CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Striped marlin action dropped off sharply in cooling waters off the tip of Baja California last week, and most boats were filling out their catches with school-sized yellowfin tuna, or sierra caught near shore.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: PICANTE FLEET'S Roberto Juarez reported Cabo water temperatures of 67 to 70 degrees, air temperatures of 63 to 81 degrees, humidity 41 percent, and winds of 10 to 12 knots on both the Pacific and Cortez sides. \
Three boats chartered on Friday produced a combined catch of 1 striped marlin, 6 dorado, and 32 yellowfin tuna, fishing mostly at the Golden Gate Bank on the Pacific Side.
Sportfishing Captain Castro reported a total of 178 billfish released during 2001, including 163 striped marlin, 5 blue marlin, and 10 sailfish, according to Pisces Fleet's Tracy Ehrenberg, who said that the actual number of fish released was about 25 percent higher than the official tally, since many times a release report is not submitted. During 2001, Castro fished on the Pisces boats Andrea, and later, the Tracy Ann.
"Julio is a man of few words," said Ehrenberg. "He was born in La Ribera, April 28, 1965, and he has four sons. He has fished ever since he can remember, and most of his adult life has been spent fishing with Pisces. He has gone from success to success. Back in the early 90s, he caught a 156-pound blue marlin on 6-pound test."
Ellen Peel, Executive Director of the Billfish Foundation, said, "The Hugo Cesena Billfish Conservation Award is in honor of the late Capt. Hugo Cesena, who was killed in a tragic accident in 1998. Hugo was a great conservation ambassador and TBF supporter who worked hard to pass on the release ethic. Cabo Yachts sponsors the award, which includes a check in the amount of $1,000 for Julio.
Congratulations to Julio and the entire Pisces team! TBF appreciates your support of the catch-and-release ethic! Keep up the great work!"
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of CABO MAGIC reported on six boats chartered during the week, producing a combined catch of 21 yellowfin tuna (including an 80-pounder), 11 dorado to 35 pounds, and 8 sierra.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: SOLMAR FLEET manager Rene Santa Cruz called the lack of billfish "historic" as Solmar's 27-boat fleet reported only 1 striped marlin caught during the week.
"There was a significant number of yellowfin tuna taken during the week," reported Santa Cruz, "but that news was totally overshadowed by the mysterious disappearance of marlin from Solmar teasers and lures--all the more mysterious because of favorable weather conditions, including calm seas and water temperatures around 70 degrees."
Solmar's top boat was the 31-foot Torito, which located the week's only marlin for Carla Bender and Dan Quail of New York City. Their marlin was taken 30 miles off the 220 Spot on live mackerel, and was accompanied by 16 yellowfin tuna, including fish of 60 and 80 pounds.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Capt. George Landrum of FLY HOOKER SPORT FISHING said the majority of marlin caught last week were hooked with mackerel on temperature breaks found after making long runs from the arch.
"In the beginning of the week, the hot spot was 74 degrees (water temperature) and was located 20 miles southeast," he said. "By midweek, it was a very long 40-mile run, out of range for most of the boats. Instead, the direction of choice was due west where the San Jaime Banks had started to warm up. That was the destination for most of the boats."
Landrum said mackerel and caballito baits are in good supply, but sardinas are still scarce in near shore water temperatures averaging about 69 degrees.
Yellowfin tuna, mostly school-sized and mixed with porpoise, were found by many boats, both offshore on the temperature breaks, and as close as 16 miles south and west of the arch during the second half of the week. Dorado action was generally slow, except for a few boats finding pockets of schooling fish associated with floating debris.
