CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: A pre-holiday lull settled over Baja California last week, with relatively few anglers in all areas. At the tip of the peninsula, water temperatures dipped as low as the mid-70s, and the main fishing action was on the Pacific side for striped marlin and dorado.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of Cabo Magic reported on 58 boats chartered during the week with a combined catch including released fish of: 20 striped marlin, 94 dorado, 3 yellowfin tuna, with one of 180 pounds, 1 wahoo, 3 skipjack, and 20 sierra.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At midweek, Picante Fleet reported on 4 boats with a one-day catch including released fish of: 1 striped marlin, 11 dorado, 6 wahoo, and 2 yellowfin tuna.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Pisces Fleet's Tracy Ehrenberg said, "Overall fishing was pretty good this week, though the marlin catches were down when compared to previous years. I don't think this is unusual. I just think the wide-open striped marlin bite will start later than expected." Fifty-four percent of Pisces' boats caught marlin last week, Ehrenberg said, including a five-release day for Jim Hammon and Al McMicking of Calistoga, CA on La Brisa, and a four-release day for Bill Armour and Ryan Trabert of Tucson on Andrea.
"All of the fishing was from Los Arcos to Golden Gate," Ehrenberg said. "We are starting to see some of the feeding frenzies common at this time of year."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Earlier, the Doug Ruston group aboard Karina landed a 120-pound yellowfin tuna. "Apart from this big tuna there were only a few small yellowfin, not getting much bigger than 15 pounds," Ehrenberg said. "Dorado was the most widely caught sport fish this week, with Pisces anglers capturing close to 100.
The average catch was one to three, though some did get as many as ten. Weights varied from 15 to 45 pounds."
Cabo San Lucas weather was mild, in the mid-80s, with generally calm seas, and occasionally cool evenings.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: About 155 other fleet and private boats reported a combined catch including released fish of about: 77 striped marlin, 7 blue marlin, 123 dorado, 31 yellowfin tuna, 21 wahoo, 28 sierra, and 11 roosterfish.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said Gaviota Fleet boats continued to find the best action on the Pacific side, from the Golden Gate Bank to the Jaime Bank, and south to Cabo Falso. "Dorado were the highlight of the action, and again most of the fish were in the 15 to 30-pound range," Edwards said. "Billfish were just so-so, with about 50 percent of the boats returning with a flag." Gaviota Fleet boats had a combined catch including released fish of: 22 striped marlin, 3 wahoo, 21 sierra, and 123 dorado. Edwards reported Pacific side water conditions as "cooler, but still in the high-70s, very fishable."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Fly Hooker Sportfishing, Capt. George Landrum said he noted an early morning air temperature of 55 degrees one day last week, although daytime highs were generally 85 to 88 degrees.
Live bait at Cabo was mostly 8 to 10-inch mackerel, Landrum said: "There were only a few caballito, and I have no idea if there were any sardinas or not." On billfish, he added, "There were not a lot of fish found this week but a few lucky boats were able to hook one or two. The fish were scattered and not staying on the surface very long. Most of the fish that were caught were found while deep dropping live bait off of Punta San Cristobal and Golden Gate Bank, or while slow trolling live baits in the same areas.
"Even the dorado bite was a bit slow this week. Slow trolling live bait or pulling brightly colored lures in the 9-inch range were what seemed to work. Most of the action took place on the Pacific side in the same areas as the striped marlin."
Inshore, Landrum said the best action has been on sierra between the Old Light House and Punta San Cristobal: "This area is where a school of sierra has been working the beach, and the best action was in water between 15 and 60 feet deep. The fish were biting on small hoochies and Rapalas in bright colors, the favorite being orange-red, and the fish ranged from 3 to 7 pounds. The average catch was 2 to 6 fish before the bite stopped around 9 a.m."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet said generally calm seas, light breezes, and water temperatures around 60 degrees were found at Punta Banda last week, and his pangas were still finding good catches of deep rockcod and lingcod, with the best results on anchovies about 90 to 180 feet deep. Ensenada weather was in the mid-60s, with nights sometimes dipping into the high-40s.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Angler, Chugey Sepulveda, fished with Vonny's Fleet last week with excellent results: "Stayed with Ivan. Of course, the cabaña was perfect, almost as good as the fishing.
"Myself, Dan Fuller, and Corey Chan fished between the point and the blow hole. The fishing was fantastic, we released the smaller lings and kept easy limits of nice grade fish to about 13 pounds. The ticket seemed to be these large, 6-inch plastics, MC-swimbaits. They outfished all of our gear, hands down. All in all, probably 60 lings caught in the two days, keeping limits of nice fish, a few reds, some nice calicos, and best of all, a nice warm shower at the end of the day."
