CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: With the new spring season at hand, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported slower striped marlin action for Cabo San Lucas sportfishing boats on the Pacific-side Golden Gate Bank, as this fall-winter season's excellent and very long run finally tapered off and scattered last week in cooling water temperatures.
"When billfish counts fell off a couple of weeks ago, I thought the bonanza was over," Edwards said, "but the bite came back with a vengeance. But we are now back to a week of difficult fishing and it got more difficult as the week went on. The striped marlin bite has come to a near shutdown at the Golden Gate Bank. Given that this is mid-March, I'm not at all surprised. It has been a wild ride and likely one of the best marlin fishing seasons ever recorded, especially due to its longevity. It started back in early November."
Edwards reported on 40 outings by Gaviota Fleet and the Cabo San Lucas charter boats Fish Cabo, Fish Cabo I, and Tuna Time, with a catch including released fish of: 35 striped marlin, 11 yellowfin tuna, 39 dorado, and 46 sierra.
Cabo San Lucas water temperatures on the Pacific-side banks was cooling through 70 degrees. On the Sea of Cortez-side Gordo Banks, water temperatures were at 72 degrees, and temperatures as high as 75 degrees were found about 15 miles straight south.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Ramon Druck of the Cabo San Lucas charter sportfishing super panga Cheer's reported on 2 outings during the week with a total of 4 anglers, for a catch including released fish of: several yellowtail of 8 to 13 pounds, 41 sierra of 4 to 11 pounds, and 5 roosterfish of 6 to 8 pounds. The Cheer's fished with jigs and trolled Rapalas and live baits along Cabo's Pacific-side beaches and out to about a mile from shore in water temperatures of 70 to 72 degrees and good sea conditions. Anglers fishing aboard the Cheer's included Lisa Chambers and J. Jessup of San Francisco, Calif., and Pun Kwon and Richard Castle of Seattle, Wash.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Mike Connolly of the Pisces Fleet charter boat Falcon reported on 5 outings during the week for a catch including released fish of: 11 striped marlin, 2 dorado, 2 yellowfin tuna, and 14 sierra. Just 2 trips targeted marlin, for a total of 8 of the week's 11 billfish on or near the Golden Gate Bank.
"All the marlin were caught on mackerel," Connolly said. "Water temperatures dipped below 69 degrees early in the week. Conditions were rough for a few days. Anything over a couple of marlin was a nice day.
"There were not as many fish directly on the bank and they were often very touchy. Eighty-pound fluorocarbon leader, or less, was needed to get bit consistently.
"On Wednesday, the water temperature hit 70-plus degrees and we released 5 stripers well off the bank. Things may be looking up."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Jim Dillon of Salvador's Sportfishing reported on 7 outings by the Cabo San Lucas charter boats El Budster, El Budster I, and El Budster II, with a catch including released fish of: 9 striped marlin, 7 dorado of 20 to 25 pounds, 12 sierra of 3 to 5 pounds, and 10 yellowtail of 12 to 15 pounds.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: For the fishing week ending March 11, 2009, Tracy Ehrenberg of Pisces Fleet Sportfishing reported some winds and rough seas on the Pacific side, but boats still scoring good catches of striped marlin on the Golden Gate Bank, as 84 percent of Pisces Fleet charters landed a total of 186 marlin, with all but 2 of them released. Top outings included 10-release days for the boats La Brisa and C Rod, and a 9-release day for La Brisa.
"Usually in March we expect to hit some doldrums at Cabo San Lucas when the water turns cold and the striped marlin lose interest," Ehrenberg said, "but so far, this has not been the case. Boats found marlin even with a full moon."
Other species caught included 35 percent of boats with dorado, many smaller mako shark including a 5-shark day for the boat Tracy Ann, good numbers to over 20 sierra per outing, and some yellowtail, roosterfish, and cabrilla. No tuna were caught.
Cabo San Lucas fishing area weather was partly cloudy, with some choppy seas and water temperatures averaging 70 degrees.
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: For the fishing week ending March 15, 2009, George Landrum of Fly Hooker Sportfishing at Cabo San Lucas reported some windy days in the mid-80s as cooling water temperatures as low as 68 degrees were seen near shore. Cortez-side water was mostly green at up to 75 degrees.
"Most of the Cabo San Lucas charter fleet boats were not flying many marlin flags," Landrum said. "The marlin bite tapered off a bit as we saw the full moon. With the marlin feeding all night long, those that were caught were biting in late afternoon. For this reason not many flags were flying on fleet boats. The few private boats that stayed until 5 or 6 p.m. returned with outriggers full of blue flags. With less competition in the afternoon and the fish starting to feed again, they were able to do quite well."
CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Durance Lowendick of Marlin Masters Sportfishing reported on the week's cooler water and slower striped marlin bite on Cabo's Pacific banks. "Until a cold water push ran the bait off the Golden Gate seamount on March 17th, Cabo San Lucas anglers had been releasing large numbers of striped marlin on the bank," Lowendick said. "A nice warm water push has entered the Sea of Cortez with the best action for tuna, dorado and striped marlin from the 1150 spot out beyond the Gordo Banks. Mid-70 degree water is prevalent throughout this fishing area and it should provide solid action into the foreseeable future. We feel that warmer water will again move into the Golden Gate Bank, spurring additional marlin action on and around the seamount."
ENSENADA, MEXICO: Steve Ross of the Ensenada boat Bad Dog at Marina Coral reported slow action at a number of local deep bottom fishing spots, with water temperatures at 54 to 56 degrees, nothing much on the meter, and an all-day catch in cool, windy conditions of: 3 small lingcod, 2 small vermilion rockfish, 1 vermilion rockfish at 3 pounds, 4 starry rockfish, and 4 bocaccio.
"We headed for the deep canyon in Bahia de Todos Santos loaded for bear with new Humboldt squid gear and lights," Ross said. "But I found this canyon empty in the dark and proceeded to 4 miles west of Bufadora where we had left them chewing a few weeks back, but they weren't there either.
"Our next stop, at a 1,500-foot deep spire where we once found blackgill rockcod, was also empty.
"The final stop was on the Banda Bank, where we found the Azteca, our Mexican charter boat amigo, precisely on our numbers.
"We managed a few rockfish but found the pickings slim in a stiff cold wind with our Berkley braided line going straight down with 5-pound weight.
"The rest of the day was composed of going from rock to rock in my GPS book for one fish here and one fish there.
"To say the fishing was scratchy is exaggerating. It was poor. My meter showed very little fish in many locations on this bank. I'll call it Humboldt squid devastation, close to extinction. I've watched it happen on a weekly basis.
"Fishing for vermilion rockfish as in the past is history on the Banda Bank. That's my opinion. Whatever you catch will be under 4 pounds.
"The Mexican charter boats were hunting bonito, with one boat reporting that he caught 2, while the others caught nothing."
SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Don Dickson of Fallbrook, Calif., reported on a run down Baja's highway Mex 1 to fish at San Quintin with Tiburon's Pangas for a 2-day catch of larger rockcods, plus salmon grouper, lingcod, and large ocean whitefish to about 10 or 12 pounds.
"We fished from 200 to 300 feet deep, and each area that the captain targeted held some other fish species," Dickson said. "It's amazing the knowledge they have to put you on different species. We drove home with about 100 Ziploc bags full of bottom fish."
Dickson reported very slow tourist traffic at San Quintin, saying, "The fisherman are hurting for sure. Don Eddie told me 80 percent of his business was construction-type people and they can no longer afford to come.
"The Mexican fishermen say they get $3.50 for a kilo of whole rockcod and many of them are now fishing commercially to support families until tourism returns."
Dickson noted no problems during the drive to San Quintin. The Cielito Lindo was open for business. "The generator, hot water, etc., are all working and the restaurant and bar are open as well," he said. "It is $20 a night. At Don Eddies' it is $35 a night."
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said the California gray whale migration has begun to wind down at Magdalena Bay, as offshore winds kept most fishing boats inside the bay. Sierra and smaller yellowtail were still present under birds at the San Carlos entrada. "With birds diving, it created a commotion, making it easy to see from a long way off," he said.
The Punta Belcher flats on the east shore of Isla Magdalena produced a few halibut, and boats fishing in the mangrove channels caught spotted bay bass plus some snappers and groupers. A few corvina were reported caught at the San Carlos bridge.
Magdalena Bay fishing area weather was clear in the low-80s, with water temperatures of 67 to 73 degrees.
MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: For the previous week, Graham reported the largest fish caught in the Magdalena Bay segment of the Baja Sur statewide Governor's Cup fishing tournament series, with many locals competing in adults' and children's divisions: corvina, 1.9 kilos; mojarra, 1.7 kilos; cabrilla, 1.45 kilos; triggerfish, 1.9 kilos; tuna, 17.5 kilos; and yellowtail, 13 kilos.
