CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Local water temperatures bumped as high as 80 degrees last week as 42 international teams from 22 countries averaged about 1.5 billfish per day in the prestigious Fourth Annual Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship Tournament.
The winning team from Bermuda released 15 striped marlin during the 4-day event, with all of its fish caught on Tuesday and Thursday. Scoring a total of 4,799 points were Danny Fox and Bobby Rego of Hamilton, Bermuda, Buddy Sowers of Richmond, VA, and his son Casey Sowers of North Palm Beach, FL. In 168 fishing days, the tournament fleet of local cruisers chosen by lot released 247 striped marlin, 1 blue marlin, and 2 sailfish. Weight qualifying fish brought to the dock included 33 wahoo, 15 dorado, and 1 yellowfin tuna. Thursday's catch proved to be the hottest, as 94 striped marlin were released, an average of more than 2 per boat.
Entrants in the non-cash, invitational Rolex/IGFA tournament were winners of one of 89 IGFA-sanctioned qualifying events around the world. They competed for engraved watches and trophies. All billfish were released, and tuna, dorado, and wahoo were weighed above a 25-pound minimum. Weighed fish were donated to charity. Six of the 42 teams were from Mexico, and 14 teams represented the U.S. The tournament was headquartered at the Hotel Finisterra and the awards banquet was held Friday at the Sheraton Hacienda.
The top 10 winning teams in order of finish: Bermuda International Light Tackle, Bermuda; New Orleans Invitational Billfish, USA; Cayman Islands International, Cayman Islands; Ixtapa Sailfish Tournament, Mexico; Bisbee's Los Cabos, Mexico; Club Nautico de Tavira/Shimano, Portugal; El Pescado Grande Invitational, USA; La Guaira Billfish Shootout, Venezuela, Georgia Governor's Cup, USA; Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo, USA.
Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet commented on the tournament: "I was a little doubtful about the dates chosen, as we had a full moon. However, it turned out to be the most successful tournament ever. There are many things we love about this tournament. It is a release tournament for all billfish. Secondly, the anglers are on an even playing field. All the boats are from the local charter fleet. There is a random drawing, giving each team a different boat to fish on each day. Line used is only 30-pound test and I.G.F.A rules are followed, meaning anglers have to cast their own bait, hook their own fish and bring it to the boat unaided.
"It was difficult for many of the anglers participating, as our techniques here for catching marlin are quite different to most places. Our crews routinely race up to the fish and cast a live mackerel to within a few inches of the fish's bill with incredible ease. A lot of the anglers were unaccustomed to this and as such crews had to do a circle around the fish to give the fisherman a chance to drop back the bait. The good thing was that there were a lot of fish, so everybody got to practice. Most marlin were caught in the Punta Gorda area of the Sea of Cortez."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Yellowfin tuna topped the fish counts at the tip of Baja last week, and a surge of striped marlin action on the Cortez side boosted results for the Fourth Annual Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship Tournament.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Cabo Magic, Tommy Garcia reported 56 boats chartered with a catch including released fish of: 18 striped marlin, 286 yellowfin tuna, 55 dorado, 15 wahoo, 1 amberjack, 2 roosterfish, and 1 spearfish.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Pisces Fleet, Tracy Ehrenberg reported 67 percent of boats releasing billfish during the week, and 93 percent scoring on all species combined. The top Pisces boat for the week was Ni Modo, with 6 striped marlin releases for Hap Burnett of Lake Havasu, AZ.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Picante Fleet reported on 9 boats chartered Thursday with a catch including released fish of: 14 striped marlin, 6 dorado, 12 yellowfin tuna, and 2 wahoo.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Solmar Fleet had a catch including released fish of: 15 striped marlin, 165 yellowfin tuna, 23 dorado, 15 sierra, 2 roosterfish, and 1 pilot shark.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said the catch for Gaviota Fleet including released fish was: 60 striped marlin; 34 dorado; 12 wahoo, mostly 40 to 70 pounds; and 217 yellowfin tuna, mostly 15 to 30 pounds. The Juanita VIII with Capt. Gilbert Abaroa released 13 striped marlin during the Rolex/IGFA tournament, Edwards said.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Capt. George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing said Cabo weather was in the mid-90s, with water temperatures rising briefly to the 80-degree range, before falling again to the mid-70s. Sea conditions were good on both sides of the arch as most tournament boats fished up the Cortez side north of the Gordo Banks.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet reported water temperatures at the tip of Punta Banda at about 61 degrees and pangas limiting on calico bass and sandbass to 6 pounds in mostly cloudy weather, with patchy fog, variable winds and 4-foot swells.
