Fishing Update - Jan-Feb 2017 Got into yellowfin tuna in the first half of January near a floating tank we came across 20 miles out, with scores of little footballs schooling around it. Even got sharked on one occasion, a first here for me with tuna. Had pretty good success with grouper as well, putting about 50 lbs of tenspine in the cooler on my last trip out in early Feb. Also caught star-studded grouper for the first time in a 240-250’ spot I had discovered years ago but written off as dead reef, but still juveniles. Am relatively sure that out in 300-600’ somewhere are some nice adult olive and star-studded grouper, but not sure where yet.
Fishing Update - Jan-Dec 2016 Now it seems I’ve gone to yearly updates. Lost the enthusiasm to keep up with this website, and the fishing has been unspectacular enough there’s been no great reason to do so. Dorado finally showed back up in Pacific Mexico about 18 months after disappearing, and there were some nice bulls caught in November and December. Still hit or miss though. I dedicated my whole year, as I did most of the one before that, to bottom fishing for various groupers and snapper. In one change of pace, after many years of no luck snapper fishing with lures, I started catching huachinango (red snapper) with some regularity on small 2 oz lead spoons. I had never caught huachinango in my whole time fishing Huatulco before that. Also started catching tenspine grouper on some reefs I’d never had luck with before, and found one new spot somewhat deeper (235-250’) that I could catch them year round on. Started catching more juvenile olive grouper and the occasional gulf coney too.
Fishing Update - Jan-Dec 2015 Worst dorado year ever. They disappeared from most of Pacific Mexico from April-November, and only showed back up sporadically at the end of the year. May provided some outstanding marlin action as it often does, giving me my first black and blue day ever, about a 150 lb blue and a 280 lb black. Another week in May I got a 280-300 lb black. I now dread a solo fight with a big black more than anything, as they conserve their energy by not jumping and not running at mach speeds like blues. The result is with enormous amounts of drag I can bring them to the boat in a reasonable amount of time, but I can do nothing with them solo by the side of the boat. They simply will not surrender so I can release them cleanly. In both cases I broke them off leadering them and lost my lures. A few tuna here and there in Nov/Dec, but by and large the latter half of the year was a disaster. Here's hoping for a better 2016!
Also I started swimming with a couple of striped marlin I released. It’s called going the extra distance to make sure they’re okay! Actually it was just practice runs for doing it with a big blue, which I haven’t got a chance to get in the water with yet. Have figured out from clunky GoPro selfie work underwater that I need someone filming me underwater from the boat or I won’t get good footage.
Fishing Update - Dec.16 2015- Jan.14 2016 Have been doing longer runs in general offshore in my friend's 24' Prowler cat, and the results have been nothing less than amazing for this time of year, especially compared to the mediocre catches of the rest of the fleet. In five trips, we've released striped marlin on 4 of the 5 trips, and had two unbelievable days with eight good size dorado each day. Can't say enough about the Hi-5 lures. The funny thing is my friend Maurice caught a bill-less striped marlin that might have been the same one I caught about two months before. That or we have a mutant strain of striped marlin in these parts. Inshore, the sierra have been abundant in the 8-12 lb range, and the spotted and olive grouper have been hitting nonstop in 180' when the current is light enough to fish small 2 oz jigs in that depth. I got my personal record spotted grouper at 9 lbs 15 oz, which I normally get in the 2-4 lb range.
Fishing Update - Oct.22 - Dec.15 Updates? We don't need no steenking updates. Lot to catch up on in last two months of fishing. Tenspine grouper were pretty active toward the end of October, with seven caught over a two week period up to 32 lbs. Dorado got a little quiet going into November, but nice size ones when they could be found. Got a bill-less striped marlin of about 160 lbs in mid-November that fought harder than any striped I've ever battled. Their giant pectoral fins become formidable planing devices when they have the bulk to resist a strong drag. Coming back from grouper fishing about a week later I was trolling a couple of lures on the light jigging outfits when about a 300 lb blue marlin took one of the lures and tried to smoke me. I got after it and avoided being spooled, and thought I had gotten past the most chaotic stage of the fight and might have a chance against it, undergunned as I was. But it kept doubling back on me until it got some slack and wrapped the line around its bill and got ahead of the leader and cut the 30 lb Power Pro braid. Took a group out one day and we got about a 150 lb striped marlin, a couple of nice 20+ lb dorado, and another 150 lb striped marlin. It was caught on one of my 16 oz Poseidon jigging reels on about a 30-40 lb rod, the best lighter tackle catch on my boat yet. Took a two week break for family in the States, and came back to pick up where I left off, going out with my friend Maurice in his boat to score a small 80 lb striped and 50 lb sailfish release, and boat an 18 lb dorado. Hi-5 Lures out of Cabo San Lucas are providing the bulk of the action, with Cabo Shakers and Kona Dodgers providing incredible results.
Fishing Update - Sept.16 - Oct.21 Sorry for the long absence to those few and faithful followers of my fishing follies. A tumultuous year personally that took me away from Huatulco for the summer, in addition to a blown lower unit I needed to replace with another one from the States. Took until mid-September to get my boat ready for the water again. The dorado fishing was great in late September though, with fish every day, mostly in the 8-20 lb range. One jigging trip produced a spotted grouper, small almaco jack, and a chula. A bad carburetor limited my mobility, but with that fixed I found a few dorado in the past week, and went jigging for tenspine grouper for the first time this fall. This is about the time they've started to light up my grouper spot each year, and first trip was a success! A 13 lb tenspine, a 9 or 10 lb almaco jack, and trolling on the way home I released a small sailfish around 55 lbs.
