SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: La Playita pangas enjoyed good weather and sea conditions last week, and they were averaging 2 to 6 fish per day, including billfish, dorado, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, skipjack, sierra, and bottom fish, according to Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas.
"The wahoo bite has continued to be impressive," Brictson said, "with fish in all directions. The numbers dropped as the full moon developed, though they were still taken daily. Many wahoo were seen free swimming as boats were drift fishing, but it was another story enticing them to bite.
There are concentrations of wahoo on the banks, but they have not shown much interest in trolled lures. The pangueros that had the expertise and patience to chum up a few chihuil on the Inner Gordo Bank reported these candy baits guaranteed a wahoo strike. Chihuil have been tougher than usual to find, sometimes taking an hour to catch just one or two.
"Near Gray Rock and on the Pacific side, wahoo were hitting both lures and live skipjack. This is where the larger fish to 90 pounds were found."
San Jose del Cabo weather was in the mid-80s, with water temperatures holding at about 78 to 80 degrees. Sardina bait fish were available along shore from Punta Palmilla to Cabo Real, and small skipjack were also being used for bait.
Brictson said the action tapered off last week for dorado and yellowfin tuna, although both were still being caught to about 20 to 30 pounds.
"When anglers found themselves in the right place, they could catch a dozen nice tuna," Brictson said. "On Friday, Walt Soper from the Oceanside Senior Anglers hooked into a 108-pound fish that hit on 50-pound line with several small sardinas pinned on one hook.
Soper was fishing with panga skipper Chame Pino, and battled the fish for one-and-a-half hours. They also landed nice-sized wahoo and dorado on the same day."
Beach fishing was slow, except for smaller pompano and croaker, and some roosterfish seen chasing bait but not hooked.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Surface action slowed down in dropping water temperatures last week, but pangas fishing around the tip of Punta Banda were still scoring on good bottom fish catches of lingcod, rockcod, and a few yellowtail to 25 pounds. Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet had Bill Lewis, Max Welch, and Rich Johnson of Yuma out for limits off the bottom, caught with anchovies and Scampis, including a 20-pound lingcod. Jay Johnson of Fontana also limited out, and had a 25-pound yellowtail on iron. Punta Banda weather was generally sunny in the mid-70s, with light winds, and water temperatures of about 61 degrees.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Eddie Marquez of Don Eddie's Landing said practically nobody was fishing out of Bahia de San Quintin last week, although the weather was good and there were plenty of fish on the bottom, including sandbass, calico bass, red rockcod, whitefish, and the usual heavy catches of good-sized lingcod. Marquez went out twice during the week, scoring on white seabass on one trip and a "heavy, heavy" catch of sandbass on another. The yellowtail action has dropped off sharply, Marquez said, with only about 8 caught during the week by all boats combined. "The surface action is very slow," he said, "but as always, there are lots of fish on the bottom." San Quintin weather was cool in the evenings, but sunny during the days, with very little afternoon winds. Lots of black brant are arriving for the hunters now, Marquez said, and the hunting permits, which have been delayed this year, are expected in a couple of weeks.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Nancy Harer of the Old Mill Hotel said there were some racers from the Baja 1000 in last week, but few people were fishing.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said the annual fall Thetis Bank fish pile-up continued to live up to its reputation last week, producing double-digit striped marlin hook-ups for most boats in "flat calm weather." Graham commented on this year's heavy concentration of other species in addition to the usual striped marlin: "Dorado and wahoo were a nuisance, actually competing with the billfish for the teasers."
Dorado and yellowtail to about 20 pounds were near the entrada, Graham said, and good action for snook, grouper, and corvina was available in the esteros for panga anglers. Smaller yellowtail were still hitting near shore at Punta Hughes. Baja On The Fly's first mangrove trip of the season was scheduled Jan. 3-7, and Graham said there are also two spots available on the Dec. 5-13 Thetis Bank Marlin 101 trip.
San Carlos weather was calm in the mid-60s, with water temperatures of 72 to 79 degrees.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Striped marlin catches were subpar last week, with about 50 percent of boats landing a billfish, but dorado remained steady, wahoo were still unusually abundant, and scattered large to very large yellowfin tuna continued to be caught.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of Cabo Magic reported on 51 boats chartered during the week with a combined catch including released fish of: 22 striped marlin, 5 blue marlin, 1 sailfish, 148 dorado, 70 yellowfin tuna, 7 wahoo, and 1 red snapper.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: About 150 other fleet and private boats had a combined catch including released fish of about: 61 striped marlin, 18 blue marlin, 2 sailfish, 99 dorado, 55 yellowfin tuna, and 17 wahoo.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Pisces Fleet, Tracy Ehrenberg reported yellowfin tuna catches of 230, 120, 130, 210, and 150 pounds, in addition to smaller fish. The 130 pounder was caught on La Brisa by Norman Don and Owen Kaiser of Tucson, and was fought for 5 hours on 60-pound line after it hit a red-black lure. The largest fish of the week, the 230 pounder, was caught on Ruthless by Steven Kempe of Houston.
Other notable catches for Pisces Fleet included a 290-pound black marlin by Alden Armstrong on Rebecca, and a double on striped marlin aboard Adriana by Kevin Williams.
"Despite these excellent results," Ehrenberg said, "the billfish catch rate is still much lower than we expect for this time of year at 49 percent. We are just going into the time of year when the striped marlin are found down deep, so crews are now switching to using live bait with sinkers, rather than casting to them on the surface."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Cabo San Lucas weather was excellent, with sunny skies, mostly calm seas, and water temperatures of 79 to 81 degrees, and the best fishing was found on the Pacific side from the Old Lighthouse to the Golden Gate Bank.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Capt. Ken Toy who guides at Cabo San Lucas monthly from his base at Aspen, CO had a career morning on Nov. 16 about 2 miles off the hotels between Cabeza de Ballena and the arch. Toy called it his "best day guiding in 5 years" as he used the same Mean Joe Green Zuker lure to land 3 blue marlin in a row between 9 a.m. and noon on 50-pound Izor line and a Penn 50TW, fishing on the Bertram 31 Fish Tales. Toy, who also fishes on the Minerva I, said he came back the next day and caught a big wahoo on the same lure. Two of his blues were tagged and released, and but the other could not be tagged because the stick broke.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Picante Fleet reported on 6 boats chartered Friday with a catch including released fish of: 4 striped marlin, 2 blue marlin, 13 dorado, 9 yellowfin tuna, and 4 wahoo.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Capt. George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing said dorado were filling the ice chests for many boats: "Thank goodness for dorado this week. If not for these great fish, many of the boats would not be flying any flags at all. The dorado were running from 15 to 25 pounds, and most of them were found by trolling artificials, then switching to live bait once the schools were located. Our fish this week seemed to show a preference for the Pacific side of the cape, and most of them were only a short distance from shore."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Chris Moyers of East Cape Smoke House, reporting for combined fleets including the Van Wormer resorts of Palmas de Cortez, Playa del Sol, and Punta Colorada, said 37 boats chartered during the week had a combined catch including released fish of: 1 blue marlin, 3 striped marlin, 133 dorado, 23 yellowfin tuna, and 10 roosterfish. East Cape weather was about 90 degrees, occasionally windy to very windy in the afternoons, with water temperatures ranging from 77 to 84 degrees.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Martin Verdugo's Beach Resort, Marisol Verdugo George reported few anglers fishing, and just a couple of boats per day going out, including pangas and super pangas. Fishing was hampered by wind, but one boat caught 7 dorado, including 5 fish of 30 pounds, and 2 of 48 pounds. Another boat scored a double on hard-to-locate striped marlin.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said, "With few guests at the hotels and even fewer boats going out this week, it is difficult to assess conditions. Sailfish seem to be making their seasonal exit. There are still a few stripers and blues to be found for the persistent angler, but not enough for the flyrodder. Forget about the tuna. They seem to be moving further away, with the best bet being dorado up at the shark buoys in front of Punta Pescadero."