Villarino said he's been getting good results with the new jointed iron jigs made by Denis Quesnel's Action Lures company, actionluresinc.com: "They work really good on lingcod. As soon as we see some yellows or bonita, we will try them on those species."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: At Lily Fleet, Sammy Susarrey said his boats found big schools of barracuda 2 miles north of Punta Banda and at San Miguel reef. Two, 20-pound white seabass were also caught. At Santo Tomas and Maximino Reef, good catches of red rockfish and bottom fish were made in 100 feet of water. Water temperatures were 55 degrees at Santo Tomas, and 62 degrees inside Bahia Todos Santos.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Steve Ross of the boat Bad Dog and Pescadores de Ensenada fishing club at Marina Coral had a complaint about the new 15 percent "fuel tax" he said was being levied at the marina fuel dock. "For the powerboater who is thinking of taking his boat into Mexico and requiring fuel, bring more money than before," Ross said. "Marina Coral is the only on-the-water fuel dock in Ensenada. It is surprising that there is an additional tax imposed on us loyal customers who spend a lot of money with both the marina and the hotel. Why punish us loyal ones?"
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Tim Moore took a group of 4 anglers to Popotla, south of Rosarito Beach, and found good fishing during a one-day trip with: 20 sculpin, a 15-pound yellowtail, 2 lingcod, 20 calico bass, and 10 rockcod. The group from Santa Ana including Brian Walker, Tom Walker, Jose Sanchez, and John Lee. They fished the kelp beds off Calafia to south of the Fox Studios, and then headed out to the area south of the Coronado Islands.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Werner Hradecky had a hot yellowtail session at the Coronado Islands earlier in the week with Mike Bratton and Jim Penn on Scott's Johnny. "We started off just south of the Rockpile and caught 4 yellowtail by 9 a.m." Hradecky said. "At 11, we headed to the Rockpile and the fishing went wide-open. We had a total of 22 fish by 12:30. We had a lot of triples and quadruples. We only kept 10 fish and released the rest. All fish were between 15 to 20 pounds. Water and weather conditions were perfect and it was a great day."
Hradecky said all fish were caught on sardines and blue-white iron. On Thursday, Scott's Johnny returned to the islands but got only 2 hookups and one yellowtail between the Middle Grounds and Pukey Point, and Dan Walkoe on Hammer Time reported 1 yellowtail at the Rockpile, Hradecky said.
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Earlier, Alex Rosas said his son Alejandro and friend Alex Vega tried fishing out of the new Puerto Salina marina north of Ensenada and found a 32-pound halibut in the shallows and lingcod to 20 pounds, cabrilla, and whitefish out by the lobster traps. Water temperatures were 62 degrees inside the marina and 60 degrees outside, and Rosas said the launch ramp was in very good condition.
PUERTO SANTO TOMAS, MEXICO: Sam Saenz of Puerto Santo Tomas Resort said the weather was cool last week, but panga anglers were finding good bottom fishing for limits of lingcod, whitefish, rockcod, and calico bass. No yellowtail were caught. "We have been on the lookout for surface action, but the yellowtail bite has not started," Saenz said. Visitors included Duane Rich and friend Mike of Costa Mesa who fished between Punta China and Punta San Jose for full limits. The biggest fish of the week was a 15-pound lingcod, Saenz said.