Fishing Update - Jan 16 - Mar 16 Well! Hardly an update the whole winter - has the fishing really been that bad? Actually, no. January was pretty steady for big wintertime dorado, but things began to dry up in February. Not much striped marlin news all winter, though Robert on the Catalina and his mate Enrique Mondragon got a double header a couple of weeks back. My parents came to visit in mid-February and with my father's infallible luck, the grouper spot that had been quiet since late December came to life again, and we landed one of four nice tenspine grouper hookups. Also got a chula on a knife jig and lost what was likely a good size almaco jack that took a bucktail jig. Otherwise Feb and March have been the usual winter doldrums, very few temp change lines or current lines to fish, a lot of dirty water, and nothing much going on offshore. Sierra and chula have made appearances inshore in huge numbers from time to time. I tried trolling a deep planer (#5) off the Copalita one day in 60-90' of water and got a couple of chula, couple of sierra, two jack crevalle, a snapper, and a big Mexican lookdown. Funny what you discover is there when you get a small lure down deeper, like a little clarkspoon. Today was really windy so fished the beach past San Agustin and saw more roosterfish blasting bait on that beach than I've ever seen in this region. Hooked three but lost them all. Good to see roosters in those numbers and size around here for once.
Fishing Update - Dec.15 - Jan 15 Boat was out of commission for all of December due to the lower unit that was rebuilt in May disintegrating again, and one more trip to the States to disassemble and fly in another lower unit to reassemble. Mid/late Dec had exceedingly cold upwelling water inshore and some more tenspine grouper action, though difficulties fishing on a friend's boat meant more strikes than fish landed. Since then the tenspine action has been pretty spotty, without enough cold water to keep them around my reef. Dorado have been around on temperature change lines, not plentiful, but nice size cows and bulls. There have been never ending Tehuantepec gales down the coast, though, with one calm day out of every four, so that hasn't helped things. We got stuck in a bit of a rut the past week of dirty water everywhere and strong currents without good temperature breaks, but it looks like we may be emerging from that.
Fishing Update - Nov.2 The boba are back! On a quick, and I mean, QUICK trip to my grouper reef today, we got a pair of double hookups of star-studded grouper on our second and third drops and put sixty plus pounds of grouper in the cooler and headed home after 15 minutes. The first one I got on my spinning outfit and a vertical jig when I'd stopped jigging to alter the drag, so they were voraciously hitting ANYTHING put in front of them. My brother got his on one of my standard white hair jig and grub tail grouper jigs, and I got my other one on a big grub tail and 8 oz lead head.
Fishing Update - Sept.1 - Sept.7 Finally after nothing but peanut dorado all year, got one 20+ lb dorado and a smaller one trolling a rip at 13 miles, followed a pair of big killer whales around for awhile, had a 80 lb or so sailfish mysteriously scallop cut right through 250-300 lb leader (maybe wahoo-ed first? never had a sail cut through leader that thick) on the fifth jump as it greyhounded back across the wake. Then 15 minutes later the TLD30 in the side holder began to sizzle and suddenly there's a big blue jumping like a maniac passing the boat 40 yards out to the port side. They never fail to take my breath away in their explosiveness and how little time you have to react to them fishing solo. I had been about to turn toward the side of the strike when I saw that he already had gone in a big U and was ahead of me. Just as I started my turn in the other direction, he suddenly veered another 90 degrees and came charging at me, causing for more turning and evasive action. That first few minutes of pure chaos of a lure-hooked blue is something else. Was a back breaking fight on 50 lb gear in a light shoulder harness and waist belt, but had the blue billroped alongside in under an hour. Was on the topshot in a half hour, but the tug of war from there was something for the ages. The old TLD30 held up well though I was fighting with 18-20 lbs of drag a lot of the time near the boat and their frames are known to explode at 20+ lbs of drag. No choice with it planing 10-20' down and refusing to come up, just had to put my whole body into it, load up that 50 lb rod to the max, and horse it. And it still wasn't coming most of the time. I took care this time to keep the fish out to the side by going in tight circles and spending a lot of time in the latter stages of the fight at min speed on one motor so I didn't make the mistake I did with my previous best solo blue. That maybe-200 lb fish I had a tougher fight with due to trying to bring it out of its downward plane from behind the boat, letting it stay in its comfort zone and fighting against my forward boat speed. This one was a new solo record for me by a mile. Took a tape measurement of the ankle/tail 5 or 6 times til I got the tightest one I could at 13.25", and since 12" is 200 lbs and each inch above 100 lbs, I'm going with a minimum of 325 lbs. Seemed a little smaller in length than my Dad's 350 lb blue last year but not in thickness. Surprise - learned there's simply no easy to measure a decent size blue boatside when you're solo. Holding the tail of a 325 lb marlin in the water with rocking windswell and putting a tailor's tape around it proved to be a task that got be screaming obscenities to no one in particular. Made it a bit easier when I put a rope on the tail as well to try to hold it in place, but still was a chore. Though for photos and measurement I kept it on the billrope much longer than I would have liked, because it was in the water the whole time with the boat moving, in the end it swam off just fine when I released it.
