|WEEKLY FISHING REPORT HERE
My 21' Seacat "Angel" is my pride and joy. I've customized it for solo big game fishing, and have many solo striped marlin releases in it, at least five solo blue marlin up to 325 lbs, and a pair of solo black marlin in the 280-300 lb range. The record for my boat is a blue marlin of 350 lbs that my father caught in 2012. I also captured my first IGFA world record in 2012, a 32 lb Gulf Coney grouper, and have discovered a fishery for the tenspine grouper which to date almost nothing is known about by scientists. There are a variety of decent sportfishing boats operating out of Santa Cruz marina, and the site Huatulco Sportfishing Charters is a good umbrella site in English for some of the best larger local boats plying these waters. For pangas, I would recommend Tino's Sport Fishing with Tino Hernandez and Paty with Isidro Cruz. Diehard sportfishermen will find gear quality, lure quality, and rigging quality sorely lacking in Huatulco waters compared to more well-known sportfishing destinations. Sportfishing was largely introduced along the Pacific coast of Mexico by bait-centric Californians, and due to economics and lack of access to quality lures, most of mainland Mexico suffers from a relatively poor skill set to rig anything well except live bait and ballyhoo. Visiting fishermen are usually Canadian tourists with little saltwater fishing experience, so there has been little prompting to develop any more skills than necessary.
Fishing in Huatulco
While most Huatulco websites will sing the praises of the wonderful deep sea fishing - without having the least bit of experience of it themselves - the truth of the matter is that Huatulco fishing is fickle. By most accounts it was far less so a decade or especially two decades ago, but through commercial overfishing of all Mexican waters it has gotten a lot more difficult lately. Marlin used to be in abundance, but much less so now. Striped marlin in the winter have proved as plentiful as anything, but still pretty much a crapshoot as to the chances of a hookup. The prime black and blue marlin season of the summer has been tremendously disappointing compared to the past. Yellowfin tuna do not follow any kind of pattern they did in the past. It's rare to get anything but 10-30 lb school tuna, with some 50 lb fish caught every now and then. Sailfish and dorado are staples year round, though dorado can be really erratic. A remarkable aspect about Huatulco is how quickly the water drops off to deep blue outside the bays, so you scarcely need to go any distance to hook into a lot of pelagic fish. Tuna and marlin both come within a couple miles of the coast at times, and dorado swim into the bays. But the offshore fishing seems to depend on a wide variety of factors how far you have to run at any given time. While the depths and deepwater canyons are there a few miles out, the fish aren't necessarily. Sometimes it takes a 25-30 mile run offshore to get into the fish. Of course sometimes all the action is 2-3 miles out. Due to the circulating currents and seasonal upwellings of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, you just never know day to day.
Recommended Lures for Huatulco Fishing
Gypsy Lures 5" and 7" jets - Some of the most simple, inexpensive, but productive and versatile lures I've ever fished. My number one lure for yellowfin tuna, and great for dorado, sailfish, and the occasional striped marlin. The only downside is since everything loves them, you can't keep barrilete off them when they're around which can be a nuisance.
Hi-5 Lures - The highest quality resin head lure maker in Mexico, and one of the top lure makers of the world. Based out of Cabo, Ken Matney of Hi-5 completely gets that you "don't need no steenking bait". His lures have won three Bisbee Black and Blue tournaments in Cabo, one of the world's most prestigious marlin tournaments, taking first place in 2012 and 2013. Before that, the lures had already won first place SIX times in Bisbee tournaments. Keel weighted so they run properly and available in a wide variety of head shapes and custom skirt colors - the barrilete and sardine colors are fantastic - the lures are dramatically cheaper than Black Bart and other "name" lures and are generally better lures. Contact Ken at email@example.com for pricing and a PDF catalog.
Rapala X-Raps and YoZuri Hydro Mags are the only deep diving lures you can depend to run straight at speed, and are your best bet for yellowfin in the way of diving plugs. Also good inshore for chula, sierra, and the occasional large pargo. A swimming lure like a Braid Speedster or Halco Trembler can also be effective on yellowfin.