ERENDIRA, MEXICO: Lee Wood of Oceanside Senior Anglers went to Castro's Camp with a group of 17 anglers and found good fishing in windy conditions during a 3-day trip. "We caught many nice-size lingcod, in the 15 to 20-pound range, and many large rockcod, along with a variety of very good-eating bottom fish," Wood said. "On the last night, we had a beer batter fish fry, what a treat. The Oceanside Senior Anglers go to Castro's a few times a year as we really enjoy the hospitality." Upcoming club trips include La Paz, East Cape, and the San Felipe mothership, Erik. Club membership is $15 per year, osanglers.com.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Expert local angler Julio Meza said he gave up on launching his 22-foot Sea Swirl, Santa Monica, after several consecutive days of wind, and took his family surf fishing for good catches of barred surf perch to 4 pounds, halibut to 14 pounds, corbina, yellowfin and spotfin croaker, and rays, a total of 42 keepers. "I love surf fishing with my family at our beautiful, clean and white sand beaches, because the kids can play safely on the sand while we cast," Meza said. "As soon as I hook a fish, I call one of the kids and they fight it. To see them smile while reeling in the fish makes my best moments on life."
Meza, who is also a rancher, a U.C. trained agronomist, and a veterinarian, said he wants to learn about fishing the San Diego area, and he offered to trade trips with any experienced local boat owners who would like to really learn the ins and outs of the San Quintin area. Interested anglers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Jim Harer of the Old Mill Motel said an out-of-service phone number was listed in the WON Baja Supplement. The hotel number is 800-479-7962.
Harer said the wind was improved by Sunday afternoon, but there were still 4 to 6-foot swells outside the bay. Twelve boats fished during the week out of Pedro's Pangas, El Capitan Sportfishing, and privately, with the top fish being halibut of 15 and 30 pounds landed by Kelly Catian of El Capitan.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said San Carlos weather was in the mid-70s with morning fog, and water temperatures in the mid-60s. Graham had a group fishing the mangroves who missed some shots at snook, but scored on spotted bay bass, and some pompano, jacks, and corvina.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said weather was in the high-80s with some clouds and breezes and moderately choppy seas. Extreme tides during the full moon required extra caution during launch, and live bait was scattered due to surf. San Jose del Cabo water temperatures averaged 78 degrees. Striped marlin hit strongly at Destiladeras and Vinorama, and school-sized yellowfin tuna to about 20 pounds were running with porpoise from 5 to 25 miles out. "Fish counts did drop off during the full moon, as compared to the previous week," Brictson said, "but once hungry tuna were located, boats accounted for anywhere from 5 to 25." Wahoo and dorado were slower offshore, and roosterfish and sierra were also slow inshore. Several nice snook in the 25-pound range were landed off the beach. "These fish seem to become more active when the surf is higher," Brictson said.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Local angler Bob Grimes said the La Playita gill netters were still working at night, but not catching much. "They have already taken almost all of the indigenous species, as well as whatever migratory species start to come in, including at least one school of small roosterfish," Grimes said.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Dorado and abundant yellowfin tuna dominated the catch as water temperatures neared 80 degrees and the season's first black marlin was reported.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Tami Moyeous of Rancho Buena Vista said 58 boats chartered had a catch including released fish of: 18 striped marlin, 1 black marlin, 1 sailfish, 41 dorado, 216 yellowfin tuna, and 2 wahoo. Most of the tuna were 40 pounds and smaller, although 1 fish estimated at 100 pounds broke off at leader. The tuna were moving farther out, as much as 40 miles, Moyeous said.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Buena Vista Beach resort reported on 63 boats chartered with a catch including released fish of: 19 striped marlin, 41 dorado, 231 yellowfin tuna, 1 wahoo, 8 roosterfish, 104 snapper, 2 jack crevalle, 2 ladyfish, 5 pompano, 9 triggerfish, 11 cabrilla, 2 skipjack, and 18 sierra. East Cape weather was in the low-80s with little to no wind, and water temperatures of 77 to 79 degrees.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Martin Verdugo's Beach Resort, Marisol Verdugo said cruisers were catching "a lot of tuna, football to 45 pounds" and dorado averaged 1 to 3 per boat, at 35 to 45 pounds. The Verdugo fleet also saw more marlin during the week, and released 7. Some scattered wahoo were also seen.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: La Ribera angler George Bergin said friends caught a 62-pound roosterfish on a trolled mullet, but it was "no big deal."