Fishing Update - Aug.16 - Aug 31
Not a lot of offshore action down here all summer, so I keep hitting the 170-215' reefs with the jigs, and usually come up with something. Have been vertical jigging with knife jigs for the most part with a heavy spinning outfit til the deepwater grouper come back this fall, with a mixed bag of chula, almaco jack, spotted grouper, and barrilete, but occasionally switch back to the grouper jigs if the knife jigs aren't working out. I was about to give up on my favorite grouper jig, an 8 oz hair jig with grub tail, and call it a day and was reeling up fast in high gear (6.8:1) on my Poseidon 3 speed reel I've been testing out. About 50' below the surface, coming up from 170', something took the jig and went back down hard and fast. I had one of the toughest straight up and down fights I've ever had on that outfit before hauling this brute of an almaco jack (medregal) out of the depths. It weighed out at 64 lbs 13 oz. It's 133 cm from the front to the tail fork, which is about the 4th longest almaco the IGFA has ever recorded in world record applications, but significantly skinnier than most. Normally that length would be an 85-90 lb fish.
Fishing Update - Aug.8 - Aug 15 Some solo sailfish action caught on video.
Fishing Update - Aug.1 - Aug 7 Smattering of peanut dorado around along with an actual 10 lb dorado the other day, but slow for the past week in general. Heated up more today with some vertical jigging action on the local reef. Got a foul hooked five pound almaco jack that fought like a demon and then got a 21 lb almaco that really gave my spinning outfit a workout. Though many folks aren't familiar with the difference - and I wasn't good at telling it until recently - a lot of what people catch in Pacific Mexico that they call amberjack is in fact almaco jack, an extremely close relative. Almaco's are higher bodied and have a much higher main dorsal fin than amberjack do. Throughout the summer chula have been a staple of my knife jigging on a couple of the local deepwater reefs, as well as 4-7 lb spotted grouper. The knife jigs, which I had previously eschewed, have proved to be a very useful jig in the summer season at catching fish I rarely get on the larger grouper jigs.
Fishing Update - May 14 - May 18 Angel was out of commission since second half of March due to a fried lower unit. Had to go to Florida, buy a couple dead lower units for parts, tear one down completely and bring it in suitcases in pieces, and rebuild it down here with all new bearings and seals. Finally got back in the water the 14th after another exhaustive round of maintenance. Ran 30 miles out on the 15th and couldn't find anything but algae and jellyfish blooms and never ending barrilete. On the way in we did have a pod of orcas play with the boat for about a half hour, the most orcas I've ever had at close quarters. They were beside the boat within touching distance numerous times. On the 16th we ran down to La Blanca real early and quickly hooked into a 7-8 lb cubera around 8am trolling an X-Rap Magnum across the reef in front of the island. Another far bigger cubera - 30+ lbs - came up out of 50 feet of water with the smaller one and blasted a small crankbait a couple of times we had on the surface but didn't hook up. We also got a small chula, a little spotted grouper, and the constant marauding giant needlefish, but the action died off after 9am. Trolling offshore we had a good sailfish strike and saw a number of them free jumping, but for the next thirty miles trolling back home the ocean was stone cold dead. On the 17th tried my grouper spot and drifted the surrounding reef fishing squid with no sign of life at all. The major Huatulco tournament last weekend was one of the worst showings in years, with only a handful of sails even caught, the tuna prize went unclaimed, and about a 15 kilo dorado and 84 kilo marlin won their respective divisions. To date, 2013 is amounting to a spectacularly bad fishing year and it's not like 2012 was all that great either. My IGFA all-tackle Gulf Coney grouper world record was officially certified in February, but I never got back in time to Florida to submit an application for the 38 lb star-studded grouper.
Fishing Update - Jan 1 - Feb 28 No report for two months? Yes, it's been that bad. There was a single 28 lb star-studded grouper in mid-January when some friends were visiting but otherwise the grouper fishing has been nonexistent since mid to late December. Offshore has been simply the worst anyone can remember. An occasional dorado here and there, very few of the big bulls that we're used to in winter. Marlin have sporadically showed up in the mix, a few sailfish, but we're talking about the fishing of the whole local fleet. The vast majority of boats each day have been catching absolutely nothing. Got a couple of chula off the reef in 170' of water one day knife jigging, which was a first to pick them up that deep, and also have landed a couple of almaco jack, a 15 lb almaco using dead squid, and a 25 lb almaco knife jigging. Thought I'd finally cracked the amberjack code after three years of never catching one, but haven't repeated any success with them since.
Fishing Update - Dec 19 - Dec 28 Slightly improved offshore fishing in latter half of month, but still pretty spotty. Some dorado to be had 12-15 miles out when weather cooperates - we had the mother of all Tehuantepeckers last week - and in the last few days Dan Dolinski released three striped marlin on his Polar 23, ranging in size from 130-160 lbs. Fishing with Clint Hough from Chiapas on Tues and Wednesday, Clint got his first star-studded grouper at my secret spot and a small spotted grouper the next day, but otherwise the action was pretty slow. Big grub tails are still proving to be the ticket to grouper, whether on a bare 10 oz lead head or heavy bucktail jig. My friend Vladimir got a rare catch for here, about a 10 lb wahoo yesterday, trolling in his small inflatable boat about a mile off of Tangolunda. I'd seen one jump the other day, and they come through every so often, but rarely for more than a day. A local mate friend of mine said he's caught only one in his whole time fishing here.
