CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Striped marlin counts slipped a notch but still averaged more than a fish a day for most fleets at the tip of Baja last week, and many boats released from 3 to as many as 6 fish per day.
On Saturday, Picante Fleet reported 6 boats chartered with a combined catch including released fish of: 9 striped marlin, 12 dorado, and 6 yellowfin tuna.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said Gaviota Fleet averaged more than 2 billfish per boat, with the best action coming at the Gordo Banks on the Cortez side. Gaviota Fleet had a catch including released fish of: 61 striped marlin, 9 dorado, 14 yellowfin tuna, 3 roosterfish, and 3 sierra.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Solmar Fleet's Rene Santa Cruz reported a catch including released fish of: 113 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, 21 yellowfin tuna, 34 dorado, and 62 sierra. The top Solmar boat for the week was the Solmar IX with Capt. Tony, which released 5 striped marlin in one day for Ken Stower of Westland, CA. All 5 marlin were released, as many Solmar boats scored at least doubles, Santa Cruz said. Nearly all of the billfish were taken on live mackerel, on the Cortez side off Destiladeras and the Gordo Banks.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Pisces Fleet, Tracy Ehrenberg said, "Good news again this week. We're happy to report excellent catches on marlin."
Of 111 striped marlin landed by Pisces boats during the week, only two were kept, Ehrenberg said. The top boat for the week was the Valerie, with 6 releases for Marc Bachtle and friends from Newton, PA.
Two back-to-back quintuple billfish release days were also recorded by La Brisa. Overall, Pisces Fleet scored a 77 percent success rate on billfish and 95 percent on all species combined.
Anglers Karen and Brian Maquire had a good day with Capt. Octavio Castro on the Anzuelo: "We left the harbor about 6:30 and got to the Gordo Bank in no time. We saw marlin all day long. We got our first jig-strike on the bleeding mackerel and followed up by baiting two more fish. By this time the water was full of boats and everyone was hooking-up.
"Fish were being sawed off left and right as boats following free swimming fish ran over hooked fish. Two other attempts at feeders only resulted in the mate casting off our precious baits. All in all however, it's hard to complain about three released stripers in a couple hours. We were back at the hotel by happy hour."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Fly Hooker Sportfishing, Capt. George Landrum said Cabo weather was variable and occasionally windy but settling down by the weekend, with clouds and air temperatures to about 80 degrees. Water temperatures as high as 77 degrees were found around the Gordo Banks, but were running about 71 to 73 degrees off Cabo San Lucas. Sea conditions were moderate to rough on Wednesday on the Pacific side.
"The wonderful striped marlin fishing we had last week continued, but the fish moved further away," Landrum said. "Many boats were still getting multiple hookups. The bite slacked off as the week wore on but there were still fish there. They just did not eat as readily. The best fishing was just past the Gorda Banks and around the 1150 spot where the water was warmer."
Landrum said there were football yellowfin tuna available, but not with the marlin, as the best catches were made about 25 miles south of the arch, while most of the billfish were found northeast on the Cortez.
Dorado were not found in concentrations, Landrum said, and were mostly caught as incidental fish.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Pete Hillis of Pedro's Pangas said a dozen boats went out last week, enjoying excellent bottom action in generally good conditions, with cool mornings warming to the low 70s by about noon.
"We had a great bunch of guys this weekend," Hillis said, "The King Harbor Yacht Club from Redondo Beach. The group consisted of Keith Williams, Steve Lawrence, Gil Erwin, Jim Carlson, and Chuck and Jack Beck, father and son. Our captain Hector, or as we call him, "Lilo," took them to his new spot, the 210 Spot. These guys landed some great lingcod ranging from 18 to 22 pounds, and topping out at 24 pounds. Along with the lings, they brought in the usual rockcod."
