of the year, you’ll be able to target any of the other species found in the Caribbean. This includes sierra, mackerel, snapper, barracuda, and even sharks.
Being separated from the mainland by the Yalahan Lagoon makes Holbox Island a great place to fish and get away from the hustle and bustle of the vacation crowds. You can catch the likes of tarpon and bonefish here, as well as have access to some impressive deep-sea fishing.
This included marlin and mahi mahi, as well as wahoo and barracuda. What the island is known for, however, is its impressive shark population. You can land hammerhead and blue sharks, as well as some smaller shark species.
This small fishing village is a favorite among scuba divers due to the beautiful reefs which also house some of the best fishing around.
The best time to fish here is during the early spring and summer months. You’’ be able to hook on to blue and white marlins, as well as tuna, barracuda, and dolphin fish.
This area, as its name applies, is home to many tourist destinations, though the fishing here is world-class as well. The Nichupte Lagoon makes it perfect for tarpon and bonefish, as well as permit. The permit fishing here is great form March to August.
Cancun Fishing & Tidal Impacts
Tides can play a major role in your fishing trip almost anywhere you fish; Cancun is not different. As the tides move, they cause increased movement in the water.
This stirs up the baitfish sending the pelagic species into a feeding frenzy. Though the tides don’t much matter to the larger fish, this brings most species into shallower waters.
The best tide to fish in Cancun is during the full moon, and especially during the summer full moon. The summer is when the moon is closest to this part of the globe meaning the tides are higher. This is a great combination for fishing.
To learn the best times to fish in Baja California, please check out this helpful article I wrote. For a complete breakdown of the best tides and time to catch tarpon, please check out this helpful article I wrote.
Booking Charters in Cancun
If you want to experience the best of Cancun fishing, you’re going to want to book a fishing charter. Though it can seem like a daunting task if you’ve never done it, these tips will help you with deciding when to go, as well as how long you should schedule your fishing trip.
Best Season to Go
The best season to book a fishing charter in Cancun is during the summer months. This affords the most opportunities as some of the most iconic species in the world. It is a busy time of the year for many charters so booking with a good captain in advance is the best way to head out.
That being said, sailfish start showing up as early as February. This makes late winter and early spring prime time to book a charter and get the best value and avoid the competition of summer vacations.
The summer is also the rainy season for Cancun. So, if you want to avoid your booking getting canceled due to weather, a trip between December and April might be best.
Morning Vs. Afternoon
If you’re going for an inshore species such as the snook, tarpon, or bonefish, you’ll want to head out in the morning. This is when tides are rising, and these fish are coming into the shallows and flats to feed. It is, however, when most anglers will be on the water making the pressure on the fish to be great.
If you are headed to the deep waters, you will likely leave in the morning but your action will be great no matter what time of the day you’re fishing as the larger species you’re going after feed all day.
That being said, heading out as soon as possible in the morning will help to avoid at least part of the hottest hours.
How long of a charter you book is totally dependent on the experience you’re wanting to have and the species you’re targeting.
Half-day charters are perfect for inshore species such as tarpon and bonefish. They range from 4-6 hours long and provide you with ample opportunity to fill the boat or get a picture of some of the most sought-after fish.
If you’re wanting to go after the likes of wahoo and mahi mahi, a half-day trip is good for novice anglers and those looking to dip their toes into the world of deep-sea fishing. However, you won’t have the opportunity of landing a large fish such as a tuna or billfish.
Ranging from 6-14 hours, a full-day trip allows you to experience what deep sea fishing is all about. You’ll likely leave the dock at first light and start fishing within minutes as you head to the deep waters and areas where the bigger fish stay.
You’ll have opportunities to land a marlin or sailfish, as well as the larger dolphin fish and wahoo. Though it means more time on the water, it is time well spent for a deep-sea angler.
Storms & Cancun Fishing
Cancun, and all of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, takes a beating every year from tropical storms and hurricanes. These can have a great and long-lasting effect on the fishing industry in the area.
The biggest effect many experiences is the shutting down of the entire fishing industry. Boats can’t safely be on the water for days as the seas get rough even before a storm comes through.
Storm season coincides with the summer fishing peak as well. This increases the chance of a summer fishing trip being canceled due to the weather drastically.
The rainy season for the Cancun area is also during the summer. Rain can affect your fishing, especially inshore, as it causes water that would normally be clear and calm to become cloudy and rough.
This makes fishing for species like tarpon and bonefish almost impossible as you aren’t able to see them to sight fish. Almost impossible because there are other techniques available to an experienced angler.
Is winter fishing bad or good in Cancun?
Cancun knows no winter season, at least from the perspective of it getting cold. This makes Cancun a popular destination for those looking to escape the cold of the north. The fishing, though, is truly excellent all year round.
During the winter you’ll be able to target grouper. Also, king mackerel fishing peaks from November to February, making winter the best season to target the kingfish.
Night Fishing in Cancun
Night fishing in Cancun is extremely popular. In fact, many charters will have special trips which only go during the night.
Most often these will be on party boats, as night fishing is an experience meant to be fun and exciting. Sharks feed more at night, making night fishing the best time to go after them. Sharks aren’t the only thing you’ll catch, though.
Groupers and barracudas are a popular nighttime catch, as well as snapper and wahoo. Deep-sea fishing isn’t the only kind popular at night, either.
Look down the beaches at night and you’ll see long lines of anglers enjoying the beach at night with a line in the water. It’s a great way to experience Cancun without the heat.
Shore/Surf Fishing in Cancun
The white sandy beaches make the perfect setting for some incredible fishing in Cancun. There are several bridges and piers to fish from as well. You’ll be able to land several species, such as the tarpon snook, and snapper, all without getting on a boat.
One thing to keep in mind is the local laws, which include not fishing within 250 meters of swimmers. The best season to shore fish in Cancun is the spring and summer months. The best time for shore fishing is the morning hours; come early to beat the crowds.
For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish near Puerto Vallarta, please check out this helpful article I wrote. For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish Tulum, please check out this helpful article I wrote.
For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish Playa del Carmen, please check out this helpful article I wrote. For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish in Belize, please check out this helpful article I wrote.
For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish in Mexico, please check out this helpful article. For a complete breakdown of the fishing charter costs in Cancun, please check out this guide. For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish in Puerto Aventuras, please check out this helpful article.
For a breakdown of the best times to fish in Benito Juarez, check out this article. For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish in Akumal, please check out this article. For a complete breakdown of the best fishing charters in Cancun, check out this list. For a complete breakdown of the best times to fish in Isla Mujeres, check out this list.
For a complete breakdown of the best times time fish in Puerto Morelos, check out this guide. For a complete breakdown of the best times time catch dolphin in Cancun, check out this guide.