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Magdalena Bay, Mexico



Nov. 6, 2006, John Gilkerson, boat A-SALT-WEAPON, Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico:

We just returned from our fourth annual fishing trip to the Magdalena Bay area and the camp on Punta Hughes operated by Mag Bay Tours.

Fishing on my 21 foot Bayrunner boat A-SALT-WEAPON this year were Jim Bentley, Ted Bentley, and myself, John Gilkerson.

We arrived in San Carlos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, on the afternoon of October 20th with clear calm conditions. We had originally intended to stay at a hotel that night but there was no wind so we decided to make a late afternoon run to the camp on Punta Hughes where we would be staying for the week.

The next morning we again had beautiful calm conditions, and after breakfast made bait in Bahia Santa Maria and headed out towards the 100 fathom curve. The water temperature along the beach was about 80 degrees, but the temperature dropped as we got further offshore and worked our way up to the Thetis bank. The water was also off color, and there was no bird activity.

We saw several very large dead sea turtles that must have been the result of some type of commercial fishing activity. We also heard reports of dead porpoise in the area. We caught one big dorado, a blind strike, on a Mexican Flag colored feather, but that was it for the surface action.

Once we arrived on the high spot at the Thetis we tried the bottom for grouper and yellowtail but the conditions were off and the fish not biting. We trolled back towards our Magdalena Bay camp at Punta Hughes and got into a good yellowtail bite in about 40 feet of water directly off the camp. We brought the yellowtail to Ina the camp cook and crew chief, and she made us appetizers of seared rare sesame yellowtail with wasabi and soy sauce to compliment the fresh guacamole and chips.

That evening, a couple more boats from the "Davis Boats" group arrived and shared news that the bite was going off about 20 miles south of the Magdalena Bay entrada. After our not so productive trip to the Thetis Bank, we decided to try fishing the area to the south the next morning.

We ran down with a load of mackerel and at about 20 miles put out the jigs. As we trolled by another dead sea turtle, the Mexican Flag color got bit again by another big dorado (also mahi-mahi or dolphinfish). This time there was a large school of fish in the area, and we proceeded to have some nonstop action on the dodos using live bait fished near the dead turtle and a long line buoy; maybe that is why there are so many dead turtles. We released most of the fish, only keeping a few that were hooked deep. The water temperature in this area was between 80 and 82 degrees, and the color was dark blue-purple and crystal clear.

On fishing day three, the word was out that tropical storm Paul had a good chance of giving us a direct hit.

Steve from Mag Bay Tours requested that we make it a short fishing day and be back at camp by 3 p.m. that afternoon in case we had to run. We had another day of wide open Dorado south of the Magdalena Bay entrada, and got back to the camp in the early afternoon. We also saw our first and only live sea turtle of the trip!

As the day progressed, it looked like Paul would move east and spare us from a direct hit so we decided to stick it out. The forecast for our area put us in the outer bands of the hurricane with heavy rain and moderate winds. That evening the weather calmed even further and the temperature and humidity rose to an uncomfortable level. It was almost too hot to sleep. Then the rains came. First light, then moderate, and it just continued to intensify until it was a roaring torrential down pour that lasted most of the night.

Fortunately for us, the Mag Bay Tours camp provides a canopy shelter made of tarps under which the sleeping tents are placed over an outdoor carpet that covers the ground. This kept us from getting too soaked or flooded with mud. I did however have a close call when the tarp above my tent filled with about 500 gallons of water. Fortunately, I heard the poles cracking (before they broke) and we were able to push the water off the tarp, after which it flowed into and through my tent! Good thing my clothes were up on the cot. Considering that it probably rained 10 or 12 inches that night we and the camp faired well.

On fishing day 4, the morning was windy but most of the rain had moved out of the area. We got on the boat and tried to head out of the bay, only to find very snotty conditions. We ended up fishing inshore off Punta Hughes for Sierra, Yellowtail and too many Bonito and Barracuda. The weather forecast called for more rain, but only a few light showers materialized and the wind began to let up.

On our fifth Magdalena Bay fishing day, the seas had calmed and conditions were looking good. We headed back to the old reliable Dorado spot south of the Mag Bay entrada and had another great day. We also came across a jumping mako shark and had one on briefly that took a marlin lure.

On our sixth and final fishing day at Magdalena Bay, the seas had calmed even more and we found an area, again south of the entrada, where big Dorado were jumping around the boat for as far as you could see. There were also finback whales feeding in the area. We proceeded to catch and release Dorado until our arms were done. The area was alive with bait, and I metered one bait ball that had to cover at least an acre. After we were completely burned out on the Dorado we put out a spread of large marlin lures in an attempt to avoid the dodos. Ted Bentley hooked and landed his first marlin of about 100 pounds, our only one of the trip.

As usual, we had another excellent trip fishing the areas off Magdalena Bay. The Dorado fishing was the best we have ever had in terms of quality and quantity, and the fish ranged from about 25 to 45 pounds with most at or over 30. There were quite a few Marlin in the area but it was a little tough to get them to bite. Surprisingly, the one fish that was absent from the area, that we have caught every other year, were Wahoo. Aside from the wet night and windy day from Paul, the seas off Magdalena Bay were the calmest we have seen in four years of visiting the area at this time of year. As always, the folks with Mag Bay Tours did an exceptional job of taking care of us and feeding us, and the meals and service they provide continue to just get better every year.

We're looking forward to the fifth annual Mag Bay Run in 2007.

(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.