Billfish bite blows wide open for Cabo San Lucas fishing charter boats

Mexico Fishing News, March 3, 2003



CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: A simmering striped marlin bite blew wide open at the tip of Baja last week, with triple and quadruple releases common, and some catches reported as high as 8 or 9 fish per day.

Rene Santa Cruz said Solmar Fleet's top boat for the week was the Solmar IX with Capt. Tony, releasing eight of nine stripers for Mark Bellintong of Salt Lake City on the Jaime Bank. Overall, Solmar Fleet had a catch including released fish of: 106 striped marlin, 2 sailfish, 98 yellowfin tuna, and 67 dorado. Solmar Fleet fished mainly on the Pacific side at the Jaime and Golden Gate Banks, Santa Cruz said, in generally windy and choppy conditions.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Tommy Garcia of Cabo Magic had 56 boats chartered with a catch including released fish of: 81 striped marlin, 1 hammerhead shark, 1 mako shark, 63 yellowfin tuna from 25 to 65 pounds, 29 dorado from 12 to 45 pounds, and 1 wahoo.

At midweek, Picante Fleet reported on 6 boats chartered with a catch including released fish of: 22 striped marlin, and 4 dorado. The day's top boat, Picante Pride with Capt. Antonio Romero, had five releases for angler Richard Snyder.

About 170 other fleet and private boats reported a combined catch including released fish of approximately: 223 striped marlin, 5 sailfish, 155 dorado, 81 skipjack, 233 yellowfin tuna, and 131 sierra.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Pisces Fleet, Tracy Ehrenberg also reported a 220-pound broadbill swordfish landed by private boater Ted Burger on the Kathy Too, 18 miles off Punta Gorda. The rare catch required 45 minutes to land on 50-pound test line, Ehrenberg said, and a few days later, another broadbill was landed by Paul Bender of Newport Beach, this one a 150 pounder that required just 12 minutes to land on 50-pound line aboard the Summertime.

"The striped marlin catches this week were fabulous," Ehrenberg said. "Boats averaged from 1 to 5 each per day, with the usual catch being 3 of 4. Top boat for us was Ni Modo with 8 catches for Michael Dumas and Marcelo Cano from Texas. We had several boats with five in a day.

"I wish we could mention everybody else that had quadruple and triple marlin days, but there were a lot--we had many happy anglers this week."

Overall, 96 percent of Pisces boats caught marlin last week, 147 in all, of which 143 were released, Ehrenberg said. Most of the catches were made off La Laguna, north of San Jose del Cabo, about 8 to 13 miles off shore. Later in the week, the main bite moved farther up the Sea of Cortez, toward Punta Gorda and Destiladeras. Average water temperatures were about 72 degrees.

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said Gaviota Fleet had a catch including released fish of: 69 striped marlin, 1 sailfish, 1 wahoo, 7 dorado, 15 yellowfin tuna, and 15 skipjack. The best fishing was found outside of the Outer Gordo Bank and further north, Edwards said, in water temperatures in the low-70s: "While boats still found fish on the Pacific side, by midweek, everyone had moved to the Gordo Banks on the Cortez side. Billfish averages were better than 2 per day."

CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO: At Fly Hooker Sportfishing, Capt. George Landrum said Cabo weather was mostly cloudy, but with no rain, but some strong afternoon winds in the second half of the week that brought rough conditions on the Pacific side. Water temperatures near the cape averaged 71 to 72 degrees, with warmer water found 20 to 35 miles out.

"This was one of the most outstanding weeks for striped marlin we have seen for a long time," Landrum said. They varied in size from 80 to 180 pounds and were very concentrated. When you were in the fish, there were at least 50 boats in the area.

"The fish started at 20 miles east, at the beginning of the week, and the concentration slowly moved east as the week progressed. It was not uncommon to catch and release 4 to 8 marlin a day, and have shots at several dozen, and see even more. Multiple hookups, with 3 fish on at a time were common."

Landrum said decent catches of football yellowfin tuna were also made under porpoise about 13 to 20 miles out. Dorado were present but scattered and not found in number. Inshore, dorado, abundant sierra, and some yellowtail paced the action, and few roosterfish were caught. Gray whales were sighted in still increasing numbers.