"They've caught several 65s," Bergin said. "The big fish are right in front of my house. I think I'll just wait 2 more weeks 'til the halibut come in close for the sardines. I usually get 2 a day with my frog gig just wading in the shallows. I step on lots more than I capture. Only when the boat wake pulls the sand off their backs, can I see the faint outline. They do spawn here. I saw fry down to dime size in the lagoon."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Rancho Leonero, John Ireland said hotel boats saw water temperatures of 76 to 82 degrees. Most boats were taking at least 1 billfish per day, Ireland said. Large roosterfish to 65 pounds were on the beaches from Punta Colorada to Cabo Pulmo, with live bait working best.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said the beaches were calm and clear, excellent sight fishing conditions, but his guides weren't finding the larger jacks. Light tackle action was heavy on ladyfish.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Mark Rayor of Vista Sea Sport said diving conditions at Cabo Pulmo could not get much better, with 75 to 76 degrees at depth, less current, and big schools of manta rays and huge amberjack in the 100-pound class. "The amberjack have no fear and swim up close enough to touch," Rayor said. "It's a photographer's dream."
Rayor also reported a number of strange clusters of tiny houses only a few inches high that have been appearing in the East Cape area. The houses are grouped together into miniature villages with such startling realism they almost seem to have been made by very small people, or as some have called them, the "Bajapechauns."
Rayor said: "A couple months ago, these mysterious little villages started popping up. If you go up the wash under the bridge behind Spa Buena Vista in the span of about a mile, more then a dozen of then can be found. It has turned into a major tourist attraction. Nobody seems to know much about the people who built them. I didn't think much about it, but now a lot of them have popped up."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tail Hunter International said both sides of the hill lit up with 5 to 40-pound roosterfish last week. "Some of the most fun roosterfishing in years," Roldan said. "Hottest spots are right in front of where we park the boats at Las Arenas beach, just west of the Punta Arena lighthouse, as well as the east side of Cerralvo Island between Ensenada Sirena and Pilis.
"On the La Paz side, boats working the south and southeast end of Espiritu Santo Island have found the pez gallo also more than willing to chew live baits slow-trolled. It's just spectacular inshore fishing. Some of the cleanest, bluest waters I have seen in ages.
"We fished off Arenas the other day. In 15 minutes we brought 4 roosters to the boat up to 40 pounds.
"The next day, I was working a boat and we took a dorado, cabrilla, sierra, yellowtail, and got another 5 roosters, some of which actually grabbed air, greyhounding out of the water like mutant mini-marlin! I've never seen roosters do anything like that!"
LA PAZ, MEXICO: At Mosquito Fleet, Mino Shiba said yellowtail and some dorado were still hitting around Isla Espiritu Santo. Pargo and cabrilla were also available, and plenty of roosterfish. Shiba said, "We've got lots of roosterfish on the island in all sizes. Yesterday, our boats released 3 to 5 fish each." La Paz water temperatures were 70 to 72 degrees, with flat seas.
Shiba said he's is progressing on plans to send groups to a new camp at San Evaristo, for yellowtail fishing next spring. A second exploratory trip was planned for July.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: David Jones of Fishermen's Fleet said volume has not been great, but variety and quality have been, on roosterfish to 65 pounds, dorado to 30 pounds, marlin, sailfish, 3 species of pargo to about 40 pounds, amberjack, cabrilla, wahoo, and tuna. La Paz weather was close to 100 degrees, with clear, blue water.
LORETO, MEXICO: The Loreto Pangeros rampside booking office, 011-52-613-135-1664, had 6 boats chartered, with a fish count of: 20 yellowtail, 14 cabrilla, 4 pargo, 4 sierra, 5 dorado, and 1 sailfish.
LORETO, MEXICO: Kristian Pallesen fished with the cooperativa's Capt. Beto on the La Tijereta for excellent action on yellowtail. "Great time," Pallesen said. "Big yellowtail are being found off Punta Lobos at Carmen Island. Mackerel are being caught off the lighthouse at Coronado Island, and then it is a short run to the reef off Lobos.
"On Thursday we had five 'tails over 30 pounds by 9 a.m."
LORETO, MEXICO: Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company said, "Very hot now, like summer. Two weeks before the really big crowds. Sailfish are plentiful and so are yellowtail about 70 feet below them. Dorado are moving in textbook fashion. They're about 30 miles off Punta Lobos."
LORETO, MEXICO: At Villas de Loreto, Wendy Wilchynski reported Louis Do of California lost a dorado when something big ate it, and anglers were also scoring on plentiful yellowtail.
