Santa Rosalia, Mexico:
Fishing The Windy Side Of Isla Tortuga 25 Miles Off The Baja Coast

Sept. 25, 2004, Mike Kanzler, Isla San Marcos, Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico Fishing:

Summer is officially over, on the calendar anyway, and with it the long hot days. The weather this week already drastically changed for the better, low humidity and cooler more comfortable temps, 68 low in the mornings with 80-85 degree days. I even had to turn off my air conditioner for most of the day.

However, at the start of the week the temperature drop was due to a cold snap up north and when that happens you folks up there get Santa Anna's winds, with us getting west northwest winds. Although it's nice for a cooler, more comfortable climate, it's not too nice on the water if you're trying to fish.

Monday through Thursday saw wind of 10-20 knots, and gusts later in the afternoon to 30, with seas at 2-4 feet. Water temps are still warm 82-86 degrees and super vis, 30-70 feet off the isla, a little less inshore.

With fall starting, you'd think the fishing would improve too? Sorry, it's still September, and the water conditions most of this week kept most close to or on shore.

Last week I talked about having to fish Monday and Tuesday so I could catch at least one big yellowtail to complete my sushi and sashimi spreads for the special V.I.P. Japanese guests here on the island.

Well, here we go. Got my deckhand Daniel "Piojo Loco" Chiquete, and we headed for San Lucas Cove to catch bait at 5:15 in the morning. While enroute, both of us noted swells and wind coming out of the northwest; looks like a bumpy ride for the day.

With the bait caught, we made for Tortuga Island, 25 miles out, and yes, it was rough the whole way out! Upon arriving at the island, winds were blowing a steady 15 knots and seas already at 2-3 feet.

I told Danny we'd better try the prime spots on the windward side before it gets any worse. I guess the fish gods cut us some slack for making the effort, and on Danny's first bait he nailed a 20-pound yellowtail. Damn! I'm glad the hard part was over and the mission complete.

With the fish bled and on ice, we decided to see if we can put a few more in the box. Fished a couple more spots on the windy side, and nothing. Picked it up and ran around to Punta Azul where we got a little block from the island.

This spot I'm going to have to explain.

First, it's deep 380-400 feet.

Second, yes, we catch yellowtail and a few other types of deep water species, but during the warm water months the place has a reputation for hooking billfish on the dropper loop.

First drop, Danny with the bait and I with iron, Danny gets about 2/3 of the way down and said I'm bit! I looked over and said what? Rod's bent. I asked were you on the bottom? Reply, don't think so. Seconds later, saw the line getting angled away from the boat and there it was, sailfish, tail-walking across water. See why I went down with iron?

After a short battle and aerial display, the fish was boatside. Took a photo, released the sail of maybe 80 pounds. Repositioned the boat for a second drift. Danny, with another bait, and guess what happens next. Sailfish tail-walking across the water. What the...? Got the fish boatside, released again, and now the wind even stronger. Left for home.

Tuesday, the wind was blowing when we got up. Don't ask why we went fishing. Maybe the free gas from the company. More likely just nuts. We made another run, this time staying closer to home. Fished the north side of San Marcos only find rough windy water, the yellowtail reef infested with big sharpnose sharks. Couldn't keep them off the baits. Every time you hit the bottom. Kept a few and headed for the east side of the island, so we'd be out of the wind.

Stopped at Piedra Ranchero and made a few drifts. Kind of slow. One sawtail grouper, two little yellowtail, and three goldspotted bass.

Tried this spot which I call Piedra Islote. Hardly ever fish there, due to large pesky triggerfish, but Danny said all right more Ceviche. This place is where the shelf from the island's shallow east side slips out to deep water, 60 feet on the top dropping out to 170.

Pinned some baits on and triggerfish after trigger starting hitting the deck. In the mix we also had one nice 10-pound leopard grouper, and small barred and yellow pargo. With the bait gone, we made for the dock. On the ride back I told Danny you get to clean those damn triggers!

Overall this week's fishing was still on the slow side. Fished today for one 25-pound yellowtail, small leopard grouper, a few bass, and triggerfish.

Other Lagoon side boats, three total, scratched up some skipjack, one 17-pound Jack Crevalle, and a couple small dorado, trolling down in front of my house with live bait and feathers. More new arrivals have shown up at San Lucas Cove trailer park, Julie and "Wild Bill" Westendorff, and my good friend Alan Lewis has returned for the whole fall, winter and spring season. He'll be making the Mag bay trip with danny and me later in Oct.

The sushi meals I did for our Japanese visitors went off with a bang! One commented that he felt like he never left Japan. Some people might think that it's easy, don't got to cook nothing. Yeah right! I started at 6 a.m. and didn't finish the six plates and side plates till 1 p.m. Sushi and sashimi is more than just food, it's art.

Fish caught at Isla Tortuga, Mexico

TORTUGA CATCH--A beautiful bag of fish caught at Piedra Islote on the east side of Isla San Marcos by Mike Kanzler's boat: triggerfish, small yellowtail, leopard grouper, sawtail grouper, barred pargo, yellow snapper, goldspotted bass, and sharpnose shark. Photo courtesy Mike Kanzler.

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