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The Backstage Pass

The Best Destinations For Your First Saltwater Fly Fishing Trip

May 03, 23

An angler’s first saltwater trip is a landmark experience. Many fishermen started their angling careers chasing after trout or warm water species, and the leap into the world of saltwater is an entirely new game. Whether you’re looking to combine a few days of bonefishing with a family vacation, or are looking for an immersive experience, we have several lodges that cater exceptionally well to the beginning and advanced saltwater anglers alike:

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The Bahamas

The islands of the Bahamas comprise a 100,000 square mile archipelago that covers more than 500 miles of the clearest, most pristine water in the world. This is an area that is home to some of the finest bonefish habitats on the planet, and the gigantic network of unspoiled flats found throughout the Bahamian islands are the country’s main angling attraction. The fact that the Bahamas are so close to the U.S. makes this a fast and easy destination for anglers looking to maximize their fishing time and minimize travel time.

East End Lodge (Grand Bahama)
Although fairly new, East End Lodge is already one of our favorite operations in the entire Bahamas. This is a high-quality “fishing-focused” destination where you can expect to fish long days with a fantastic, experienced guide staff. You will return to the Lodge at the end of each guided day to enjoy great food, a full bar, and beautiful, spacious rooms that overlook the water. All of this at a price point that is the best on Grand Bahama, if not all of the Bahamas.

The second-largest island in the Bahamas, Grand Bahama is home to amazing numbers of exceptionally large bonefish and impressive numbers of permit. East End Lodge is very close to some of the most beautiful and productive flats on the island and close to the five bights that cut through the “horn” of the island on the East End. This multi-bight fishery enables the guides to fish optimal tides throughout the day, typically keeping clients on fish and in the action regardless of what the tides are doing at any given time. The experienced guides of East End Lodge have taken anglers to these flats for over two decades and recently came together to create this new Lodge. Travel is easy to Freeport, Grand Bahama so this is a perfect destination for quick two and three-day trips, as well as week-long excursions.

Swain’s Cay Lodge (Andros)
Swain’s Cay Lodge is a full-service bonefishing operation and beach resort that is ideally situated and built to cater to anglers, non-anglers, families, and couples. Located on one of the nicest white sand beaches on Andros, this fantastic destination offers a number of different lodging options, including ocean-view suites, garden view twin rooms, and a three-bedroom apartment for larger groups and families.

A home flat spans the water just beyond the Lodge, where anglers can fish independently after a full day of guided fishing and on arrival or departure days. The Swain's Cay Lodge Reefside Restaurant & Bar is located on the beach and serves up delicious three-course dinners of fresh lobster, fish, ribs, chicken, and conch. Located on Mangrove Cay, Andros -- a short 15-minute flight from Nassau -- Swain’s is the ideal option for those looking for great fishing combined with the amenities that non-anglers desire in a Caribbean beach vacation.


For Mexico, Pesca Maya Lodge and Grand Slam Lodge both do a great job with those new to the salt. The Ascension Bay fishery is one of the most diverse saltwater flats fisheries in the world – protected by the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

Both lodges run two-guide teams, the guides speak English well and are decent instructors. Both operations have rental gear and a limited selection of flies and tackle available. Grand Slam Lodge is certainly our preferred spot for couples, families, and younger kids and Pesca Maya is a great fishing-focused destination with an included bar tab.

Pesca Maya Lodge
Situated in the middle of the 1.3 million-acre Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Pesca Maya Lodge offers a great fishing program, good food, and one of the best values found anywhere in the world of saltwater flats fishing. Pesca Maya first opened it's doors in January 1996, and has since established itself as one of the Yucatan's most popular fishing destinations. The property is located 90 miles south of Cancun on a long, narrow strip of barrier beach that is virtually surrounded by the waters of Ascension Bay and the Boca Paila Lagoon. If you’re a beginning saltwater angler, Ascension Bay is one of the best places in the world to catch your first bonefish. For more seasoned anglers, this is one of the world’s best locations to target permit with a fly. With hundreds of square miles of flats, it is not uncommon to see bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook, and barracuda all in the same day.

Grand Slam Lodge
Ascension Bay's Grand Slam Lodge has established itself as one of the finest lodges and fishing operations in the Yucatan. It is without a doubt the nicest "base camp" in the area for anglers looking to sight cast to permit, bonefish, tarpon, and snook. Located in the small fishing village of Punta Allen, Grand Slam Lodge can provide fly anglers immediate access to the incredible fishing in Sian Ka'an Biosphere, including both Ascension Bay and Espirito Santo Bay.

The Sian Ka'an Biosphere encompasses Ascension Bay, Punta Allen, and the surrounding lagoons - all productive fishing areas offering some of the finest flats fishing on the planet. Because of steady regulations and enforcement, Ascension Bay is one of the few places in the world that can back up the claim that fishing improves every year! This is the perfect destination for first-time saltwater anglers as well as more advanced anglers looking for a great variety of species and fishing scenarios.

Tarpon Cay Lodge
Tarpon Cay Lodge is located in the northern part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The lodge sits on a marine reserve and offers anglers excellent opportunities at catching juvenile “baby” tarpon. For anglers specifically targeting juvenile tarpon, this is possibly the best fishery in the world. The tarpon generally ranges from five to fifteen pounds with the occasional fish breaking the 25-pound mark. Barracuda and snook also inhabit the fishery, and with an expert guide team, anglers will be counting down the minutes to get back on the water. After watching a tarpon take your fly and the subsequent aerial display of reckless abandon, you will be left speechless.


Seemingly created and designed with fly fishermen in mind, the tiny country of Belize is collectively home to some of the finest saltwater flats on the planet. The entire coastline of this beautiful Central American country – from the northern waters of Ambergris Cay, to the central waters of Turneffe Atoll and the Belize City area, and all the way south to Hopkins, Placencia, and Punta Gorda – hosts a broad range of species and a variety of different fishing scenarios.

El Pescador Lodge and Villas
El Pescador Lodge, in business for over 40 years, is one of the best-run, most famous fly fishing lodges in all of Central America. Situated on Ambergris Caye (an island only 15 minutes by light aircraft from Belize City), the lodge offers world-class sight fishing for the “Big Three”: tarpon, permit, and bonefish. It is the perfect destination for first-time saltwater anglers, seasoned veterans, couples, and families. El Pescador Lodge was one of the original properties that we worked with here at Yellow Dog, and even today it remains one of our all-time favorite destinations.

Turneffe Flats
Those considering a trip to Turneffe Flats should know that this is one of our very favorite destinations here at Yellow Dog! In fact, Yellow Dog is proud to be Turneffe's largest and most consistent booking agent, and for both anglers and divers, this is hands-down one of the best operations in the entire Caribbean. Located on Turneffe Atoll, the largest and most diverse coral atoll in the Caribbean, Turneffe Flats specializes in superior service for a limited number of guests. The Lodge is ideally located to enjoy all of Turneffe's 250 square miles of expansive flats, coral reefs, and remarkably rich marine habitat.

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