In other mainland Mexico and Baja fishing action this week:



ENSENADA, MEXICO: Ivan Villarino Vonny's Fleet said pangas fishing the tip of Punta Banda were limiting on lingcod, rockfish, and olive rockfish (Johnny bass), in light breezes and partly cloudy weather in the high-60s. Ocean swells were about 3 feet and water temperatures averaged 59 degrees, Villarino said.

ENSENADA, MEXICO: Earlier, Steve and Gail Ross ran into some giant squid in Bahia Todos Santos aboard his boat the Bad Dog:

"We got called by Melody who said they were catching giant squid. With a shot on the ADF, we headed right for her. I positioned Bad Dog just up swell, and Gail and I both sent chrome PL68s down with frozen squids attached.

"I immediately got bit on the bottom and reeled up that night's dinner, a nice 3-pound red vermilion, and Gail brought up a nice lingcod, almost 4 pounds. But, no giant squid.

"The next drop, I hit the bottom and began reeling up when I got slammed right under the boat. Then it fell off. I was pretty close to the boat, so I left it at that depth, and wham, again, and again, and again. Nothing was sticking. And when Gail retrieved her iron and got to the same depth she got slammed, again, and again, and finally hers stuck. I must have lost 12 of them.

"Sure enough, this ferocious squid came to the surface about 10 feet out, and Gail smoothly brought this monster within gaffing range, and I went down and brought the gaff through...nothing. This giant squid inked right at the boat. It was a huge cloud. I went for him again and this time I hit solid head meat and dragged him on board and we both went high five and stared at this monster on the deck. He was moving all over the place with his tentacles in the air trying to grab something to hold onto, and he was flashing his colors.

"I picked him off the deck and dropped him into the bait tank. That wasn't easy as he was heavy and slippery. Melody said they weighed 20 pounds, and ours was every bit of that.

"He flashed his colors from dark purple-red to fluorescent white. The white was awesome. Then he would turn and look at you with one of his huge eyes and turn dark red in anger, slashing around looking for someone to hurt. Well, rock cod and calamari for dinner Saturday night and calamari tonight again."



SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Pete Hillis of Pedro's Pangas said 10 boats fished during the week, but only two yellowtail were caught, from 18 to 20 pounds, at the 240 Spot. Other boats had the usual limits of lingcod, rockcod, and whitefish, in generally smooth seas. San Quintin weather was in the low-70s.

SAN QUINTIN, MEXICO: Earlier, Joe Martin returned from a trip to Don Eddie's Landing, fishing with local guide Bear's son, Gordo. "Had a great time," Martin said. "Good meals and service. We fished the 240 Spot and caught limits of lings and BIG whitefish. Also, 6 salmon grouper, 1 good-sized bonito, and 3 big barracuda. The border wait at Tecate was one-and-a-half hours. What a pain..."



MAGDALENA BAY, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly reported continued action near the entrada on sierra, barracuda, and abundant spotted bay bass, plus a few grouper to 10 pounds. "Up in the esteros, the corvina came back with a vengeance with good counts for everyone," Graham said. "Not too many snook, but there were a few found in the 5 to 7-pound range." Graham said whale watching continued to improve, and San Carlos weather was in the high-60s, with water temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees. A 13-pound halibut was also reported, Graham said.



SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported water temperatures off San Jose del Cabo at 71 to 73 degrees, with concentrations of squid, mackerel and flying fish attracting a migration of striped marlin. Other daily catches included dorado, yellowfin tuna, pargo, cabrilla, skipjack, sierra, and grouper.

"The striped marlin bite from outside the Gordo Banks to Destiladeras was the main attraction, with the majority of the Cabo San Lucas fleet also fishing in this direction," Brictson said. "There were reports of double and even triple hookups, and there was one account of a private yacht having seven striped marlin on at the same time."

Brictson said the main mass of billfish was 10 to 15 miles offshore and seemed to be moving northeast up the Sea of Cortez. Yellowfin tuna were less consistent: "La Playita panga fleets have been nearest to the action on the Inner Gordo Bank. The bite has been sporadic. On the days when the fish did cooperate there were catches of 1 to 4 tuna per panga. Most of the tuna were over 40 pounds and most averaged 70 pounds or more." Dorado action was limited to 1 or 2 per day on fish of 10 to 20 pounds, Brictson said, and sierra to 5 pounds continued to bite early along the beaches.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO: Luis Duhart of Victor's Fleet said a boat fishing three days caught: 20 sierra and 5 dorado to 15 pounds on the first day; 2 striped marlin the second day; 1 dorado and 2 sierra on the third day.



EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Warm, 73-degree water and calming weather brought excellent fishing to boats out of Bahia de Palmas last week. John Ireland of Rancho Leonero said: "East Cape is off to an early fishing year, with dorado, striped marlin, and roosterfish all wide open. Truly exceptional fishing.

"I fished two-and-a-half days this week, taking 20 dorado of 30 to 50 pounds, not one under 30 pounds, 4 striped marlin released, and 12 roosters to 45 pounds released.

"Almost all the fish are being taken on live green mackerel. The bite was very concentrated, from the Las Arenas lighthouse to Cabo Pulmo, 5 miles off shore.

"Striped marlin limits for all anglers, many boats with 4 or 5 fish taken on live mackerel, slow trolled with a sinker. The dorado are big fish, mixed with the stripers, also limits for all anglers.

"The roosterfish are inshore, from the lighthouse to the ranch, active in the mornings, to 45 pounds. Very early bite, with lots around. Great start for 2003!"

Rancho Leonero reported East Cape weather as cool in the mornings, but with midday highs at about 80 degrees.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Martin Verdugo's Beach Resort, Marisol Verdugo said, "Our clients have been fishing pangas, quite a few, and they are getting mostly dorado. It's really good! Every now and then we get some tuna. See you at the Long Beach Fred Hall Show. This year, we are going to do the Del Mar show too!"

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly said Ken Beer and his 14-year-old son Trevor of Galt, CA fished from a super panga and lost 3 marlin the first day, but also released 5 dorado. The next day, they released 4 more dorado, fishing from Punta Colorada to the lighthouse, about 5 miles offshore.

Another boat caught dorado and went one-for-five on marlin, Graham said: "Billfish sightings and hookups continue, with plenty of marlin feeding on the surface, and a bonus of plenty of whales to look at between bites." Graham said East Cape water temperatures were found as high as 75 degrees, and sierra were still on the beaches.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: At Vista Sea Sport Mark Rayor was on his way to the Fred Hall Shows, but said diving conditions at Cabo Pulmo continued outstanding: "Seas have been calm for over a week. The water is blue, clear, and remains 73 degrees at depth. We are not sighting near as many manta or cownose rays, but the bigeye jacks and huge grouper have taken over the show. The reefs are just teaming with sea life and the diving is very exciting."

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: Steve Crouch said the 15th Annual Crouch/Roberts No-Kill Billfish Tournament is a go at Rancho Buena Vista, July 15-18, with prizes for the most marlin and sailfish releases and a separate cash tournament for largest qualifying tuna, wahoo, and dorado. Information and reservations: Tami Moyeous, 800-258-8200; or Steve Crouch, 800-355-6441.

EAST CAPE, MEXICO: NOTE: For Baja shore anglers, the beach route from San Jose del Cabo north to Ensenada de los Muertos is one of the best, but there are few reports for this sometimes difficult area. Here's a recent trip report from San Jose del Cabo resident Paul Roos and his wife Marsha:




Marsha and I did a complete East Cape drive.

We started at La Playita and went north. The road was rough but fine for 2-wheel drive and we saw a few rental cars. Home builders have moved up from the cape and are now only 5 to 6 miles below Vinorama, where the Palo Escopeta road from the airport comes over the mountains to the sea.

Los Frailes is stuffed with campers, going back across the road and way up into the arroyo.

We wanted to stay at Punta Colorada the first night. Drove up to the gates only to find them padlocked. Stayed at Rancho Leonero, $130 for a double with meals.

It was windy all night and we took off the next morning. The coast road from La Ribera to Barriles has some of the worst "permanente" (washboard) on the East Cape. We stopped a couple times in the shadow of Punta Pescadero to fish. Caught a 5-foot needlefish that had to weigh 15 or 20 pounds. There were 3 of them cruising in this cove and I thought they were dorado at first. These big adults are all bright green from top of the head back to the tail. The road was in better shape than last year. Two-wheel drive was no problem.

