Baja fishing areas escape hurricanes Nora and Olaf

Mexico Fishing News, October 13, 2003



EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Southern Baja, already damaged by two earlier hurricanes, narrowly dodged a bullet last week as Hurricanes Nora and Olaf weakened rapidly and turned away from the peninsula, rather than making landfall or going up the Sea of Cortez as predicted.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Chris Moyers of East Cape Smoke House said: "By the grace of God, we were just spared a tremendous calamity! At one point on Saturday, there was little hope that we would be spared even one of those storms, much less both. I know for a fact that many, many prayers were answered as both storms just seemed to steadily slow, weaken, and head in other directions."

Moyers reported on 189 boats from combined fleets including the Van Wormer resorts of Palmas de Cortez, Playa de Sol, and Punta Colorada, with a catch including released fish of: 6 blue marlin, 19 striped marlin, 64 sailfish, 104 dorado, 338 yellowfin tuna, 10 pargo, 2 wahoo, and 8 amberjack. East Cape weather was in the low-90s, with most calm seas, and water temperatures of 83 to 87 degrees.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Buena Vista Beach Resort reported on 38 boats with a catch including released fish of: 1 blue marlin, 6 striped marlin, 22 sailfish, 21 dorado, 40 tuna, 3 wahoo, 32 snapper, 11 amberjack, 5 bonita, 2 cabrilla, 3 skipjack, and 1 sierra. Hotel boats reported water temperatures as low as 75 to 78-degrees. Most fishing was 15 to 20 miles out, with some boats going out 30 miles for tuna. Inshore water remained off-color.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said the arroyos were still running, but were passable. Dorado continued to be disappointing, although there was plenty of debris in the water. Few boats were fishing in the off-color inshore water and the beaches were slow.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Rancho Leonero, Gary Barnes-Webb said: "Blue marlin and sailfish dominating the action, with some stripers also biting. Some of the biggest dorado we've seen, to 60-plus pounds. Yellowfin tuna were a bit slower. Inshore, big amberjack and wahoo are the news, with pargo also biting, on the reefs from Punta Colorado to Cabo Pulmo."

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Mark Rayor of Vista Sea Sport said: "Incredible how fast things can change. Last week we were buttoning everything down with a threat of 2 hurricanes. Now, conditions are nothing less then spectacular. Tidy Bowl blue water is 84 degrees at depth with 100-foot-plus visibility." Sea life sightings included white tip shark, a monstrous jewfish, turtles, and a huge school of bigeye jacks about a city block around, Rayor said.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Furness of Santa Rosa, CA fished 3 days on the Marisol with Capt. Ronnie and mate Poncho out of Martin Vergudo's Beach Resort, and reported lots of debris but few dorado, in 80-degree blue water close to shore. His first day resulted in 4 sailfish and a pair of 20-pound dorado. Day 2: 1 striped marlin; 1, 48-pound dorado, and 1 small dorado, 30 inches long that hit a 14-inch lure. Day 3: 6 football tuna, and 2 sailfish.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Rod Albright of Los Barriles commented on the close call from Nora and Olaf: "Although we did get a small amount of rain from Nora and some high surf from the storm surge, very little damage was reported. The dirt bridge north of Los Barriles was washed out again and one lane on the bridge south of town was closed. They both have been repaired and the highway is open again. The road workers have done an excellent job keeping the roads open for all of us as well as the tourists coming down."

In other mainland Mexico and Baja fishing action this week:



ENSENADA, MEXICO: At Lily Fleet, Sammy Susarrey reported very good fishing on Sunday for 18 yellowtail to 10 pounds, by 2 anglers, on kelp paddies, 5 miles outside the bay on a heading of 240 degrees from Isla Todos Santos. Other late-week limits of bonito to 10 pounds were caught at North Todos Santos Island, and some lingcod at Punta San Miguel. At University Point, the Lily caught 6 yellowtail to 10 pounds, plus 6 calico bass and 2 sandbass, with 3 anglers.

ENSENADA, MEXICO: At Punta Banda, Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet said Ensenada weather was mostly cloudy in the low-70s, with 3 to 5-foot swells and water temperatures averaging 63 degrees. Limits of lingcod and yellowtail were caught by Eileen and Tom Kennedy of San Diego, fishing on the Vonny I with Capt. Beto Zamora.

