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“Flats Fishing with my two teenage boys in Cozumel with Enrique”

Aquarius Travel Fishing Representatives
Ranked #144 of 283 Outdoor Activities in Cozumel
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Flats Fishing with my two teenage boys in Cozumel with Enrique”
Reviewed 3 April 2013

Its 6 am and I need to drag my two boys out into our cab and off to the Cozumel Ferry.
7 am Ferry is the first Ferry from Playa Del Carmen where we stay every year for two weeks around spring break.
Finally we arrive at the doc after a 40 min Ferry ride. We are met by Carlos Vega an his Wife.
After a short 10 min drive we are at the marina and ready to go!
The boat and gear in this operation are top notch, Cooler is full of beer water and soda, along with Marias special club sandwiches! Enrique the quide speaks little english, but plenty to get by and comunicate with my boys, as he has three boys of his own.
After a very cool 35 min boat ride to the north part of the Island we arrive.
I have all my own Fly gear and flys, but one of my boys prefers not to leave the boat while fishing.
So Enrique myself and my wongest son (who is also a fly fishermen) begin wading the flats as Enriques right hand pole man moves into a couple smaller bays and begin catching large Berracuda on spinning gear! He was exstatic! By far the best day of fishing he has ever had.
Already talking about our next fishing trip. As far as my day it was amazing as ever, we saw two schools in the first hour with over 300 fish!! one was estimated at 700 plus by Enrique, needless to say we both caught fish! The bone fish in Cozumel are bigger, 4-5 pds average with some up to 8 pds. I have been using Carlos Vega every year for 4 years now and ALWAYS have a great time, every year is always a little different, even though we fish the same areas..
I would highly recomend Carlos Vega and his crew any time!!

Visited March 2013
2 Thank Paul L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Carlos V, Owner at Aquarius Travel Fishing Representatives, responded to this review, 7 April 2013
Buenos dias amigo ,

Muchas gracias for your wonderful review that you posted. I remain your grateful amigo and look forward to seeing you and your sons next Spring.

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40 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Silver Spring, Maryland
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Flat Fishing with Dad in the Cozumel Lagoons”
Reviewed 25 March 2013

It's 4:30 am on a clear, cool Cozumel morning. As an avid, occasionally successful angler, I've barely slept thinking about casting for bonefish and snapper in the shallow northside mangrove area of the island.

This little adventure means a lot to me because my 83-year-old Dad is coming along and who knows how many more fishing trips we'll make together?

Getting us to the the Marina is a surprisingly speedy 10 minute hop from the central part of town by taxi. The owner of the fishing guide operation, Carlos Vega, is waiting for us there. He's a charmer, greets us warmly at the marina gate at 5am, points us to the boat, shouting "buena suerte"!

With assists from our Captain, Enrique Torres and first mate Vincente Millan, my Dad and my brother-in-law Tony venture aboard with me onto the solid-looking fishing craft.

It's a white, open-cockpit vessel, broad of beam, seemingly constructed of cement until you realize it's thick fiberglass. You can tell the thing is all business, bristling with rod holders, coolers, backed by a massive 100 hp Evinrude outboard. The boat has comfortable seating for 3 and affords passengers a commanding view.

One of the cool things about Cozumel is that its waters are so clean and clear. Even in this crowded marina, the water is gin-clear, tinged pale green and alive with swarms of tiny minnows. These seem a good omen for today's adventure.

Powering us out of the marina, Captain Enrique sets a northeast course, paralleling the coastline a couple of hundreds yards offshore.

As we begin curving around the northern tip of the island the swells increase somewhat and we begin bouncing a bit through the oncoming 3-foot swells. Captain Enrique skillfully turns the prow of the craft into the larger waves. You get a feeling he's done this many times before and that these seas today are 'par for the course' for him.

As the sun rises over the horizon it warms us and gives the ocean an emerald blue-green Caribbean beauty and we're quickly transported beyond signs of coastal civilization. This is looking good!

