IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Mike Bulkley of Huntress Sportfishing reported continued very good sailfish action for the charter super panga Huntress, with 3 to 5 releases per day.
"The inshore blue water is still with us," Bulkley said. "There are also big dorado starting to show up." In 2 outings, Capt. Francisco of the Huntress released 6 sailfish and landed 6 dorado to 40 pounds during fishing close to shore. "Capt. Francisco is running out to the 4-mile line and dropping lines in," Bulkley said. "He hasn't been past 13 miles all week."
Ixtapa fishing area weather was calm to slightly choppy.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Ed Kunze, reporting for Baja On The Fly, said "Our fantastic sailfish action at Ixtapa is not letting up, and we are seeing more dorado over 20 pounds each day."
Clear blue water at 82 degrees was located 8 miles off the beach as most boats fished 10 to 15 miles out.
The charter boat Vamonos I reported 19 sailfish, 4 dorado, and 1 small blue marlin in 3 outings. A combined total of 2 other trips by the Vamonos II and Vamonos III had a combined catch of 12 sailfish and 3 dorado.
Ixtapa fishing area weather was clear in the low-90s, with water temperatures at 78 to 80 degrees.
Recapping the 2008 fishing season, Kunze said, "This last year was really kind of a disappointment on the west coast of Mexico, as we had unusual cold water currents. This year, 80-degree water is currently just off the beach. Sailfish action will peak during the dark moon periods of January and February, with another mini-migration occurring in July. Roosterfish at Ixtapa Zihuatanejo will heat up in May and peak at the end of July, and blue marlin and yellowfin tuna fishing will be best in May and June."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino of Vonny's Fleet at Ensenada reported crisp morning air, sunny days, calm water, and good bottom action for his pangas fishing at the tip of Punta Banda during the week for a mix of lingcod, red rockcod, and assorted species.
Anglers fishing with Vonny's Fleet included Brian Foley of Ensenada who used anchovy baits on the bottom and 4-inch swim baits on the surface. "He got 4 nice calico bass, treefish, and bottom fish on 15-pound test line," Villarino said. "It was a very nice catch for the day in sunny weather."
Steve Ross of the Ensenada boat Bad Dog at Marina Coral said his wife Gail Ross won first place in the Women's Division of the 2008 San Diego Anglers Club Angler of the Year competition with catches aboard the Bad Dog including largest specimens of albacore, bonito at 17.5 pounds, local yellowtail, local marlin, lingcod, and local tuna, including the division First Tuna of the Year Award. Winner's in the Men's Division were: first place, Harry Okuda; second place, Ted Phoenix; and third place, Steve Ross. In the Men's Division, Ross also won largest bonito at 14 pounds, rockfish at 14 pounds, and local tuna.
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Kelly Catian of K&M Offshore Sportfishing at San Quintin, reported good winter bottom fishing during the week, including a run with Christian Catina, Chris Pierce, and George Catian for a mix of lingcod and red rockcod all caught on iron. "We used no bait," Catian said. "The fish were taking big irons, PL68s and Salas 7Xs tied to straight Spectra on 9-foot sticks. There are still lots of yellowtail and bonita around San Quintin too, but we just wanted taco meat."
San Quintin fishing area weather had mostly cool, calm mornings, and sunny afternoons, with swell but little wind, and water temperatures at 58 to 61 degrees.
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Les Heil of Baja Bocana Bed & Breakfast reported cool night temperatures along the Baja coast at the semi-remote fishing village of La Bocana, but warm, sunny days, and anglers still catching tuna and dorado. "If you time it good, wind-wise, you can have a nice day on the ocean and be rewarded with a bunch of tuna," Heil said. Anglers Joel and Joaquin had a catch of 22 tuna just south of La Bocana, and Heil added, "Yesterday, one of the Mexican pangueros got enough tuna to fill up 7 of the big fish boxes they use at the local cooperativa."
Baja coastal fishing area weather was in the mid-70s, with water temperatures averaging about 64 degrees.
Mike Borden of the boat Fish Magnet reported on a cruise down the Pacific Baja coast, with fishing at locations from San Jose del Cabo to the Magdalena Bay area and the best action found on striped marlin at the Golden Gate Bank. "We went to the Golden Gate where the marlin are thick!" Borden said. "If you can't catch 10 marlin a day on the Golden Gate right now it's probably time to go home. Bottom line, if you like catching stripers, go to the Golden Gate; it is hot fishing right now with lots of birds, seals, stripers and porpoise all getting in on the action."
Good morning action on striped marlin was also found at the Finger Bank.