Fishing Update - Dec 2 - Dec 18 First half of December remained slow, but on the 14th I ran out to a severe temp change line at 18 miles and got four dorado in the 15-25 lb range. It seemed the fishing gods smiled upon me for stopping to cut a turtle free from a huge mess of longline it was tangled in. On the 16th I returned to my grouper spot that had been producing a couple of bites now and then but had generally gone a bit quiet with unfavorable current conditions for fishing it. As had happened before, nothing was biting when I first arrived at 9:30 or so, and I scouted some new mounds on the reef before coming back to it after 11 in the morning. Very quickly I locked into a monster that made repeated runs for the bottom every time I started getting him off it. When I finally got him to the surface, he turned out to be a 38 lb 9 oz star studded grouper, smashing the existing world record by 13 lbs! I quickly followed it with an 18.5 lb star studded before calling it a day.
Fishing Update - Nov 29 - Dec 1 Fishing's been slow offshore for everyone as of late, but I managed to finally sneak some marlin action into the doldrums. All started kinda curiously, when I stopped Saturday to rescue a brown booby in distress (I mean, what guy doesn't?). It had its beak wrapped in a tangle of rope, so I gaffed the rope, hoisted it up squawking, and cut it away. I couldn't get the last bit of cottony fuzz stuck to its lower beak, but figured it would be fine. Either because it was tired or really grateful, then it started trying to climb on to the front of my boat. I really didn't want it on board, so pushed it away with the gaff. While I was dead in the water, the lines had sunk under the boat and one had gotten wrapped around a prop. While I was trying to get it free, the booby came around the back of the boat and snuck over the transom on the other side of the motor from me. I shoved it ignominiously back into the water and it kept trying to get back on. I had to keep pushing the other motor in forward to get away from it. Finally it bypassed my defenses and flew over me and settled on the T-top. Fine it was out of the way, it would do more than periodically shit on my head, I felt sure.
I had to cut off the line on the prop and unravel it, leaving me without my biggest short corner lure for the time being. I started trolling again and was in the middle of tying a bimini when the remaining rod on the starboard side went off, a 50 lb outfit with a Cavalla 20 on it. It let go pretty quickly but two minutes later, right in the middle of tying the bimini again, it went off and kept going. I saw the fish begin to jump and realized it was a decent striped marlin. Thinking it wasn't manly enough to fight a striped with a harness on, I undid the shoulder harness after clearing the other rods. I went at it toe to toe for awhile with about 15-16 lbs of drag and realized this one's head did not want to be turned. It was quickly becoming clear this was not one of those 100-130 lb striped that fought little harder than a sail their size. I could turn it for a bit and make a lot of progress and then it would just turn and motor away again. The shoulder harness went back into action. It's amazing how much more lasting power marlin have if they don't burn themselves out on a first run. You hear all about huge marlin being caught super quick on big boats and it's credited to the angler, when it's all the captain's doing - he backs down furiously on them so the wire guy can get the leader before the marlin has a chance to recover from its first exhausting speed run and set of jumps. Fishing solo standup out of a 21' boat, you get a lot more honest battle. And there's no one to yell at but yourself if you screw up.
I kept after him and wore him down after 35-40 minutes. Boatside, he was bigger than I'd thought, and a rough LJFL measurement of 84" later calculated out to about 155 lbs. I billroped him and towed him alongside to take some pics, removed the lure (Bost #16 Fish, calls itself an 8" lure but measures out more around 10"), unroped him and sent him on his way. About an hour later I thought, surely the bird must have taken off duing the marlin fight, but poked my head over the top, and no, the brown booby was still there. He likely would have come home with me, but I finally rousted him a few hours later when I picked up to run home.
Fishing Update - Nov 23 - Nov 28 Interrupted by two weeks in Florida and another round of boat work and modifications upon returning. With new Bomber 8 oz hair jigs in hand and a mess of 8" grub tails, I returned to THE SPOT to see if the cooler water that was coming in with the upwellings from two weeks of Tehuantepec gales had done anything for the grouper fishing. Five seconds after I bounced my jig off the bottom, I had my answer. I brought up a nice 18 lb star-studded, and followed it up with a 28 lb Gulf Coney. Then four more star-studded from 12-26 lbs (the biggest was a world record, but only by a pound). With a full cooler and fish box, I called it quits after an hour of bruising action. Just to test whether this was a fluke or whether it was repeatable, I went back again with a friend the next day. Arrived a couple hours before I had fished on the other days I had action, and was disappointed with no bites. Tried all the major spots on the reef, and nothing. Trolled some plugs around the beaches and returned just after 11 am, and within a short time had a hookup. The action fired up again, not quite as fast and furious as the day before or quite as big fish, but still an exceptional day with four star-studded 12-18 lbs and a 23 lb Gulf Coney. So some previous theories are going out the window and at least at this time of year going forward into winter, it may be that this spot is a regular home of both Gulf Coney and star-studded grouper. We shall see.
Fishing Update - Oct 29 - Nov 2 Spent a long lazy day trolling offshore to 19 miles, with one big sailfish on my Ahi Jet lure that I released at the ten mile mark, and raised another one at 15 miles that wouldn't get hooked. Otherwise dead quiet. I tried jigging another time to see whether there was going to be any follow up to my grouper luck, or whether I might have just lucked into a spawning aggregation. THe fact that I didn't see any on the depth sounder argues against a spawning group, as does the time of year. Wintertime is when most tropical grouper spawning aggregations occur. But no clue where they disappeared back out to, as I've yet to find reef deeper than 250' or so. Tried the shallower reef down at Salchi, with no luck on the bottom, though on my first drop a sailfish took the jig about 30 feet down and tore off with it, throwing it on the first jump. Off of Coyula rivermouth I got a couple of sierra, which have showed up in a big way the past week. Tried looking for roosters along the beaches but nothing doing.