After a half-hour gliding off a sandy, deserted coastline we arrive at the mouth of a narrow inlet through which multiple, productive-looking lagoons are visible.

Captain Enrique slows us to a putter as we negotiate increasingly shallow waters. We pull up to an opening so narrow it seems the boat won't fit, when Captain Enrique cuts the motor and Vincente begins poling us forward from the rear deck of the boat. We squeak through the tiny gap, pole forward into a large lagoon about 3 feet deep, crystal clear and - hopefully- brimming with bonefish and snapper.

It's "go time" and Captain Enrique asks "spinning gear or fly rod". Well, that one was easy because it was a little windy and I've never used a flyrod! My colleauges agreed that spinning gear was the thing and Vincente rigged us up with weighted jig heads with deer hair and a piece of squid on the hook. It sure looked like a tasty morsel for hungry fish lurking about.

Dad's quite spry for his age and decides to take a position on the front deck of the boat, Tony and I slung our offerings from behind Dad, off either side, trying to land the jigs near the mangroves. Luckily the lures were heavy enough to allow casting accuracy in spite of a cool and steady 10mph breeze.

As Vincente silently poles us through clear shallows, we see torpedo-like shapes hurtling throw the water, under and around our boat! Bonefish!

This is exciting indeed. Our quarry seemingly is teasing us, daring us to dupe them with a barbed meal. Cast after cast fails to tempt the elusive creatures, though we occasionally think we're getting hits. Tony says, "no, it's a bottom hit", Dad complains "it's just a snag".

Then Tony gets a genuine strike. He sets the hook and the rod is bending over and quick silver is glinting through the water as he reels in a smallish silver fish, probably about a pound. Captain Enrique informs us it's a snapper as Tony releases it unharmed. Catch and release is the name of the game today.

I throw out a cast that lands right under a mangrove overhang and bang, I've got a live one. It's exciting being able to see the fish through the clear water all the way as I reel it in. It's another small snapper and my Dad tells me to 'go get his big brother'.

Sharp squawks startle us while rounding a mangrove bend. Surprisingly, only about 20 feet off our port bow are a pair of bald eagles, an adult and what looks like an immature sitting in a large, elaborate nest. I'm an enthusiastic bird watcher and this close-up sighting makes the trip worth it to me right here. .

I've seen bald eagles before in the Potomac River area of Maryland, I know they're making a great comeback after near extinction from DDT use years ago but this is very rewarding to find them thriving down here too

Dad hooks a couple of snappers, about that same one-pound size, He's having a ball landing these scrappy little fish. He tells us they fight like the big bluegill sunfish he used to catch in clear Minnesota lakes as a boy. I snap a lot of pictures of Dad on the boat as he's reeling them in.

After catching some more snapper but no bonefish, Captain Enrique says it's about time to head back but he wants to make one more stop on the way to see if the barracuda will hit our lures. After going back through the same unbelievably tight opening we came in through, we throttle up and head to a deeper lagoon where the tide is moving through fairly briskly. We cast here for about half an hour, but alas the 'cuda aren't cooperating today.

As we head home, I think about our Cozumel adventure in the mangroves today. I think about my Dad, how wonderful it was to see him still able to scramble about the boat like a kid, artfully flinging out lures. I think of how lucky I am to be with him on this gorgeous day in this exotic locale.

We weren't so lucky today with the fish, but with this super-competent and friendly Captain and crew, I know our angling luck might well change for the better the next time.

Visited December 2012
2 Thank Vergne C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Carlos V, Owner at Aquarius Travel Fishing Representatives, responded to this review, 28 March 2013
Thanks for posting the review of your flats fishing trip . I’m sorry to hear that the bonefish were not very cooperative with you, However, I’m happy to hear that you, your Dad and brother in law caught some snapper and that you all enjoyed the trip fishing with your Captain and guide, Enrique Torres and his mate Vicente Millan.

