LA PAZ, MEXICO: The few anglers sneaking out through the wind on the Las Arenas side of the hill last week enjoyed a nice winter snap of mixed firecracker yellowtail, pargo, cabrilla, sierra, bonito, and dorado.
Jonathan Roldan of Tail Hunter International said, "Guys are complaining about needlefish, but for the most part no one cares! They're having too much fun with the yellowtail and dorado. The action is excellent. One of my skippers thinks this is the best winter bite he has seen in years."
Roldan said the best catches were made in wind-protected areas in an arc from Punta Perrico to the Las Arenas lighthouse. The top fish of the week were 10 to 15-pound yellowtail, and dorado of 15 to 25 pounds.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Tail Hunter angler Mitch Chavira of San Diego fished two days at La Paz, reporting only about 7 pangas on the water from all fleets combined, but plenty of yellowtail coming in, in addition to the dorado and other species. "Good consistent fishing," Chavira said. "The seas layed down a little as we got a nice decrease in the wind. It made it a lot faster to make bait. Plenty of sardina. The weather is beautiful. The fleet is basically working near shore from Punta Perrico up to the Las Arenas Hotel area. Everything is all mixed together, dorado, yellowtail, sierra, cabrilla, pargo, and the like. Looked like all the boats had a nice load."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet said very few pangas fished the tip of Punta Banda last week. "The year-end is slow, with few anglers," he said. Ensenada weather was mostly cloudy, with temperatures from 44 to 63 degrees.
PUERTO SANTO TOMAS, MEXICO: Sam Saenz of Puerto Santo Tomas Resort reported "fabulous weather all week, no wind, no turbulent surf, and no rain." Some light showers fell on Sunday morning, Saenz said, but there was very little wind and the ocean remained calm.
Saenz said the fishing at Santo Tomas was also good: "Several pangas went out during the week, catching limits of whitefish, rockcod, lingcod, and calico bass.
"The calico bass fishing as been red-hot during the last two weeks along the Soledad Bay kelp beds. Saturday was a super day for Louie Najera and Armando Apodaca from Norwalk, CA. They caught full limits, bringing in large calico bass in the 8-pound category. There was a lot of mackerel bait in the water and it was very clear."
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said he needed more "bent hook" Jointed Rebel teasers to replace those lost by his fly fishing clients recently in the mangrove channels. "As they trolled past the very first dead mangrove with a deep hole in front of it," Graham said, "the teasing rod bounced vigorously and they spun around and anchored the boat. They were ecstatic at the results and reported that a large fish boiled on every Rebel as it was sinking from view."
Graham said that rapidly cooling waters indicate an end to the fall offshore bite, just as the first migrating gray whales are expected to arrive at any time. "Everyone in Puerto San Carlos is beginning to gear up for what is hoped to be a banner whale watching season," Graham said. "So far none of the behemoths have been spotted inside the bay." San Carlos weather was in the high-70s, with water temperatures of 67 to 69 degrees. Fishing reports were very thin last week, since most boats stayed in town over the Christmas holiday.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Fishing was sluggish on all species except sierra and school-sized dorado last week as variable water water temperatures around the tip of Baja California were reported between 73 and 78 degrees.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of Cabo Magic reported on 49 boats chartered during the week with a catch including released fish of: 1 sailfish, 20 striped marlin, 2 mako shark to 180 pounds, 85 dorado, 23 yellowfin tuna, 6 skipjack, 21 sierra, and 1 wahoo.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet said, "The biggest story this week was a massive roosterfish, a monster at 110 pounds, just 4 pounds shy of the all-tackle world record. This fish was caught by Jamie Bliss, from Conrad, Montana, taking just 30 minutes to land. Jamie was reeling in a sierra close to shore on Dec. 19, aboard Quien Sabe, when the rooster swallowed it."