We spent the second night at Punta Pescadero, $150, double with meals. The bank still owns the property and Felipe has been GM for the past couple of years. They are keeping it up well and the rooms are well found. Great beach for beach combing and surf fishing and some fine natural saltwater baths in rock formations south of the hotel. Caught a ladyfish and a chino mero from the beach. No cabrilla this time, though I saw some biggies cruising in the clear water the next morning.

We stopped to see Eddie at El Cardonal on Sunday morning. The north wind stopped and changed to south-southeast. He has six rooms at $60, meals extra. His current want/trade list includes needs for a 128mb+ computer and a 16-foot tin boat with motor.

We told him we were planning to go the coast track to Los Planes. He said to bring lots of water (we had), and to count the kilometers from where the road goes up to the cliffs just past Boca de Alamo about 6 miles past Cardonal, in case we broke down and had to decide which way to walk for help!

He was right. This is the worst stretch of what could hardly be called "road" I've encountered in Baja. Two-wheel vehicles should not/cannot go past the beach on the other side of Boca de Alamo where a new small round house is almost finished, right at the point where the road goes up, straight up.

Long wheelbase 4x4s should not attempt this route, as they will either not be able to negotiate some of the cliff turns, or will get high-centered trying to go through the long arroyo exit to the mountains above Los Planes. The track through there is really only suitable for a short wheelbase 4x4 or a straight Jeep.

We had to stop and place rocks a few times to avoid getting high-centered and/or ripping out the undercarriage or fuel tank. Neither the cliff part (first 5 km) nor the arroyo track (2 km) are for the faint of heart. My wife says I owe her a cruise for staying with me on this ride. Heck, you can't turn around anywhere until you get to the exit arroyo anyway. Too bad the passenger is hanging over 300-foot cliffs, with the roadway crumbling beneath, most of the time.

We made it through and down the mountain and skirted Los Planes, and onto the road to Bahia de Los Muertos, which the developer, Gary Wagner of Giggling Marlin (Cabo) fame has mostly privatized and has opened a Giggling Marlin Beach Club restaurant at the panga-launch, public end of the beach. The rest of the bay, which he is trying to rename Bahia de los Suenos (Bay of Dreams), is gated and guarded by a real estate sales office. Just to prove money talks down there, a new road is ready to be paved for some ten miles into the bay.

The pangas were just arriving on the beach as we got there. Despite the south winds, they averaged 4 to 5 dorado per boat on available live sardinas. Jonathan Roldan was there. He had a van full of anglers that had booked five pangas that day. All had smiles on their faces and dorado fillets in their ice chests.

Back home via Los Planes and the dirt road through the mountains (13.5 mi.) that enters the highway at the south end of the mountain town of San Antonio. Excellent graded dirt road and you can average 40 to 50 m.p.h. the first 8 miles and about 30 m.p.h. the rest of the way. Two-wheel drive okay.



LA PAZ, MEXICO: Jonathan Roldan of Tail Hunters International said the dorado bite continued at Las Arenas. "We had one boat trying to troll for cabrilla off Punta Perico with live bait, and got a 20-pound bull dorado in 15 feet of water," Roldan said. "In the same area, pargo are starting to crash around, getting everyone excited, and then a flurry of dorado move in and really blow up the mix! It's pretty incredible."

Roldan said Jeff Sakuda of Monterey Park had a good trip and reported: "We got 12 dorado the first day and my girlfriend's arms fell off! The next day, we decided that was ENOUGH of the mahi and went for sierra and got all we could handle of those. On the 3rd day, it was pargo day and it was amazing watching them all crashing around the boat and not being able to stop them from taking you to the rocks. It was lots of fun. Just a great trip!"



LORETO, MEXICO: The Loreto Pangeros Coop office at the marina reported 2 boats fishing with a catch of: 15 cabrilla and 3 pargo.

Arturo Susarrey of Arturo's Sportfishing said yellowtail to 25 pounds continue to show at El Pulpito, Coronado Island, and San Bruno. The Larry Saindon group fished 3 days at San Bruno and caught yellowtail of 25 to 30 pounds and cabrilla to 14 pounds.

At the San Nicolas remote camp 30 miles north of town, Susarrey said the group lead by Pete Gray of the "Let's Talk Hookup" radio show had a great time, scoring limits and then going to catch-and-release on yellowtail and cabrilla.