Fishing Update - Oct 21-28 Went back to the San Agustin reef on the 23rd and after trying some deeper water spots, went back to the spot I got the Gulf Coney on. In short order hooked into a hellacious fight, much stronger than the Coney, and brought up a 17 lb star-studded grouper. Each drop quickly resulted in another hookup, and if I lost the fish, the jig would be assaulted all the way to the bottom til I was hooked up again. I filled the cooler with three nice fish of 19, 17, and 14 lbs in a half hour and quit so as not to be greedy, but seemingly there were dozens more down there around the same size. Like the Coney, they were spitting up lots of rock shrimp, so maybe a concentration of shrimp on the reef brought them in shallower than they're usually found. Encouraging to finally have evidence there are decent quantities of deepwater grouper around, and now the hunt is on to find where they usually reside. Four days later I hit the whole reef again and not a bite, but made a lot of new discoveries of structure in deeper water and in general vastly improved my understanding of the topography of the entire San Agustin reef. Looks like jigging is going to be much more my focus in the near future and far less trolling until at least there's any word of good action offshore.
Fishing Update - Oct 16-20 Tried jigging the reef at San Agustin again and had no luck on the 140' mound, switched to the 220' wall, briefly hooked what was likely a spotted grouper there that let go, and came in to try the 175' mound. Finally got a good strike and was surprised as my 40 lb standup rod really loaded up. Never have had a bottom fish begin to test any of my gear yet and had no idea what it might be. Had a bad feeling it might be a turtle, which is usually my luck, but didn't fight like one. When it came up under the surface, the enormous bulbous shape made me think I HAD caught a turtle, until it revealed itself as an obscenely fat rust colored grouper which I didn't recognize. Weighed in at 32 lb 5 oz, found out it was a Gulf Coney aka Rooster Hind aka baqueta. Also found out when I got home that I'd beat the world record by over 6 pounds for Gulf Coney, ThE Gulf Coney is unique in coloring among Pacific grouper, rust red, which often make people confuse it initially with a big huachinango or pargo. It has a rounded tail, unlike the broom tails of most grouper, and this is part of why it fights so poorly. Three of the dorsal spines are exceptionally long, thus the "rooster hind" name. All in all a much more rare grouper than the star-studded among deepwater grouper in the Huatulco area at least. Star-studded grouper, which the locals call boba, are caught in shallower water during influxes of cold water, but otherwise aren't a very common catch themselves. I'm putting in an application for the all-tackle world record for Gulf Coney. Got a couple of 10-15 lb dorado fishing a line 8 miles out on Thursday, and then on the dorado tournament day on Sunday - which of course I didn't enter - I got three 10-20 lb dorado and released about a 75 lb sailfish. There was a nice corner bulge of the blue water, about eight miles out, and a number of the tournament boats were fishing it. I seemed to be the only boat getting much action, though, because the dorado have switched back again the last couple of times out to being less aggressive and feeding small, and mainly favored my 5 and 7 inch jets out long. I got one dorado on my Hawaiian Pug in the mousetrap position, but otherwise all the action was out long on the jets. Got all the fish in about two hours and called it a day.
Fishing Update - Oct 3-10 A few frustrating days of either no action, or one shot at a fish and losing it. Some great color change lines to fish with the heavy rains in the mountains sending an enormous plume from the Copalita far out to sea, but surprisingly few dorado on the lines this past week. Even in a motherlode of debris I found 15 miles out, we only raised one dorado out of it all. No sailfish strikes. Today finally had some action on the Copalita plume, about 8 to 10 miles off the Santa Cruz lighthouse. Got two nice dorado and lost a third. In a switch yet again, were only hitting the jets out long and leaving the smoking lures alone.
Fishing Update - Sept 23-Oct 2 Ran 40 miles down to La Blanca late in the day a week ago and got a 6 lb sierra and an agujon trolling plugs around the island, but couldn't interest the swarms of palometa (Gafftopsail pompano) or any of the larger mystery jack that were finning and boiling on the surface but wouldn't look at lures. Might have been African pompano, might have been roosterfish, could never quite get close enough to get a good look. Saw either the biggest sailfish I've ever seen jumping offshore of the island (140 lbs plus) or else it was a marlin. Two days later I got two dorado 12 and 14 lbs and released a pair of sails 70-80 lbs fishing 15-20 miles straight offshore. Dorado were favoring my Bost Ahi Jet in the mousetrap position while the sails were mostly striking short on the Bost Americano, though one of two sails I landed was in the mousetrap on an Opelu lure. Last day I was out I got a couple of dorado 7 and 14 lbs, fishing the dirty water line a few miles off of Conejos. Interesting change in the past week is my Gypsy 5 and 7 inch jets, which almost always see action, have been ignored at every turn. Everything is more aggressive and only hitting my corner and mousetrap lures on the third and fourth pressure waves behind the boat.