Inshore, some jacks and roosterfish were still being found near the lighthouse, and smaller roosters were in front of the pangas on the beach at La Ribera. There were also plenty of sierra around the bait receivers at La Ribera, Graham said.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Barnes-Webb of Rancho Leonero said, "With the erratic conditions, many anglers concentrated on the inshore bite, with lots of pargo and jacks taken right offshore. Marlin, dorado and wahoo were all active at week's end."
Barnes-Webb said the best billfish action was off Punta Pescadero to the north, and there were lots of smaller schooling dorado around, averaging 10 to 15 pounds. The smaller fish were hitting live sardina around near-shore debris lines, and some larger fish were being found farther out. Angler Jack Fuller of Calgary, Alberta fished 3 days on a panga and had a catch including released fish of: 1 blue marlin, 2 dorado to 30 pounds, and numerous bonito.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Earlier, the 'Nudos Fishing Team of Dr. Miguel Jorge, Eduardo Alvarez, and Pablo Carrera fished at Hotel Punta Colorada and had mixed weather for 3 days: "Saturday was a picture perfect day. Weather was great. We landed 4 tuna to 20 pounds. We caught one 20-pound dodo and one 60-pound wahoo with a black-orange Marauder on 50-pound line," Fernando Hernandez reported.
"On Sunday, it was windy early in the morning and the sea was rough. No bait was available. At about 9:30 we found a school of dorados and took 6 of them of about 12 pounds, trolling feathers and using bonita for bait. In the afternoon, the weather began to deteriorate, and we headed back to Punta.
"On Monday, no boats went out since the weather got worse during the night and the waves were too big for comfort." The group fished on the Wahoo, mainly from El Faro to Los Frailes near shore.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Mike Rhoades of Yorba Linda fished on the Canelo with Capt. Hector for 3 days out of Rancho Leonero. "Our group caught 4 marlin, 6 dorado, and 21 tuna for our 3 days of fishing," he said. "We had many more hookups on marlin, but it seems we brought a few rancheros with us. We also caught 4 sailfish."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tail Hunter International said there were so few anglers in town it was hard to tell about the fishing. "Hard to pinpoint the solidness of the bite because there just aren't that many anglers out right now," he said.
"Winter is clearly in the wings, ready to move in, as we've got some northern breezes, but overall, conditions are excellent. Earlier in the week, we had a nice snap of late season dorado and sailfish that moved in and bent a lot of rods.
"The most productive area has been just outside Punta Perrico and Muertos Bay with fish at a healthy grade of 10 to 25 pounds and even a few sailfish still hooked up. One of the boats got a fatty wahoo as well. They cut it up on the beach before we could put a scale on it, but judging from the carcass it was a 50-pound class skinny.
"Inshore, the cabrilla and smaller pargo are biting, so there's a nice mix of fish. For those anglers working the rocks and not interested in pelagic species, cabrilla, small pargo, and some sierra have been produced. Slow-trolling a medium depth Rapala or other type of lipped crank bait above the rocks has been a good ticket, and with the sierra, it doesn't hurt to have a little wire rigged as well."
LORETO, MEXICO: Wendy Wilchynski of Villas de Loreto said visitors to the hotel are still catching dorado, and Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company was getting ready to head out over the weekend to locate a flurry of deep yellowtail near Isla Danzante to the south. Loreto weather was mostly windy, with occasional breaks, in the low-70s.
LORETO, MEXICO: Said Bolles: "Early in the week, the winds were too much to contend with, but the wind gods finally gave us a break on Thursday. We found the yellowtail to our south in good numbers and sizes. Putting the boat into Puerto Escondido makes for a nice and easy day of fishing. Live mackerel can be jigged up in short order and the fish are close, just off the east side of Isla Danzante. They are 30 pounds and up, and about 100 feet deep. If you know how to handle them, you can limit out in a few hours. There are some nice roosterfish off Punta Baja. There are plenty of pargo, sierra mackerel and barracuda around Punta Coyote." Bolles also said she's offering the $85 half-day trips to locations near town for a wide range of mixed species found just off the marina, the town beach, and northwards to the channel between Isla Coronado and shore. Species available include smaller jack crevalle, roosterfish, sierra, pargo, cabrilla, triggerfish, barracuda, and others.