Only 28 percent of Pisces Fleet boats caught marlin last week. "Not a great week here for billfish," Ehrenberg said. "However, a private yacht reported releasing six stripers in a day, so hopefully this is the start of the striped marlin frenzy that we usually see around this time. The general consensus from the charter captains was that the striped marlin have not arrived en masse, but that it will happen anytime now."
In addition to the big roosterfish, top catches for the week included 70 and 80-pound class wahoo landed by the Karina and La Brisa, and a double on striped marlin by Karina for Californian Jon Skye.
"Dorado were again the most widely caught species this period, with boats catching between one and nine in the 20 to 40-pound range," Ehrenberg said. "Most charters caught at least one. Inshore, lots of sierra and some smaller roosters."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Capt. George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing said Cabo San Lucas weather over the Christmas holiday was in the high-80s with some wind early in the week, water temperatures as low as 73 degrees near the arch, and generally slow fishing.
"I wish I could say that the billfishing has been great, but I can't," Landrum said. "It was hit and miss with only about 15 percent of the fleet flying blue flags. Live bait gave the best chance at a fish, dropped back when one appeared in the spread or slow-trolled in the right area.
"There were scattered football tuna to be found. I heard a few fish over a hundred pounds were caught.
"There are still a few dorado close to the beach, but they have been small, a lot of them less than 6 pounds. Larger fish have been found a bit further offshore, but there have not been a lot of them. A good catch this week was one or two in the 20 to 30-pound class.
"The big emphasis for the inshore fishermen has been the wide open sierra bite on both sides of the cape. They are providing a lot of action. Few other fish have been found inshore, but that could change as the water cools and we get an influx of yellowtail."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At midweek, Picante fleet reported on 6 boats fishing with a catch including released fish of: 5 striped marlin, 13 dorado, 2 yellowfin tuna, and 2 wahoo.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said slightly better than 50 percent of Gaviota Fleet boats caught marlin last week, with the best fishing found at the Golden Gate bank, and also at San Cristobal.
"The catch overall is slower than normal for this time of year and everyone is waiting for the annual migration trek of the stripers, when they filter down from the Mag Bay region," Edwards said.
"Perhaps this lateness is just an unknown part of the pending El Nino, with a later arrival of the masses of billfish. Don't know. Overall, fish counts reflected another slow week. Gaviota Fleet had a week's catch including released fish of: 15 striped marlin, 1 wahoo, 1 yellowfin tuna, and 64 dorado.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: A hot bite on dorado surfaced at the Inner Gordo Bank on Sunday, with boats averaging 6 to 8 fish of 12 to 20 pounds, according to Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas.
Brictson reported water temperatures at 72 to 74 degrees and relatively few visitors last week, with mostly good sea conditions and clear, sunny weather.
"Crowds of holiday tourists were fewer than in recent years and with the way the economy is going in the United States, this could be a slow winter season for local businesses," Brictson said.
Fishing action for most of last week was centered on a hot sierra bite that was being hit hard by gill nets, Brictson said.
"The area between Punta Gorda and Palmilla Point had been the hot spot for sierra. Anglers were able to catch as many of the 2 to 6-pound speedsters as they wanted within an hour or so. But in recent days, due to the continuing pressure of gill nets, the sierra are rapidly being depleted.
"There has been a group of several pangas setting these nets, based out of La Playita. Tonnage of sierra, along with other by-catch were harvested. It is definitely time that local authorities wake up, get their priorities straight, and take immediate action.
"The commercial fishing industry is responsible for the overall decline in fish populations throughout Baja, but sport fishermen also need to increase the practice of catch-and-release. There are just too many people in this world now for people to continue keeping so many fish. A successful fishing trip should not be judged on how full an angler's ice chest is of fillets."
Brictson said sierra are now being caught from the surf, with Chileno being reported as very good in the mornings. Small pompano and croaker were also hitting chunk bait off San Jose del Cabo, and a few snook to 30 pounds were reported off the estuary. "Schools of bait fish have been seen scattering on the surface as larger fish were slashing through and feeding," Brictson said. "Hopefully this will attract more action close to shore."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: East Cape resident Chuck Meredith sent an account of the gill nets and level of CONAPESCA enforcement at La Playita last week: "I saw the netters right out in front of La Playita pulling their net into their panga. I also spoke with 4 fishermen there, and none had a fishing license. There answer to me was that tourists renting did not need any. Said they knew this for years. Hmmmmm."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Local resident Bob Grimes also had a report: "In San Jose Del Cabo, the annual race with the gill netters has begun early. Up to Dec. 24, good catches of sierra were still being made by sport fishing pangas at Punta Palmilla. However, the La Playita gill netters had already wiped out the sierra schools from San Jose to Punta Gorda, and were starting to work on eliminating the sierra in the Palmilla area. I watched the gill net pangas Bertha and Yolanda, both from the commercial operation in La Playita, as they netted the sierra in area between San Jose and Punta Gorda, and then took the sierra back to the fish truck at La Playita.
"There are dozens of Mexican families that are directly dependent on sport fishing, and perhaps thousands of Mexicans in the San Jose del Cabo area who work in restaurants and hotels and other tourist related businesses that are being badly damaged by the gill netters.
"Some of the sport fishing capitanes gathered and complained to the Capitan del Puerto, but similar complaints in the past have not resulted in any action, and the Mexican captains are not optimistic. It is a Navidad triste for them."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Strong north winds kept fishing activity to a minimum at East Cape last week, as a few boats per day ran generally north for dorado at the Punta Pescadero shark buoys, and then scurried home with the wind. Virtually no boats fished south.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Local resident Chuck Meredith had a weekend report, saying, "Today, here in Los Barriles, the 6 cruisers I saw returning downhill with the wind all had lots of dorado flags flying, and a few striped marlin releases. But, again, big seas.
"The Palmas Bay water temp here is presently 76 degrees. At the buoy area north, less 1 degree. This afternoon, even with a strong north cold wind, a slight fog formed and was present all the way to La Playita.
"Winter wind is here now. A few days of calm between the 4 or 5 days it blows. Impossible to schedule and plan to fish calm days. I see 4 or 5 hotel cruisers going out to the north daily. Brave souls. But when they return in the afternoon, they all have dorado flags and a few marlin flags flying proudly. So the fish are up at the shark buoy area which is 15 miles to 20 miles north, and off the Muertos Bay area. Live sardines trolled slowly at the buoys have produced quick hookups and multiples. It is nice to fish without the hordes of other cruisers around you, as you take your limit. But the wind is strong, and it can get you queasy out there. Be prepared.
"Only a few private boaters are still in the water on anchor. Also the hotel fleets have pulled 90 percent or more of their fleets for the annual winter maintenance."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: John Ireland of Rancho Leonero called it, "typical December weather. Cool mornings, balmy days, with air and water both in the mid-70s. Moderate to strong north wind all week." Ireland said local independent boats found a hot sierra bite right in front of the hotel, but generally, few people were fishing.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said, "There are only a few guests at most of the hotels, and virtually all of them opted to hang around the pool and wait for the wind to back off."
Graham reported East Cape water temperatures at 71 to 75 degrees, with air temperatures to 81 degrees, and 16-knot west-northwest winds prevailing. The La Ribera area was producing excellent catches of sierra, but there wasn't much else going on except for the dorado coming off the Punta Pescadero shark buoys.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Pepe Murrieta of Pepe's dive service reported surface water temperatures at Cabo Pulmo at 72 degrees with 40-foot visibility, and lots of manta rays in the area, and some surf and northern currents. Mark Rayor of Vista Sea Sport also reported turtles in the area, and said he had heard of 2 gill netters being chased out by local authorities.
LORETO, MEXICO: Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company said Loreto weather was good over the weekend, but been generally windy, in the mid-70s during the week. Plenty of smaller yellowtail were still coming off Isla Coronado. On Sunday, she said, "Nice fishing today. Francisco's out on a short trip now, and he's radioing in a lot of fish, from pargo, to sierra, to yellowtail."
"We had five days of wind this week," Bolles said. "Many of those days were still fishable for the serious anglers, albeit uncomfortable. Isla Coronado is producing pretty easy limits on firecracker-sized yellowtail, 10 to 15 pounds. They're feeding right at the surface and gettable by casting surface jigs and flylined sardinas. The yellowtail are easy to find as they're giving us quite a show chasing down bait. Whole schools of bait fish are flying out of the water."
Bolles said that other species were also being caught in the channel and tight to the island, including roosterfish, jacks, pargo, cabrilla, and sierra. "With the weather, it's been hard to fish the deep holes," she said, "but trolling along the rocky shore line is producing the same sized fish you'd get in deep water anyway. Rapala-type lures in hot-orange with silver, pearl, or chartreuse are the choice."
LORETO, MEXICO: At Villas de Loreto, Wendy Wilchynski said clients are catching enough small yellowtail to have them smoked, and there were even a few dorado in the mix.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Tony Reyes of Tony Reyes Fishing Tours said that prizes for next season's San Felipe panga mothership tournament will be given out by the Mayor of Mexicali on Nov. 8, during the annual San Felipe Shrimp Festival. Reyes said merchandise and cash prizes up to $2,000 will be awarded for the season's ten largest yellowtail and cabrilla, and the tournament is free to anybody who fishes on a panga mothership next year.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Catalina Meders of the Title Company Bookstore overlooking Bahia San Felipe said the weather was cold but clear last week, and the town was full of holiday visitors. "Christmas week was everything that Thanksgiving week wasn't," she said, "gorgeous weather, crisp blue skies, and the ever-beautiful bay sparkling with it's own array of Christmas lights. There was an impromptu Christmas parade, for which the only requirement for participation seemed to be that you had to wear something red. Everyone seemed particularly jolly this year.
"However, a not-so-nice occurrence was the Christmas Eve prolonged session of LOUD fireworks. The next morning people were walking around dazed from lack of sleep. At any rate, the vendors are happy because the town is full of tourists and there is much selling going on. Hopefully this will continue through New Year's."
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported relatively slow fishing conditions in falling water temperatures for Aries Fleet boats out of Marina el Cid last week. The fleet had a catch including released fish of: 1 small blue marlin, 1 sailfish, 1 mako shark, and 30 dorado, for offshore cruisers; and 47 red snapper and 3 triggerfish for 2 inshore pangas.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Aries Fleet manager Geronimo Cevallos reported a hot bite on corvina. "There are really a lot of corvina starting to show up," he said. "I caught and released 37 in a single morning at the hot spots, and it was terrific, really fast action." Mazatlan weather was cool in the mid-70s, with light north breezes, and water temperatures of 76 to 78 degrees.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Local guide Ed Kunze reported better and better conditions, with boats now averaging 4 to 5 sailfish per day, plus 25 to 35-pound dorado, from 6 to 12 miles out of Zihuatanejo Bay. With blue, 82-degree water coming almost to the beach, some boats were also scoring on 10 to 15 school-sized yellowfin tuna about 25 to 30 miles out, Kunze said.
"Fly fishing for sailfish has been outstanding," Kunze said. "There are a lot of fish to tease up. Graeme Alexander, a salmon fly fishing guide from Tofino, Canada, fished with Santiago and me on the panga Gitana. He hooked three sailfish on the day he fished.
"The roosterfish are the only game fish that had a slow week. It is probably due to the large influx of tourists and a lot of fishing pressure. They do not stick around very long when under a lot of pressure."
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Paul Phillips of the Fintastic Total Tag & Release Tournament said there are roosterfish in the area but finding them is the problem, and some boats were scoring on more than 10 dorado per day.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Stan Lushinsky of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters said Jay Blessent landed 5 sailfish in four hours while fishing on the Shellback with Capt. Lenny. Ixtapa weather was generally calm in the upper 80s.