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: At Don Eddie's Landing, Tony Marquez said a huge 15-pound ocean whitefish was caught last week by Dr. Nicholas Gadler of San Diego, on the Valeria with Capt. Fermin. "It just goes to show that oral surgeons can catch fish too!" Marquez said. The monster was caught on a dead squid, 120 feet deep at the 240 Spot.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Gene Allshouse of San Quintin Sportfishing said most anglers were doing well on Scampis, Fish Traps and medium iron such as Salas 6Xs. Allshouse reported San Quintin water temperatures at 58 to 60 degrees.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Earlier, local angler Julio Meza fished on his 22-foot Seaswirl with his cousin Paco, finding green 59.5-degree water and fishing with Fish Traps, Scampis, iron, and live bait for a few keepers out of a total catch of: 6 lingcod to 14 pounds, 4 calico bass to 8 pounds, 4 other bass, 24 barracuda, 8 red rockfish, 1 bonita, and "a lot" of sandbass to 9 pounds.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said the halibut bite continued at Punta Belcher, with fish reported to 10 kilos last week, plus lots of spotted bay bass from Punta Belcher down to the entrada. In the mangroves near Devil's Curve Graham said, "the jacks went wild this week, and mixed in were a few snapper and grouper." Corvina were also active, but few snook or sierra were caught. San Carlos weather was in the low-70s, with local water temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said the unseasonably warm water held last week at 70 to 73 degrees, and striped marlin in number were being taken 4 to 12 miles offshore at La Fortuna and Iman Bank. "The stripers were gorging on an abundance of squid and other baitfish," Brictson said.
Other anglers averaged from 1 to as many as 6 dorado per boat while fishing closer to shore and slow-trolling live bait. These fish ranged from 10 to about 25 pounds, and were mixed with big numbers of sierra and needlefish.
Pargo numbers were increasing, along with pelagic red crabs seen at La Fortuna and El Cardon, where they were being hit by commercial pangueros.
But the yellowfin tuna bite, virtually disappeared. "Yellowfin tuna action came to a standstill," Brictson said. "Although they were frequently seen feeding or breezing on the surface, the tuna on the Gordo Banks are now gorged with red crabs and have shown little or no interest in any other types of offerings."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Local angler Bob Grimes reported, "Most boats are working pretty hard to catch a couple of dorado, generally between about 6 pounds to 20 pounds. There are some schools of small sierra, but the gillnetters from La Playita have taken the big sierra, as well as other inshore species."
Earlier, Warren Lindsay reported on a good trip to San Jose del Cabo that was marred by hotel cruiser crews who refused to release striped marlin: "The weather was great, as expected, but what I saw of the alleged catch and release of striped marlin was disgusting.
"Six to eight cruisers left each day for the marlin grounds. I witnessed each returning with at least 2 dead marlin.
"The one day I went fishing on a panga this trip we literally killed everything that was hooked, including an attempt at a pelican and seagull."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Local angler Paul Roos reported: "The Cabo boats are still running up past the Gordo Banks for marlin. Hardly any tuna action at the banks this week. I was out Monday and Wednesday, starting at the banks both days. Saw some tuna Monday, but they were real line-shy. Finally hooked a good-sized boiler on the light outfit with 20-pound on a dead-drifted dead sardina. Tuna was too big for the line and broke me off after 10 minutes. Back to shore for one dorado and a bunch of sierra. Typical panga catch this week."
Roos also talked about the coming big marina project at San Jose del Cabo and its possible impact on the traditional beach panga fishing that has been practiced there for many years:
"From my discussions with the panga skippers, the older ones bemoan the impending loss of their beach-launch lifestyle while the younger skippers and next-generation captains lust to be hired drivers of the big foreign yachts that will berth in the harbor. Where will the next generation of fishing panga captains come from?"
