Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Mexico



Dec. 8, 2004, Gary Graham, Baja On The Fly, Sails & Tales Fly Fishing Tournament Report, Ixpata Zihuatanejo, Mexico:

Mike Newell, Laguna Beach, Calif., defied the fishing gods and did the nearly-impossible.

Newell hooked, landed and released two Pacific sailfish on a flyrod in about an hour to win the “Sails and Tales” tournament, sponsored by Baja on the Fly, the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and the Hotel Association of Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo.

June Thacker, Marathon, Fla., won second place with a fish literally in the last hour of the last day.

Newell took home an Abel 12-weight rod and reel with backing and assorted tackle valued at $1,500, securing a berth in the upcoming Rolex Offshore Tournament to be held in Cabo San Lucas in May. He may also become a TV star. The championship will be made into a one-hour special on the Outdoor Channel, new sponsor of the offshore championship.

The second day, with flat calm seas, the the teams worked close to shore and when “lines-out of the water” was called at 2 p.m., Newell had racked up his two catches and releases to take the lead. Both fish took a Rainey pink and white offshore popper, the first at 10:01 a.m. and an hour another fish slammed the same fly, giving him his second fish of the day and an insurmountable lead.

On the final day, as all the boats returned to the municipal pier, it was clear that there were more tales than sails. The last boat to return was Joe Dowdell and his partner Thacker.

Thacker had hooked a sailfish at 11:51 and brought it to the boat in 9 minutes before before tagging and releasing it, assuring her of second place and an Abel rod and reel prize.

The first pre-fish day turned out to be ladies day with both Cecilia “Pudge” Kleinkauf, owner of Women’s Flyfishing, a guide service in Anchorage, Alaska and Thacker both landing sailfish on the fly.

Kleinkauf and Evan Firstman, Reno Nev., received Kaenon Polarized Eyewear for their sailfish catches during the event.

Concurrently with the catch-and-release sailfish event, guides competed in a series of competitions with Lance Peterson, Sequim, Wash., edging out John Dobson, of Basalt, Mont.

Competing guides included Ed Kunze, Zihuatanejo, Mex.; Ryan Halby, Fallbrook, Calif.; Dobson and Peterson.

Dobson won the distance casting competition with a 95-foot effort using a 12-weight Abel outfit. Speed knot tying, fly design, and accuracy casting events were held each evening. The scores from these events were combined with scores given by the participants for each guide’s performance.

Guides come with angling backgrounds to match the prey. They include Kunze, who has guided in the U.S. and Mexico; Dobson’s guiding experiences have included Cayman Islands, Chile, Argentina, Alaska, Belize, Bahamas, Quepos, Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as Wyoming, Montana and Colorado; Peterson’s guiding experience has taken him from the Olympic Peninsula, Washington to East Cape, Baja, Mexico; and Quepos, Costa Rica in search of billfish action. Halby has spent the past 10 years guiding in his own backyard in San Diego, as well as much of Baja including Loreto, Magdalena Bay and East Cape.

The tournament sponsor included Abel Quality Products, Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, Scientific Anglers, IGFA Rolex Tournament, Outdoors America and Arizona, Dr. Slick Instruments for Anglers, the Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo Visitors Bureau, Rainy’s Flies, Kaenon Eye Wear, Newport Blue, Mexfish.com, Terrafin SST-View, Promotions West, Sol Sun Products, Ichthyo-sys and Icon Products “Perfect Loops”.

The event dates for the next tournament are set for Dec., 2005. It will be limited to 20 participants. For more information, contact Baja on the Fly at 800-919-2252.

(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for Ixtapa Zihuatanejo may be found at Mexfish.com's main Ixtapa Zihuatanejo page.