EAST CAPE, MEXICO: During the last few East Cape fishing days before the official beginning of the winter season, Torrance Eddy of Buena Vista reported very good sierra fishing from his beach-launched aluminum boat.
"This week has seen the best sierra fishing in the last 3 years at East Cape," Eddy said. "Several tin boaters have reported to me that they were catching larger than average fish in good numbers from Rancho Leonero to Punta Pescadero.
"I caught a large number of sierra, all between 8 and 10 a.m. in the morning, and all in the same spot about a mile off La Capilla.
"I spent an hour driving all over Los Barriles and Buena Vista giving away fish and even then got 3 turn-downs due to the people already having been given fish. I kept 1 sierra and 1 white bonito that was caught in a double hookup with a sierra."
Eddy fished with Jointed Rebel lures as described in The Baja Catch. "The sierra were caught with a 4.5-inch silver-black Rebel Jointed Fastrac and the same lure in the silver-blue color," he said.
"The sierra are not everywhere. I fished one day this week and didn't catch any while another angler caught several on the same day in the same general vicinity."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Fly fishing tackle angler David Lee reported on 12 days of beach fishing at East Cape, working the shoreline around Punta Colorada and southwards for a total of 18 fish species including sierra to 14 pounds, roosterfish to 15 pounds, jack crevalle, ladyfish, leopard grouper, flag cabrilla, barred pargo, yellow snapper, yellowfin croaker, halibut, Pacific porgy, Mexican lookdown, hogfish, cornet fish, bulls-eye puffer, and 3 unknowns.
East Cape fishing weather had 3 days of hard northeast wind and some rough surf, but was flat most of the time.
"There were no other fly rodders out there and few gringos fishing gear," Lee said. "There were massive amounts of sardina on the beach and large schools of mullet. The game fish were glutted and full."
Water temperatures averaged 74 to 80 degrees.
"The hotel was empty for most of the time," Lee said. "We were the only people there for 4 or 5 days . The staff was great. We met Bobby Van Wormer senior and Eddie Van Wormer. "
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Brad Meister of San Clemente, Calif., reported good East Cape fishing during December for dorado to 20 pounds during several days of panga fishing with Capt. Boney. "I caught one 20-pound dorado on a whole skipjack bait flylined from the panga on 50-pound line," Meister said. "That was slightly overkill, but we had seen a couple of marlin on previous days.
"We got our limits easily before the winds blew. Watching the dorado hit on 15-pound line and an 8-foot steelhead rod was the most fun I've had this year since throwing live bait at albacore up in Washington."
Meister noted the very few anglers present at East Cape. "The East Cape fishing resorts are all but shut down for lack of interest," he said. "I didn't mind having the ocean all to myself. I can't think of a day that we didn't catch something, if only a dorado or two. It was great seeing 80-degree blue water only 5 miles out in the middle of December."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet reported Mexico fishing limits of mixed lingcod, red rockcod, and Johnny bass on the bottom plus bonita to 9 pounds on the surface for angler Chuck Beck of Los Angeles, Calif., who fished 2 days on the charter panga Vonny I with Capt. Beto. "This week we had more good bottom fishing and bonita with aluminum jigs on the surface," Villarino said.
ERENDIRA, MEXICO: Chris Kugel of San Diego, Calif., reported on a Baja fishing run to Castro's Camp south of Ensenada in November, with very few people going out but big numbers of barracuda available. "We could have sunk the boat," Kugel said, noting that during an 11-day stay at Erendira only 7 boats went out fishing. Over Thanksgiving Day week, just 4 boats went out.
Referring to the very low levels of tourism in Baja resulting from the poor U.S. economy and many reports of crime in Mexico, Kugel said, "They are hurting down there and I fear it is going to get much worse. Coming home from the Baja 1000 we hit Ensenada at 6 p.m. The bandstands and Tecate beer pavilion and the whole Baja 1000 party was over and being torn down. The last time I attended the bash after the awards ceremony it lasted until past midnight. Things have changed and not for the better."