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: Abraham Vazquez of Camp Gecko at Bahia de los Angeles said the winds lessened at midweek and the weather has been pleasant in the mid-80s, with dropping water temperatures of about 68 to 70 degrees, and even cooler water found in some locations. Yellowtail were available on the surface, with the best action north of Isla Smith and at Punta los Machos. "Iron is working fine, and so is live bait," Vazquez said. "Some of the boats have been reporting as many as 40 yellows in the 15-pound range, and a few of 35 and up. "We hope the weather will last, so there will be a lot of happy fishermen over the holiday. The road is a little bit damaged after the Baja 1000 race, but they are fixing it. As always, the bottom fish are hitting well."
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: At San Felipe's Title Company Bookstore overlooking the bay, Catalina Meders said the air has been "so perfect lately that people are starting to get nervous. It's just TOO good."
Meders said the Baja 1000 race got a lot of spectator action, but the big event last week was the parade for Revolution Day: "The town was treated to the most massive parade that occurs here. Almost every school child in San Felipe participates. There are supposed to be about 21,000 souls living here. Well, there were so many thousands of kids in this parade, that number can't be right! I was convinced that they were making a huge circle, changing costumes somewhere, and recycling. The costumes were traditional (boys dressed as campesinos) and unexpected (girls wielding tennis rackets, a team of U.S.-style cheerleaders). At any rate, the vendors of tamales and soda made mucho dinero."
ROCKY POINT (PUERTO PENASCO), MEXICO: At Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Dale Donaldson of Santiago's Ocean Services said black sea bass are running early this year. "At locations 50 miles from Rocky Point, you'll find these big fish. The biggest black brought in on one of our boats was right at 300 pounds. Water temperatures are at 76 degrees, in about 250 feet of water. On a good day, boats have been bringing in as many as 3 or 5 big fish. Normally, these fish run much later."
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters called it "another blockbuster week of fishing at Mazatlan" as 33 boats entered in the 3-day Eighth Annual Marina el Cid Billfish Classic released 170 sailfish, and 9 of 12 blue marlin, while landing 14 dorado and 12 yellowfin tuna. After the tournament, Aries Fleet boats had an additional catch including released fish of: 59 sailfish, 3 blue marlin, 11 dorado, 4 yellowfin tuna of 60 to 80 pounds, 49 roosterfish, and 6 toro. Mazatlan weather was clear in the mid-80s, with water temperatures in the low-80s.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Local guide Ed Kunze said there is 84-degree blue water within 10 miles of shore and boats were averaging 2 or 3 sailfish per day, plus at least a couple of 20 to 25-pound dorado, and unlimited small tuna. "The tuna fishing has gone wide open," Kunze said, "but unfortunately there is no size to them. Paul Phillips, fishing with Santiago and Adan on the panga Gitana, went 22 miles and found a huge school of fish. The area was acres in size. After hooking a few of the 12 to 15-pound fish, the decision was quickly made to go out to the 55-mile mark. Again, they found a huge area of tuna, but nothing larger than about 60 pounds. They ended the long day with 15 tuna and two sailfish released." Snook were averaging 12 pounds at the river mouth of San Valentin. "Starting this next month, with the sand bar building up again and closing the river, I will be starting fly fishing trips for snook in the large laguna behind the bar," Kunze said. Boats targeting roosterfish were averaging about 4 fish per day, of about 25 to 45 pounds.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo weather was in the mid-80s, with calm seas and water temperatures of about 84 degrees. Paul Phillips said he saw tuna to about 80 pounds on the dock, in addition to the smaller fish caught. He said the locally-organized First International Deepsea Tournament is set for Jan. 24-26, and will have a 30-kilo minimum weight for sailfish and a separate award for the most tagged fish. It will be a qualifying event for the 2004 Rolex/IGFA tournament at Cabo San Lucas.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Stan Lushinsky of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters said 9 teams competed in the recent Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Total Tag & Release Tournament, tagging 22 sailfish in mixed conditions due to earlier storms. Top honors went to John Van Horn and Karl Werts fishing aboard the Vamonos II. In second place were Ellen Levine and Tom Branoff aboard the La Bamba, and Jack Parker and Bruce Belles were third on the Vamonos III.