Water temperatures on the Pacific banks averaged about 72 degrees, and Borden also noted an encounter with boats from the San Diego long range fleet at the Lusitania Bank. "We fished 'Cow Town' on the north end of the Lusitania Bank where we found the San Diego fleet catching a few 200-pound class cows only 5 miles from where we found the fleet last year. We landed a few smaller fish there and one of the San Diego fleet expressed their unhappiness that we were there. I think it was slim pickings and the Grande Queso had his panties in a bunch."
Fishing at the Gordo Banks off San Jose del Cabo produced just 3 dorado in a morning's effort, but sea life was found to be abundant during the run northwards from Cabo San Lucas to the Magdalena Bay area.
"Heading north, we had excellent and fun fishing in 300 to 400 feet of water on large sardine schools that were holding yellowfin," Borden said. "This area was roughly 60 to 80 miles south of Mag Bay and close to shore. Inside Magdalena Bay, mackerel and sardines remain plentiful around the town of Magdalena."
Fishing high spots on the Thetis Bank produced about 15 yellowtail hookups in the 20-pound class, but just 2 landed, due to sea lions. "We finally got part of a couple of yellowtail by throwing the chewed up fish to the sea lions when we hooked up," Borden said. "This kept them busy while we finished landing the fresh one."
BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO: Shari Bondy of Baja Bed & Breakfast at Bahia Asuncion reported good weather and sea conditions along the Baja Pacific central coast, but with yellowfin tuna thinning out as water temperatures cooled. "The tuna have been few and far between," Bondy said, "so Capt. Juan Arce Marron concentrated on yellowtail and cabrilla which they limited out on every day."
Arce Bros. Sportfishing concentrated on runs to Isla San Roque and Punta San Pablo for action with trolled purple Rapalas, and jigged rubber and iron. Cut bonita bait was also used for good beach fishing action on croaker and corvina. "They were hauling in fish with every cast, just off the village beach," Bondy said.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported early California gray whales arriving in the Magdalena Bay fishing area as their annual migration continued to move down the Pacific coast of Baja. "Everyone at Magdalena Bay is focused on visitors wanting to get up close and personal with these friendly giants of the sea," Graham said. Magdalena Bay fishing area weather was mostly cloudy in the high-70s, with water temperatures at 67 to 73 degrees.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: For the week ending January 1, 2009, Graham reported cooling water temperatures and slower offshore fishing at Magdalena Bay, but with 1 boat reporting good yellowtail results at the Thetis Bank. Sierra and smaller yellowtail were active at the San Carlos entrada, and fishing inside the Magdalena Bay mangrove channels produced corvina on the surface and some grouper under 10 pounds. Magdalena Bay fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the high-70s, with water temperatures at 67 to 73 degrees.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 34 outings by Gaviota Fleet and the Cabo charter boats Fish Cabo, Fish Cabo I, and Tuna Time, with a catch including released fish of: 91 striped marlin, 43 dorado, and 1 mako shark. The top boat for the fleet was the Gaviota VIII with Capt. Juan Dominguez and 18 striped marlin released in 2 outings.
"Overall billfish averages are still holding at 3 per day, but the better skippers and anglers are doing much more," Edwards said.
Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the low-80s, with water temperatures cooling at 74 degrees on the Pacific banks, and 76 degrees on the Sea of Cortez-side Gordo Banks.
"The best marlin fishing continues to be at the Golden Gate Bank," Edwards said, "but more billfish are now being caught closer to the Cabo San Lucas harbor, just off the Cabo Falso drop-off." Mackerel baits continued plentiful and easily caught on the Golden Gate Bank.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Jim Dillon of Salvador's Sportfishing reported on 9 outings by the Cabo San Lucas charter boats El Budster, El Budster I, and El Budster II, with a catch including released fish of: 12 striped marlin, and 14 dorado of 20 to 30 pounds.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of Cabo Magic Sportfishing reported on 36 boats, with a catch including released fish of: 71 striped marlin, 64 dorado, 19 yellowfin tuna, 5 wahoo, 1 mako shark, 1 hammerhead shark, and a few sierra and bonita caught while fishing near shore.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Mike Connolly of the Cabo San Lucas charter boat Falcon said the boat was off the water for a week to have a motor installed, but 1 day of fishing at the Golden Gate Bank produced continued excellent striped marlin action in waters replete with sea life. "At numerous times it seemed as if every fish on the bank was up and moving," Connolly said. "We leadered 8. We usually had upwards of 20 tailers swim past the boat while we were hooked up. I am sure there were times when we could see a hundred tails racing down swell without using binoculars. The bank was covered with pelicans working bait balls pushed up by the stripers and the seals. Double figures in stripers are not rare."
