Everything You Need to Know About Fishing in Mexico
Are you planning a trip to Mexico and thinking about going fishing? You’re in good company. Mexico offers some of the best fishing in the world, both saltwater and freshwater.
For saltwater fishing, marlin, dorado (mahi-mahi), yellowfin tuna, roosterfish, wahoo, shark, and yellowtail are some of the more common species you’ll encounter. If you prefer freshwater fishing, Mexico has that covered as well, with world-class largemouth bass, trout, and carp fishing available in it’s beautiful inland lakes and rivers.
Before you throw your line in the water, here are the basics of what you need to know for fishing legally in Mexico.
Do You Need a Mexican Fishing License?
It depends. If you are fishing from a boat, or spearfishing, you need a Mexican fishing license. You do not need a license when fishing from a riverbank or beach. If your feet are on land (even if you’re wading), you do not need a license.
Every person on the boat, regardless of age, needs a license. Furthermore, even if you’re not planning on fishing but there is fishing gear onboard, everyone needs a license.
Mexico Fishing License Cost
Fishing licenses can be purchased by the day, week, month, or year. The price as of 2023 is (in pesos):
- Day: $262 pesos (around $14 USD)
- Week: $513 pesos (around $28 USD)
- Month $723 pesos (around $40 USD)
- Year $932 pesos (around $50 USD)
Where Can You Purchase a Mexican Fishing License?
If you’re going out on a fishing charter, the boat’s captain will likely handle getting licenses for everyone on the charter. (They can lose their boat if they are not in compliance.)
You can purchase your license online.
If you want to purchase it in person, go to the Tourism Office of the municipality where you are staying. They will either be able to sell them to you or direct you to where you can buy one.
What Type of Fish are You Allowed to Catch in Mexico?
Mexican sportfishing licenses allow you to fish only for fin fish. You are allowed to fish for squid, but non-citizens are not allowed to take any other invertebrates such as lobster, clams, or shrimp. Totuaba, turtles, and marine mammals may not be captured at any time.
What Are the Catch (Bag) Limits When Fishing in Mexico?
Mexico uses a point system for the catch (bag) limits, with different species having different points. You are allowed 10 points per day. You cannot catch more than 5 points of the same species per day. If your fishing trip lasts more than three days, the maximum cumulative number of fish that you can catch will be the equivalent of three days of fishing, respecting the already established limits.
The points and limits are as follows:
- Billfish. Marlin, swordfish, spearfish, and sailfish count for 5 points. You cannot bag more than one billfish of any species per day.
- Shark and Giant Seabass These fish are also 5 points each. Like billfish, only one of these may be taken per day. You can bag one shark and one giant seabass, but not more than one each.
- Squid You may take 5 squid per day. They are counted as 1 point each.
- Dorado, Roosterfish, Gulf Grouper, and Tarpon. These fish are 2.5 points each. Only two of these types of fish can be taken per day and count as 5 points towards your 10-point limit.
- Other Species. All other species are 1 point each. These include, but are not limited to, Tuna, Cabrilla, Wahoo, Yellowtail, Grouper, Rock Fish, Trigger Fish etc. But remember, you are limited to no more than 5 fish from any one species.
- Freshwater Fish. Freshwater fish are limited to five fish per day. These can be any combination of species.
- Spearfishing. If you are spearfishing, you are limited to a total of 5 fish per day, with the same restrictions as above.
Do the Catch Limits Apply to Catch and Release?
If you are practicing “catch and release,” the above limits do not apply. You are encouraged to do your best to ensure the fish can survive the adventure. It’s recommended that you use the right gear. Circle hooks, barbless hooks, and non-stainless-steel hooks can increase survival rates. Use release tools and handle the fish quickly and with care.
What Gear is Allowed When Sportfishing in Mexico?
You may only have one line and hook per person in the water. You are allowed to have additional (spare) equipment onboard the boat.
If you are fishing for bottom fish, you are allowed up to four hooks on a vertical line.
What are the Rules for Spearfishing in Mexico?
If you are going spearfishing in Mexico, you are also required to have a fishing license. Your bag limit is a total of 5 fish per day. Your limits have the same restrictions by species as listed above, under Catch Limits. Spearfishing is limited to skin diving. Using scuba gear is strictly prohibited. Additionally, using air-powered spearguns or using powerheads is prohibited. You may only use rubber band, spring, or pneumatic spearguns.
What’s Required to Bring Your Boat to Mexico?
If you are bringing your boat to Mexico, it will need a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) if it is over 4.5 meters long (just over 14 feet).
If you are arriving by land and trailering your boat in, you will need to stop at Aduanas (Customs) at the border to purchase your TIP. Boat TIPs are good for 10 years and, as of January 2023, cost approximately $55. There is no deposit required for a boat TIP and they can be renewed online. Unlike RVs and vehicles, anyone, regardless of citizenship or residency status, can get a boat TIP.
You need a boat TIP for all of Mexico. Unlike vehicles, there is no “no TIP required” or “free zone” areas like the border zones and the Baja peninsula. If you are going to Baja, you will need a TIP for your boat. You also need a current registration and proof of ownership of both the boat and trailer.
And don’t forget your Mexican boat (and trailer) insurance! Mexican boat liability insurance is required by law in Mexican waters. And in many cases, it is required at the marinas, before you can moor or launch a boat.
If you arrive by sea, you will need to see the port captain to obtain both your boat TIP and your FMM.
Note: When boating in Mexican waters, under no circumstances can you anchor your boat on the coral reefs. Any anchoring needs to be at least 15 meters from the perimeter line of the reef.
What Other Fishing Laws in Mexico Should You Be Aware Of?
- Filleting of your fish onboard your boat is not allowed except for immediate consumption. You need to wait until you return to shore to fillet your fish. Billfish cannot be filleted onboard at any time.
- It is illegal to capture and keep any fish alive for ornamental purposes.
- You cannot sell any of the fish you catch while fishing.
- It’s illegal to dump trash or harmful substances into the water.
- You may not collect shells, corals, sea anemones, and snails, or disturb their original ecosystem/environment.
- You may not sportfish within 250 meters or less from swimmers.
- You are not allowed to use artificial lighting to attract large quantities of fish.
- Firearms are illegal in anywhere in Mexico, including Mexican waters.
Enjoy Your Trip!
Mexico is always a great destination choice. And for avid fishermen (and women), it can be a great adventure. This information should help you be informed and prepared to make the most of your fishing time in Mexico. If you need more information, visit www.fonmar.gob.mx (this link is for Baja, but applies to fishing rules in all of Mexico).
Be sure to visit the Mexpro for all your Mexican insurance needs!