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Very few anglers visited last week, although the weather was near perfect. Jim Harer of the Old Mill Hotel said he saw so few boats going out, they could be counted on the fingers of one hand, but conditions were very good anyway. "We're having the summer we didn't have earlier," Harer said, "beautiful sunny skies every day." Harer said the few boats going out got limits of "nice bottom fish, but nothing spectacular," and the bird hunters are now getting limits of black brant, a few pintails, and good counts on quail in the afternoons.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Pete Hillis of Pedro's Pangas said he had 6 boats go out, with limits on yellowtail, large lingcod, and large rockcod. The best catches were at the 15 Spot and 240 Spot, Hillis said, and the fish were caught on live bait and chrome-blue jigs. Hillis added that Pedro's is now running a winter special of $200 for 2 nights, 2 days of fishing, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly completed the final week of his offshore 2002 Flyrod Marlin 101 Series on the Thetis Bank fall fish pile-up. "The weather was about the best we have ever had, with calm seas and light breezes until Wednesday," Graham said. "Plenty of dorado, wahoo, and yellowfin tuna, but the marlin fishing was slow at best with only one or two a day showing during the first five days.
"Finally, on the last afternoon, we found enough to make the trip interesting, with 10 events in rapid succession beginning at noon. Feeders and tailers contributed to the excitement. We had six shots, four takes, and hooked two. We all hated to begin the slide back to the anchorage, and ended up not getting back until well after dark."
In the mangrove channels, Graham said the action was good on corvina, grouper, and a few snook. The yellowtail bite at the entrada was slower, but halibut to 10 pounds were still hitting on the barrier island beach west of town. San Carlos weather was in the mid-70s, with water temperatures in the low to mid-70s, and Graham was preparing for a run at the Bahia Magdalena mangrove channels beginning on Jan. 3.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said few anglers visited San Jose del Cabo last week, although the weather was excellent, close to 80 degrees, with water temperatures holding at 75 to 76 degrees. Plentiful sardina and caballito bait was available from the pangas, but the surface fishing was generally scattered, and the La Playita panga fleets were spending more time bottom fishing.
"Pre-holiday crowds are now light," Brictson said. "Anglers found the action spread out, and fleets were scouting in all directions. Overall the most consistent bite was for smaller gamefish closer to shore.
"Panga fleets were mainly targeting dorado, yellowfin tuna, and sierra, but also were catching a mix of bottomfish."
Brictson said a heavy population of needlefish continues to pester local anglers using live bait: "Some days the needlefish would not allow the other fish to even have a chance, but on other days they were not so aggressive and the yellowfin tuna would readily come up to chummed sardinas."
Generally, anglers using light line were doing better on the tuna, Brictson said: "Sizes ranged from 10 to 20 pounds. The area within one mile of shore, from the Hyatt Hotel to Santa Maria, proved to be the best bet. There was a report of a couple of 60 to 70-pound class tuna caught on chunk bait from the Gordo Banks, and hopes are that this might be the start of something. The Banks have been lacking tuna activity for a long time."
Boats were averaging five or six fish each, plus as many small to medium sierra as they wanted. "With the lack of any real consistent offshore action, more charters are now starting to break up the action by searching for some bottomfish, including pargo, cabrilla, pompano and grouper," Brictson said.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Earlier in the week, local angler Bob Grimes reported: "The pangas have been fishing primarily for sierra the last few days. Most of the sierra are from 1 to 4 pounds. On Tuesday, I saw 6 pangas come in. There was one tuna of about 20 pounds, a pargo of about 25 pounds, two pargitos of about 3 to 5 pounds, about 20 sierra, and 9 or 10 dorado. The biggest dorado was about 16 to 18 pounds, and the rest were small, including about 6 tiny dorado that were from 1 to 3 pounds."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said persistent winter north winds continued to make fishing difficult around Bahia de Palmas. "Early to mid-morning is fishable," Graham said, but the rest of the day belongs to the wind surfers." However, Graham added, "Those that do brave the elements are finding decent dorado fishing up toward Punta Pescadero."
East Cape weather was in the high-70s, with water temperatures in the mid to high-70s. Graham called the general action offshore "pretty slim," with billfish few and far between, and not much going on locally except for the dorado up north. As for yellowfin tuna, Graham said, "Supposedly a few down south, but be prepared to get beat up coming home." On the beaches, even in the mornings, the leftover surf from afternoon winds was making conditions tough.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Rancho Leonero, John Ireland said local reports were based on independent boats because so few East Cape hotel boats were fishing. Ireland said water temperatures were between 76 and 78 degrees, and there were reports of billfish active from Punta Pescadero to El Cardonal in the north, plus lots of dorado coming off the Punta Pescadero shark buoys. The dorado were reported to 40 pounds, Ireland said, but most fish were about 15 pounds. Limits of sierra were on the beaches, caught mostly on trolled hoochies.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Mark Rayor of Vista Sea Sport was cussing himself for not being able to find his camera when a huge school of jumping manta rays surfaced right in front of his house at Buena Vista, and when it happened again the very next day, charging out with the camera only to discover the battery was dead. "Oh well, mañana!" Rayor said, as he prepared to make a Christmas trip to visit grand kids in Los Angeles. Rayor commented on the very small number of visitors at East Cape last week: "You could shoot a cannon off in town and not hit a soul."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Pepe Murrieta of Pepe's Dive Service said Cabo Pulmo water temperatures were 76 degrees on the surface and 75 degrees at diving depth, with visibility at 60 feet. Last week, Murrieta said he saw hammerhead shark swimming at Cabo Pulmo, over the 100-foot-deep part of the reef called Profundo. "It's a little too deep for coral to grow," Murrieta said. "It has different kinds of tiny corals, big dog snappers, and it's a home for the nurse sharks. Last week we saw the 'cornudas,' hammerhead sharks. In the last couple of years they are starting to come in."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tail Hunter International called it "a little windier this week, but surprisingly good for this time of the year," as the La Paz area panga fleets dodged coming winter conditions to find action on dorado, sierra, and yellowfin tuna.
"On the days when the wind laid down, a few boats did pick up that nice grade of tuna off south Cerralvo," Roldan said, "but even when it was a little breezy, the panga fleets were still able to work the dorado closer to shore. Choice spots are off Perrico and then some of the buoys towards Pescadero.
"Probably the best and most fun chew have been the toothy sierra in a number of areas. This is usually an indication that the waters are cooling. There are days when you can catch dozens of these delicious fish."
Roldan reported La Paz weather in the mid-80s, and added that he plans to repeat his Light Tackle Classic this year on Feb. 20-24.
LORETO, MEXICO: Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company reported Loreto weather in the mid-80s, with some winds but still fishable most days. Local pangas were still scoring on smaller 10 to 15-pound yellowtail around Isla Coronado, and larger fish out of Puerto Escondido between Punta Baja and the east side of Isla Danzante. A couple more late season dorado were also caught.
At Villas de Loreto, Wendy Wilchyski said few people were around due to the approaching holidays, but things were kept busy last week with learning how to identify sea turtles, help them lay their eggs, and help the young return to the sea. "We found out how to identify them and what to do to help the turtles lay their eggs, as well as making sure the hatchlings make it to the sea. It was great!!" she said.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Catalina Meders of San Felipe's Title Company Bookstore overlooking the bay reported, "The town is virtually empty today. A lot of people will leave this week to spend Christmas up north. It's quiet now, and the bay is steel gray and very gothic looking, as if some kind of strange creature is likely to come floating in out of the mist on a Viking ship." Meders said last week's parade for Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe included a procession through town, a ceremony at the shrine overlooking the bay, and a water parade of decorated pangas.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Very few anglers visited last week, according to Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters, but good conditions continued at Mazatlan, with calm mornings, gentle afternoon breezes, and water temperatures in the low-80s. A single panga caught 18 red snappers and 13 triggerfish. Twelve other Aries Fleet boats had a combined catch including released fish of: 1 small blue marlin, 10 sailfish, and 51 dorado.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Paul Phillips reported a jump in sailfish action last week, with boats averaging 3 to 4 fish per day, plus blue marlin, and a good showing of large yellowfin tuna close to shore.
Roosterfish were also very active along the surf line, Phillips said, and the Gringo Loco with Capt. Luis Maciel caught 11 over 20 pounds in one day.
Phillips said he's expecting about 150 boats for the first Zihuatanejo Deep Sea Tournament scheduled to begin on Jan. 24. This new tournament, with an entry fee of 7,700 pesos (about $77), is a qualifying event for the 2003 Rolex/IGFA Tournament of Champions scheduled in Cabo San Lucas next May. The Zihuatanejo event features top prizes including 5 new vehicles, 3 for sailfish, 1 for dorado, and 1 for marlin, and has a minimum size of 30 kilos for sailfish. It is expected that about 600 sailfish will not be killed due to this provision in the tournament rules, which was encouraged by Phillips and local guides Ed Kunze, Santiago Valdovinos, and Marcos Vargas. Information is at: www.zihuatanejo-ixtapa-fishing.com/.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Local guide Ed Kunze reported 82-degree blue water just a mile off the beach, dead calm seas, and "fishing that has almost gone ballistic" on sailfish, big tuna, blue marlin, and roosterfish.
The Aleta Negra owned by Karl Peters of Nashville, TN, landed two blue marlin of about 250 pounds, and the Don Gordo with Capt. Poli got another of 180 pounds, Kunze said. The panga La Llammara landed a 175-pound yellowfin tuna, and more were being caught daily between 60 and 80 pounds, only 16 miles out of Zihuatanejo Bay, on a heading of 180 degrees.
Capt. Santiago on the panga La Gitana, with Kunze as guide, found a sailfish on the fly for John Wilkenson of Marquette, MI. "We raised 6 sailfish," Kunze said. "Two came to the boat and John hooked them both. One sail threw the fly after a series of leaps, and the other was tagged and released."
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Stan Lushinsky of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters had a wild afternoon on roosterfish with Field & Stream editor Ken Schultz: "At 3 p.m. an immense school of roosters began to crash on bait fish, and for the next three hours the action was nonstop. When the smoke had cleared, the final tally was 24 roosters landed, with another 11 broken off. The fish averaged 25 to 35 pounds, for a total estimated weight of 720 pounds of roosterfish in three hours of fishing. The preferred bait was the Cotton Cordel Pencil Popper.