Inshore, Landrum said very good action on sierra was found in an early morning bite that shuts down by 8:30 a.m. Other species available included jack crevalle, small roosterfish, snappers, bonito, skipjack, and near shore dorado.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of CORTEZ YACHT CHARTERS said GAVIOTA FLEET'S overall count included 6 striped marlin (3 released), 18 dorado, and 95 yellowfin tuna. Edwards said the action on sierra last week was "terrific for the light tackle enthusiast," and Joe Kitagawa and his son, of Thermal, CA, leadered about 40 of them aboard the super panga El Tapir. The largest fish of the week was a 200-pound striper taken aboard the Gaviota VIII by Mike Costello of Denver, CO. Gaviota Fleet boats found their best yellowfin tuna action concentrated 22 miles south of the arch, Edwards said, but billfish action was "scattered."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Beach fishing expert Jeff Klassen of JEFF KLASSEN SPORT FISHING said lots of sierra have been hitting near the arch, and along shore on both the Pacific and Cortez sides, including a 38-release morning by Jerry Hall of Cayton, WA.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Sammy Susarrey of LILY FLEET was putting the finishing touches on repainting the Tamara, and expected to have it back in the water this week. On Saturday, the Amigo and Lily caught lingcod and some barracuda in about 135 feet of water at Todos Santos Island, using UFO #3 jigs and frozen squid. Susarrey said there was a lot of surface action on birds around the island, but no yellowtail were caught.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Eddie Marquez of DON EDDIE'S LANDING and TIBURON'S PANGAS said the hotel was 75 percent full at midweek, as a steady stream of visitors continued to stop at San Quintin for fishing and hunting. Tony Marquez of Don Eddie's said about 10 private boats and about 15 chartered pangas fished last week, with a total of about 45 anglers. Yellowtail action has dropped off in recent weeks, but limits continued for virtually everyone on abundant rockfish, whitefish, and sand bass, plus the third giant black seabass caught this season, Marquez said. Lingcod continue to be caught, but the action was somewhat slower last week.
Catches out of Don Eddie's Landing for the week included 18 yellowtail between 8 and 14 pounds, limits of rockcod at the 240 Spot, limits of sandbass at San Ramon, 6 barracuda at the 240 spot, and a 92.5-pound giant black seabass caught at Isla San Martin. The big black seabass was caught by a first-time group from La Quinta, CA, including Mike Cline, Jim Miline, and Dave Stathem, on their boat City Slicker, fishing with local guide, Capt. Bear. Other giant black seabass caught during the last year included a 185-pound fish caught in May by Alfredo Larin of Hawaiian Gardens, CA, and a 98-pounder caught by Bev "Juanita" Hawley of Santee, CA.
Marquez said, "San Quintin weather was great for the week, cooling down on Friday and Saturday, with an overcast that didn't clear up, winds that picked up, and rough seas. Sunday was sunny in the morning, but the seas stayed the same." Water temperatures averaged about 58 degrees during the week.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Jim Harer of the OLD MILL HOTEL almost missed making his report on Sunday, as he was delayed by a large herd of sheep and goats while making his way to the phone. "I guess that's our version of a traffic jam!" he joked. Harer wanted to make sure readers understood last week's report was for 9 groups of hunters scoring 200 black brant on the bay, not just 9 hunters. "Hunters are really allowed their limits, and no more!" he said. This week, 5 groups of hunters shot 115 birds, 2 with bands from Canada and 2 with Alaskan bands, Harer said. The present brant count is 24,000 birds on the bay, and only one weekend of hunting remains for the season this year. Harer said, "This holiday weekend has brought a welcome influx of tourists who are not only hunting and fishing, but are traveling to see the whale migration, sightseeing, relaxing, surfing, and riding dirt bikes."
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: For PEDRO'S PANGAS, Harer reported that 7 boats chartered during the week produced limits of rockcod, whitefish, calico bass, lingcod to 24 pounds, and yellowtail to 15 pounds off Isla San Martin. Pete Hillis, of Pedro's Pangas, said the big lingcod was caught by Jessie Roble of Chula Vista, while fishing at Ben's Rock and the 240 Spot. A private boat also ran into a late afternoon yellowtail bite at Isla San Martin that netted 10 fish of 10 to 12 pounds.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Gene Allshouse of SAN QUINTIN SPORTFISHING, launching out of the Cielito Lindo motel, said the best yellowtail bite has been on the northwest side of Isla San Martin, either on yo-yo or live mackerel, and bass, sculpin and whitefish are biting off the point on Scampis tipped with squid. Halibut fishing is still slow, Allshouse said. Also, he relayed an out-of-season report for yellowfin tuna: "Please take the following for what it's worth but, a local commercial shark fisherman (a reliable friend) reported to me Tuesday that they spotted tuna just 16 miles out on a 255 heading. All I can tell you is this is normally where we first catch them down here, and I assure you I will know for sure by next weekend."
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Doris Middleton of LAGUNA TOURS said the gray whale count at Scammon's Lagoon is ready to go over a thousand this week. On Saturday, 945 whales were counted in the lagoon, most of them with young, and more are arriving hourly.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of BAJA ON THE FLY said whale watching is keeping local pangueros from doing much fishing, and there isn't much action anyway. "The warm water reported up at the Thetis Bank has dissipated," he said, "but, there are still a few small dorado and yellowfin tuna near the shark buoys."
Magdalena Bay air and water temperatures were both about 60 to 71 degrees, Graham said, and the recent increase in sardine boat netting inside the bay and even up in the mangrove channels has had a negative effect on fishing. "I'm afraid that the indiscriminate netting is beginning to take its toll. Last month you could hardly keep the corvina away from your fly, and this month all that is left are a few smaller fish," he said. Other fishing around the bay was also generally slow, as the annual low-point for the year approaches.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Brian Freitag of MAG BAY TOURS said, "We are in the Fred Hall Show, finally!" referring to the Long Beach show on March 6-10. Freitag said Mag Bay Tours will be offering a new fishing package at the show. Called "Camp & Champ," it is an 8-day trip with anglers spending three days at the camp on Bahia Magdalena and panga fishing inshore and in the mangroves, and then 3 days of offshore fishing on the 75-foot boat, Champ. While offshore fishing, anglers will have private staterooms, and the trips include transfers from Loreto, hotel, and all but one meal. Eight trips are scheduled, beginning on November 23, Freitag said.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Local residents continue to report unlicensed pangas netting sierra along the beaches at San Jose del Cabo and selling thousands of kilos of illegally-caught fish. They took a couple of days off, after flooding the local market at the beginning of the week, but were at it again on Saturday.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Meanwhile, Eric Brictson of GORDO BANKS PANGAS said water temperatures ranged from 69 to 74 degrees last week, and the La Playita sport fishing fleets were still fishing in generally slow conditions.
"The overall bite did improve some, especially closer to shore for sierra, despite the lack of live sardinas. Anglers were easily able to land a dozen or more early in the morning.
"The pangas found the most consistent action from La Fortuna to San Luis Bank. There were reports of large schools of skipjack and bolito, which in turn should attract larger game fish. Anglers working yo-yo jigs off the bottom found amberjack, skipjack, bonita, pargo, cabrilla, and grouper, but these fish were not numerous and required persistent work and lots of patience.
"A few 15 to 20-pound yellowfin tuna were also taken from these banks on Rapalas and yo-yos, but it was generally considered fortunate if one or two were accounted for."
Visitors were few at San Jose del Cabo last week, Brictson said, as fishing activity neared its low-point for year. "Though the fishing was considered only marginal by typical Cabo standards, the majority of visitors were enjoying themselves. February is probably the all-around toughest month of the year and catches should only improve."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Local fishing picked up last week, as anglers enjoyed a brief respite from the north winds that have been blowing all winter long.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Chris Moyers of EAST CAPE SMOKEHOUSEe reported that the Van Wormer resorts of HOTELS PALMAS DE CORTEZ, PLAYA DEL SOL, PUNTA COLORADA sent out 21 charter boats during the week, with a combined catch of: 87 dorado, 2 pargo, 7 yellowtail, 2 cabrilla, and 15 sierra. Water temperatures averaged 66 degrees, and air temperatures ranged from 58 to 76 degrees. Moyers said, "In the first 15 days of February we have seen 3 days that were calm enough to call good fishing days. The winds from the northeast have averaged 25 to 30 m.p.h. on windy days and have reached 38 to 40 m.p.h. on two occasions.
"On Monday and Tuesday, the boats that braved the weather did well on dorado north at the shark buoys, using sardines. The remainder of activity has been south from La Ribera to Cabo Pulmo. Sierra and small dorado have been close to shore, also biting sardines.
"The interesting story of the week has been several reports of yellowtail in the 20 to 30-pound range moving up to the La Ribera area. The local pangueros have been catching them on live mackerel. They yo-yo over the pargo banks off La Ribera. I saw at least 10 this size on Thursday on the beach, but didn't include them in our numbers because they were hand-lined by commercial fishermen. At least we know they are there."
"Wednesday and Thursday were beautiful days, and Friday morning was perfect. Local lore has it that if November is windy, followed by a rough February, spring comes early, and March is a good month for fishing. All are anxious for March to come. Only two more weeks."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Mark Rayor of VISTA SEA SPORT had some thoughts on the changes that have come recently to the East Cape area:
"The growth is a little frightening. Eleven years ago, if we heard a car coming down our road after dark, I would jump up wondering who was coming. Two years ago, we had to move because there was so much traffic on that road 24 hours a day we couldn't sleep. Some of the change is good. Some of it, I guess we will just have to buck up and accept, because I don't think we will ever find another paradise like this one."
"I see all the signs of an early spring," Rayor said. "Our normal winter green water is clearing up. Every year we get small patches of red tide. Nothing major, just little spots that last a few days. Yesterday that phenomena started to occur. It is very early. I am looking for the water to warm, the north wind to stop, and afternoon breezes to prevail from the south early this season.
"One thing that has not changed is the SOB's coming from the mainland with gill nets. Same as always, they are scattered everywhere. Now the noise from the motors of the shrimp boats can be heard all night. Dead puffers and other sea life are littered all over our beaches. Hope somebody figures it out before it is to late."
Rayor said he won't have a booth at Fred Hall, but he and wife, Jennifer, will be there on Friday and Saturday, so please look for them.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At RANCHO LEONERO, John Ireland said some boats snuck out last week and found fishing "pretty darned good."
"Yellowtail and all the sierra you want are biting aggressively inshore," he said, "and dorado are being taken outside. There are lots of tailing marlin, but they are very line shy. The yellowtail are directly off the lighthouse and La Ribera. Some real size, to 43 pounds. Live sardinas with a small sinker is best. The sierra are close inshore. Early morning and late evening are best, with fish to 6 pounds taking live sardinas and hoochies."
Leonero's top anglers for the week were Andrew and Andrew Murphy (dad and son) of Lafayette, CA, who took 3 yellowtail to 35 pounds from a super panga.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of BAJA ON THE FLY said the break from the wind finally gave beach fishing a boost. "As expected, when the wind backs off, the fishing immediately picks up," he said. "The beach from Rancho Leonero to Scott Glenn's house produced a handful of ladyfish and a few small jacks. This morning, we revisited the area and caught more ladyfish, jacks, and even the ever-present trumpetfish." Beach water temperatures averaged 67 to 69 degrees, Graham said.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Very few anglers visited the La Paz area last week. Jonathan Roldan of TAIL HUNTER INTERNATIONAL said he will be at the Fred Hall Show, as usual, and fishing has been on and off. "Some good days and some bad days down here this past week. Winds coming from the north made it a little bumpy a few days, then on other days it laid down nicely. Just that time of the year." Roldan said the hammerhead shark are at El Bajo now, and he reminded anglers of his "Rockfish Lip Ripper" personally-guided trip to La Paz, April 12-16, and the saltwater fly fishing school sponsored by Western Outdoor News, June 27 to July 1.
LORETO, MEXICO: The Vagabundos del Mar travel club will host a two-day saltwater fly fishing seminar in Loreto, June 25-26. The beginners class will be taught by Idaho guide, Joh Matson, and is free for club members. Matson said non-members may attend the course simply by joining the non-profit club, which costs $35 per year.
Titled "Flatten Out Your Learning Curve," the course will be taught at the Vagabundo lodging facilities in Loreto, and it will include sessions on tackle, rigging, castings, and fly-tying. Participants will need to bring their own 8-10WT outfits, or outfits may be purchased or rented by special arrangement, Matson said. A third day of fishing may also be arranged. Contact: John Matson, email@example.com, 208-354-2400.
LORETO, MEXICO: Arturo Susarrey of ARTURO'S SPORT FISHING said Loreto got a break from the wind toward the end of the week, and the San Nicolas Camp trips sponsored by John and Shari Mestrin's Blue Water Tours are reporting "abundant" surface yellowtail of 25 to 35 pounds around Punta Pulpito. "Today was gorgeous," Susarrey said. "For the yellowtail, we recommend you bring Salas 6X Junior jigs in various colors. We don't have a report from Isla Coronado or Isla Carmen, because it was windy."
Susarrey said Loreto air temperatures have ranged from 56 to 78 degrees, and bottom fish, including cabrilla, snappers, and triggerfish, are steady under the yellowtail. Mackerel and sardinas are available at the marina, and mackerel is also being caught 2 miles northeast.
MULEGE, MEXICO: SEMATUR confirmed last week that ferry service has been temporarily suspended from Santa Rosalia to Guaymas, and also from La Paz to Topolobampo. Service was expected to resume in one month, the La Paz office said.
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: Abraham Vazquez of CAMP GECKO at Bahia de los Angeles said water temperatures have been in the upper 50s, with temperatures recorded as low as 56 degrees, and air temperatures were from 52 degrees to the low 70s. When boats can get out through the wind, Vazquez said yellowtail fishing has been slower recently, but some boats have been making decent catches. He had one unconfirmed report of a boat bringing back 51 yellowtail of 10 to 15 pounds from Los Machos (the legal limit for 10 anglers would be 50 fish). "Way beyond limits, but I guess if they can get away they will continue to do it," Vazquez said. "In any case, the catch has been on iron almost entirely."
Vazquez said bottom fishing is good, and there are no whales in the bay yet, although there are many porpoise cruising the shore. The road to town is in good condition for 5 miles, then with moderate potholes. Gasoline is available at the village at 135 pesos for 5 gallons.
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Vince Radice of the SONORAN SPORT CENTER said the town is buzzing with news that it can hire its own enforcement officer for about 8,000 pesos per month, and he expects local businesses will approve the new measure soon. "I have been really busy with whale watching as well," Radice said. "We have had 10 trips since January 4, and seen whales 8 times!! Got some I.D. shots today of a female and her baby. It is so hard to get a good finback shot, but today was special. Apparently there is little known on whether these whales stay in the Cortez all year long, or migrate from somewhere else."
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Thanks to the efforts of local captains, and to the promoters of two IGFA-sanctioned fall season tournaments, the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area is quickly transforming its reputation from a former sailfish killing ground to an emerging headquarters for progressive tag-and-release fishing. Both of Ixtapa's tag-and-release tournaments are qualifying events for the 2003 IGFA-Rolex Offshore Championship Tournament (the 2002 event will be held this May at Cabo San Lucas), and although they both promote the release ethic, they vary somewhat in format and rules.