"This series of tournaments has become popular in southern Baja," Graham said. "Families fishing together shoulder-to-shoulder from the Puerto San Carlos commercial pier is something that many thought would never happen."
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported on 53 combined La Playita fleet pangas fishing out of San Jose del Cabo's Puerto Los Cabos marina, with a catch including released fish of: 218 sierra, 76 dorado of mostly 10 to 20 pounds, 3 yellowfin tuna, 1 striped marlin, 2 mako shark, 4 hammerhead shark, 92 yellowtail, 5 wahoo, 45 bonito, 23 amberjack, 14 jack crevalle, 26 roosterfish, 18 triggerfish, 15 cabrilla, 3 grouper, and 22 Humboldt giant squid.
Tourist crowds were lighter than usual in the Los Cabos fishing area as media reports of violent crime and the depressed U.S. economy took their toll on travel to Mexico. "We want to stress that the violent crime being reported is not in the Los Cabos resort region," Brictson said. "This area remains a very safe travel destination."
San Jose del Cabo fishing area weather was sunny in the mid-80s, with water temperatures averaging 70 to 72 degrees. Water color, bait supplies, and currents changed daily as the official beginning of the spring transitional season approached.
"The most consistent fishing now is closer to shore where schools of sardinas have been congregating," Brictson said. "This attracts sierra, roosterfish, dorado, and jack crevalle. The main sardina netting area is now between Punta Palmilla and Chileno Bay. Sportfishing fleets are concentrating on rock piles and pinnacles in 100 to 150 feet of water off Chileno, Palmilla, Punta Gorda, La Fortuna, Iman and San Luis. These have produced a wide variety of species."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: For the East Cape fishing week ending March 12, 2009, Felipe Valdez of Buena Vista Beach Resort reported on 5 charter boat outings, with 18 anglers and a catch including released fish of: 53 dorado, 1 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, 3 yellowtail, and 17 sierra. East Cape fishing area weather was in the mid-80s, with lighter winds, calmer seas, and water temperatures at 70 to 74 degrees. Fleet boats fished southwards from La Ribera to Cabo Pulmo and outwards to about 1 to 3 miles from the Baja shoreline.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported inshore fishing at East Cape producing sierra and some larger yellowtail from El Cardonal in the north to Punta Arena at the south end of the bay, with the best concentrations of sierra found northwards from Punta Pescadero to El Cardonal. Some roosterfish and jack crevalle were also caught near shore.
Few boats ventured offshore, as Graham said, "Rumors of dorado some distance from the beach failed to entice anyone out, as there didn’t seem to be a concentration of fish, so it made for a long boat ride."
East Cape fishing area weather was improved, with less wind, in the low-80s and warming water temperatures at 67 to 73 degrees.
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Simon Cazaly of East Cape's Vista Sea Sport diving service reported warmer water temperatures at 70 degrees and visibility at 40 to 50 feet on the Cabo Pulmo coral reef, with sea life sightings including thousands of leaping smoothtail mobula manta rays, parrotfish, Moorish idol, Cortez Rainbow wrasse, king angelfish, Guineafowl puffer, and cornetfish.
"These were just a few of those that were seen," Cazaly said. "Many species were pointed out by our clients as they perused our fish I.D. slates."
Increased numbers of sea lions were found at the Los Frailes colony. "Some of the cheekier members of the colony swam close by to mimic our moves and cheekily blow bubbles as they swam past," Cazaly said.
"The best sighting of all was the gargantuan humpback whale breaching clear out of the water, creating a huge splash and a crash of thunder as it slammed back into the sea. Several times we also witnessed a prolonged bout of fluking, where the humpback inverts itself so that half of its body and its fluke, or tail, sticks clear out of the water and slaps hard on the surface. This was my first time seeing this behavior."
EAST CAPE, MEXICO: For the fishing week ending March 15, 2009, John Ireland of Rancho Leonero reported good inshore action for sierra, roosterfish, yellowtail, jack crevalle, and skipjack. "Dorado have also been biting consistently all week, with Mexican limits for all anglers," Ireland said. "The water temperature is 3 or 4 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year."
Very good catches of sierra were made to the north around El Cardonal. "Boats were driving away from schools after taking 20 to 30 in an hour or two," Ireland said.