I’m pretty sure that you all will have a better luck with these elusive bonefish on your next trip.
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Reno, Nevada
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 February 2013

BEWARE of a company called Aquarius Travel, which also goes by the names Fly Fishing Cozumel or Cozumel Flats Fishing! DO NOT book with them - you will be ripped off!

We wanted to go fishing in the lagoons up north and these people (their websites are cozumelflatsfishing.com and flyfishingcozumel.com but it is the same company) promised us a good experience. We were told we had to pay $400 in advance in cash - no credit cards allowed (now we know why - because anyone who booked with them would never allow their credit card company to honor the charge).

We were promised a guide who could speak English and would communicate with us to help us fish and make the day a pleasant experience. There was a boat driver and one guide, and we have no idea whether either one spoke any English because they never said a word! Instead, they refused to speak to us at all, even in response to our direct questions!

After an hour boat ride we arrived at the lagoon but the guide did not have the gear ready to go. Instead, he proceeded to rig the gear upon arrival - refusing our offer to assist him. He took 45 minutes to set up 3 poles - he had no idea how to even tie a lure on the line - he was actually reading the instructions on the back of the lurebox to figure out how to tie in on! He did not know how to fish, nor how to give us any pointers, so it was a miserable experience. Even if we had caught any fish - which was virtually impossible given that the line was so full of knots that it would constantly get caught in the eyelets - they did not have a net on board to bring in the fish! Can you imagine a fishing boat without a fishing net????

The boat driver then grounded the boat, throwing all of to the bottom of the boat and my son into the side of the boat, cracking his ribs, and flipping him over the side of the boat into the water! The guides didn't even offer to help my son get back in the boat or say a single word to apologize for driving the boat into a sandbar!

We then went back to the dock immediately, and later that day wrote an email to the owner requesting a refund of the $400. Carols Vega, the claimed owner of cozumelflatsfishing.com and flyfishingcozumel.com not only refused to refund our $400, he had the nerve to call us liars and say that everything was fine, the guide never grounded the boat and that my son was never thrown into the water!! Apparently it meant nothing to him that we had 3 witnesses to the contrary!!! And, in response to our complaint that there were no drinks or food on the boat, Carlos said there were but that my sun umbrella was blocking the guide from getting to the ice chest so that is why they never offered us any food or drinks. Really? You've got to be kidding.

In addition, Carlos' responsive emails to us were extremely rude -- which is a horrible shame since so many people on Cozumel work so hard to encourage U.S. tourists to come there and then one complete jerk like Carlos can undo so much of that work and effort. It is hard enough to get people from the U.S. to visit Mexico nowadays with all the concern over cartel violence. The last thing Cozumel needs is total rip-off and lying businesses like Cozumel Flats Fishing cozumelflatsfishing.com and Fly Fishing Cozumel flyfishingcozumel.com harming the reputation of all the other good Cozumel people who work hard to give tourists a pleasant experience.

The worst part for Aquarius Travel, Cozumel Flats Fishing and Fly Fishing Cozumel is that we are frequent visitors to the island who always book a beachfront home and would have been steady repeat customers using their services many times each year and gladly paying them thousands of U.S. dollars if they had simply provided a reasonably good fishing experience. Now we are completely soured on fishing in Cozumel. And, of course, we will warn every other tourist we meet not to use Aquarius Travel, Cozumel Flats Fishing or Fly Fishing Cozumel.

Incidentally, we have never posted a negative TripAdvisor review before - all of our prior reviews have been positive. That should tell you how bad this experience really was. So, whatever you do, avoid these people at all cost - otherwise you may end up in a hospital -- or even worse!

Visited February 2013
11 Thank G D R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Carlos V, Owner at Aquarius Travel Fishing Representatives, responded to this review, 4 April 2013
These are very serious accusations that you are making against my company, sir.

And they are extremely surprising, because when your wife, step-son and friend returned to our marina, they were all laughing and joking. There were no requests to call for medical attention, no scowling faces.