First off the blocks this fall will be the Fintastic Zihuatanejo Offshore Total Tag & Release Tournament, promoted by Paul Phillips, and scheduled Nov. 7-8-9. This is an offshore-only tournament requiring the live release of all billfish entered. Cash prizes will be awarded according to the number of fish caught, their species, and whether or not they were successfully tagged. Tournament points are awarded for releasing blue marlin (200 points), black marlin (200 points), swordfish (200 points), striped marlin (150 points), spearfish (100 points), and sailfish (100 points). An additional 50 points is earned for tagging any of these species. Fishing results are confirmed by either an on-board observer, or a registered video camera.
More information on the Fintastic tournament is available at: Fintastic's Tag & Release Billfish Tournament, 3566 Elk Rd., Westbank, BC V4T 2H4, Canada; Tel 250-768-3537, Fax 250-768-3592, www.fintastic.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Immediately following, on Nov. 11-12-13, is the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Total Tag & Release Tournament, promoted by Stan Lushinsky and Susan Richards of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters.
This tournament, also an IGFA-Rolex qualifying event, is somewhat more complex in format, and offers an offshore conventional/fly fishing division, and an inshore fly fishing-only division. Fishing results for this tournament will be confirmed by supplied on-board observers, who will be rotated for each day of fishing. The inshore fly fishing tournament offers points earned for each successfully released fish, plus extra, size points for up to six fish which may be measured before they are released. Various multiplying factors are applied to each fish species to determine the total number of points earned.
The offshore division of this tournament will award points for released fish, 25 extra points for fish successfully tagged, and double points for fish caught on fly tackle. The basic species points awarded are: sailfish (100 points), blue and black marlin (250 points), swordfish (300 points), and spearfish (300 points). More information on the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Total Tag & Release Tournament is available at: Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters, Tel. 570-688-9466, www.ixtapasportfishing.com, email@example.com.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: The raging sailfish bite continues unabated. Stan Lushinsky of IXTAPA SPORTFISHING CHARTERS said his boats last week landed 157 sailfish, 21 dorado, 2 marlin, 5 roosterfish, 16 yellowtail jacks, 1 bigeye jack, and 1 amberjack. Leading the charge was a "Mr. Maestri" fishing aboard the Vamonos II with Capt. Jamie Morales. Maestri landed 27 sailfish, 6 dorado, and the amberjack in 3 days of fishing. Tim Hoare also landed 27 sailfish in 3 days, in addition to other fish, with Capt. Adolpho on the Dos Hermanos.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Marcos Vargas of VARGAS SPORTFISHING reported on 44 chartered fishing days during the past 2 weeks: 137 sailfish, and 17 dorado. "This is the best season, and we have so many fishermen down here," Vargas said. Ixtapa water temperatures averaged 84 degrees, with no wind, and blue water was only 9 miles out, Vargas said.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Ed Kunze of MAR Y TIERRA SPORTFISHING said, "We are having a great week. The highlight was the second annual Beyond Boundaries Zero-Stress Fly Fishing Tournament. It is a small 3-day tournament with only 10 anglers and 5 boats, but the participants are very devoted to the sport of fly fishing and tag-and-release.
"Founded by Mike Trotter of Baronof Wilderness Lodge in Alaska and Fish About Sport Fishing Adventures' Howard McKinney, the tournament gives a 100 percent payback to the doctors and dentists of Zihuatanejo. The funds are given to certain doctors and dentists that are charitable to the poor children in the community. These doctors and dentists have treated children when they knew there was no way a payment was forthcoming.
"The final tally of the tournament resulted in 16 sailfish caught, tagged and released. That is a considerable feat when considering they were limited to 22-pound leaders and IGFA rules."
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Paul Phillips of the FINTASTIC TOTAL CATCH & RELEASE TOURNAMENT said Capts. Margarito, Santiago, Alfredo, and Javier averaged tagging 5 sailfish a day on conventional tackle, and Capt. Ed Kunze averaged 3 per day on flies. "Several boats are having one or more double-digit days per week," Phillips said.