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Pete Hillis of Pedro's Pangas reported stormy weather and boats staying on shore at midweek. "The storms and bad weather kept our boats in this week," Hillis said. "No fishing to report. We'll have more to report next week."
Kelly Catian of K&M Offshore Sportfishing at San Quintin said, "We had lots of rain and wind. The road to the Old Mill is okay, although it looks worse than it really is. There are big puddles, but it's all gravel, no mud."
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Shari Bondy of Baja Bed & Breakfast at Bahia Asuncion reported continued yellowfin tuna around Punta San Pablo. "Anglers limited out on tuna in the 20 to 25-pound range," Bondy said. "Cedar plugs yielded the most fish. The bays are alive with bait fish, diving pelicans, sea lions, and dolphins. Just off the beach at Bahia Asuncion, we even saw a marlin.
Yellowtail were also present around the local islands, and beach fishing produced croakers and corvina. Humpback whales were feeding on abundant pelagic red crabs.
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Horace Sheffield of Sedona, Ariz., reported on a 3-week long Baja Catch-style fishing trip during November, with stops at locations described in the book including Gonzaga Bay, Punta Rosarito, Laguna La Bocana, Punta Abreojos, Estero de Coyote, San Lucas Cove, Bahia San Nicolas, and Caleta San Francisquito.
"I was using The Baja Catch as my guide," Sheffield said. "I started in the Gonzaga Bay area, camping near the old El Faro campground. The campground shows no activity, but it's really cool to see the remains of what seems to have been a busy fish camp.
"With my Wilderness Systems Pungo 140 kayak I fished the Willard-Bufeo notch for 3 days, with one trip out of Campo Encantada. The fishing was amazing, with 1 true red snapper, barracuda, bay bass, leopard grouper, sierra, corvina, yellowtail, triggerfish, wrasse, mackerel, pompano , needlefish, and more.
"The next stop was Punta Rosarito. It is a beautiful spot, and many surfers were there. The locals were collecting a shellfish at low tide that looks like a giant pill bug with a salmon pink bottom. I wade-fished and caught barred sand bass and halibut, but strong winds made finding the tide pool difficult. I fished several areas that fit the description in The Baja Catch, but full moon tides were a bit hard to maneuver.
"I then fished Laguna la Bocana, Punta Abreojos, and Estero de Coyote. I realized how under-geared I was for the big fish described in the Abreojos chapter of The Baja Catch. Bonito, sierra, and a few bass were landed. Estero de Coyote lived up to its name , as a coyote followed me one afternoon along the bank looking for a snack. I also caught an Elegant Tern on a Rebel Fastrac. I was able to reel her in like a kite, and release the squawking bird unharmed. Fishing was definitely slow in both of the lagoons. I watched the company boats checking gill nets along the long beaches between Abreojos and Estero de Coyote.
"Next, I went to San Lucas Cove. I was able to get out to the very northern inside of the cove and camp there. I crossed the cove and pulled my kayak over the spit, for quicker access to the Haystack area. I have never caught much in the prescribed areas, and went at least a couple miles offshore.
"San Nicolas Bay was my next destination, but I definitely have to go back in the proper season. I went out as deep as I dared, drifted to just past San Sebastian, then trolled along shore to camp just south of La Ramalita. I caught my first ladyfish, agujon, barracuda, leopard grouper, and several clown hawkfish. The hawkfish were caught from shore.
"I decided to not venture further south, as reports from Mexfish.com did not inspire me to deeper travel.
"I went to Bahia San Francisquito, and had an amazing experience. I camped on the property of Alberto Lucero. He is a fine gentleman, speaks perfect English, and is quite the gracious host. He has a cabana for rent, and his brother captains their 25-foot panga. They have lived in the area many years, helping their father in the shark harvesting business with a processing plant run out of Cala San Francisquito. This area has it all. No matter what the wind, you can find fishable water, and the reef fishing was superb. The leopards here are quite smart, as I lost many lures when they quickly bite and dart into their rocky holes.