Nevertheless, I just spent an hour carefully questioning their guide, Enrique, a master flats fisherman who has worked for me for nearly 15 years. with not a single customer complaint before. Also talked to his cousin, Juan, the crewman on your trip. All this in an effort to piece together their experience with your wife, stepson and friend -- which was radically different from the version you've posted here.

I will address your complaints one by one. First, a basic observation: the request from your party was to go fishing specifically for snook. That is a very different thing from fishing from a boat like yours in a US lake, and it requires a very different skill set . To catch snook you must cast very, very close to the mangroves. Unfortunately your group was unable to make a satisfactory cast close to where the snooks lurk, among or just on the edge of those mangroves.

Enrique and Juan reported to me that your party’s frustration became so great that the customers began to throw and bang my Ugly Stick Shakespeare spinning rods and valuable SS Penn reels around. I also lost several jigs and lures on top of the damage to my gear. Altogether, I judge the dollar cost of the losses and damage to our gear at roughly $150, and I am prepared to provide an itemized invoice to you for compensation for lost and damaged gear.

Accidentally damaged gear is something that must be accepted as the cost of being in the fishing business, but deliberate property destruction is unacceptable and should be chargeable to the customer..

And character assassination is simply intolerable, which is exactly what you are attempting with these public attacks, and I request a public apology.

I will tell you why.

I will address your specific accusations, in detail.

Accusation #1 is that I don't take credit cards “because that way when the trip goes bad, I'll have your money so too bad for you.”

It is true we, along with many, many tourist-related businesses in Mexico, do not accept credit cards. Why? Because the credit card companies charge us 4.5% transaction fees on cards from outside the country. This is a charge we would either have to pass along to the customer or eat ourselves.

If there had been a serious problem with a trip and it had, indeed, been my fault or the fault of my employees, I would do whatever was necessary to make things right.

I am deeply offended, as are my family, and my employees, as well.

I was born and raised on Cozumel and am one of the few natives who has been living here my entire life. Everyone on the island knows me very well and respects me for who I am and what I have done to promote sports fishing on the island for the past 25 years. I was one of the organizers of our famous International Fishing Tournament which still takes place every year.

I was the pioneer who started the flats fishing charter business in Cozumel and at Isla Blanca in Cancun. In 1975 I started Aquarius Travel Fishing Representatives and have since enjoyed thousands of customers from all over the world.

I currently represent the most reputable wholesalers in the United States to this part of the world – Frontiers International out of Wexford, Pa, Trek International Safaris Inc. out of Jacksonville Florida, Anglers Adventures out of Old Lyme Ct., Anglers Passport out of Southwest Florida and Montana, Rod and Reel Adventures out of Portland, Oregon, Cabela’s Outdoors out of Portland Oregon, The Fly Co out of California, just to name you a few. You are free to ask any of the above US companies about my fishing business referral, reputation and honesty which is has been the key to the success of my own fishing business operation to this day.

Accusation #2: you complain that the fishing guide was “slow, incompetent and rude.”

I am astonished. That is something no other customer has ever reported. Indeed, the reports have always been, even when fishing has not been good, that Enrique was invariably attentive, polite and professional.

True, Enrique is not fluent in English. He is a quiet man and careful to do his job well -- which is, first, to keep his customers in the boat safe, and second, to be helpful to them in every way possible to make the fishing experience a good one. He is not a conversationalist; he is the responsible captain of a boat in both shallow water and deep.
He speaks what I would call “fishing English”. He understands more than he speaks. Therefore, he will respond to any question that a customer may ask him about spin or fly flats fishing methods, always gives them suggestions on where to cast and how far and for how long, depending on where the fish are feeding. He might not, however, understand small-talk unrelated to fishing. And, he assures me he did, indeed respond to every direct question put to him by your party. ***his halting En glish does not make him stupid. He is a
serious man, and he conducts his work and his life with simple dignity and responsibility."