East Cape fishing area weather was in the low-80s, with water temperatures at 70 to 73 degrees.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Gerardo Hernandez of Tortuga Sportfishing reported steady weather in the low-80s for his pangas fishing the Las Arenas side of La Paz, with consistent action at both ends of Isla Cerralvo for good counts on yellowtail.
Punta Perico on the Baja coast near Ensenada de los Muertos produced good numbers on pargo lisa, dog snapper, sierra, cabrilla, and also good numbers of dorado at the buoys. "That's the fish that the anglers want, and dorado season is beginning," Hernandez said.
Tortuga Sportfishing pangas fished with live sardina baits, available throughout the area.
LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International reported few anglers going out during the week, but yellowtail action continuing on fish into the 40-pound class. "There were more fish lost than put in the boat," Roldan said. "Some of them are thick and mean, and more often than not, the fish wins. What I see often is an angler getting bit and then just hanging on as his or her elbows get slammed to the gunwale. They try to hold on instead of lifting and trying to turn the head of the fish. The bottom isn't that far away and when the fish hits the first thing it's gonna do is head down. Game over!"
Larger dog and mullet snappers plus sierra, cabrilla, roosterfish, and yellow snapper were also present near rocky areas on the south side. "The best areas are off Muertos Bay, the Las Arenas lighthouse, and north Cerralvo Island," Roldan said.
LORETO, MEXICO: With the approach of the official beginning of spring, Pam Bolles of Loreto's Baja Big Fish Company noted this year's imminent yellowtail spawn, a period when concentrated fish do not bite lures and baits well, but are especially susceptible to commercial fishermen's nets. Other signs of spring in the Loreto fishing area included the sardina bait fish spawn, and the regrowth of seaweed along shore.
"The yellowtail are full of eggs and almost ready to spawn," Bolles said. "Yellowtail do not feed when they are actively spawning. They swim in tight groups. They appear to be in a trance. This phenomenon takes place in spring, usually around a full moon.
"We have just passed the March full moon, so we expect this year's yellowtail spawn to start in the first or second week of April. The spawn appears to last about 10 days. Then, the fish start to look for food and feed at the surface. They have fasted for 10 days so they're hungry and excellent targets for fly fishing and light tackle fishing. April should be prime yellowtail fishing at Loreto this year.
"The Loreto Marine Park prohibits netting yellowtail and cabrilla within 300 meters from the shorelines of Islas Coronado, Carmen, Danzante, and Montserrat from April 1st through August 30th. Spawning yellowtail and cabrilla are highly susceptible to netting. It is in our best interest that the park rule is enforced. We want future generations to have the kind of fishing at Loreto that we are so lucky to enjoy now."
MULEGE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported in his column for Western Outdoor News on internet postings for catches of snook made in the Santa Rosalia River as it passes through Mulege. Several snook were reported caught by locals from about the Mex 1 bridge outwards toward the river's opening to the Sea of Cortez, including one photographed snook of about 3 pounds. Yellow snapper of about the same size were caught, and larger fish of unconfirmed species thought to be snook were reported as hooked and lost. "Old timers who have not thought of fishing the river for years can be seen prowling the banks with their trusty fishing rod in hand," Graham said. "Others are more skeptical and are waiting to see if the robalo [snook] frenzy is for real or is a fleeting aberration." The snook reported caught would be comparable to specimens reported yearly in the river and around its mouth since the fishery was degraded by development and netting.
SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: Catalina Meders of the San Felipe Title Company Bookstore reported a good week of much needed tourist business for the town, and spring foliage and flowers appearing on the desert shore of the extreme northern Sea of Cortez. "The desert is starting to bloom," Meders said. "There are few sights more gorgeous."
San Felipe was settling down after a heavy weekend of tourist traffic during the Baja 250 race and the Benito Juarez holiday. "Many people took advantage of the three-day weekend," Meders said. "The town was packed and back to its good old noisy self. We were so happy for the street vendors who were out in droves. If only we could get some good non-political PR going, to stop painting every square inch of Mexico with blood red ink. Several longtime residents of San Felipe recently wrote letters to the Los Angeles Times, which is great, but we need so much more support."
ROCKY POINT, MEXICO: Art Pina of Tucson, Ariz., forwarded a Rocky Point fishing report from Shawn Gustafson, of Phoenix, on vacation from his work in Iraq, who fished in late February aboard Pina's boat Big Daddy.
Fishing at the 51-mile reef the first day resulted in a catch of: 1 yellowtail at 18 pounds, 6 red snapper at 12 pounds, about 30 goldspotted bass, and some croaker and ocean whitefish.
"We stopped at the 16-180 reef about 13 miles from shore and caught a bucketful of sardines before travelling the last 40 miles to reach the deep water reefs," Gustafson said. "Art started catching fish right away, but I wasn’t having the same results. We realized the difference was likely the fluorocarbon leader Art was using. After changing my rig, we both proceeded to catch fish at a steady pace while drifting across the rocks from north to south, time and time again."
Five more days of fishing out of Rocky Point produced a catch of: 9 white seabass to 20 pounds, 3 leopard grouper of 6 to 15 pounds, 5 red snapper of 12 pounds, 2 sheephead of 12 pounds, about 70 goldspotted bass, 1 yellowtail of 10 pounds, 1 gulf grouper of 50 pounds, and assorted scorpionfish, sardines, mackerel, spotted bay bass, and 1 bonefish.
"It was really great to be back home, to see friends and family, relax and recharge, catch some fish, and spend 6 wonderful days out on the Sea of Cortez," Gustafson said. "I’m back in Baghdad now, working at Forward Operating Base Loyalty for the next month before they move to the International Zone."
SAN CARLOS, MEXICO: Jon Jen Charters of San Carlos reported warming weather and water temperatures with the approach of spring. "Water temps out front are in the mid-60s with bait everywhere and big schools of yellowtail," Jon Jen said, as Capt. Abel checked in with a trip for 2 yellowtail landed and 4 lost along with the jigs that hooked them. Bottom fishing produced ocean whitefish, triggerfish, and goldspotted bass.
MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported on 36 Aries Fleet offshore charter boats out of Mazatlan's Marina El Cid, with a catch including released fish of: 19 striped marlin, 2 mako shark, and 1 dorado. Six inshore super pangas had a catch of: 75 barracuda, 3 jack crevalle, 54 pargo, 1 cabrilla, 35 mojarra, 29 triggerfish, 9 baqueta, and 21 loras.
Mazatlan fishing area weather was partly cloudy in the mid-80s, with calm seas and water temperatures cooler inshore at 70 degrees, and 75 to 76 degrees offshore. Aries Fleet boats fished about 20 miles southwest of the marina.
PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: For the fishing week ending March 12, 2009, Danny Gomez of Dhamar Sportfishing reported good action aboard the charter panga Dhamar inshore for larger roosterfish and some amberjack, and very good fishing about 10 miles northwest of El Banco for tuna, dorado, and striped marlin.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Mike Bulkley of Huntress Sportfishing reported on 3 outings by the charter panga Huntress with Capt. Francisco for a catch including released fish of: 9 sailfish, and 2 striped marlin. "The fish have moved out past 16 miles," Bulkley said. "Most of the action was between the 20 and 25-mile lines. There is clean blue water all over, and multiple strikes are common." Several blue marlin were also landed by the Ixtapa sportfishing fleet during the week.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Ed Kunze, reporting for Baja On The Fly, said sailfish activity in the Ixtapa fishing area remained productive through the recent full moon period. "Sailfish action held up as well as could be hoped for," Kunze said. "Because of a strong pelagic red crab migration in the area, the fish are not eating trolled baits aggressively. If you are trolling, it is better to have a lot of red color to match the crabs."
Ixtapa Zihuatanejo sportfishing boats averaged 3 to 4 sailfish strikes per day, 1 or 2 sailfish landed, and about 1 boat in 3 getting a blue marlin strike.
Top outings during the week included a run by Capt. Martin aboard the cruiser Nautilus for 2 blue marlin strikes, and the smaller landed at about 180 pounds.
Ixtapa fishing area weather was clear and calm, with water temperatures at 78 to 83 degrees.
IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters reported Ixtapa sportfishing boats averaging about 2 to 5 strikes per day on mixed sailfish, blue marlin, and black marlin in action about 12 to 18 miles out. Inshore fishing produced jack crevalle, skipjack tuna, and bonito. "Marlin action this week was best on artificials and slow-trolled rigged baits, and apparently it slowed up when using live baits," Edwards said. "That's an unusual twist."
Ixtapa Zihuatanejo fishing area weather was mostly clear at 90 degrees, with calm seas and water temperatures at 82 degrees near shore, and up to 85 degrees offshore.