"After a couple of days, I was invited on the Lucero panga by an American and his 14-year-old son. We fished for a week every morning, as the big yellowtail schools were active around Punta Santa Teresa . The first day we went out, we got into a school of 30 to 40 pounders. Of course I was not properly geared, as I have never fished for big yellows before. My 30-pound Fireline got rocked, big swivels broken, big split rings pulled apart.
"It was then I realized how there are so many levels of fishing in the Sea of Cortez. One cannot be 'over-geared.' My new friend from San Diego took me under his wing, supplying me with 60-pound P line, and some white iron jigs, as I had lost 3 big Krocodiles the first day. Every day thereafter, we had short shots at the feeding schools. I never hooked a 40 pounder again, but found the 12 to 15 pounders perfect for bringing home.
"I also got a glimpse into the richness and complexity of the Sea of Cortez and its history. Stories of vast schools of giant squid beaching themselves, crying in the night, the many grooves in the panga sides testifying to big fish on handlines, the many deaths from the Midriff currents, the cala red with the blood of sharks, and more that I learned from being in the company of the Luceros and several expats that have homes in the area. I will definitely return to the San Francisquito area, and hope to have more experiences in Baja by meeting locals and adopted locals.
"Thanks again for The Baja Catch book, as it has been my main guide to exploring Baja. I hope to have many more adventures down there, and intend to catch a dorado from my kayak one day."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 31 outings by Gaviota Fleet and the Cabo charter boats Fish Cabo, Fish Cabo I, and Tuna Time, with a catch including released fish of: 77 striped marlin, and 36 dorado. The top boat for the fleet was the Gaviota VIII with Capt. Juan Dominguez and 16 striped marlin in 4 outings.
Edwards noted the low number of anglers present at Cabo San Lucas. "Boat days fished are substantially down this week," he said. "There was a noticeable lack of anglers at the Cabo docks. This is possibly a reflection of the overall economy."
Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was mostly cloudy in the mid-80s, with water temperatures at 76 degrees on the Pacific-side Golden Gate Bank, and 79 degrees at the Jaime Bank and the Cortez-side Gordo Banks.
The best marlin fishing area continued to be the Golden Gate Bank. "There were also some good reports from the Finger Bank, 52 miles from Cabo San Lucas, but no real reason to make the long run," Edwards said.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Jim Dillon of Salvador's Sportfishing reported on 5 outings by the Cabo San Lucas charter boats El Budster, El Budster I, and El Budster II, with a catch including released fish of: 6 striped marlin, and 22 dorado of 20 to 30 pounds.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Durance Lowendick reported continued very hot striped marlin fishing on Cabo's Pacific-side Golden Gate Bank. "Surface crashing marlin continue to feed on mackerel and sardines," Lowendick said. "There is also solid action down deep where marlin are eating deep-dropped live bait."
Good numbers of dorado to 30 pounds were also caught closer to shore northwards to El Migrino, and roosterfish of 10 to 20 pounds were active close to the beach. Yellowfin tuna of mostly 20 to 40 pounds were on the Jaime Bank.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of Cabo Magic Sportfishing reported a week's catch including released fish of: 87 striped marlin, 50 yellowfin tuna, 45 dorado, and 2 wahoo, plus an assortment of inshore pargo, roosterfish, and needlefish.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Ramon Druck of the Cabo San Lucas charter sportfishing super panga Cheer's reported on 3 outings during the week with a total of 4 anglers, for a catch including released fish of: 2 striped marlin, 1 striped marlin lost on a double hookup, 7 dorado of 15 to 30 pounds, 1 small dorado, 5 roosterfish of 6 to 10 pounds, and 3 skipjack of 3 to 4 pounds. The Cheer's fished along the Pacific-side beaches and outwards to about 2 miles with trolled lures and live baits in water temperatures of 77 to 80 degrees and some choppy sea conditions. Anglers fishing aboard the Cheer's included Lambert Noguit and Pendon Gregorio of Texas, John Nebel of San Diego, Calif., and Tom Julian of Arkansas.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: For the week ending Dec. 14, 2008, George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing reported heavy concentrations of striped marlin mixed with sea lions on the Pacific Banks. "With the hordes of seals and sea lions, it was often difficult to keep baits away from them as they followed the pods of marlin, waiting for the bait to be chased up." Landrum said.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: For the week ending Dec. 10, 2008, Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet Sportfishing reported 92 percent of charters landing at least 1 marlin, topped by the fishing day of December 7th, with 5 boats landing at least 10 marlin each. "The action continues at the Golden Gate," Ehrenberg said. "Pisces anglers caught a total of 321 striped marlin, of which all but 4 were released." About 25 percent of Pisces Fleet charters also landed from 1 to 16 dorado. Just 11 percent scored on yellowfin tuna. Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was partly cloudy, with moderately rough seas on 2 days and water temperatures averaging 79 degrees.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported on 39 combined La Playita fleet pangas fishing out of San Jose del Cabo's Puerto Los Cabos marina, with a catch including released fish of: 276 dorado to over 20 pounds, 47 wahoo, 24 yellowfin tuna, 3 striped marlin, 28 assorted snappers, 18 skipjack tuna, and 9 sierra.
San Jose del Cabo fishing area weather was at 80 degrees, with water temperatures of 75 to 77 degrees and moderately more frequent winds from both north and south.
"Dorado were abundant off San Jose del Cabo and anglers caught easy limits," Brictson said. "Most of the dorado were found within several miles of shore. They are hard to stay away from."
Yellowfin tuna were present on the Gordo Banks but not hitting lures or baits.
"Since the full moon, the tuna have lock-jaw," Brictson said. "Larger tuna are on the Gordo Banks, but getting them to strike has been a different story. Each day a handful of the tuna are being hooked. If they decide to bite better, it could turn into epic action. They are definitely in the San Jose del Cabo area."
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Gerardo Hernandez of Tortuga Sportfishing at La Paz reported variable cloudy weather in the 70s, but with sea conditions not hampering pangas from going out.
"In this period, we have had good fishing for pargos that has appeared in various areas such as Isla Cerralvo and Punta Perico," Hernandez said. "We're also catching cabrilla and good numbers of sierra."
Hernandez wished Tortuga Sportfishing clients a happy holiday season on behalf of his family and Tortuga's Capts. Nufo, Hugo, Jorge, Rigo, and Martin.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International said dorado and roosterfish were still available even though La Paz fishing area weather was starting to feel winter-like.
"It's been a bit chilly and breezy much of the time," Roldan said. "But surprisingly, we're still catching some dorado and roosterfish, fish species most associated with warmer parts of the season."
Tailhunter pangas fished mostly in wind-sheltered waters around Ensenada de los Muertos and Las Arenas, as sierra led the fish counts.
"Sierra continue to be the mainstay and if you find a hot spot, you can hook dozens of these speedsters," Roldan said. "Along the rocks there's no shortage of snappers but it's hard to pull the big ones out of the rocks. We also had 1 wahoo hooked and dropped."
LORETO, MEXICO: Don Bear of Loreto reported on a day of panga fishing by his neighbor Charlie Licha with David Wade and Loreto Capt. Alvaro Murillo for a catch in windy weather of: 8 yellowtail to 12 pounds, 6 cabrilla to 12 pounds, 3 sierra to 6 pounds, and 1 yellow snapper. "They fished in the lee of Isla Coronado," Bear said. "Charlie said the north wind increased as the morning progressed."
LORETO, MEXICO: Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company reported overcast skies at Loreto and a good grade of yellowtail being caught off the northeast side of Isla Danzante and off Punta Baja at the south end of Isla Carmen. "There are limits happening," Bolles said. "But we're waiting for a cold front to approach. Maybe it won't be so severe."
Bolles also noted that Baja Big Fish Company is offering fishing trip discounts to participating fly tackle shops, fishing clubs, and travel agents. "If you are interested in offering Loreto fishing trips to your customers or members with no minimum group size, please contact us," Bolles said. Information, BajaBigFish.com.
Larger yellowtail were being caught off the bottom in Loreto fishing locations including the Cinquenta, La Vaca, Bajo San Ildefonso, La Cholla, and Punta Pulpito.
Inshore fishing was active for smaller yellowtail, pargos, cabrilla, roosterfish, and sierra. "Also be ready in case a dorado swims by," Bolles said. "Any dorado that are out there now are hugging the coast where the warmer water is. There is good fishing taking place along Loreto's shorelines, and this will remain the case until late April."
Describing live bait availability at Loreto, Bolles said, "Sardinas have been a bit difficult to net. They are spread out along shore and the morning tides have been high. Sardinas rise to the surface when the sky lights up just prior to sunrise. We can net them as early as 6:30 a.m., but if there is cloud cover to the east, this time will be delayed. Mackerel and bigeye baits are for sale outside the entrance of the Loreto marina from the pangas that have lanterns on them."
SANTA ROSALIA, MEXICO: Jim Anderson of San Bruno reported very good yellowtail fishing during a trip to the Isla San Marcos bajos with his wife Marika for more than 25 yellowtail hookups on fish to well over 30 pounds.
"It was as good as it gets," Anderson said. "We had 7 over 30 pounds. The fish were up on the surface, as well as deeper on the bajo."
Another trip to the bajo produced 5 yellowtail.
Anderson described the annual trip to the Santa Rosalia area by himself and Marika.
"Marika's dream has been to return to her 'little house in Mexico,' which is where we are right now," he said. "Yesterday was a beautiful day on the water with a soft south breeze. We simply could not slow down the first couple of fish that hit. There are some very large fish on the reef this year. I lost 5 and I think Marika lost 2 but she was so happy about being out on the water, it really did not matter a whole lot to her that she had not gotten one in the boat.
"We went to a smaller inside reef and found a couple of fish there willing to chew. This inside reef is very shallow and bigger fish almost always manage to cut you off. To call this 'extreme fishing' is very accurate but we managed to get fish to the boat.
"This trip to Mexico has far surpassed our wildest expectations. We have been truly blessed by all of our friends here and they have made Marika feel very special as they come by to see her. So, while we were focused on treatments, doctor's appointments, tests, and all the other stuff, here we have been truly blessed with life as we knew it, full of love, caring, and joy. I am sure that it will be a tearful time when we close up the house on the 26th of December and head north, but we will cross that bridge when we have to and today is just wonderful."
Anderson also noted his observations on how strong tidal flows improve the yellowtail bite on the Isla San Marcos bajos.
"The tide chart for Santa Rosalia tells the important part of the story for when the fishing for yellowtail and cabrilla will be the strongest," he said.
"On the strong tidal flows of December 12th through 14th, things were really hot, but on the 15th it started to slow down with the weakening currents, and on the 17th you could have done yourself a favor and stayed home. The next few days get even worse, as there is no current and the tides are almost nonexistent."
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Alex Velez of Baja Sportfishing announced some special prices for the 2009 Midriff islands fishing season aboard the San Felipe panga motherships Erik and Andrea Lynn. "We are coming off a great 2008 fishing season, and in appreciation of our loyal customers during these tough economic times, we would like to offer this special," Velez said. "Until March 31, 2009, 5-day trips aboard the Erik are $799, a savings of $101 off the regular price of $900. A 5-day trip aboard the Andrea Lynn is $1,000, a savings of $200 off the regular price of $1,200. Information, 800-770-2341.
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Bryan Replogle of San Carlos reported good numbers of yellowtail at 10 to 20 pounds being caught just outside the harbor during the afternoons. "Today, I saw them boiling a little farther north off Punta San Antonio, so maybe they are moving a bit," Replogle said. Some late-season dorado were also reported. "But it looks to be too cool now," Replogle said. "They sure stayed late this year though. There are lots of boats fishing for bottom fish off of San Antonio and there are still some reports of sierra and bonita in the area."
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 28 Aries Fleet offshore charter boats out of Mazatlan's Marina El Cid, with a catch including released fish of: 2 blue marlin, 3 striped marlin, 13 sailfish, 2 yellowfin tuna, 7 dorado, 7 jack crevalle, and 1 mako shark. Six inshore super pangas had a catch of: Mexico fishing limits of sierra, 32 jack crevalle, 8 triggerfish, and 9 pargo.
Mazatlan fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the mid-80s, with mostly calm seas, good clarity, and water temperatures at 78 degrees inshore and 81 degrees farther out. Offshore boats fished about 20 to 30 miles west or southwest of Mazatlan.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Tadeo Hernandez of Flota Bibi Fleet said boats found improved action for sierra mackerel caught on yellow-red-white feathers, plus a mixed bag of triggerfish, spotted rose snapper, mojarra, parrotfish, and corvina. "They were caught on fresh shrimp and squid baits," Hernandez said. "The corvina were caught on ojoton baits. The best fishing is at Marmol, the town north of Mazatlan." Mazatlan fishing area weather was free of strong winds, in the low-80s, with water temperatures at 79 degrees.
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: Merle Erickson of Chicago, Ill., reported on 2 days of fishing with Capt. Danny Osuna of Marla's Sportfishing, for a catch of 9 yellowfin tuna of 15 to 100 pounds, 2 roosterfish of 45 and 70 pounds, 3 more roosterfish lost, 2 dorado, 1 snapper, 2 small grouper, and 1 very large rainbow runner.
"The weather was perfect and there was tons of life in the water," Erickson said. "There was bait, porpoise herds, turtles everywhere, and humpback whales. The biomass in Puerto Vallarta seas is staggering. Danny freed a turtle from a bag in which it had become entangled."
Erickson commented on the skill of Capt. Danny and crewman Alvino. "For a fishing junkie like me, it is a real treat to fish with Danny," he said. "It's hard to believe a guy who is only 30 years old could be called a Puerto Vallarta legend, but after you fish with him, you see why that is true. He's the best."
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Ed Kunze, reporting for Baja On The Fly, said Ixtapa fishing improved during the week. "We anticipate the fishing to get better each day as we get away from the full moon phase," Kunze said. "By this time next week, we should be back into some very good action."
Capt. Santiago of the charter panga Gitana reported 3 sailfish releases and a 20-pound dorado for angler Harry Schuler of Los Angeles, Calif. Capt. Adan of the Gitana II scored a 40-pound dorado and 2 sailfish releases during 2 outings on fly fishing tackle with Terry Carter of Iowa.
Angler Bob Beck of Canada targeted blue marlin on fly fishing tackle with guide Paul Phillips aboard the charter panga Huntress, with 3 blue marlin raised, and 1 hooked and lost.
Inshore fishing produced good numbers of sierra, but little other action.
CANCUN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 11 outings by the El Cid Caribe sportfishing fleet at Puerto Morelos near Cancun, with a catch including released fish of: 3 sailfish, 4 Atlantic barracuda, 2 Spanish mackerel, 1 bonito, 9 amberjack, and 25 peto or king mackerel.
"The fishing is within a couple of miles of the marina entrance," Edwards said. " Cancun fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the mid-80s, with light easterly breezes and stable water temperatures at 79 to 80 degrees. El Cid Caribe boats fished mostly with rigged ballyhoo, or halfbeak, baits.