Accusation #3: you complain that the gear was not ready to go when the fishing spot was reached and this was because the guide “had no idea how to tie a lure on the line.”

The facts are quite different. The day of the trip, Enrique, as he invariably does, attached the leaders and shock tippets to the spinning rods and reels while he was at the marina and before his customers arrived for their trip, Once they got to the lagoon during the 5 minutes his helper Juan was push-poling the boat to the fishing place he tied the jigs and lures to all the spinning rods and set reels for them, as he has been doing for the past 15 years.

Is it really credible to claim that any experienced fishing guide in the world after a decade and a half in the business does not know how to tie on jigs, lures, worms or flies?. He just got curious about the special instructions on the Slu-go worm, so he paused a few moments to read the small print. .

Complaint #4 You charge that our gear was in disrepair or non-existent, and you complain that “the line was so full of knots that it would constantly get caught in the eyelets.” That is flatly untrue, and I can verify that statement.

Clearly, you were and still are not familiar with this type of fishing. We fish with 6 and 8 pound test monofilament line. Any experienced spin fisherman knows that fishing with a line this thin, you will have to use a 10-inch length of 12- pound test line for leader and a 10-inch fluorocarbon shock tippet of 30 pound test for snook -- which is exactly what Enrique used. The snook don’t have teeth but their mouths are like sandpaper, so if you don’t do this it’s impossible to catch them.

When I set up a spin flats fishing trip, I always put on board 5 spinning rods and reels. Also, as a company policy after every three spin flats fishing trips, I have Enrique put new line on every single spinning reel whether they are used or not. As a matter of a fact the day of this particular trip, every reel had brand-new line on, so the only knots on the line were the ones for the leaders and the shock tippets.

And, by the way all my flats boat have landing nets on board. Enrique did not take any out on this trip because there was no reason for it as they only caught 5 little barracudas. These baby barracudas can be released by hand. Nets lieing about on deck are easy to trip and fall over, and should be, and are, secured until needed.

Complain #4 “We were not given the promised refreshments.”

There was, in fact, a cooler on board full of cold drinks and sandwiches freshly made by my wife as a personal courtesy – even though we don't advertise or normally offer food on a 6 hour trip. Your group was shown the cooler and its contents before you took off. But because your friend chose to move the cooler to the bow of the boat to use as a seat with an umbrella on top, it was difficult for Enrique to offer refreshments. He assumed they would ask or help themselves if they wanted something from the cooler in this situation.

#5 You state that your step son was injured due to incompetence of boat captain.

It was unfortunate that the boy fell overboard. But standing up in the bow of a shallow draft panga boat moving into rough seas is a recipe for a man-overboard. And as any experienced ocean fisherman will tell you, coming out of a lagoon into open water is a particularly awkward time to be doing this. If the cooler had been left in its usual place, there would have been more room for him to balance himself in the bow. But since your friend had moved it to the bow to use as a seat with a shade umbrella, it became a somewhat precarious position and that's where your son was standing when Enrique grazed the sand bar.

The young man toppled overboard, landing on his feet in soft sand, took 3 steps and fell on his butt. Then he got up – laughing! And making jokes about how his lighter was wet and he wouldn't be able to smoke his cigarette.

He didn't appear to the crew to be hurt at all and wanted to continue fishing for another hour before returning to the marina. Since everyone in the boat was laughing, Enrique laughed too. No apology appeared needed and the young man climbed easily and without assistance back into the boat. No wincing or groaning.

If any sort of physical problem had been mentioned, Enrique would have been instantly on the radio to me and I would have been standing by with an ambulance to take him immediately to a local hospital to be checked out. That's how we do things here. That is standard procedure.

Instead, they did, indeed, continue to fish for another hour before returning to the marina and never a word was heard by me about the young man sustaining injuries until I received an email from you, sir, a lawyer who wasn't even on the trip, by the way, threatening to sue me if I didn't offer you a full refund as well as paying for all medical damages...
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