Loreto weather was mostly cloudy and windy in the mid-70s, with water temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees.

LORETO, MEXICO: Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish Company said nobody fished last week, but bookings are heavy from next week onwards into the summer, and there were plenty of fish around, especially at San Bruno, were yellowtail to 40 pounds were reported, taking big mackerel baits on the bottom. "Limits are easy, provided you know how to tango with a yellowtail," Bolles said. "We've been catching males for the most part, but we'll check the females and their egg-sacs for progress to the surface."



BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES, MEXICO: Raquel Duarte Fife of Raquel and Larry's Beach Motel at Bahia de los Angeles said very few boats fished last week, due to strong, cold north winds. On Sunday afternoon, Fife said, "Several pangas went out today, but had to come back very early."



SAN FELIPE, MEXICO: At San Felipe, Catalina Meders of the Title Company Bookstore overlooking the bay said the weather was very windy last week: "I do mean WINDY. We had a mega-windstorm that blew the city every which way but loose. I lost all the tar paper off one whole side of my roof. Lots of tree limbs down and damaged signs, etc."

Over the weekend, Meders said San Felipe was windy again: "I have to go out and rescue my bargain books, which are starting to flap. The tide is up, the bay is steel-colored, and it's sunny."



ROCKY POINT (PUERTO PENASCO), MEXICO: At Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), Rick Felder reported on a good trip with his 24-foot boat, End Of The Line. Felder fished on the bottom, 50 miles south of town in 270 feet of water, with a surface temperature of 64 degrees, for plentiful red snapper of 3 to 12 pounds. "Sardines were the only bait available, which we caught ourselves on bait-catcher rigs," Felder said.



MAZATLAN, MEXICO: Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said Aries Fleet at Marina el Cid recorded its first broadbill swordfish of the season, a malformed 320 pounder taken on a dead mullet. Offshore fishing action was changeable from day to day, and bottom fishing was slower, Edwards reported. Aries Fleet had a total catch including released fish of: 1 swordfish, 1 sailfish, 14 striped marlin, 82 yellowfin tuna, 87 dorado, and 12 mako shark. Mazatlan weather was variable in the low-70s with some wind and choppy seas, and the best fishing area was 18 to 25 miles southwest of Marina el Cid.



IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Local guide Ed Kunze said the fishing took a nosedive last week, as a cold, green current moved toward shore. "The fishing just shut down," Kunze said. But by the weekend, 78-degree water had returned, and Kunze said the fishing was already on the rebound, although boats were still only averaging about 1 sailfish per day. School-sized yellowfin tuna were available in decent numbers, and black skipjack were plentiful for inshore fly anglers. Kunze said two fly anglers from Denver were getting as many as 50 skipjack per day before they called it quits.

IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Paul Phillips of the Fintastic Total Tag & Release Tournament said some marlin to 350 pounds were also being caught, but as for the sailfish, "they aren't here. We in Zihuatanejo currently consider fishing extremely slow."

IXTAPA ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Stan Lushinsky of Ixtapa Sportfishing Charters said, "The once-abundant sailfish were last seen moving south to warmer temperatures and any boat raising one last week was considered lucky."

Lushinsky said the tuna were between 20 and 40 miles out, but even when the schools were found, they were often reluctant to bite. Several blue marlin were caught, and others reported lost. Ixtapa weather was sunny, in the high-80s, with moderate to rough seas.

Fish Photo 1

PUNTA BANDA LIMITS--Gary Griffin's group from San Diego found limits on bottom fish with Vonny's Fleet of Ensenada last week, catching lingcod, rockcod, and "Johnny bass" (olive rockfish) in calm weather. Photo courtesy Ivan Villarino.

Fish Photo 1

LA PAZ WINTER DORADO--Jim Reeves of Mt. Vernon, WA and Kirt Schlander from Santa Rosa, CA took these bull dorado on 20-pound test and Avet SX reels just off Punta Perico near Muertos Bay, while fishing with Tail Hunter International. Photo courtesy Jonathan Roldan.

Fish Photo 1

UNUSUAL BROADBILL--This unusually deformed 320-pound broadbill swordfish, the first of the season, was caught at Mazatlan last week out of Marina el Cid. Photo courtesy Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters.

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