There isn't a great deal of good inshore fishing around the Bays of Huatulco til you reach the outflow of the Copalita River. There are sometimes snook and jack crevalle to be caught off the beach at the mouth of the Copalita, and once in awhile a pargo (cubera snapper). It's a good zone for sierra in winter as well. But I've never caught a roosterfish around there, and the next 18 miles down the coast have never produced much of anything for me along the beaches. The coastal fishing picks up 24 miles to the east at the lighthouse of Morro Ayutla, on to the island of La Blanca at 38 miles and Temerosa at 50 miles. But that's long out of the range of most people's desires to go. In the westerly direction it picks up from just past San Agustin to Bajos de Coyula, where there are small roosterfish to be caught along the beaches.
Wintertime in Huatulco, when most gringo visitors come, is unfortunately not one of the best times of year for fishing. Cold water upwellings and nutrient blooms can make it very hit or miss, and conditions shift dramatically from day to day. The water will be green and cloudy and 72 degrees one day and the next day warm blue 80 degree water will sweep in, only to be gone again the next. Yellowfin tuna have become such an all or nothing thing they barely warrant mention, either anyone can catch them by the boatload or they can't be found for love or money. I find the smaller metal headed Gypsy jets routinely outperform tuna feathers, and pick up a lot more in the way of other fish as well.
Most of the local captains take the same cookie-cutter approach of trolling ballyhoo and live bait for tuna, billfish, and mahi-mahi, because that's what tourists want. While initially I believed it would be an almost untapped zone for deep dropping for grouper and the like, thinking the underwater structure would resemble the jagged topography of the land, it took a long time before I managed to locate and catch grouper. There are zones of deepwater reef in 300-350' of water between Cacaluta and San Agustin, but those have yet to produce any results. All my luck has been in a 100 yard radius around a single reef spot, where tenspine grouper congregate in winter.
Barrilete, commonly called bonita, or black skipjack - NOTE! they have nothing to do with a real skipjack tuna and most gringos in Pacific Mexico call them "skippies" without knowing what a real skipjack tuna is - are great fun on light tackle and fight like demons. They're incredibly plentiful in feeding schools inside and outside the bays. While they're dark red meat and shunned by most for eating - while actually being decent sashimi and ceviche - they have a lookalike called "chula" which a true striped bonito and a very edible light pink meat.The giveaway for chula is they have razor sharp teeth like mackerel or wahoo and a slightly more mackerel like head.
Longlining was effectively banned in Mexican waters 30 years ago, by designating dorado, sailfish, and marlin as sportfish that could not be commercially exploited. However, a small fleet of Santa Cruz and Puerto Angel pangas operating under shark permits clutter up the ocean with miles of poorly marked longlines that are a navigational hazard and general nuisance. Local authorities have chosen to turn a blind eye to their illegal catches of dorado and sailfish. While there are some parts of Oaxaca and Chiapas where they are primarily catching sharks under the shark permit, there are virtually no sharks around Huatulco and most of what they are targeting is illegal "bycatch". Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo is one of the few areas that has organized to successfully ban panga longlining, and it would be great to see Huatulco follow suit. The sportfishing economy trumps the paltry commercial fishing economy by miles, yet with the typical shortsightedness that keeps Huatulco the charming backwater that it is among Mexican tourist resorts, the authorities see no problem in miles of nearly invisible longlines coexisting with a thriving tourist port and yachting destination. Please practice catch and release on anything you're not going to eat. Way too many people keep billfish in Huatulco, and it's not helping the already depleted fishery. When renowned angler Tony Peņa fished Huatulco around 1990, the AVERAGE size of sailfish was around 120 lbs. Now it is around 60 lbs. Many of the practices in Huatulco would be scorned in serious fishing destinations, because they make a joke of the idea of sportfishing. The more knowledgeable local mates and captains with experience of sportfishing outside of Huatulco will practice catch and release, but most won't unless you firmly insist to them you only believe in "capturar y soltar" of billfish. Do NOT defer to their wisdom on a fish being beyond revival - it is the oldest excuse they use to keep a fish that could otherwise be released. Make them make a serious and prolonged effort to swim it back to life. I have never yet killed a billfish with probably upwards of 50 sailfish and marlin releases, and that's mostly fishing solo, so there's simply no excuse.