Sierra and ballyhoo or halfbeak bait fish were concentrated just off the Pacific-side beaches.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: For the week ending January 4, 2009, George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing reported Cabo San Lucas boats with continued excellent striped marlin counts on the Pacific-side Golden Gate Bank. "Catches varied from 2 to 17 fish per day, depending on the length of time spent fishing and the experience of the anglers," Landrum said. "Running to diving birds and throwing live baits among the seals resulted in many hookups, both on marlin and pelicans. Slow trolling live bait also worked well. Marlin also began to show just off the Cabo San Lucas lighthouse on the Pacific side and many boats have been saving time by fishing there instead of the Golden Gate Bank."
Live mackerel and caballito baits were available for $3 each at the Cabo San Lucas marina. Yellowfin tuna remained scarce, but some scattered dorado to about 35 pounds were caught close to shore on both the Pacific and Sea of Cortez sides. Beach fishing was good for sierra to about 8 pounds and roosterfish of about 5 to 8 pounds.
Landrum noted conditions indicating a possible beginning of the seasonal movement of the main mass of striped marlin from the Pacific banks, around the tip of Baja, and into the Sea of Cortez. "There have been quite a few small mako shark caught at the Golden Gate Bank," he said. "That has been a prelude to the southern movement of the striped marlin in the past."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: For the fishing week ending January 3, 2009, Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet Sportfishing at Cabo San Lucas reported from 1 to 18 striped marlin releases for 88 percent of all charters on the Golden Gate Bank. "The legend continues," Ehrenberg said. "It was a spectacle of nature, with whales, birds, sea lions, and tons of fish. The boats fished in a small area. There were so many marlin tails, they were hard to count."
A broadbill swordfish was also reported broken off intentionally after a 13-hour fight on the Pacific-side Jaime Bank. Forty-six percent of Pisces Fleet boats landed dorado of 18 to 30 pounds, mostly while on route to the Golden Gate Bank.
Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was partly cloudy, with mostly calm seas and water temperatures averaging 75 degrees.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported on 59 combined La Playita fleet pangas fishing out of San Jose del Cabo's Puerto Los Cabos marina, with a catch including released fish of: 286 dorado, 5 yellowfin tuna, 14 wahoo, 5 hammerhead shark, 4 sailfish, 15 striped marlin, 92 roosterfish, 58 sierra, 8 amberjack, 28 triggerfish, 33 pargo, and 12 cabrilla.
San Jose del Cabo fishing area weather was cooler, with persistent north winds to 20 knots, and water temperatures still holding at 72 to 74 degrees but expected to decline soon. "The north winds have been persistent," Brictson said. "It won't be much longer before water temperatures plummet. Both humpback and California gray whales are now being seen in large concentrations. January is normally the time when dorado become scarce, but with water temperatures still warm, they have been providing late season action."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported winter fishing conditions at East Cape, with sporadic north winds restricting the action on some days, air temperatures in the low-80s, and water temperatures at 71 to 76 degrees. "Winds dictate the fishing quality each day," Graham said. "There is still a reasonable quantity of fish to be found on no-wind days."
East Cape hotels had very few guests and only a few boats were fishing per day. "The number of boats going out is light, and more often than not, they fish for just half a day until the wind gets them," Graham said. "Even though most boats are fishing within 5 miles of shore, catches have been remarkably good for marlin at about a fish per day, and free swimming dorado of 5 to 35 pounds found in open water."
Sierra fishing was consistent for boats staying near shore.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Torrance Eddy of Buena Vista reported more good sierra fishing for his beach launched aluminum boat between Buena Vista and Rancho Leonero. "I thought I had caught a big sierra with my 32 incher, but just 2 days later Mat Kubly caught a 38 incher. He also caught a nice toro from shore just before dawn using a popper surface lure," Eddy said. One outing by Eddy's boat produced a catch of 3 sierra and 1 white bonito or skipjack tuna."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: For the week ending January 4, 2009, John Ireland of Rancho Leonero reported 5 days of flat seas, water temperatures of 70 to 71 degrees, and 1 or 2 boats fishing per day for sierra on local reefs and dorado of 5 to 30 pounds within 3 miles of shore, with striped marlin also present from 2 miles outward. "Every other boat is releasing a marlin. The cooler water has really improved the sierra bite," Ireland said. "Anglers are getting limits of 2 to 6 pounders right in front of the hotel and releasing as many as 50. Trolled small Rapalas and hoochies are working well. They are also taking flies. It's a wide-open bite."
Angler John Fuller of Denver, Colo., fished 2 short mornings on a panga with Capt. Jorge, for a catch including released fish of 5 dorado, and 40 sierra to 6 pounds.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Gerardo Hernandez of Tortuga Sportfishing reported a week of strong winds on the Las Arenas side of La Paz, with cool air temperatures in the 60s and lots of clouds over the mountains.
"There are few tourist anglers in the La Paz area," Hernandez said. "The year is starting slow, but we're expecting reservations for the coming months."
Tortuga Sportfishing pangas launching out of Ensenada de los Muertos found seasonable action near shore for mixed sierra, snappers, pargo lisa, cabrilla, some dorado of 20 pounds, and some marlin seen.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International reported a good mix of species for his pangas fishing on the Las Arenas side south of La Paz for catches including sierra, roosterfish, bonito, jack crevalle, pompano, cabrilla, skipjack, pargo, a few late season dorado, and 2 wahoo lost on jigs. "It was another pretty good week," Roldan said. "Even when the wind is blowing from the north, we're still able to fish out of Ensenada de los Muertos. The fishing has been relatively close and most of the fish are coming on live bait, mostly sardinas, but even our fly fishers are doing well."
SANTA ROSALIA, MEXICO: Dan Hayler of Upland, Calif., reported on a visit to San Lucas Cove south of Santa Rosalia for about a week extending over the New Year holiday, for good mixed species action between winds aboard his boat Lucita in water temperatures averaging 64 degrees.
"My wife and I each picked up one of the big bruiser 30-pound class yellowtail," Hayler said. "The local snowbirds at San Lucas Cove are fishing with 80-pound mono topped with a fluorocarbon leader. The fish have been hanging out deep, and most people are fishing live mackerels with weights to get them down.
"The San Lucas Gang have been averaging around a dozen hookups and landing about half that many. The bruisers are running straight into the rocks as soon as they are hooked.
"My wife and I caught ours on straight 30-pound mono with an unweighted flylined mackerel. We found that baits pulled up from the deep bait spot would tend to go back down deep when we fished them, negating the need for weights. Catching baits were easy at the deep bait spot, roughly between the Haystack and the west light on Isla San Marcos in about 230 feet of water.
"We did not fish the bajos as hard as others. Instead we trolled the island, fished off San Bruno and above the Haystack looking for a larger variety of fish.
"The island did not produce any fish, but San Bruno produced quite a few including sculpin and pinta cabrilla, among a variety of others. Some nice grouper were landed above the Haystack.
"My aunt and uncle fished the bottom while waiting for yellowtail to bite, and caught a couple of red snapper among the pinta cabrilla they landed. We stayed at San Lucas RV park and enjoyed light crowds. The park is still up to its usual decent standards. One of the showers received a long needed new pipe and shower head. It was another wonderful week at San Lucas Cove."
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Catalina Meders of the San Felipe Title Company bookstore reported cloudy weather in the low-50s, and very few tourists in town due to the poor economic conditions in the U.S.
"I have visitors from Europe and they wanted to see the night life of San Felipe last evening," Meders said. "It was so depressing. At 8 p.m. we found just 3 open restaurants and there wasn't a single curio store or stand open, just dark empty streets.
"San Felipe looked like a tiny Western town that is becoming a ghost town. The proprietor at Rosita's told us that since there are so few tourists, store owners are closing as soon as it gets dark in order to save on electric bills and salaries. Walking back to the car was just so sad.
"My friends said that unfortunately the same thing is happening all over Europe, but it's just not as noticeable in the large tourist destinations. For me, it was a real eye-opener, no taco stands, no hot dog stands, just one lone guy selling 'elote' on the malecon. Things simply must get better."
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Brian Replogle of San Carlos reported quality yellowtail being caught just outside the harbor. "Some days are better than others," Replogle said. "The afternoon wind has been pretty consistent. Some nice yellowtail are being caught at the island and some good bottom fish catches are also taking place."
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Fernando Almada of Catch-22 Sportfishing reported 3 good yellowtail trips producing a total of 25 fish just outside the marina. "The bite was awesome," said Almada. "On Sunday, we got 9 yellowtail while fishing from 7 a.m. until noon. The hot color? All of them!"
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: 1 striped marlin, 4 sailfish, 3 mako shark, 6 dorado, and 1 yellowfin tuna. Seven inshore super pangas had a catch of: Mexico fishing limits of sierra, 34 pargo, 1 barracuda, 3 jack crevalle, 35 cabrilla, and 55 triggerfish.