ENSENADA, MEXICO: Sergio Susarrey of Sergio's Sportfishing Center reported on 173 anglers with a catch of: 42 yellowtail, 17 bonito, 7 barracuda, 2 halibut, 2 yellowfin tuna, 16 skipjack, 813 lingcod, 939 rockcod, 272 whitefish, 30 salmon grouper, and 220 red snapper. Open party boats were running Saturday and Sunday, and private charters during the week.

ENSENADA, MEXICO: Lee Wood of Oceanside Senior Anglers said a group of 20 members fished one day in 6 to 10-foot seas on the Pacific Voyager, about 110 miles south of San Diego, for 4 albacore to 40 pounds, 10 yellowfin tuna, and 7 yellowtail. "At one point we had all four trolling lines go off at once, and three large albies were brought on board. The fourth broke off on 50-pound line," Wood said. "We did not catch any albies on bait, but we did get a few yellowfin on bait off two kelp paddies. Then finally, a kelp paddy that held a few yellowtail, but they were not that big, around 8 to 10 pounds."

ENSENADA, MEXICO: Steve Ross of Pescadores de Ensenada reported last-minute preparations for his 4-day cruise to San Quintin on the Bad Dog: "Our trip is to Isla San Martin. This is a big adventure for us. We did it last year at this time and the weather was perfect. We caught big lings. I have two, 50-gallon fuel tanks strapped to each side of my boat, so I think that should do it as long as I don't run offshore. I have purchased 6 reels for the 2 days of fishing as we will hold a tournament."

ENSENADA, MEXICO: Baja author Graham Mackintosh said his new book, Nearer by Dog to Thee, about his summer high in the San Pedro Martir park south of Ensenada, is just off the presses with 295 pages and color photos, and is available as a pre-distribution special for $16.95, including tax and shipping. Full details are at Mackintosh's website:, or send check to Graham Mackintosh P.O. Box 1982 Lemon Grove, CA 91946.



PUERTO SANTO TOMAS, MEXICO: Sam Saenz of Puerto Santo Tomas said late-week weather was dark and gloomy: "It drizzled on and off all night and is still continuing. Plus the surf is a little on the wild side." Saenz said pangas fished on Saturday, but had not reported their catches. Puerto Santo Tomas' email was down for a period last week due to the Blaster Virus, Saenz said:



SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Pete Hillis of Pedro's Pangas said he 21 boats fished last week, including groups with Bob Dresslar, Rich Twedt and Roger Morgan of San Diego, and Tim Moore's Go Baja! group of Senior Club members including Bill Swift, Roxanne Echevarria, Albert Lin, charter master George Venuzuela, and Florin Tudor. Anglers caught limits of lingcod, rockcod, and whitefish, and the Go Baja! group limited on yellowtail to 22 pounds, hitting jigs and live bait at the west end of Isla San Martin.

Hillis said San Quintin weather was overcast with one day of rain. One boat went outside for tuna but came back empty-handed.

SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Stan Vath of Campo Lorenzo said Melanie Sweeney of Palm Springs caught her first ever yellowtail, a 22 pounder, on Lorenzo Biedebach's boat. Fishing with her son Mitchell and Jim Biedebach, Sweeney's group also caught 3 halibut of 12 to 17 pounds, and the usual round of bottom fish.

Vath reported that earlier in the week local white seabass expert Big John Bakerink landed 12 of them to 35 pounds, and two days later caught another 5. "He's otta control!!," Vath said.

SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Amy Ferreira of Don Eddie's Landing relayed an unconfirmed report of a very large white shark caught near Rosarito Beach. Ferreira said the reports described a 7-meter shark caught in tuna nets.



MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said most boats stayed inside the bay during the week, because of the threat of Hurricane Nora. Some trailer boats were arriving for the anticipated fall Thetis Bank fish pile-up. "Won't be long before the Southern California transiting yachts will begin to arrive. Based on the reports so far, it should be a good season," Graham said. Few boats were fishing the esteros, but the pier produced good catches of corvina and some sierra. San Carlos weather was in the low-80s, with local water temperatures of 60 to 78 degrees.



CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Generally comfortable weather in the low-90s, mostly clear blue water, flat seas, and water temperatures in the low to mid-80s prevailed last week after the narrow escape from Hurricanes Nora and Olaf.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Capt. George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing reported on 5 boats with a catch including released fish of: 1 blue marlin, 300 pounds; 1 striped marlin; 1 sailfish; 1 wahoo, 70 pounds; 5 dorado, 15 to 35 pounds; and 6 yellowfin tuna, 15 to 25 pounds.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet said 41 percent of boats caught marlin and 81 percent landed all species combined. The top fish of the week was a 550-pound blue marlin caught by Joe Vincent and friends on the Libre. The Libre fished at the Gordo Banks, and released a second blue marlin the same day, Ehrenberg said. Nearly 60 percent of Pisces' boats caught dorado, mostly ones and twos, but including Ruthless with 10. Most dorado were 25 to 40 pounds. Twenty percent of Pisces boats caught tuna, mostly averaging 30 pounds, but with some to 80 pounds. Boats fished on the Pacific side early in the week, later switching to the Cortez.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of Cabo Magic reported on 91 boats with a catch including released fish of: 4 blue marlin; 9 striped marlin; 14 sailfish; 76 yellowfin tuna, including several in the over-100-pound class; 141 dorado, including some of 50 to 70 pounds; and 1 wahoo.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Picante Fleet reported on 9 boats with a catch including released fish of: 1 blue marlin, 10 striped marlin, 18 yellowfin tuna, and 24 dorado. Picante boats fished mostly on the Pacific side.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Jose Luis Sanchez of Solmar Fleet reported on 89 boats with a catch including released fish of: 10 striped marlin; 37 dorado, including one of 70 pounds; 42 yellowfin tuna; 6 sailfish; 1 blue marlin; 1 black marlin; and 3 mako shark. The week's top angler was Eric Grijalva of Las Vegas, with 3 striped marlin, 7 yellowfin tuna and 1 sailfish on the Solmar I, fishing 10 miles off Old Lighthouse.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Frequent Cabo angler Merle Erickson of Chicago, and friends, fished 6 days with Pisces Fleet for 26 yellowfin tuna, 5 dorado, 2 sailfish, 1 striped marlin, and 1 blue marlin. "There was 1 skunk day in the 6 days," Erickson said. "Fishing is good to excellent for small game with multiple schools of tuna in both the Pacific and Sea of Cortez. Fish are generally 20 to 35 pounds with a few larger units to 80 pounds mixed in. There seem to be quite a few sailfish, with striped marlin caught relatively infrequently and a few small blue marlin here and there. The Andrea had a Grand Slam releasing a sail, a striper and a blue, and the Ni Modo had a Grand Slam -- both slams coming from east of the Gordo Banks."

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said the catch improved during the week, as about 40 percent of Gaviota Fleet boats caught billfish, and good tuna counts were reported. Gaviota Fleet had a catch including released fish of: 3 blue marlin, 8 sailfish, 15 striped marlin, 4 wahoo, 1 cabrilla, and 128 yellowfin tuna. Fleet boats fished mostly on the Pacific side, from the Jaime Bank, out 17 to 30 miles, toward the 95 bank.



SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: The La Playita area was recovering from flooding and beach debris caused by Hurricane Marty. Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas said: "After enduring one of the worst tropical storm seasons on record the area is finally starting to return to normal, though in certain areas there is still much clean up to be done. The fishing village of La Playita was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Marty and the local government still has not acknowledged any willingness to loan a helping hand and send in some much needed heavy machinery. These residents rely primarily on fishing as their source of income and until the beach is cleaned up their fishing operations are proving to be very difficult."

Brictson said pangas were fishing in off-colored water for some yellowfin tuna, billfish, dorado, and mixed inshore species, but overall, the action was still slower than normal. The best action was on school-sized tuna around the Gordo Banks, using sardina bait which was becoming more available again. Most boats were catching 1 to 4 tuna per day, including an estimated 220 to 250 pounder caught by a panga out of Punta Palmilla that came to gaff after a 2-hour fight. Some good catches of up to 3 wahoo per panga were made in the Iman Bank area. Billfish action was generally slow.



LA PAZ, MEXICO: Gerardo Hernandez of Tortuga Sportfishing said he had sardina and squid bait, but fishing was still generally slow on the Las Arenas side for some pargo and small tuna. On Sunday, he said, "Today, we'll see if we can find those big tuna we had in our area before Olaf and Nora."

LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tail Hunter International said the hard-hit La Concha Beach Resort reopened last week after a furious clean-up campaign by 100 staff members. A few dorado and some inshore pargo, cabrilla, and sierra were caught on the Las Arenas side, and the La Paz side did a little better with some 20 to 40-pound dorado, but generally, fishing was still recovering from rough weather. "Things are calming down and, assuming no more storms, by the time most folks are reading this, hopefully, we'll be back on track," Roldan said.

LA PAZ, MEXICO: Mike Palmer of Escondido, CA fished on the Las Arenas side with Capt. Pepe, who landed a marlin with squared-off fins similar to the fish called "white marlin" by East Cape's George Bergin. Palmer didn't get a photo: "It was around 80 pounds. After a vote we agreed to not release the fish. We had about 25 guys in our group and no one had heard of a white marlin."



LORETO, MEXICO: Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company said inshore fishing was good on yellowtail of 10 to 20 pounds in deep water. Some cabrilla were caught in the same size range, and good numbers of roosterfish were landed north at San Bruno. Pargo and sierra were caught in the same area on trolled Rapalas. Dorado, marlin, and sailfish were "pretty much a done deal."

Loreto weather was cooler, with mostly calm seas, and very few visitors were in town. Bolles reported the post-hurricane mosquito invasion beginning to subside: "With this cool weather and breeze most of the mosquitos have been killed off and the fact that they finally fumigated in town helps too. Even at my dig where they didn't fumigate, I can go outside the mosquito netting again and enjoy the night while my kids are asleep, or work, like I usually end up doing."

LORETO, MEXICO: Gregorio Segoviano of the Carnaderos baitsellers cooperativa said after slow bait fishing at midweek due to rain, the bait pangas switched to nets and landed 200 small jurelito on Friday night. Another 500 were caught on Saturday night for a large order from Arturo's Sportfishing for the weekend, and leftovers are not wasted. "Unsold baits are released as gently as a child to its mother," Segoviano said. Wendy Wilchynski of Villas de Loreto said no anglers were at the hotel, but boats were reporting steady catches of yellowtail and cabrilla.



MULEGE, MEXICO: Diana Johnson of the Hotel Serenidad said fishing was still slow, but boats were catching at least some cabrilla, a few yellowtail, and a "little hope" for dorado. Mulege weather was excellent, and the hotel was very busy with fly-in guests, after a short rain at midweek. Cooler water in the next few weeks should bring more yellowtail, Johnson said.



BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: At Bahía de los Angeles, Abraham Vazquez of Camp Gecko said it rained 3 times during the week: "It has been so wet, the place is as green as it can get. Also, the mosquitos are having a blast." Vazquez said fishing was still good for yellowtail of 10 to 15 pounds behind Horsehead Island, but the dorado seemed gone for the season. Some sierra and skipjack were caught, and big numbers of whale sharks were resident at the south end of the bay. L.A. Bay weather was in the mid-80s.

BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: Also at L.A. Bay, Dan Pena and Charlie Evans of San Diego fished out of Casa Diaz on Pena's 15-foot Bayrunner, and got blown back from Coronadito on their first day by 30 to 40-m.p.h. wind and 4 to 5-foot waves "about 2 seconds apart." They found glassed-off seas the next day and fished the gravel on the northeast corner of Isla Smith, and around Isla Horsehead for 2 small yellowtail and numerous skipjack, spotted bay bass, barracuda, and triggerfish. On Day 3, they fished about 280 feet deep between Islas Horsehead and Piojo for consistent action on 5-pound yellowtail, up to 15 pounds, and 1 dorado caught tight to Isla Horsehead.

"The mosquitos are definitely there," Pena said, "so bring a lot of repellant, but you will still get bit."



SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Filiberto "Fily" 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 Oct. 10 with a catch of: 329 yellowtail, 18 to 32 pounds; 1 grouper, 45 pounds; 1 black sea bass, 79 pounds; 6 dorado, 19 to 27 pounds; 5 white seabass, 25 to 30 pounds; 72 cabrilla, 10 to 14.5 pounds; 37 red snapper, 8 to 12 pounds; 9 broomtail grouper, 10 to 18 pounds; 3 sheephead, 9 pounds; and 255 spotted bay bass. Midriff water temperatures averaged 80 degrees.

SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Bob Castellon of Sea of Cortez Sportfishing reported on a 6-day Midriff Islands trip by the panga mothership Celia Angelina, returning to San Felipe with 16 anglers on Oct. 9 with a catch of: full yellowtail limits, 24 dorado, 48 cabrilla, 1 black sea bass, 5 pargo, 5 sheephead, and 120 miscellaneous fish. "The yellowtail bite was on, no matter what you put in the water," Castellon said. The top fish of the trip was the black sea bass, a 225 pounder caught by Steve Ponce of Westminster, CA on 50-pound line. Ponce fought the fish for 45 minutes, Castellon said. The top yellowtail was a 23 pounder caught by Tony Martinez of Diamond Bar, CA. Midriff weather was excellent except for wind on the last day.

SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: At San Felipe, Catalina Meders of the Title Company Bookstore overlooking the bay said the weather was back and forth between sun and rain, and there was some standing water in town after Hurricane Marty dropped about 6 inches of rain. The desert vegetation was green and beautiful to the point of distraction: "Unbelievable. There is actual GRASS growing everywhere, and the ocotillos are weighted down with green leaves so dense you can't see the woody stems. The whole thing is just burgeoning with new life. Yesterday, driving back from the swap-meet, I almost went off the road a couple of times because I couldn't stop staring at it." The town was beginning to fill up with winter visitors.



SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Resident angler Bill Molden said, "The fishing and catching are the best it's been all year. The dodos are back, running 20 to 40 pounds." Molden also reported large yellowtail on the surface, and numerous billfish caught and broken off. The fish were scattered on headings of 180 to 270 degrees from a point 11 miles out. Water temperatures from down to 80 to 84 degrees, from 86 to 88 degrees a few weeks earlier.

SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Earlier, Norman Don and his brother Michael, both of Tucson, AZ fished on their boat Doc Marlin out of San Carlos, and caught 8 large dorado to over 40 pounds, and 1 tagged striped marlin 3 miles southwest of Isla San Pedro. Don said 2 tuna boils were seen but could not be reached in time. The water temperature was 85 degrees, and the hot lure colors were blue-white and pink-blue. Other San Carlos boats reported slow fishing for sailfish and a few dorado, Don said.



MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Very few anglers fished last week, as the port was closed for 3 days, reported Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters. Only 8 Aries Fleet boats fished, producing a catch including released fish of: 16 sailfish, 2 blue marlin, 1 striped marlin, 12 yellowfin tuna to 79 pounds, and 10 dorado. Inshore pangas were beginning to catch some dorado, snapper, and early corvina. Mazatlan weather was variable in the 80s, with choppy seas early in the week, returning to normal by the weekend, and the best fishing was 20 to 35 miles southwest of Marina el Cid.



IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Stan Lushinsky of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters said rough weather, including a 3-day port closure, knocked out the fishing for much of the week, although some sailfish and dorado were caught.

IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Local guide Ed Kunze said only about 10 boats fished the entire week: "I assume the rooster bite will still be going strong, if we get somebody to fish for them. And the sailfish action is still holding at 1 to 2 fish per boat. Also, a few very nice dorado are holding in the current lines."

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SCENES FROM MARTY--Flooding and damage along Mulege's Rio Santa Rosalia during last month's very powerful Hurricane Marty. Photos courtesy Diana Johnson, Hotel Serenidad.

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PUNTA BANDA LIMITS--Eileen and Tom Kennedy of San Diego caught limits of lingcod and yellowtail out of Ensenada last week, with Vonny's Fleet's panga Vonny I and Capt. Beto Zamora. Photo courtesy Ivan Villarino.

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CAMPO LORENZO CATCH--Melanie Sweeney of Palm Springs, CA with her first ever yellowtail, a 22 pounder caught at San Quintin on Lorenzo Biedebach's boat. Sweeny fished with her son Mitchell and Jim Biedebach. Photo courtesy Stan Vath.

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LORETO MARINA RESURRECTION--Boats are fishing again out of the Loreto Marina, heavily damaged by last month's Hurricane Marty. Photo courtesy Jeff Petersen.

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POINT LOMA CROAKER--Larry Miller of Perris, CA used a small sardine to catch this 15-pound white seabass at the Point Loma kelp beds on his boat Barbara Lynn. "The big ones weren't doing anything, but the little guys were rockin'," Miller said. Photo courtesy Larry Miller.

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