LORETO, MEXICO: With continued winter winds sweeping down the length of the Sea of Cortez, Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company reported brief windows of calm weather sandwiched between days of rough seas as Loreto boats fished cautiously along nearby shorelines for cabrilla, pargo, sierra, and bonita. Hurried morning runs to Isla Coronado produced some yellowtail of 10 to 20 pounds.
Sardina baits became more available during calm periods and lower morning tides. "Even though we're able to get the sardinas again I would still recommend bringing along Rapala-type lures to troll along the shorelines," Bolles said.
Yellowtail action was slow in the northern areas. "Those boats that targeted yellowtail from San Bruno to Isla San Ildefonso have been striking out while those that have fished the southern area off Isla Danzante pulled in fish," Bolles said.
Bolles also noted that Baja Big Fish Company's downtown Loreto store had Mexican fishing permits and boat permits available for sale to tourists. "You may phone us during closed hours at 135-1603 to arrange for licenses," Bolles said. "Payments for permits are welcome in U.S. dollars, traveler's checks, Mexican pesos, VISA, or MasterCard."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet reported a couple of days with good fishing weather last week and bottom fishing steady for his pangas working the tip of Punta Banda. On Thursday, Brian "Calico" Foley and Joanne Foley of Ensenada's Campo La Joya fished with Capt. Beto Zamora on the panga Vonny I and got into a good run of lingcod and whitefish plus some red rockcod.
"It was a little cold in the morning, but the ocean was very nice," Villarino said. Ensenada fishing area weather was calm and partly cloudy in the low-60s, with 3-foot ocean swells and the water temperature at Punta Banda at 58 degrees.
Steve Ross of the boat Bad Dog at Marina Coral said the very heavy bite that left him with an unraveled and twisted wire leader during a night fishing session off Ensenada recently might have been a broadbill swordfish. "It was pulling full-on drag like a Volkswagen with the 2-speed International 80," Ross said. "The curly wire was the result of a bill wrap unraveling strand after strand with all the pressure I had on the fish. When we thought that he'd come off, he hadn't, he was circling back and then peeling out and coming back. The bait was a jumbo squid purchased at 99 Ranch. There were giant squid in the water. Never mind the water temperature. That has nothing to do with it. It's the season."
ERENDIRA, MEXICO: Tere Castro of Castro's Camp reported just a few visitor's traveling down Baja's Highway Mex 1 from Ensenada last week and few boats fishing. "The fishing groups were few but we did have more than last week," Castro said. Boats fishing in calm seas after a few days of rain caught a good variety of rockcods, lingcod, sheephead, whitefish, and mixed bottom fish. Windy weather returned at midweek, causing some boat cancellations. Water temperatures in the main fishing areas off the Baja coast averaged 56 degrees.
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Juanchys Aguilar of La Bocana on the central Baja Pacific coast reported good weather conditions and very clear, completely calm water, but slow overall fishing. "This week we didn't catch either yellowtail or bonito," Aguilar said. "We also caught fewer grouper. We don't know why and we're hoping for better fishing next week." Boats fishing inside Laguna La Bocana caught some medium-sized halibut, spotted bay bass, and average-sized grouper.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Jeff Petersen of Lopez Sportsman's Lodge at Puerto Lopez Mateos reported on an outing with Capt. Chico aboard the charter panga Sonia Ann, fishing with lisa and bought live shrimp baits northward in the mangrove channels toward Boca de Santo Domingo for a good mixed catch of: 22 corvina, 16 calandria, 8 roncachos, 2 pargo comilludo, 1 pargo rojo, 1 snook, and 1 pompano. "There is no longer live shrimp bait to be found in the estero by day so Chico arranged to receive 1-1/2 kilos off the last net of a shrimp boat," Petersen said. "We found Boca de Soledad passable, but the Pacific tense. We continued north toward Boca de Santo Domingo along what I call Chico's magic railway, transiting wide-open bays at speed and meandering turns, passing long-legged seabirds. We began fishing at high water on a nice drift. Chico added live lisa to the bait tank with a short stop along the way. Excellent action continued while the current had strength. By slack tide we were free lining without weight, catching the greatest variety, including the black snook that Chico picked up with a shrimp." Magdalena Bay fishing area weather was sunny but cool enough to require a jacket at times.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Wayne Neff of San Diego, Calif., reported on a The Baja Catch-style fishing and camping trip out of Magdalena Bay's Puerto Lopez Mateos, with fishing made difficult by floating eel grass. "The water was full of weeds making trolling all but impossible," Neff said. "The eel grass was on the surface everywhere this trip, including north of the Pacific opening and in the back bays. The eel grass on the bottom is no problem as it is scattered, but when it is everywhere on the surface it knocks out trolling. The last day we hired a guide and fished with shrimp bait and caught some nice middleweights, but it was drifting bait that caught fish of any decent size. The trolling, where you could, caught all small stuff. Gill nets are everywhere along the mangroves. But the worst problem by far was the weeds." Neff noted that he camped in the area called "Soledad Beach" located on the large side channel on the south side of town. "It is the driest and most secluded site near town," Neff said. "The Pemex is so close that is where we filled up our water tanks. Winter winds were rare at this site. Soledad Beach is just south and a little east of the water tower. It's on the canal east of the new ramp. You can walk to the mini-mart for supplies and the good restaurant is across the street from the mini-mart. Too easy."
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said the first California gray whales of the winter migration were arriving at Magdalena Bay last week. "A few whales are beginning to filter into the bay," Graham said. "The much anticipated migration has begun. They always provide a fun time for the family." Boats fishing the San Carlos entrada found good action for sierra plus a few firecracker yellowtail feeding on red crabs and sardines under birds. Offshore yachts reported cooler and slightly off-color water. Magdalena Bay fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the mid-70s, with water temperatures at 66 to 73 degrees.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Mike Connolly of the Pisces Fleet Sportfishing charter boat Falcon reported on 4 outings for 42 striped marlin released, including a top day with 19 releases. "We caught almost all of them at the Golden Gate Bank," Connolly said. "There were lots of free jumpers, sometimes 2 or even 3 at a time. We had 4 triples because of all the baits we had out. At times it was every bait. There were a few spots of feeders between Cabo and the Gate and we hooked a few of them but the real volume was on the bank." Fishing water at the Golden Gate Bank was blue at 76 degrees. Two dorado at 25 pounds were also caught with the marlin. Connolly also noted that the boat Summertime reported 81 marlin releases in 1 day at the Finger Bank at midweek. "In the fishing world it is very difficult to find a fishery that has improved over the years. This is the one that has," Connolly said.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 46 outings by Gaviota Fleet and the Cabo San Lucas charter boats Fish Cabo and Fish Cabo I, with a catch including released fish of: 119 striped marlin, 39 dorado, and 2 yellowfin tuna. Top boat for the week was the Gaviota VIII with 5 back-to-back 5-release days. "It was another exciting billfish week in the 'Marlin Capital' of the world," Edwards said. "There are now several spots that are producing quite well that include the Finger Bank at 53 miles from Cabo, the Golden Gate Bank at 22 miles, Jaime Bank at 18 to 22 miles, Cabo Falso at about 5 to 6 miles, and El Arco just a couple miles outside the harbor. The Finger Bank remains the best but there is simply no need to make a run with such good fishing so much closer to home." Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the high-70s, with water temperatures as high as 73 degrees on the Pacific side and as low as 68 to 70 degrees close to Cabo on the Cortez side.
Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet Sportfishing reported catches including released fish during the month of December of: 1,167 striped marlin, 3 sailfish, 75 dorado, 305 yellowfin tuna, 24 roosterfish, and 44 sharks. For the week ending Jan. 7, 2008, Pisces Fleet charter boats scored a 100 percent combined species release rate, including 99 percent with marlin. Top outings from nearby fishing areas to the Pacific Banks included Tracy Ann with a 15-marlin release day, Yahoo with 17, and Bill Collector with 15. Fifteen percent of charters caught dorado and just 4 percent landed yellowfin tuna. Pisces boats fished from El Arco north to the Golden Gate and Jaime Banks. Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was clear, with some afternoon wind and the water temperature averaging 70 degrees.
Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported on a fly tackle session at the Golden Gate Bank aboard the charter boat Baja Raider with guide Lance Petersen and angler Kurt Jones of Houston, Texas, and Jones' son Conner for 10 marlin raised, 4 hooked, and 2 released, all on a 10-WT flyrod borrowed after Jones' rod lost its tip section. "The next available fly rod was my 10WT," Petersen said. "I wasn't done coaching when we had a marlin teased up. Not bad for first time marlin fishermen with a 10WT!"
Jim Dillon of Salvador's Sportfishing reported on 13 outings by the Cabo San Lucas charter boats El Budster, El Budster I, and El Budster II, with a catch including released fish of: 25 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, 19 dorado of 20 to 25 pounds, 1 mako shark of 30 pounds, and 1 boat with limits of yellowfin tuna of 20 to 25 pounds.
George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing reported continued excellent striped marlin action on Cabo's Pacific side in water temperatures of 73 to 75 degrees. Fishing on the Sea of Cortez side was slowed by green, cool water down to 69 degrees off Punta Gorda. "Almost every Cabo San Lucas boat caught at least 1 marlin, and if they wanted to work at it a little there was no problem getting into double-digits," Landrum said. "There were still great concentrations of fish at the Finger Bank, but closer to home you did almost as well." Yellowfin tuna and dorado were scattered and small. Inshore fishing produced consistent sierra early in the mornings off the Pacific-side Solmar and Finisterra beaches plus some yellowtail on Cortez-side rocky points. Live bait available for sale at the Cabo San Lucas marina was mostly mackerel plus a few caballito. Sardina baits available from pangueros at San Jose del Cabo were very small at about 2 inches. Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was good on the Pacific side, but increasingly windy going up the Cortez side. "Once you went north of the Punta Gorda area the northerly winds made fishing very uncomfortable," Landrum said.
Durance Lowendick of Marlin Masters Sportfishing reported boats averaging 4 to 11 striped marlin per day on the nearby Jaime and Golden Gate Banks and up to 17 marlin per day on the Finger Bank farther north. "The unbelievable striped marlin bite is still running strong," Lowendick said. "We have also seen yellowfin tunas over 200 pounds feeding on bait balls in the Finger Bank area in the past week on several trips. Live baits are readily available. All signs are that the major striped marlin bite will continue in the Cabo area. The Finger Bank seamount outside of Todo Santos remains the hotspot."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported on 47 combined La Playita fleet pangas fishing off San Jose del Cabo, with a catch including released fish of: 105 yellowfin tuna, 33 dorado, 13 striped marlin, 3 mako shark, 22 bonito, 11 amberjack, 34 red snapper, 13 cabrilla, and 19 sierra. San Jose del Cabo fishing area weather was sharply warmer to 90 degrees, with local water temperatures at 67 to 72 degrees. Mackerel bait fish were migrating into the San Jose del Cabo area, but sardina baits became scattered with pangueros searching different areas to find a sufficient supply. Inshore fishing was inconsistent for fewer than normal sierra, pargo, and jacks. "Bottom fishing has started out sluggishly as well and the north winds did not help," Brictson said. "But now that the winds have at least temporarily slacked maybe there will be some better counts of amberjack, yellowtail, snapper, and cabrilla."
