CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Striped marlin counts continued to climb for closer Cabo San Lucas charter trips last week as the center of the southward winter migration down Baja's Pacific coast moved nearer to land's end.
Jim Dillon of Salvador's Sportfishing reported on 17 outings by the Cabo San Lucas charter boats El Budster, El Budster I, and El Budster II, fishing mostly less than 19 miles out for a catch including released fish of: 41 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, 24 yellowfin tuna of 15 to 25 pounds, 2 boats with limits of yellowfin tuna of 15 to 25 pounds, and 9 dorado of 20 to 30 pounds. For the week, 100 percent of Salvador's Sportfishing charters released striped marlin.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Durance Lowendick of Marlin Masters Sportfishing said the southern striped marlin migration brought good concentrations of fish close to the arch. "There has been a definite southward movement to the fish pattern this week, with the Golden Gate Bank, San Jaime Bank, and the waters just off Sunset Beach providing lots of shots at feeding striped marlin," Lowendick said. Marlin Masters' top outing was by the charter boat Marlin Master III for 12 striped marlin releases in an 8-hour trip. "Next week we should see the continued southward pattern with more fish near the lighthouse bank," Lowendick said.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet Sportfishing reported continued excellent striped marlin action on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas as 95 percent of charters released stripers during the week, 260 total marlin were released, and double-digit days were turned in by the charter boats El Gallo, Spartacus, Bandito, and Tracy Ann. "Maybe we should change the name of the Golden Gate Bank to the Platinum Gate, as this location has been the mainstay of the Cabo San Lucas marlin fishery for months now," Ehrenberg said. "Live mackerel is still the best method of hooking up a marlin and multiple catches have been commonplace." Dorado of 15 to 25 pounds were landed by 30 percent of Pisces Fleet boats but no tuna or wahoo were reported. Inshore charter pangas caught skipjack, some roosterfish, sierra, jack crevalle, and a few mako shark. Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was clear in the low-80s, with calm seas and the water temperatures averaging 70 degrees.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 42 outings by Gaviota Fleet and the Cabo charter boats Fish Cabo and Fish Cabo I, with a catch including released fish of: 121 striped marlin, 18 dorado, 1 wahoo, and 5 yellowfin tuna. "The Golden Gate remained the prime hotspot, but good action was also noted on the Jaime Bank and the Cabo Falso drop-off," Edwards said. "It was another week of bonanza billfish action from Cabo San Lucas with the boats averaging about 3 billfish per day." The best marlin action was on abundant live mackerel baits, with fair numbers also hooked on mackerel and bleeding mackerel pattern artificials. Local Cabo San Lucas fishing water temperatures were as high as 72 degrees on the Pacific side and around to Chileno on the Sea of Cortez side, with a break to 69 degrees running northeast.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Mike Connolly of the Pisces Fleet Sportfishing boat Falcon reported a 31-release day for striped marlin at the Golden Gate Bank during a crew trip with 3 anglers working. "What a day," Connolly said. "We dumped perhaps another dozen. The Gate looked like the Finger Bank. When we arrived around 7:30 there were marlin feeding on top everywhere. We only had our 10 traveling baits and quickly used them up. We would normally catch bait on the Lucky Joe rigs until we were set for the day. Not this day. We could not ignore all the marlin swarming near the boat. We would catch a dozen or so mackerel and then run over to the nearest school of feeders. Our bait rigs were constantly getting chopped off by hungry marlin anyway. One time we stopped on a bait spot down around 100 feet and 15 marlin showed up on the sonar right under the boat. We had to wait for them to leave so we had a chance to get a few baits in the tank. I noticed as the fleet started arriving there was very little of the charging around to every bird school and the spacing remained good. Plenty of marlin. We were hooked up constantly and out of bait for the sixth time when we left for home. It was 1:15."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Ramon Druck of the Cabo San Lucas charter sportfishing super panga Cheer's reported on 2 local outings during the week with a total of 4 anglers, for a catch of: about 41 sierra of 3 to 6 pounds, and some bonita of 3 to 4 pounds. The Cheer's fished off the Cabo San Lucas arch. Fishing for yellowtail with trolled live baits produced 2 hookups but nothing landed. No dorado were hooked. Anglers fishing aboard the Cheer's included Larry McWilliams and Flo Huston of Santa Cruz, Calif, and Buddy and Karen Mostyn of San Marcos, Texas. Local Cabo San Lucas fishing weather was cooler, with water temperatures at 72 to 73 degrees. "The weather was cooler than we're used to and the wind was also cold," Druck said, "but the fishing wasn't bad at all."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet reported a week of good sea conditions in the local Ensenada fishing area and steady bottom fish limits for his pangas. Anglers fishing for mixed species limits of lingcod, Johnny bass, whitefish, and red rockcod with Capts. Beto and Hector on the charter pangas Vonny I and Vonny IV included Jessica Burgueño and her parents of Tijuana and Jay Johnson of Ensenada. Local weather was partly cloudy in the low-60s, with light winds, ocean swells of 2 to 3 feet, and the water temperature at Punta Banda averaging 57 degrees.
ERENDIRA, MEXICO: Tere Castro of Castro's Camp south of Ensenada said local seas were very calm following a period of light Santa Ana winds last week and more boats fished out of Erendira for steady counts of larger than average bottom fish plus some Humboldt giant squid. Castro's Camp boats fished 8 to 10 miles out from the Baja coast in water temperatures of about 56 degrees for fish species including sheephead, whitefish, and lingcod, all of very good sizes.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Pete Hillis of Pedro's Pangas said, "We finally got some boats out this week." San Quintin fishing area weather was cool and foggy but with calmer seas. Pedro Panga's boats missed on yellowtail but landed big numbers of mixed rockfish, lingcod, red rockcod, and whitefish. Anglers fishing out of San Quintin during the week included Bill Wehe and his group from Lakewood and Long Beach, Calif., who went out 2 days and loaded up with Capt. Hector on the charter boat Rommy.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Richard Hollo of Bloomington, Calif., reported on a Baja run with his wife Monica Hollo to San Quintin for 3 days of fishing out of Jim and Nancy Harer's Old Mill Hotel aboard their own boat kept in storage locally with Pedro's Pangas. "Capt. Hector and Abel had the boat ready to be launched," Hollo said. "As is our norm, we chose to do some exploration and long-shot fishing." Bait was hard to find and fishing was generally slow for mixed bottom fish in some heavy fog conditions, but also included an 11-pound sheephead, a good session on lingcod at the 17 spot, and a heavy fish lost inside the bay on a 14-inch whitefish bait dropped halfway to the bottom by Monica. "Monica's rod doubled over and the drag began to buzz and line flew off the reel," Hollo said. "I was in a state of disbelief! Something actually ate that 14-inch whitefish? Monica buttoned the drag down and the rod loaded up all the way to the handle. I saw that the fish was making a beeline towards 2 humps in the middle of the channel and I started up the motor to chase him down, but it was too late. The fish had well over a hundred yards of line out and wasn’t showing any signs of slowing when the line suddenly went limp. It was definitely the most exciting 3 minutes of fishing we have had for a very long time. By the time we got back to the dock, the captains were waiting to talk to Monica about her exciting experience. One of the local commercial fishermen had watched the event and radioed a play-by-play. How cool is that?" Hollo noted no problems during the drive south, despite recent crime reports. "On our way down, we talked to the toll booth attendants and several federales and all of them told us that there had not been any issues for quite some time and that they didn’t understand all the publicity. This was confirmed by our friends in San Quintin. We certainly had no issues," Hollo said.
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Shari Bondy of Baja Bed & Breakfast at Bahia Asuncion reported good yellowtail fishing inshore as 2 sessions by Dan Lavenbarg and Roy Burns of Oregon and Steve Higley of Alaska with Capt. Juan Arce of Arce Bros. Sportfishing produced a total of 15 quality yellowtail plus whitefish, calico bass, cabrilla, and sheephead. "They fished just in front of our house on the rocks. They lost a few big ones as they only had 40-pound test line," Bondy said. "They couldn't believe it when Juan told them they needed 80-pound but you can bet they will bring it next time." Baja coastal fishing weather was warm, sunny, and calm, with water temperatures at 62 to 65 degrees and visibility at 40 feet. Hotel guests also enjoyed lobster dinner trips to the commercial Mexican fishing camp at nearby Punta San Pablo and surf fishing for corvina. "San Pablo is like an eagle's nest perched on the side of a cliff, a spectacular place very seldom visited," Bondy said. "The fishermen are always happy to see some new faces, especially when we bring cold beer and treats!"
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Jose A. Sanchez of Cedros Outdoor Adventures said his fly-down fishing trips from Ensenada to Islas Cedros and San Benito are intended to promote local fishing and tourism in a way that will benefit the people of the islands and the environment. "The people who live on Cedros and San Benitos Islands need new economic opportunities," Sanchez said. "The islands are vulnerable to exploitation by businesses which may be unconcerned with or even harmful to the environment. By flying tourists to the islands and hiring locals to provide accommodations, meals, and fishing boats, everyone benefits. The increase in eco-friendly economic opportunities provides incentive for safeguarding the environmental health of this important region." Information: 619-793 5419.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported spotty fishing in the Magdalena Bay mangrove channels for sierra, corvina, lots of spotted bay bass, and a few small grouper, as the California gray whale migration gradually arrived in the area. "The whale watching season is slowly kicking into gear and should be in full force by early February," Graham said. "Estero fishing also slowed this week, with only a few yellowtail to be found." Magdalena Bay fishing area weather was sunny in the mid-70s, with winds to 8 knots and water temperatures at 66 to 73 degrees.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Charter panga Capt. Enrique Soto of Soto Tours at San Carlos reported heavy fogs lifting by about 11 a.m. and strong tidal currents that limited mangrove action to bass and a few small pompano. The first few California gray whales of the season were seen at the entrada. "There are 2 or 4 whales at the entrance already and soon they will start to come in groups," Soto said. "I have been fishing at Devil's Bend and Los Barriles."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported on 57 combined La Playita fleet pangas fishing out of San Jose del Cabo's new Puerto Los Cabos marina, with a catch including released fish of: 330 black skipjack or barrilete, 248 Mexican bonito, 95 roosterfish, 74 yellowfin tuna, 6 striped marlin, 14 dorado, 22 amberjack, 66 red snapper or huachinango, 19 cabrilla, and 33 sierra. Improved fishing for roosterfish was reported at La Laguna just southwest of Punta Gorda. "The roosterfish became more active at midmorning as the sun seemed to warm the surface water," Brictson said. "Most of the roosterfish were in the 4 to 8-pound class and were released, but a couple of larger roosters up to 20 pounds were also reported." Offshore panga fishing by the San Jose del Cabo La Playita fleet was concentrated to the north off Vinorama. "Black skipjack and bonito dominated the catches. The bonito have been thick on the rock piles," Brictson said. Work on the new Puerto Los Cabos marina panga area was nearing completion with all but a few pangas berthed in the new slips.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported the East Cape fishing area with continued north winds and just an occasional boat going out. "It's difficult to get a handle on the offshore action," Graham said. "It's a big ocean. The best bet is the beach for sierra and other species while you worry about the wind." Fish species available inshore included smaller cabrilla, skipjack tuna, barrilete, ladyfish, and snappers near rocks. East Cape fishing area weather was sunny at 70 degrees, with water temperatures of 67 to 73 degrees.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Todd Mora of San Diego, Calif., reported on 3 days of fishing aboard a private 21-foot boat out of Los Barriles from about Hotel Palmas de Cortez to as far north as Ensenada de los Muertos and Punta Perico for a catch including released fish of: small cabrilla, black skipjack, bonita, ladyfish, and golden jack.
Another deep bottom fishing trip in 250 to 300 feet of water off the Tuna Slides or Pyramids just north of Los Barriles produced Hubbs Tilefish, a threadfin jack at 250 feet, and a couple of baqueta, also known as gulf coney or rooster hind, to 25 pounds. "It was the first time some of the local resident Americans had ever seen a baqueta in the area and some had never heard of or seen any in all the years they had lived there," Mora said. "We felt pretty lucky. The baqueta were from 300 feet using 20 ounces of lead on 60-pound line with black skipjack strip bait and frozen squid. The tilefish and the threadfin jack were excellent eating also." Mora also noted that a couple of Americans fishing on charter pangas out of Ensenada de los Muertos south of La Paz had a catch including a pargo lisa of about 20 pounds. "The pargo lisa fishing was real slow and that was the only one caught by that panga," Mora said.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Jeff deBrown of The Reel Baja East Cape fly fishing guide service said daily north winds were leaving just a few morning hours of decent fishing conditions for local fly tackle anglers. "The winds lay down each evening and stay fairly calm overnight but build during the early morning hours and by late morning are back to full force," deBrown said. "This gives anglers a very small window of opportunity to get out and fish." Early morning beach fishing produced some good action for sierra, plus some smaller jack crevalle, roosterfish, and ladyfish. More boats were fishing on inshore half-day trips for the same species, and some small yellowfin tuna and a few marlin were reported. DeBrown also guided fly tackle angler Jeff Croy of New Mexico to a first-ever marlin release aboard the charter panga Santi with Capt. Victor out of Cabo San Lucas.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: A longtime East Cape resident noted the continuing lack of enforcement of Mexican sportfishing and commercial fishing regulations, saying, "When I see newcomers or old salts taking 50 fish, smoking 3 or 4 marlin for their friends, making extra money selling sierra, marlin, and dorado, right along with their Mexican villager counterparts, the continuation of indiscriminate netting along our shores, now a new marina right between me and the beach I love so much, my heart only soars when the wind is howling and the fishery gets a tiny break from the slaughter."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Dos Hernandez of Tortuga Sportfishing said La Paz fishing conditions were tough due to winds attacking from the north, but production was surprising good for catches including some pargo lisa in the 30 and 40-pound class, yellowtail, and even a couple of winter dorado at 20 pounds. "The wind didn't let us go out to the island, but all these fish were caught around Punta Perico," Hernandez said. "Despite the winds, fishing was good."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International said, "La Paz had a bit of a warming trend this week, but winds are still a nuisance every few days. Still, we did have a few boats out of Muertos Bay where the fish are closer and there's more protection. The good news is that we seem to have some yellowtail moving into the waters north of La Paz, although sierra, cabrilla, and smaller pargo are the main targets. The bread and butter fish of the season are the sierra. There's no shortage of bait, just not many anglers." La Paz fishing area weather was sunny in the mid-70s.
LORETO, MEXICO: Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company said Loreto was busy hosting about 1,000 visitors for an international conference on sea turtles, as intermittent north winds allowed boats to fish occasionally. "Yesterday less than a dozen boats went out on a rare nice day," Bolles said at midweek. "Today about the same." Yellowtail of 20 to 30 pounds were biting on the bottom to the north at San Bruno and also on the surface after about 3 p.m. off the southeast side of nearby Isla Coronado. "There are breezers and if you're in the right place at the right time they're yours, but in fleeting moments," Bolles said. "We're also getting yellowtail off Punta Lobos and La Cholla on Isla Carmen. The winds have been too strong for us to investigate the happenings down off Isla Danzante."
SANTA ROSALIA, MEXICO: Jim Anderson of San Bruno reported some surface activity by yellowtail on the Isla San Marcos bajos off Santa Rosalia, but mostly a pick bite on very small baits. After a run the previous week, Anderson said, "The yellowtail came up to the surface in a really large area and stayed up for a long period of time. But they only wanted to eat small sardinitas. Normal-sized baits were completely ignored. By the time you solved the problem, things were pretty much over, but my friend, Capitano Rigo of San Bruno, managed 7 fish during that brief time period." Fishing between winds the following week was spotty. "We did see some fish breezing on the surface but out of 12 to 15 boats, I never did see a fish caught all day," Anderson said. Anglers including Alan Lewis and Kevin Ward on the boat Champ did well on mixed bottom fish.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Catalina Meders of the Title Company Bookstore overlooking San Felipe Bay reported windy, cold winter weather at 54 degrees. "I know that isn't really cold except if you are a real San Felipe-ite," Meders said. "We never get used to 'winter' here. Last night the wind sounded like the Yorkshire moors." Meders noted a specimen of the endangered vaquita mini-dolphin found dead on the beach in front of the Hotel Hacienda recently. The town of San Felipe announced a new tourist event called the Baja Travesia scheduled for March 22-29, 2008. "This is an endurance test of strength and skill," Meders said. "There will be kayaking, mountain biking, running. and some sort of car-event. The group does need some back up help. If you think you might be able to help out get a hold of Paul Romero at Bajatravesia.com."
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: John Hilderbrand of Jon Jen Charters at San Carlos reported on several outings during the week for up-and-down action and a combined catch in some windy conditions of about 14 quality yellowtail, including a 9-fish day, plus some bonito and Humboldt giant squid. "They got into the fish all lying in deeper water," Hilderbrand said. "Capt. Abel also got almost spooled by something big, couldn't stop him and broke off in the rocks. On Friday and Saturday, a lot of nada nada." Hilderbrand noted that Jon Jen Charters has boats available for a San Carlos yellowtail tournament scheduled Feb. 15-17, 2008.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 24 offshore Aries Fleet charter boats out of Mazatlan's Marina El Cid, with a catch including released fish of: 3 striped marlin, and 1 sailfish. Seven inshore super pangas had a catch of: 29 jack crevalle, 38 baqueta, 3 lengua, 10 mojarra, 43 lora, and 12 conejo. Mazatlan fishing area water temperatures were cool at 64 degrees inshore and 68 degrees offshore. "According to Geronimo Cevallos of Marina El Cid, if the water gets any colder, they will soon be catching salmon," Edwards said. "Offshore fishing continues to be very difficult as the cooler waters move most of the big game fish beyond the reach of the boats. However, the inshore fishing is returning to the wide-variety catches of last year."
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: Stan Gabruk of Master Baiters Sportfishing & Tackle in Puerto Vallarta said, "As the season continues to move into cool waters we’re seeing some nice pargo in the area north of Punta Mita about 5 to 20 miles off shore. Small sardinas have been plentiful. Again, this was the go to area for most charters. If you’ve got 10 hours and a fast boat, Sayulita and points north are worth the trouble. The Bank has been a little slow this week. Roca Corbeteña saw the wahoo move out and sailfish show up, but they’re fickle, one day there, the next gone. The Marietas Islands and El Morro have produced jack crevalle, roosterfish, sierra, smaller dorado, and the occasional sailfish and blue marlin, but those are a very low percentage catch here now. Four-hour trips in the bay are leaving people wanting. If you want the best shot at catching a large, trophy-sized fish offshore, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and hit El Banco or beyond to give yourself a fighting chance. If you’ve got a full fuel tank, 95 miles out from the point, you’ll find the marlin. They’re swimming smack in the middle of the currents that travel the continental shelf, so an overnight trip now with calmer seas would be what the doctor ordered."
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said Ixtapa fishing boats reported a huge jump in sailfish numbers plus dorado just 8 to 12 miles out of Zihuatanejo Bay, but with the sailfish reluctant to bite due to very heavy concentrations of bait in the water. "The sea around Ixtapa Zihuatanejo has exploded with life," Edwards said. "But the overabundance of bait fish has made the sailfish reluctant to eat. Many reports have come in regarding the sailfish picking up a bait, running with it, and then dropping it. Many fish will just show no interest." Zihuatanejo Capts. Chiro, Alberto, and Cheva reported on a combined 8 offshore outings with a catch including released fish of: 20 sailfish, and 4 dorado. Inshore fishing was variable but produced a 2-day catch including released fish of 25 roosterfish plus mixed species for the charter boat Dos Hermanos I. Ixtapa fishing area weather was calm and sunny at 90 degrees, with water temperatures at 81 degrees inshore and 83 degrees offshore.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Ed Kunze, reporting for Baja On The Fly, said, "The sailfish are here in huge numbers but they are gorging on a large biomass of very small anchovy-like bait and are hard to entice." Ixtapa sportfishing boats were averaging 1 or 2 dorado per outing at 20 to 35 pounds. Capt. Adan of the Gitana II reported 2 dorado and 5 sailfish releases in a day on light conventional and spinning tackle. Ixtapa fishing area weather was cloudy in the high-80s, with calm seas and water temperatures at 80 to 84 degrees.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Paul Phillips of the Fintastic Total Tag & Release Tournament reported the landing of a fish identified as a California yellowtail that hit a trolled bigeye bait about 30 miles out. The yellowtail was caught on Jan. 10, 2008, during fishing by a group from Denmark aboard the charter panga Sea Horse with Capt. Raymundo. Overall, the Danish group of 12 anglers fished aboard 6 pangas for 7 days for a mixed inshore and offshore catch including almost all fish released of: 50 sailfish, 20 dorado, 49 jack crevalle, 2 small blue marlin, 1 striped marlin, 3 yellowfin tuna, 3 roosterfish, and numerous bonito, sierra, and grouper, plus the yellowtail and 1 bonefish. "All the fish were released except 1 dorado, 1 tuna, and the yellowtail. The Danes are real sportsmen," Phillips said.
CANCUN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 7 short-day outings by the El Cid Caribe sportfishing fleet at Puerto Morelos near Cancun, with a catch including released fish of: 5 tuna, 4 Atlantic barracuda, 11 snapper, and 6 king mackerel. "Mario Anzoategui of the sportfishing fleet and El Cid Marina at Puerto Morelos says the fishing has been okay, but there has been a severe lack of anglers at Cancun," Edwards said. "Ninety-nine percent of the charters are short days, usually the 4-hour trips." Cancun fishing area weather was mostly cloudy in the mid-80s, with prevailing easterly winds and water temperatures even at 81 degrees.
MEXICO: Outdoor writer and veteran saltwater fly fishing guide service owner Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame at the recent International Sportsmen's Exposition at San Mateo, Calif. In addition to his 2 books and many published articles and photos, Graham's Hall of Fame induction honored him for his leadership role in promoting sportfishing and conservation in such organizations as the International Game Fish Association, Avalon Tuna Club, San Diego Marlin Club, Los Angeles Billfish Club, the Los Pescadores Fishing Club, Southwestern Yacht Club, and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation. Graham and his wife Yvonne founded their Baja On The Fly guide service in 1993, with operations in Baja California and mainland Mexico. Graham has held several fishing world records, and in his first year of membership in the historic Avalon Tuna Club won more club awards than any other new member in the organization's more than 100-year history.