Fishing Update - Sept 16-22 Got three 6-8 lb dorado fishing the line off the Zimatan again. Spent a morning jigging the deep reef at San Agustin and got a small three pound spotted grouper, and got no action in along the beaches at midday and nothing offshore trolling home but for a barrilete. Went back down to the Zimatan and no action trolling the line three miles offshore back and forth toward Mazcalco, but on the way home got an 80 lb sailfish off of Majahual. Was so rambunctious by the boat I had to finally bring him over the transom platform and settle him down. Swam off easily when released though. As soon as I got the lines back out, a 15 lb dorado hit the same 7" jet out long on the overhead rigger, and lost him 20' from the boat from spending too much time clearing all the rods again and giving him too many chances to jump and loosen the hook. A little later I got another sailfish on the jet that threw the hook on its first round of jumping.
Fishing Update - Sept 13-15 Okay, for anyone bothering to follow these reports it's been a long absence even by my erratic standards, but I was five weeks in Florida and then came back to three weeks of boat maintenance hell before I was able to launch again. Some long overdue fixes were performed on the shifting and steering, as well as a host of upgrades. First day on the water we hit a line five miles off of Majahual and trolled down past Barra de la Cruz and picked up a couple 12-15 lb dorado. The whole time I was working on the boat, everyone was telling me how many dorado there were, but as soon as I got back in the water they seem to have largely dried up. The next couple of days were skunk runs, one trip mainly targeting marlin out 16 miles dead south and up toward San Agustin without a strike, and the next day back to following the Copalita outflow line down to Barra again with no action. Have a carburetor issue to fix and then I think it's time for ranging further afield, perhaps another La Blanca trip down the coast.
Fishing Update - July 9 - July 16 The summer story continues to be dorado, dorado, and more dorado. Occasional sailfish strikes, but with none of the aggression of the ones a month or two ago. No trace of marlin. Got a 28 lb cow dorado on a 10" Caliber slant, the first proper dorado I've boated in months, though I did "release" a couple of nice bulls boatside a few weeks ago. After those failures I re-thought my system for boating really "green" dorado solo, and did much better on the cow. One-hand gaff attempts on 20+ lb dorado is pretty much a recipe for an epic fail. When I get the line to the swivel, I put the rod in my forward rod holder halfway up the boat that I installed for billfish releases, so I have the whole gunwale area in the rear third of the boat free and clear. Keeping the boat moving at least 2-3 knots, I guide it gently (pull on the leader too hard and you'll spook it into a dive that can take it into the motors in an instant) within gaffing range with one hand on the leader, sink the gaff in with the other hand, and immediately drop the leader and grab the gaff with both hands and throw it in the boat as fast as I can. Then stand back as it tries to beat the boat to death. A club is a great thing to have if you have someone else to use it on the dorado, but solo they're pretty useless. Very impressed with the quality of Caliber Lures out of South Carolina, check them out if you're looking for some high end custom keel weighted resin head lures that don't cost a fortune. The 10" slant has been landing dorado anywhere from 4 lbs to 28 lbs, and should prove to be a good marlin lure as well. One of my other productive lures, the 8" Kona Slant, resulted in a new first for me when I landed a good size giant needlefish on it, the first time I'd ever gotten one offshore on a skirted trolling lure.
Fishing Update - July 1- July 8 Have been seeking marlin without luck, but relentlessly finding dorado. The color change lines closer in haven't been real productive, but I found a large debris field twelve miles out one day that had some big bulls on it. Another day I lucked into the "mother of all trees" four miles off of Barra de la Cruz, which had hundreds of dorado around it and a sailfish finning nearby. Last trip out produced a pair of dorado trolling a current line at 6-7 miles out between the Copalita and Barra.
Fishing Update - June 23 -June 27 Fishing just keeps heating up more and more. Dorado have been steadily increasing in size out of the peanut range. Good debris and color change lines to fish most every day. On the 27th, we got four dorado 6-10 lbs around some floating limbs where other boats like El Pavito were nailing them as well, at six miles out. On the way in I spied some birds in the distance and dolphin jumping at about three miles, and ran for them. Then I started seeing little football torpedos flying through the air and crashing bait and I knew it was on. There were yellowfin up to 50 lbs soaring six feet out of the water. Had no luck initially with my normal go-to tuna jets, despite tuna all around, so I switched to a small cedar plug way out long on shotgun, and in short order had my first one on. They all ran 20-25 lbs, and we landed six, plus a skipjack. The only time they'd take the jets I had short was when the jets were lying near dead in the water while a fish was being brought in on the cedar plug. Banner day of fishing.
Fishing Update - June 10 -June 22 Hurricane Carlotta passing by Puerto Angel and hitting us with some fierce rain and tropical storm winds was the highlight of this period. Though Huatulco had a lot of downed trees, we never lost power and wasn't too bad. The beach communities around Puerto Angel like Zipolite, San Agustinillo, and Mazunte got the full power of the NE quadrant of the storm as the eye passed ten miles off the coast, and are still reeling from the devastation. The port remained closed here for a day before and three days after the storm, so fishing only started up again about four days ago. As expected, with a lot of debris in the water, the rivers are really flowing and the dorado fishing has improved. They're still running small, but they seem a bit bigger every day. Pleasant surprise has been finding some summer yellowfin, which have been showing up around some massive schools of spinner dolphin 7-9 miles out. Got one yellowfin and a couple dorado earlier in the week, and today on a solo trip I got a couple of yellowfin 15 and 20 lbs, released a pair of sails 60 and 80 lbs, and got about a 6 lb dorado. Lost another nice sail too after about 20 jumps. I had decided this was going to be a dedicated marlin trip today but that pretty much guaranteed I'd catch everything but marlin. Latest all purpose favorite in lures as versatile as the Gypsy Lures 5" and 7" jet heads is the 6" Sea Striker Sea Scoundrel in green and black. I lost the first sail on the 8" Kona Slant, but both the sails I got and one of the yellowfin were on the Sea Scoundrel. The 7" jet pulled on the short corner accounted for the other tuna and the dorado.