Capt. Tony Miranda of Cabo Extreme Fishing reported on an outing out of La Playita for a catch of: 7 yellowfin tuna, 1 dorado, and 1 marlin lost. "There is also the possibility of catching huachinango," Miranda said. "Chame caught 12 of them at about 10 pounds."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported steady north winds for the East Cape fishing area. "That pesky north wind is never too far away," Graham said. "The best bet continued to be fishing inshore or on the beach early in the mornings, until the wind showed up, and then it's back to the hotel." South facing East Cape beaches produced good action for sierra, plus a few smaller jacks, roosterfish, and ladyfish. "Mark Rayor of Vista Sea Sport reported fishing in a tin boat yesterday and murdering the sierra and white bonita," Graham said. East Cape fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the mid-70s, with winds at 11 to 15 knots and the water temperature at 67 to 73 degrees.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International said the La Paz fishing area had a warm snap in the weather last week with air temperatures reaching the mid-80s. Panga fishing on La Paz' Las Arenas side produced a few dorado and a few roosterfish seen but not caught at Punta Perico. Roosterfish were also seen on the La Paz side off Bonanza Beach at the southeast corner of Isla Espiritu Santo. "It's still breezy," Roldan said. "Pargo are not lining up in big schools yet but are hunkering in the rocks. More pargo are getting hooked and lost in the rocky areas and drop-offs around Muertos Bay and Punta Perico, and sierra and bonito are providing lots of fun light tackle action. It's really pretty down here in the sunshine and despite some strong winds the inshore fishing kept rods bent."
SANTA ROSALIA, MEXICO: Jim Anderson of San Bruno reported on an unusually unseasonable flurry of dorado caught during a run to the Isla San Marcos yellowtail bajos with Ed Hogan on Jan. 4, 2008. "Ed was bringing his bait back to the boat and got flashed by a fish which he assumed was a dorado," Anderson said. "I responded that he had drunk too much coffee, since the water temps were 57.8 degrees and it was too cold for dorado and no one had ever seen them after mid-December. Then I saw 2 jumpers and figured there really were dorado present, so we spent the next hour catching and releasing dorado. We estimated that we released around 25 fish and kept a couple for dinner. I think this school must have been lost and totally temperature deficient." Yellowtail action in the Santa Rosalia fishing area was good on the high tidal current swings, and 3 days in a row produced good counts. "By the time Tuesday rolled around all the boats were out but the fishing really fell off," Anderson said. "We were glad that it finally slowed down as we were all tired and beat up from the earlier days." Inshore fishing was excellent for spotted bay bass and goldspotted bass. "We have had a strong run of very small bigeye scad and these have proven to be fantastic bait for the larger bass," Anderson said.
BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: Dan Fleming of National City, Calif., reported on camping conditions during a trip to Punta La Gringa at the north end of Bahia de los Angeles. "Excellent," Fleming said. "For the last 2 years the place has been almost deserted due to untrue rumors that it is closed. It is a bit different. There is a fence now. The caretaker shows up each day, collects $5, and takes your trash. It's still one of the best places in Baja, in my opinion." Fleming noted pangas catching yellowtail, and lots of clams in the area, but shore fishing not productive. "You really need a boat," he said.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Katherine Hammontré of the San Felipe website Sanfelipe.com.mx said Tony Reyes Fishing Tours had scheduled 3 special 3-day sightseeing and fishing trips out of San Felipe aboard the panga motherships Jose Andres and Tony Reyes, departing San Felipe on April 2, April 5, and April 9, 2008. "Tony's got new brochures and I'm going on a 3-day in April," Hammontré said. "The trip includes meals 3 times a day, $1 Tecate beers and sodas, and you may bring other liquor on board, but you have to share. The pangas will take you to the islands where you can explore, or play cards in the galley. I'm going to get out of Dodge during Semana Santa. To make arrangements for these trips, call Tony Reyes Sr. personally or send a fax. He'll be glad to help." The cost of the trips is $400 for the Tony Reyes and $300 for the Jose Andres. Information: 011-52-686-577-1120.
Catalina Meders of the Title Company Bookstore at San Felipe said the town was quiet again after the big holiday tourist crowds departed. "Right now we are in a state of doldrums after the holiday hoo-ha and the next big thing coming up is Carnaval," Meders said. San Felipe weather was breezy in the mid-60s, with a warming trend forecast. Meders noted that recent publicity about roadside crime in Mexico was having an adverse impact on the local economy. "The press that northern Baja is getting in the U.S. papers lately is overwrought, exaggerated, and one-sided," Meders said. "A couple of U.S. newspapers really have hurt us lately by announcing that Baja is 'unsafe' for tourists. This is based on a couple of bad incidents that occurred not too long ago. These same incidents have been rehashed repeatedly. The bulk of the population in Baja depends largely on the tourist industry for its financial security, so please, if you hear people bad mouthing Baja, put in a sane word."