"Unfortunately, Mazatlan fishing water temperatures are starting their annual decline and offshore fishing has been affected," Edwards said. "This is a normal phase for Mazatlan fishing at this time of year. Normally, the dorado and sailfish move to new locations and the striped marlin move in, along with more yellowfin tuna and mako shark. It will take a week or so for the fish to adjust to the changes."
Mazatlan fishing area weather was mostly sunny in the low-80s, with light winds, and water temperatures averaging 69 degrees inshore, and 72 to 73 degrees offshore.
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: Merle Erickson of Chicago, Ill., reported on a weeklong family trip to Puerto Vallarta that included a half-day charter with daughters Katie and Elizabeth, and son Jack aboard the boat Marla with Capt. Danny Osuna for a fun catch of about 20 sierra, skipjack tuna, bullet tuna, and 1 jack crevalle. "It was a great short day of fishing with kids topped off by a 20-pound jack crevalle for my 9-year-old daughter," Erickson said. "My 3-year-old son loves to fish with me and he caught about 2,000 bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish this past year in the ponds around Chicago. By the time he's ready for cow tuna, hopefully I'll be there to ride along."
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: Paul Oldaker of Steamboat Springs, Colo., reported on 3 days of fishing out of Puerto Vallarta by his group aboard the charter boat Marla II with Capt. Alonzo Osuna and first mate Hector and also aboard the Marla I with Capt. Danny Osuna and first mate Alvino. Catches during the trip included several first-ever species, sailfish for Ian MacDonnell and Tom MacDonnell, roosterfish for Sharon MacDonnell, tuna for Andrew MacDonnell, and a 350-pound class black marlin shared by Ian MacDonnell and Oldaker. Fishing locations aboard the Marla's Sportfishing boats included Punta Mita, Roca Corbetena, Islas Marietas, and inside Bahia de Banderas. "We had 3 days of varied offshore fishing, with an ice chest of tuna," Oldaker said.
CANCUN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 13 short, 4-hour outings by the El Cid Caribe sportfishing fleet at Puerto Morelos near Cancun, with a catch including released fish of: 17 peto or king mackerel, 6 Atlantic barracuda, 5 amberjack, and 2 wahoo. "Cancun has good tourist activity, but most anglers want to fish the 4-hour days," Edwards said. "Even though the fishing begins a mile out, it takes a bit of time to locate the better bite."
Cancun fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the high-80s, with light winds, and water temperatures stable at 77 to 79 degrees.
MEXICO: David Burns of the Restaurant El Manglar in the Atlantic Mexico coast town of Tecolutla near Veracruz reported a good winter holiday tourist season. "We were busier than Semana Santa," Burns said.
Fishing results included pompano and a good run on a species very similar to East Coast blue fish called "anchoa" locally, that were being caught from the beach.
"Gary, a regular snowbird and my best surfcasting mate, showed up at the restaurant with his patented grin indicating he had caught pompano," Burns said. "The larger was 1.2 kilos and quickly found its way onto the grill for dinner, and the smaller was 700 grams and is curing to become some tasty gravlax."
Canadian angler Phil also fished the beach and caught 5 anchoas.
"This is somewhat of a phenomenon as we have never caught these from the beach, but then again we've never tried," Burns said. "Cut bait was attached to straight hooks on a modified walleye rig that incorporated steel leaders to combat the fish's sharp teeth. We get a short seasonal run every year but didn't realize they could be landed from shore. We won't miss them ever again. Talk about a great fight; pole bending, drag screaming and spectacular jumps."
MEXICO: Jon Chow of Clayton, Calif., reported on a cruise down the Pacific Mexico coast aboard the cruise ship Princess Sapphire with brief fishing stops at Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan.
Fishing for 5 hours with Capt. Victor Sailzar aboard the Cabo San Lucas panga Santi-1 produced a catch including released fish of: 2 roosterfish of 10 and 15 pounds, 1 bonito of 12 pounds, and 1 striped marlin. "I caught the roosterfish trolling with live caballitos in the surf line," Chow said. "While trolling for dorado, we found balls of mackerel a few miles from the arch, made bait, sent them down deep, and I caught the marlin."
At Mazatlan, Chow and his family group fished on a Neto's Fleet super panga along with fleet manager Enrique Izquierdo for Mexico fishing limits of sierra caught about 15 miles north of town, plus snapper, perch, and assorted bottom fish. Trolling near rocks on the way in produced 3 jack crevalle of about 10 pounds. "Enrique was very friendly and knowledgeable," Chow said. "Neto's Fleet is a top class fishing company with a great staff."