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Excellent winter fishing continued at Bahia de Palmas last week. Chris Moyers of the East Cape Smoke house, reporting for the Van Wormer resorts of Palmas de Cortez, Playa del Sol, and Punta Colorada, said 31 boats chartered had a catch including released fish of: 41 striped marlin, 2 sailfish, 88 dorado, 1 roosterfish, and 25 wahoo. Moyers reported East Cape weather as in the low-80s, with water temperatures of 74 to as high as 78 degrees, and moderate winds.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: John Ireland of Rancho Leonero said sea conditions were mostly calm, with some wind at the end of the week, and the early spring bite continued in force: "An incredible striped marlin bite, backed up by the early arrival of big roosterfish. Dorado, tuna, pargo, and sierra rounded out this week's fare."
Ireland reported all boats easily getting multiple billfish hookups, "tailers everywhere," and "abundant green mackerel making baiting a slam dunk." All boats were continuing to score on plentiful dorado to over 50 pounds, Ireland said, and early in the week, some boats released over 20 yellowfin tuna in mixed sizes to about 40 pounds.
Larger roosterfish to over 40 pounds were released all week from Leonero to the Punta Arena lighthouse, caught mostly on live bait. On the inshore reefs, larger pargo and continued sierra were caught on just about anything.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Mark Rayor of Vista Sea Sport said wind kept divers on the beach for a few days, but the water at Cabo Pulmo was holding at a warm 73 degrees, and was blue and clear. "Sea life is abundant, with huge schools of bigeye jacks and clouds of reef fish," Rayor said.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Baja On The Fly, Gary Graham reported fair-to-good action on good-sized dorado off Punta Pescadero, and the best marlin action south off Cabo Pulmo and Los Frailes. "I don't know where they came from, but who cares," Graham said of the unusual winter dorado bite. "It has been a hoot for the last month." Beach fishing was still hampered by wind waves, Graham said.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Earlier, local angler Fred Green reported on some good fishing out of Rancho Leonero, but some confusion with his lever-drag reel:
"I went fishing with Rene, a super panga captain out of Rancho Leonero. The sea was down and the sun was warm. It was great fishing conditions. I caught 5 dorado from 25 to 40 pounds. All bulls, all singles with no females with them.
"We chased down a jumping marlin. In the last three jumps it turned 180 degrees back toward our boat. As it passed the spread of trolled lures, it hit a 10-inch petrolero-colored lure like a runaway freight train. The Shimano 30 screamed as the 40-pound test line peeled off the reel. In the excitement of the moment, as I picked the rod out of the very tight rod holder, I accidentally hit the drag lever with the palm of my hand. In a split second, the line tension lessened, the spool over-spun, the loose line bird-nested, the rod tip dove down and the line snapped with the sound of a .22 rifle shot. Another lesson learned in how to fish for marlin."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tail Hunter International said, "This is definitely not winter anymore. Some guys are laughingly starting to complain because they are trying hard for the cabrilla, pargo, amberjack and yellowtail, and instead, the dorado keep slamming into the baits!"
Roldan said pangas on the Las Arenas side were averaging 2 to 8 dorado per day, mostly of 10 to 25 pounds, but with some 30 pounders also accounted for.
"Interestingly, it seems they are mostly bulls with not many female fish," Roldan said. "The fish are not ranging far. Once you're out of Muertos Bay, we simply turn north another 100 to 200 yards, and basically you're in the 'fish zone' from there to the Arenas lighthouse. That zone is holding not only dorado, but also yellowtail, pargo, cabrilla, and about half-a-dozen other species."
LORETO, MEXICO: The Loreto Pangeros cooperativa office at the marina reported 8 boats fishing with a catch of: 47 yellowtail, 16 pargo, and 12 sierra. The office is now selling Mexican fishing licenses on the spot for anglers who arrive in Loreto without them. A one-day license is $14 and a one-week license is $25.
Arturo Susarrey of Arturo's Sportfishing said Loreto weather was calm in the low-70s except for two days of strong west winds to 23 m.p.h. Water temperatures ranged from 60 to 70 degrees, and yellowtail to 25 pounds continued at Isla Coronado.
At the San Nicolas remote camp 30 miles north of town, Susarrey said fishing was slow for one day, but better the following two days, on yellowtail to 28 pounds, plus cabrilla to 8 pounds, and amberjack to 20 pounds.
Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company had some observations on what might be an early spring surface bite for yellowtail, saying, "They are starting their rise to the surface. Egg sacs in the females look about 2 to 3 weeks to spawning.
"At Punta Perico, there are larger fish, 40 to 60 pounds and up. The egg sacs in those females look to be at about the same point. So I expect to be seeing giant boils at the surface at around the end of the month. I'll be gearing up my 15WT flyrod for sure!" Ty Miller of El Fuerte Sportfishing reported water temperatures at 67 degrees off Puerto Escondido, and Wendy Wilchyski of Villas de Loreto said guests did very well on yellowtail and cabrilla last week.
Merlin Hehnke, retired, of Fresno recalled a "fishing report" from an experience in Loreto on the morning of Dec. 27, 1949:
"A young man walked out to the Sea of Cortez. As he stood there looking at the sea for the first time in his life, the sun was just starting to come up over Carmen Island.
"The water turned an amber gold. As the young man stood there, struck speechless by the beauty of the situation, he noticed a fish break water and boil, about 100 yards offshore. Before the young man even realized what was happening, there was a golden boil of yellowtail right in front of him that had to be at least a mile across!!
"Have you ever seen a boil of yellowtail a mile across? That is one HELL of a sight! A fisherman's cupid shot an arrow that morning and it struck a young man named Merlin dead center smack dab in his heart. If all goes well for me this year, and the good Lord willing, I will renew my love affair with Loreto and the Sea of Cortez this coming December!"
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: Raquel Duarte Fife of Raquel and Larry's Beach Motel at Bahia de los Angeles said local angler Dan Merrit reported sporadic yellowtail in the bay, and a consistently excellent bite at Guadalupe Reef, 7 miles north of Isla Smith.
"The fish are eating blue-and-white iron on the incoming tide," Merrit reported. "If the wind will allow you to stay on the reef, the fish are easy to catch, good size weighing in at 8 to 15 pounds. For the past two months the action here has been a sure thing."
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: At Rancho Percebu, Randy Morishita had a road report from his recent trip down from San Felipe: "The road south out of town is like a freeway now--people doing 70 m.p.h! But that comes to an abrupt halt just south of Bahia Santa Maria. All dirt would be better than the bits and pieces of 'asphalt' that dot the 'highway.'
Morishita reported lots of gillnets along the beaches and lots of corvina and totoaba (prohibited) to about 40 pounds being caught and sold.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: At San Felipe, Catalina Meders of the Title Company Bookstore overlooking the bay said the winter weather was perfect again by the weekend, and the town was bracing for the Hobie Cat Regatta when more big crowds are expected. Meders said San Felipe has been seeing visitors from all over the world lately, including Sweden, Switzerland, England, New Zealand, and France, and even someone from the famous Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore in Paris.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said the largest fish of the week for Aries Fleet out of Marina el Cid was a 365-pound hammerhead shark landed by the Aries II with Capt. Victor Nunez. The shark was caught by anglers Vern Young, Kelly Lindgren, and Ron Ballard, on 60-pound line, and required 50 minutes to land.
Aries Fleet had a catch for the week including released fish of: 6 striped marlin, 31 dorado, 1 mako shark, 1 hammerhead shark, and 239 yellowfin tuna. Mazatlan weather was in the low-80s, with clear, sunny skies.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Local guide Ed Kunze said fishing action slowed way down last week, but a 650-pound black marlin was caught by Capt. Arturo on the panga Whisky III. Kunze also fished with Capt. Poli on the Don Gordo with angler Neil Johnson of Minnesota, and scored on roosterfish of 42, 45, and 52 pounds, trolling live baits at White Rocks. Ixtapa weather was in the low-80s, with water temperatures of about 78 degrees.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Stan Lushinsky of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters said, "The fishing could best be described as long periods of nothing between very few bites for just a few fish.
"There remain good schools of bonito in the area, leaving captains puzzled why the marlin and giant tuna have not made a better showing."