Back in 2017 I hosted a trip to the fascinating historic city of Campeche, Mexico to fish for baby tarpon. Five clients joined me on this epic trip, and before we left, they all decided they wanted to return. Schedules prevented a return in 2018, but we were able to return this year in early August. We added two clients to the group — one who has traveled more than most and a newbie to saltwater fishing.
It was another memorable trip; fishing proved to be very good (as to be expected in the summer months), the food was fabulous, and the city of Campeche did not disappoint. If you’ve ever considered taking a trip to Campeche, don’t just take my word for how great it is (I may be a little biased). I think our clients say it best.
1. The Fishing
“On our latest trip fish were larger, as many were caught by our group in the 15 to 25-pound range.”
“I have been to Campeche twice now. On our latest trip fish were larger, as many were caught by our group in the 15 to 25-pound range. We made runs of approximately 30 minutes to one hour to get where we fished. Fishing starts right as it is getting light when we were usually greeted with actively rolling tarpon and stunning sunrises. The first few hours can be spectacular. I used poppers in the early morning to tempt the tarpon into striking. If you have never experienced a tarpon eating a popper, you don’t know what you are missing. When a tarpon eats, the mayhem begins! Fantastic jumping displays are followed by a bulldogging fight that often gets interrupted with more spectacular jumps. As the morning goes on, you usually switch to streamer patterns. At this point, fishing can slow a bit, but you will still have opportunities. You have lunch on the boat and get back to the hotel around 2 p.m.” – Joe A.
2. The City
“Being a coastal city, Campeche has a Malecon, a pedestrian walkway that wanders parallel to the sea wall, great for those exercising—be it jogging, skating/rollerblading, or bicycling.”
“Modern Campeche still bears strong Spanish influences. Most of the large bastions of the old walled defenses have been turned into museums or gardens that are worth touring. The main square in the old city, called the Plaza de Armas, has a very large gazebo where families gather nightly to listen to free concerts and enjoy street foods. The Cathedral dating to the 16th century is adjacent and has evening mass. Being a coastal city, Campeche has a Malecon, a pedestrian walkway that wanders parallel to the sea wall, great for those exercising—be it jogging, skating/rollerblading, or bicycling. It’s also used by friends, families, and young lovebirds out for a stroll while enjoying the cooler nighttime temperatures and cool breeze. Dining is full of choices in Campeche. From high end French and Argentinian to fast food to mom and pop style establishment to small taquerias! All will put a local flair to the food. Don’t forget to try some habañero salsa! Every family and every restaurant has its way of making it. All delicious!” – Andy H.
3. The Food
“Some of the more memorable experiences included impeccable octopus, colossal stone crab claws, and a bubbly cauldron of seafood and steak goodness cooked in a Molcajete.”
“The cuisine in Campeche; all I can say is wow! From churros on the street to 4-star restaurants serving traditional Mayan fare, this town has it all. During my recent trip, I had the opportunity to experience all of it at very affordable prices.
Some of the more memorable experiences included impeccable octopus, colossal stone crab claws, and a bubbly cauldron of seafood and steak goodness cooked in a Molcajete. Let’s not forget the flaming steak cooked at tableside; what a show that was. There were plenty of Margaritas and all the Cerveza you can drink. All the while, the service was as good as it can get!
To sum it up, not only was the fishing outstanding, but the food was second to none. You can bet I’ll be back for more!” – Rob M.
4. The First Time Experience
“The thrill of setting the hook and seeing a tarpon just explode into the air and try to leap into the mangroves is hard to beat.”
“While I have considerable experience in freshwater, I’d never even made a cast in the salt, so this was a completely new experience. The first day set me up well for the trip since owner Miguel Encalada was eminently willing to take the time to explain things to me, so I fully understood why we had to cast where and how we did. On my first hookup, I naively thought getting the excess line on the reel was important but quickly learned that one really needs to get through the first 10-30 seconds of berserk fury from the tarpon, reel or not, before you really have a chance even to begin to think about how to control and land the fish. Otherwise, it’s likely to be blasting through the mangroves. The thrill of setting the hook and seeing a tarpon just explode into the air and try to leap into the mangroves is hard to beat. Campeche was a great introduction to both Mexico and saltwater fly fishing.” – Ian B.
5. The Accommodations
“The hotel has a variety of rooms, but for our trips, we stayed in the Master Suite rooms located on the Executive Floor. Spacious with two queen-sized beds, it had all the amenities you would expect.”
“This is the second time I’ve stayed at the Ocean View Hotel, conveniently located on Oceanfront Boulevard across the street from the popular Malecon (boardwalk) and an enjoyable 15-minute walk from Old Town Campeche. The hotel has a variety of rooms, but for our trips, we stayed in the Master Suite rooms located on the Executive Floor. Spacious with two queen-sized beds, it had all the amenities you would expect. Breakfast is the only meal served at the hotel. Starting at 5 a.m. for the anglers, you had your choice of eggs to order, fresh fruit and yogurt bar, cereal, oatmeal, toast, pastries, juice, and the all-important coffee for those who need it to start their day. Other amenities at the hotel include a pool, fitness center, tennis courts, free high-speed Wi-Fi, and the Ocean View spa, offering an assortment of services.” – John K.
6. The Ease of Access
“It couldn’t have worked out better.”
“In terms of the ease of access, everything couldn’t have been smoother. We flew American Airlines from Pittsburgh to Miami and then to Merida, Mexico. The flights were spread out enough that we didn’t have to worry about running around. The driver was waiting for us on our arrival as we departed customs. Although the driver didn’t speak a ton of English, he was still extremely kind and answered everything he could. The one hour and 50-minute drive itself was smooth, and if we needed to grab anything on the way, the driver was happy to stop for us. It couldn’t have worked out better.” – Jake K.
Campeche is not just all about the fishing; it’s also a vacation destination. With many fine restaurants and street vendors offering delicious and traditional cuisine, it may be worth a trip for the food alone. For those who like history, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site due to a large number of historical landmarks located within the city limits—plus, there are Mayan ruins you can tour within an easy drive of the city.
Put Campeche on your to-do list, and you will soon discover why Campeche is one of my favorite destinations.