LORETO, MEXICO: Arturo Susarrey of Arturo's Sportfishing said the action picked up on yellowtail to 25 pounds and cabrilla to 8 pounds, after a 3-day slow period. Harry Westover caught a 36-pound roosterfish at San Bruno. Water temperatures ranged from 76 to 78 degrees.
LORETO, MEXICO: Ty Miller of El Fuerte Sportfishing said Loreto weather was in the high-80s, with water temperatures at 77 degrees. Offshore yellowtail action out of Puerto Escondido was slowing down as dorado and billfish moved in.
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: At Bahia de Los Angeles, Abraham Vazquez of Camp Gecko said summer yellowtail were beginning to arrive, and water temperatures were in the mid-60s. L.A. Bay weather was in the mid-90s, with some wind, and grouper were moving into the shallows to feed on sardina. The yellowtail were located at Las Animas and Soldado Reef, and were averaging about 20 pounds.
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: At Guillermo's a 5-foot squid was reported at the ramp, and others were caught over local high spots. The annual yellowtail tournament was scheduled for May 24-25, 011-52-200-124-9104.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Fily "Iceman" Espinoza of Tony Reyes Fishing Tours reported on a 6-day Midriff Islands trip by the panga mothership Jose Andres, returning to San Felipe on May 16 with a catch of: 303 yellowtail, 20 to 30 pounds; 2 grouper, 35 to 44 pounds; 1 white seabass, 28 pounds; 42 cabrilla, 10 to 18 pounds; 27 squid, 18 to 35 pounds; 2 red snapper, 8 pounds; 1 broomtail grouper, 10 pounds; 2 sheephead, 7 pounds; 1 leather fish, 18 pounds; and limits of spotted bay bass. Midriff water temperatures averaged 70 degrees.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Gustavo Velez of Baja Sportfishing, Inc. reported on a 6-day Midriff Islands trip by the panga mothership Erik, returning to San Felipe on May 15 with a catch of: 97 yellowtail to 29 pounds; 83 cabrilla to 16 pounds; 27 pargo caught mostly at the Golden Reef; 2 grouper to 40 pounds; 2 black seabass of 48 and 50 pounds; 4 white seabass; and 180 miscellaneous fish. No prohibited totoaba were encountered at the Golden Reef, Vela said, and he was waiting to test a new system of weighted hooks to release them alive successfully it they are accidentally caught. The Erik fished at Isla San Esteban, San Francisquito, and Bahia de los Angeles, and celebrated the full eclipse of the moon with an upper deck party, Vela said. MirrOlures worked especially well on both cabrilla and yellowtail.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: At San Felipe, Catalina Meders of the Title Company Bookstore overlooking the bay said the weather was cool, cloudy, and very humid, and the town was quiet all week, as it waited for the Memorial Day crowds to begin arriving. A Celebration of Cultural Events on the malecon hosted exhibits from 72 schools in Mexicali, and the town now has a new animal shelter, located on the highway just south of the El Dorado Ranch development. The shelter was raising funds to run a neutering program for dogs and cats.
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Local angler Bill Molden said a few dorado at 20 pounds were finally caught last week, as the water warmed up. The main action was about 15 miles out on a 210-degree heading.
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Vince Radice of the Sonoran Sports Center relayed news from Mexico City announcing a large subsidy program by the Mexican government to develop more artisanal fishing. With illegal, locally caught dorado and marlin already being sold openly in San Carlos, Radice said, "This is an incredible blow to the Sea of Cortez. It would appear that the government will turn a blind eye to what is going on and again refuse to enforce the laws governing species designated for sport fishing only." For the state of Sonora alone, the federal panguero subsidies will amount to U.S. $3.5 million, Radice said. Nationwide, news accounts put the subsidy at roughly U.S. $33 million.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Paul Phillips of the Fintastic Total Tag & Release Tournament said yellowfin tuna were hitting in "the best year anyone can remember." The action was only a couple of miles out, on fish to about 40 pounds.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Stan Lushinsky of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters said angler Doc Jarrow fished with Capts. Pieo and Chico on the Cobra and Llamarada and landed over 200 yellowfin tuna in 5 days. Large schools of tuna were less than 10 miles out of Zihuatanejo Bay. Weather was in the low-90s, with water temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees.