CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: FISHING LATE LAST WEEK was completely knocked out all around the south end of Baja California and the southern Sea of Cortez by Hurricane Juliette. As far north as Punta Abreojos on the Pacific side and the Midriff Area on the Cortez side, high winds and torrential rains kept ports closed and boats off the water beginning about Wednesday afternoon and continuing into the weekend.
Cruisers were pulled early at East Cape, and by Sunday evening most boats were still out of the water as the dissipating storm crossed over to the Mexican mainland and headed north. Fishing reports were severely limited due to the rough waters and a widespread communication blackout that persisted from about Thursday evening through Sunday night.
Ironically, some hotels are no longer equipped with radio, due to the increased reliability of modern telephone service in Baja, and they were thus completely isolated as the phones died during the height of the storm. HOTEL SOLMAR SUITES' Dick Wilkes said, "Sorry, but I've got no report. No communication at all. In the good ol' days we would have had ship-to-shore radio going with no problem. But, it ain't the good ol' days anymore." Old timer Wilkes did have a funny story, though, about being "trapped" in La Paz for three days back in the DC-3 era. "We hung around La Paz for three great days of isolation, contacting the outside world via ship to shore radios on some yachts anchored in the bay. It was a glorious three days in isolation, before any stop sign had been erected in La Paz. A few years later, an honest-to-goodness stop signal was erected on the malecon. Can you please tell me what could be better than being handed a pass to spend three days in La Paz before stop signs and stop signals?"
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said he also had no report last week for GAVIOTA FLEET, but he was hoping to reestablish contact in another day or two.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: PISCES FLEET's Tracy Ehrenberg filed a last-minute report on Tuesday, just before the storm closed the port, saying that fishing was very good with a 100 percent success rate on combined species. Pisces angler Larry Cohen of Beverly Hills, CA had a spectacular day at the 95 Spot with 10 blue marlin strikes, and 3 landed to 410 pounds. Cohen and his friends, Mike Solovy and Soly Benzimru, kept the big blue only when it could not be revived and released. Pre-storm Cabo fishing was hot on yellowfin tuna for Pisces Fleet, as boats averaged up to 6 fish each on Tuesday, topped by a 136-pound fish caught by Matt Myers on the Tracy Ann. There were also lots of dorado still in the area, according to Ehrenberg, with weights averaging 10 to 25 pounds, and the odd fish here and there making it to 50 pounds. Average Cabo water temperature was 83 degrees, and seas were large with Juliette located about 240 miles south at the time of the report. As for problems caused by last month's terrorist attacks, Ehrenberg said that after a very slow September, the months of October and November were both looking very good for bookings. "Only thing now is that we have a monster hurricane sitting below us, that's all we need," she said.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: PICANTE FLEET's Marco Arechiga also had a last minute report on Tuesday, saying that Cabo water temperatures were 82-88 degrees, air temperature 75-98, and humidity 62%. Winds Tuesday were still only 8-10 knots on both the Pacific and Cortez sides of the arch. Four boats fishing Tuesday found 3 striped marlin, 11 yellowfin tuna, 10 dorado, and 1 wahoo, with best fishing about 18-24 miles south of the arch.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Cabo surf fishing guide Jeff Klassen of JEFF KLASSEN SPORT FISHING reported on beach conditions as the storm struck at the end of the week, "There's no surf fishing of any kind at the moment as waves are crashing over the arch," he said. "I heard that there were 20-foot waves breaking on the beach. Prior to that there had been clusters of smaller roosterfish along the Pacific side beaches as well as the odd large jack. Now is the time to be fishing the rocks for leopard grouper and hawkfish, or should I say after the water settles down in the next week?"
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Albacore fishing continued to taper off last week as Sammy Susarrey of LILY FLEET reported a catch of 18 albacore to 15 pounds, 20 skipjack to 12 pounds, and 3 yellowtail for the Tamara on Tuesday. The fish were found 17 miles outside Todos Santos Island on a heading of 240 degrees. All but three fish hit on small trolled feathers, with purple-and-black and red-and-black producing the best results. Outside water temperature was 65.5 degrees. On Saturday, the Tamara fished on a heading of 225 degrees, and found 3 albacore to 15 pounds with the same feathers.
Local fishing at Ensenada remained excellent with the Tamara and Lily finding limits of lingcod, rockfish, and bonito at Punta Banda and south of Todos Santos Island. Susarrey also said that commercial fishermen were seeing large white seabass to 40 pounds around Punta Soledad near Puerto Todos Santos.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: At GORDO'S SPORTFISHING, Erick Ptacnik reported Tuesday's catch for 7 anglers at 12 albacore, 8 tuna, and 3 dorado. Most fish were caught 20 miles off Puerto Santo Tomas.
PUERTO SANTO TOMAS, MEXICO: Sam Saenz of PUERTO SANTO TOMAS RESORT said weather was windy and seas were choppy last week, creating poor fishing conditions. Very few tourists were coming to Santo Tomas and some had canceled reservations due to border traffic problems, according to Saenz. "During the first week of the crisis all tourism came to a screeching halt," he said, "not even the sea urchin pangueros could deliver their catch to Japan. Recently, two lone fishermen showed up and took a panga out to the Soledad and San Jose outer bank. They didn't find fish. Meanwhile, we loaded full sacks of good quality rock cod at the outer banks."
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Jim and Nancy Harer of THE OLD MILL reported tourists still driving to San Quintin, and some of them saying that they felt safer there than in Los Angeles. Fishing conditions last week were windy and foggy, making fishing difficult, but they said their thoughts were more with the terrorist attacks of last month. "Our world will forever be changed by the murder of so many innocents, so being inconvenienced from time to time should be the least of our worries!"
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: At PEDRO'S PANGAS, Pete Hillis said boats last week found plenty of albacore, dorado, yellowtail, lingcod and rock cod for a 25-angler group from San Diego headed by Wally Decker. Hillis said that contrary to some rumors, the Old Mill Motel is open for business as usual, although the bar and restaurant are currently undergoing renovations.
San Quintin air temperature was reported at about 70 degrees, and water about 65 degrees.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Brian Freitag of MAG BAY TOURS reported a full week of lost reservations due to the combined effects of terrorist attacks and the storm closure of the airports at both La Paz and Loreto. Mag Bay Tours' Steve Warren reported winds to 60 m.p.h. at San Carlos with some trees blown down, but otherwise light damage to the town. It was estimated that the camp at Punta Entrada would be operational again by about Wednesday of this week. Freitag said the pre-storm surf was excellent last week, and clients were reluctant to be evacuated when the time came. "Surf was big all week thanks to Juliette," he said. "The surfers were not happy to leave ten-foot plus waves when we evacuated them from the island on Wednesday evening. But, when the first rain squalls hit Thursday morning they were happy to be headed for Loreto."
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of BAJA ON THE FLY said the pre-storm fishing around San Carlos during the first part of the week was good. "The entrada was worth the ride to get there this week," he said. "Good yellowtail, along with some good grouper fishing kept the few that made the trip from Puerto San Carlos happy. "Offshore, the best fishing reported was closer to shore along the 100 fathom curve. Dorado, tuna, skipjack and a few marlin provided the action." Graham reported local air temperatures of 73-86 degrees as the storm approached Bahia Magdalena.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson's GORDO BANKS PANGAS was out of touch most of the week, although he did manage a last-minute cell phone call to his mother in San Diego, saying that all pangas were pulled and safely stored at his house in La Playita.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Mark Rayor of VISTA SEA SPORT had no diving conditions report due to severe weather conditions. A last minute email report to his brother Dave in San Diego, however, said that all preparations had been made for the storm, and everyone was safe.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: RANCHO LEONERO's John Ireland relayed a satellite phone message saying that East Cape waters were very rough Thursday through Sunday with winds to 80 m.p.h., and rains damaging local roads heavily. The hotel itself had sustained minimal damage, partly due to the quick work of manager Gary Barnes-Web on a D-3 Caterpillar to prevent flooding.
Rancho Leonero and the surrounding area had been hit with 36 continuous hours of downpour, Ireland said, but local authorities had the situation well in hand and there was no danger to the local population. Ireland said that the low lying areas of the village of La Ribera had lost some buildings and erosion was very heavy in places.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Dave Dixon reporting for Gil Mendiaz of EAST CAPE SPORT FISHING said that operations were set to resume as soon as the water settled down, and that the fleet was offering a promotional special "D4F" rate, standing for "Day 4 Free." This special promotion is valid through December 31st, and gives guests a day of free fishing and hotel accommodations for each 3 days fished.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At RANCHO BUENA VISTA, Tami Moyeous said that Tony Maron had pulled all boats early and "battened down all hatches" for the storm. Reservations at the hotel were already picking up for October in anticipation that operations would be back to normal in a few days.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: BAJA ON THE FLY's Gary Graham got out a last minute report just before the storm hit on Wednesday, saying that East Cape water temperatures were 80-87 degrees, air temperature 84-95 degrees, and everyone is "busy as hell" getting ready for the blow. "The pending hurricane notwithstanding, fishing has continued at a blistering pace," Graham said. "Tuna led the charge this week with the dorado a close second. You only had to travel five or six miles to be into some of the best tuna fishing experienced this year. See-through deceivers and Clousers both worked well. Same with the dorado and, as promised, there were some nice ones mixed in. "Back closer to the beach, both the jacks and roosters couldn't resist a well-placed popper. I was throwing a surface popper teaser with the hooks removed the other day and a 45-pound rooster almost took it away from me. Then, before I could get the teaser out of the water, a school of 20-pound jacks chased it all the way back to the pontoon boat. The beach was lightly fished this week, but the results continued to be spectacular."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of TAIL HUNTER INTERNATIONAL reported an almost complete shutdown of the city during the storm, saying, "Flooding. No power or water for a few days. Port closed down. Get the picture? As of the time you're reading this, things should be back to normal, but mostly, we've lost last week and this coming week in terms of reservations and flights. It will take a few days for the water to work itself out so by the end of the week it should be fishable and diveable."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: David Jones of FISHERMEN'S FLEET sent a last second report Wednesday as he waited for the storm to hit. "Sittin' in the office, waitin' for the 'cane. This is a big one. It hasn't been a good couple of weeks for travelers, or those of us waiting for them, but we need to count ourselves lucky in the whole scheme of things. "Fishing continues undaunted by wind or rain or the Taliban squad either. Dorado have been pretty much jumpin' into the boat--I swore I'd never use that phrase. They aren't big ones, but the 8-15 pound dorado with occasional 25 pounders have been in close to Punta Arena and along in front of the hotel. "Tuna have slacked off just a little from the A-Grade bite that we have been having for the last month or so. Tuna are still around the light house, Punta Perico, the south point, and Los Viejos, but they seem to have gone deep. Weights, and some more dedicated chumming, and a little patience have been the key to some nice catches to 50 pounds. Sailfish have had a little spurt this week, with probably 8 being hooked and released. Chuck Girtz had 2, with fish both at the Bajo and at Las Arenas. The fishing has been very good, with full ice chests for those of you clever, persistent, and brave or foolish enough to travel during these days."
LORETO, MEXICO: There were no fishing reports at all from Loreto last week, but Wendy Wilchynski of the beautiful VILLAS DE LORETO beach front hotel was determined to get local business going again with a spectacular one-half price deal for any guests arriving during the entire month of October. Based on double occupancy, Villas de Loreto is offering six nights for $130 U.S. per person, undoubtedly the best rate anywhere in Baja at the moment for this level of right-on-the-beach accommodations. For reservations, dial directly from the U.S., 011-52-113-50586.
MULEGE, MEXICO: Fly-in resident RON GRANT reported continued good action on dorado just before the rough water arrived, and the good news for pilots that effective Saturday, the U.S. border was opened to all general aviation aircraft. The only remaining restriction, Grant said, was that all aircraft were required to contact San Diego radio at 122.5, prior to crossing the border.
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: At Bahia de los Angeles, Abraham Vazquez of CAMP GECKO said that business had rebounded after a slow week following the East Coast terrorist attacks. "Now the camp is almost full, the same with Daggets camp," he said. "When I asked some of the people why they had decided to vacation here the answer I got was 'can you think of a safer place?' so at least for now we're doing fine." On Sunday, Vazquez said it rained all day after 10 a.m. with wind gusts to 25 m.p.h. He predicted a total of half and inch of precipitation if the rain continued through the night, and as of Sunday evening, here was no damage to the Bahia de los Angeles area.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Cathy Ward-Burson of JIGSTOP TOURS reported that the panga mothership, Captain Villegas, returned from a 6-day Midriff Islands trip with the following fish count for 20 anglers: 190 dorado averaging 20 pounds, 168 yellowtail averaging 30 pounds, 64 cabrilla averaging 12 pounds, and 49 pargo averaging 8 pounds. Dennis Hanson of West Point, CA scored on a 68-pound white seabass. Fishing conditions were calm at the islands with water temperature averaging 78-79 degrees. The Captain Villegas fished the San Francisquito area for dorado, and Isla San Esteban for yellowtail. Ward-Burson said the boat is now booking trips for 2001, including its 6 and 8-day trips to Isla Socorro.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: TONY REYES FISHING TOURS checked in with the following report for a 6-day trip to the islands by the Jose Andres: water temperature 80 degrees. Fish count: 162 spotted bass; 100 cabrilla, 12.5-16 pounds; 86 dorado, 12-21 pounds; 80 yellowtail, 20-24 pounds; 10 barred pargo, 7-10 pounds; 7 sheephead, 6-8 pounds; 3 white seabass to 44 pounds; 1 broomtail grouper, 12 pounds; 1 grouper, 55 pounds.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: At Mazatlan, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said fishing had been on the upswing until the port closure on Thursday. Overall counts for ARIES SPORTFISHING FLEET included 21 sailfish, 25 yellowfin tuna, and 43 dorado up to that point. Mazatlan weather was warm and humid with afteroon thundershowers and a very heavy west southwest swell. Best fishing was 25-30 miles southwest of Marina el Cid. Rigged baits were working best for the billfish and dorado, but the yellowfin tuna were hitting primarily on feathers, Edwards said.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Marcos Vargas of VARGAS SPORTFISHING said there were very few people fishing at Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo due to swells reaching 15 feet during the week, but without much wind or rain. By Saturday, the sun had returned and swells were down to about 6 feet. Vargas reported that the fleet is offering a 20% discount on all charters, including fishing licenses, baits, and drinks.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Paul Phillips of FINTASTIC said there was no major damage in Ixtapa-Zhuatanejo, but no fishing activity either, as Hurricane Juliette effectively closed down boating.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: At IXTAPA SPORTFISHING CHARTERS, Stan Lushinkey and Susan Richards said the boat Suerte Ruby fished on Thursday with captain Vito Lara, and caught 2 dorado to 30 pounds. They said the 2001 Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Tag & Release Tournament slated for November 7-8-9 will be held as scheduled.