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: John Hilderbrand of Jon Jen Charters at San Carlos reported mostly slow action during 5 runs to Isla San Pedro Nolasco, fishing in some windy conditions with clients sea sick at times for a catch of about 17 yellowtail, including 1 trip for 9 yellowtail to about 30 pounds. "Our first week of the year started with wind and cold," Hilderbrand said. "I thought it was going to snow, it was so cold here."
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 23 Aries Fleet offshore charter boats fishing out of Mazatlan's Marina El Cid, with a catch including released fish of: 5 striped marlin. Two cruisers and 8 inshore super pangas outings had a catch of: 12 baqueta, 11 lora, and 1 jack crevalle. "Unfortunately, the waters off Mazatlan turned very cold for this time of year and the inshore and offshore fish virtually disappeared," Edwards said. "On the brighter side, we expect to see incoming swordfish and mako shark which typically follow the decline in water temperatures." Mazatlan fishing area weather was cool in the mornings in the high-70s, with some fog and the water temperature as cool as 62 degrees inshore and warming to 69 degrees at the 25-mile mark. Offshore boats fished a wide, scattered area, as all 5 marlin were hooked on rigged trolling baits.
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: Stan Gabruk of Master Baiter's Sportfishing & Tackle reported on a run to Roca Corbeteña by the Puerto Vallarta charter cruiser Terminal Blues for a catch including released fish with Capt. Oscar, first mate Jose, and a group of anglers from Texas of: 1 sailfish and 3 dorado. All the fish were caught at midday on slow-trolled goggle-eye baits. "The fish are moving and may choose to go to El Banco or Roca Corbeteña," Gabruk said. "You’ll want the flexibility to hit both areas, but this will be a 12-hour day. During this quiet time before high season, boats in Marina Vallarta are readily available. In a few weeks, things will be booking solid through April."
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Ed Kunze, reporting for Baja On The Fly, said cold currents slowed the promising winter sailfish bite last week. "January is historically one of the best months of the year for sailfish," Kunze said. "With the new moon, we were theoretically going into the best weeks of the year but a cold current moved the blue water way offshore and the fish have either left the area or are too sluggish to feed." A run by Capt. Adan on the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo charter panga Gitana II scored the week's top count with 3 sailfish released plus 2 dorado as the Ixtapa sportfishing fleet averaged less than 1 fish per outing. Inshore fishing was also slow. Ixtapa fishing area weather was humid and calm in the mid-90s, with water temperatures at 80 to 84 degrees.
Earlier, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported steady offshore counts following the full moon period, including Capt. Chiro on the Bloody Hook with 16 sailfish in 5 outings and Capt. Jose with 2 sailfish, 1 dorado, and a blue marlin at 140 pounds for 2 outings. "Capt. Cheva on the Dos Hermanos II reported raising 27 sailfish in 3 days for a fly fishing client," Edwards said.
MEXICO: Mike Borden of the La Paz-based boat Fish Magnet reported on a run down the Mexican coast to Guatemala. "Fishing was great in Guatemala and just okay everywhere else," Borden said. "We had a pretty good bite on blue marlin around Acapulco and all the sails you wanted in Guatemala. The fish are protected in Guatemala and they seem to know it because it wasn't an hour after we crossed from Mexico to Guatemala that it was on."
Thierry Venencie of San Carlos said he had scheduled an extended cruise aboard a boat accompanying a fleet of commercial shrimpers on the Sea of Cortez in May. "I will be fishing in all the Sea of Cortez during 20 days," Venencie said. "My Mexican friend owns 7 shrimp fishing boats down here and they will be fishing in different ways. One boat will have only divers and spear fishers, other one bottom fishing, and others trolling. We will have his private yacht to check the fishing between the 7 boats. We will also be fishing from the private yacht. I will try to make a documentary about these 20 days out in the Sea of Cortez."