Fishing Update - May 26-June 9 Fished very little in this period as I was surfing every day, but the red tide eventually cleared out for the most part as we got into June. A blue water current from Salina Cruz has been the norm, though, maintaining the ultra high water temperatures we've had of late. It's consistently been 85 degrees or higher. Barrilete and the occasional small dorado have been all I've been getting when I have been out, with most of the action very close to the coast. Today I finally took a run a little further offshore and trolled out to 14 miles and back. At four miles I picked up the first skipjack tuna I've caught in a good while, and good to see some of them are back. At ten miles I saw a pair of sailfish finning which zeroed in on my spread and one took the Kona Slant. It ran a hell of a long way before letting go, and I found when I brought the lure in that the light rigging wire I was using on that outfit had snapped. Lesson learned about leaving that stuff only to my really small lures. Found a good piece of bamboo at 13 miles with lots of bait around it and a small shark, but no sign of any dorado. Coming back in about six miles off Cacaluta, I had zoned out in the stifling heat when the port corner went off with - what else - the Bost Americano - and I turned to see a 250-300 lb blue rocket out of the water toward starboard and proceed rocketing across the water at a mindbending clip for about 150 yards, whereupon it turned on a dime and started tocketing through the air toward the port side at the same clip. Somewhere in its radical u-turn it managed to throw the hook, which was the first hookset failure yet of my brother's custom rigging system. Checking the hook sharpness and everything else, I realized that the last time I'd dropped that lure back, I'd never pushed the lever all the way to strike, but it was still at least 12 lbs so it should have been good enough. The initial strike wasn't as hard as most of my marlin strikes though, and there was a bit of a pause between the rod loading up and line starting to go out, and the sudden explosion into full bore speed run. So it may have just caught the hook at an odd angle that never really penetrated. It was really too damn hot and I had too little water left to spend the next 2-3 hours fighting a big blue solo, so was somewhat relieved that it managed an early release. Will do battle with it another day when I'm better prepared.
Fishing Update - May 18-25 We were hit this week by one of the worst cases of red tide I've witnessed here, extending up to six miles out some days. The ocean looked like tomato soup in a lot of places. Has made most surface trolling hopeless, though still plenty of barrilete around and the occasional yellowfin tuna. Rainy season began on the coast at the end of the week, though the rivers have already started to flow from rain in the mountains for the past couple of weeks. Color change lines are starting to show up a mile or two out, but no luck with dorado on them yet. Need more debris washed out to sea which make take a little while longer.
Fishing Update - May 12-17 One of the last days of my father's visit we tried some beach trolling and casting past San Agustin, without much luck beyond cocinero. Moving out to the 150'-200' reef off Coyote Beach, we tried jigging with a 5 oz bullet head jig and shad tail. Our first drift over a 200' area produced nothing, but as I recycled the boat out toward the spot again I came across a mound in 170' that I was marking fish on. We dropped there and my Dad promptly got a hookup within a few minutes, which came off 2/3 of the way to the surface. He dropped again and got a larger fish on, and pulled in an 8 lb 2 oz spotted grouper, the first real grouper yet after two years that was caught on my boat. It's renewed my faith in deep jigging, and have plans to hit the spot a lot more in the summer months. Not a lot of other action this week except barrilete and the occasional small dorado.
Fishing Update - May 9-11 Followed up the stellar day of action at the Copalita with a quiet morning in the same area, that eventually yielded an 18 lb yellowfin on an 8" heavy Kona Slant from bigfishlures that I had just rigged up the night before. Took a day off to rest up for the long haul down to La Blanca for some reef fishing on Friday. Lots of variety as usual, including a large number of dorado around the island for the first time I've seen. Also some big sierra, triggerfish, cabrilla, and an 8 lb horse eye jack. Most of the action was trolling diving plugs, though the jack and triggerfish were on 1 oz lead spoons. On the way home we started trolling offshore of the Morro Ayuta lighthouse and did nothing for the first 12 miles. The water was a baking 85.4, which seemed almost too warm for any action. Finally we picked up another dorado on the new Kona Slant, though a couple miles later off I was thinking of picking up and running for home with the SSW wind picking up. My father suggested we keep at it a bit more if it was going to be a rough ride anyway, so I agreed to keep going as far as the Copalita. Soon after that, off the Zimatan, the long corner went off with the Bost Americano on it, and a huge blue marlin started greyhounding through the air. My Dad took it and as I was clearing the port lines, it did the classic double back of the blues and started greyhounding straight for the boat at 20 mph at least. I was only on one engine at this point (a new lesson learned of always having both running) and flat out on one engine the marlin was still closing fast and headed straight for the back of the boat. My Dad was reeling slack as fast as he could, and before I knew it the marlin had blown past us on the port side like we were standing still. We finally got things settled down a bit after the initial chaos, but the marlin was still all over the place and took nonstop work by me at the helm to keep the line tight. I got my Dad harnessed up in a kidney harness and thigh belt, he put the Cavalla 20 2 speed into low gear, and we settled in for the tug of war with about 19 lbs of drag. We had it to the wind on after about an hour and 15 minutes, but I was being very cautious due to it size and kept doing tight 50 foot circles around it to keep it out of the motors and wear it down a bit more. At an hour and a half, it seemed pretty much done and I leadered him up to the surface. We took measurements at boatside, and the ankle measurement gave us 13.5", placing this blue at an impressive 350 lbs.
