Magdalena Bay, Mexico


Magdalena Bay Photo

HANDLE-BIT--Ted Bentley with a Thetis Bank dorado landed despite having the handle of his reel strip its threads. Bentley later lost a marlin when the handle of another reel broke in half during the fight. He was fishing on John Gilkerson's boat A-SALT-WEAPON. Photo courtesy John Gilkerson.


Oct. 25, 2005, John Gilkerson, Thetis Bank, Magdalena Bay, Mexico Fishing Report:

We just returned from our third annual fishing trip to Mag Bay, staying at the camp on Punta Hughes on the Baja California coast operated by Mag Bay Tours.

We fished at Magdalena Bay for five full days, Oct. 16-20, in seas typical for the area that ranged from smooth to a lot rougher than you would like. Inshore water temperatures were 68 to 70 degrees, and offshore it was 75 to 77. Air temperatures were very comfortable both at the camp and on the water.

Joining me this year were Ted Bentley, Jim Bentley, and Jimester Bentley. Ted and I fished on my 21 foot Bayrunner, A-SALT-WEAPON, and Jim and the Jimester fished on their 21 foot Starcraft, BATTLEWAGON.

We arrived at the Mag Bay Tours camp on Saturday, October 15th, and after putting our gear ashore we headed out to make bait for the next day.

We had no trouble filling our bait tanks by following huge balls of small bait that was getting worked by Mackerel. The bait balls were found in Bahia Santa Maria about 1/4 mile outside the surf line in 35 to 55 feet of water. Bait was easy to make during most of the trip

The next morning we headed out of Magdalena Bay towards the Thetis Bank, and on the way Ted Bentley picked up his first ever Dorado on the troll. While fighting the fish, the retainer nut that held on the Newell reel handle stripped out and made things a little interesting. This was of course blamed on his brother Jim from who he had borrowed the tackle. The 25 pound Dorado put up a great fight, and Ted was having to hold the handle on the reel to make any line. This was not an easy task with the fish dragging him around the boat. Eventually he won and got the fish to gaff.

After arriving at the pinnacle on the Thetis Bank, there was not another fishing boat in sight. We made a few drifts with live bait and the Wahoo started tearing it up behind our boats. Wahoo were racing everywhere, biting off our wire leaders and getting away. I finally got a 40 pounder on live bait and the wire held. The first run was probably the best I have ever had. The fish nearly spooled my Newell 533 loaded with 40 pound test, but we eventually put the fish on the boat. Jim also caught a nice Wahoo on bait. The Jimester caught and released a strange looking shark with an oversize head that was golden brown with dark marks on its pectoral and dorsal fins. The shark was about 8 feet long and none of us had ever seen anything like it.

The following fishing day was the roughest of the trip, and we started out the morning by running through the surf and into the Magdalena Bay mangrove channels in the back of Bahia Santa Maria. This reminded me of a Disneyland ride as we threaded our way through the narrow channels. In here we actually found two small areas of civilization with a church and even satellite TV. We fished inside the mangroves and caught small halibut and hooked a couple of bigger unknowns that broke us off.

After completely exploring the mangroves, we ended up running out of Magdalena Bay to the shark buoys along the 100 fathom curve. Nothing was happening so we headed back in towards the temperature break where the water rapidly transitioned from the inshore temps 68 to 70 up to the offshore temps of 75 to 77. We started hooking yellowfin on the troll, with the fish in three classes, 35 pounds, 25 pounds and little 12 pound footballs. The bite was pretty good on dark green and purple feathers and you did not have to troll far between hookups.

On our third full Magdalena Bay fishing day, we headed out on a 220 degree heading from Punta Hughes until the water was up to 75 at about 8 miles. We then headed straight for the Thetis Bank high spot trolling the tuna feathers again. A Marlin of about 100 pounds took Ted's purple tuna feather and headed for the other side of the ocean. Ted the "Handlebuster Bentley" was at it again, and this time the reel handle on the Shimano TLD 30 broke in half. After about 5 minutes the fish threw the hook and got away, after which the reel was retired for the rest of the trip.

Fishing at the Thetis Bank was slow on this day, with lots of Wahoo seen swimming around the boat, but they would not take our live baits with wire leaders. I managed to hook one on a purple "Burns Bomb", but it only stuck for the initial run and then came off.

We got tired of watching the Wahoo swim by and not bite, so we trolled back towards the point.

A few miles in we came across a big Sea Turtle that had three very nice Dorado under it. The Dorado could not resist live bait, and Ted caught and released about a 30 pound female while I landed a 35 pound bull. The Jimester followed up on the other boat and hooked the third Dorado. While he was fighting the Dorado he saw what he thought was a Sailfish headed for his boat. When it got closer, it turned out to be a Wahoo. The darn thing swam right up to his boat, and the Jimester grabbed the gaff, and believe it or not, free-gaffed a swimming 47 pound Wahoo!

Our fourth Magdalena Bay fishing day, we headed straight out from the point on a 240 until we hit the 75 degree water. Here we put out our marlin lures and headed for the Thetis high spot. I had three hookups on a green "Marlin Magic" lure. All the Marlin of about 125 pounds were released, two a bit prematurely and the third at the boat.

We got to the Thetis, and there were several yachts trolling the area. The Jimester and his dad (Jim) found a school of nice Yellowfin Tuna in the 25 to 35 pound class and called us over. This turned out to be the best bite of the Magdalena Bay fishing trip, and one of the best tuna bites I have ever experienced. The fish would hit anything you put in the water. Fly lined baits were immediately devoured in a splash as soon as they hit the water. When you looked down into the water with polarized glasses you could see tuna swimming everywhere. The bite was so hot that if you hung a jig over the side of the boat with the rod in the rod holder you would catch a tuna! This fishing went on without another boat around until all our bait was gone, and by then we had had enough.

On our final day of Mag Bay fishing, we hoped for a repeat of the tuna bite, so with our bait tanks plugged with prime mack's we headed straight into the swells and a moderate chop for the Thetis. A couple of hours later, after a long rough ride we arrived with three yachts that were trolling the area. We found the tuna again, but they were not as eager as the day before. We scratched a few on the troll, bait and on jigs. We called it quits and headed back for our last night in the camp.

Hot lures and colors for the trip were the green Marlin Magic that caught tuna dorado and marlin, a Braid Speedster that Jim was using in dorado color that caught tuna dorado and wahoo, and the dark purple, black and green, and blue and white tuna feathers that accounted for many tuna and one marlin hookup.

Once again, for the third straight year, we had a fantastic time fishing the waters around Mag Bay. Fishing this area in our small boats would not be possible with out the the Mag Bay Tours camp on Punta Hughes which is only 23 miles from the Thetis Bank. As in past years, the camp personnel took great care of us and the food was outstanding. They shared a recipe for seared sesame tuna that we liked so well, all of us had triple helpings as an appetizer most nights. This was of course in addition to the scallop ceviche, shrimp ceviche, guacamole, and salsas that preceded dinner every night.

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