Fishing Update - May 1-8 A smattering of tiny dorado was all to be found toward the end of April to round out a pretty poor month of fishing, but things have picked up as hoped in May. The sailfish action has become much steadier along with occasional striped marlin around. Every trip lately has been producing numerous sailfish strikes and usually at least one marlin strike. Today things really livened up with my father visiting, after a day of mild action yesterday. Three to four miles off the Copalita we got into yellowfin tuna, had a couple of dorado mixed in, had a BIG sailfish on that ran forever before finally throwing the hook, and got a striped marlin to take a little 5" jet. Some angler confusion (ahem, papa...) over the line class of my TLD25 outfit broke the line on the marlin.
Fishing Update - Apr 1-21 The occasional yellowfin have popped up over the last few weeks, but the spring run largely seems over. Peanut dorado have been the most common occurrence offshore, with a few random big bulls to be found as well. There has been a decent amount of marlin action, though not a lot of notable catches. Plenty of tales of broken lines, broken rods, broken lures from the monster that got away, along with wildly inaccurate estimations of the ones that have been caught along with wild misidentification of whether they're striped, black, or blue. I picked up about a 90 lb striped in mid-April, followed two days later by a 38 lb dorado that actually fought harder than the marlin on the same gear. The last week has been pretty quiet and waiting right now to see what the latest massive Tehuantepec gale brings up in terms of cold upwelling water.
Fishing Update - Mar 29-31 Took most of March off to be in Florida, the week before I returned the spring yellowfin tuna run showed up with a vengeance and boats were pulling in up to 25 schoolies in four hours. They've been pretty steady ever since and I pulled in seven on Saturday fishing solo, in about an hour. You can run out at 7 am and be back at the dock by 8:30 with a full cooler. Not a lot of size to the latest ones, though there was some talk of some bigger ones early in the week.
Fishing Update - Feb 20-25 Still pretty slow offshore, random dorado but only the peanuts are aggressive, the larger ones are extremely lure shy and even locals fishing ballyhoo and live bait have had them check out their offerings and turn away. Spent a morning experimenting with deep planers in front of the Santa Cruz and Arrocito headlands, but only picked up a chula. Barrilete are all over the ocean from the bays to 15 miles out, and hard to keep them off your lines for more than five minutes to give anything else a chance. Picked up a 50 lb sailfish on one of my new Caliber Lures 8" concave chuggers early in the week, but that was the only action in a 28 mile offshore run.
Fishing Update - Feb 19 Finally! After being shut out on marlin the last few months, I hooked into a nice blue trolling at 19 miles out with my new 10" Bost Americano. It jumped like crazy in the wake for the first twenty seconds without taking much line, and then settled down for a run but only for about 150 yards before it came back to the boat slowly but easily. I spent the next hour embattled in an almighty tug of war with it though, fishing 20-24 lbs of drag standup with a shoulder harness on, generally all within 100 feet of the boat. The first time I got it boatside it rolled underneath and I had a frantic fire drill of cutting the engine, putting the reel in free spool, tilting up the motors, and running to the back of the boat to kick the line free with my foot from the leg of one of the motors it was half wrapped around. Another bruising half hour later I finally had him worn down enough to cooperate, bill roped him, and performed a clean release. Some confusion about the "ankle" measurement I took, whether it was 12.25 inches or 11.25 inches, first estimate was 225 lbs but later revised it to 175 lbs since 11.25" is the number stuck in my head. It fought like a marlin 50 lbs bigger than any I'd caught, but the numbers tell the tale ultimately.
Fishing Update - Jan 28 - Feb 17 February has proved to be very on and off to date, mostly off, but with fish to be found if you're persistent enough. Or lucky - one day no one else did much of anything, I got a 16 lb yellowfin, a 37 lb dorado, and a peanut dorado in the 8-10 mile range. Last week I ran down coast 40 miles to La Blanca because the offshore fishing locally was so bad. One of the first passes over the 50-60 foot reef with a deep planer trailing a spoon resulted in a beautiful 8 lb pargo. We had lots of small fish action and a couple of other solid hookups we lost, but had to head for home early because of ferocious windswell kicking up. Got a 12 lb dorado on Monday but then midweek was pretty quiet. Yellowfin haven't put in an appearance for awhile. Today started slow but managed to pick up three small dorado on a line 12 miles out in the middle of the day.
Fishing Update - Jan 13 - Jan 27 Had a banner day last week 18 miles out - four big dorado, two of them 38 and 35 lbs, and released a sailfish. There were some other good days for dorado around mid-month before dorado went quiet in the past week. The yellowfin were around on the 23rd and 24th, but so were some huge boats with helicopters of the Mexican tuna fleet. The yellowfin have gotten more and more finicky as the winter goes on, but we got three the first day and a nice 25 lb one the second day. Cedar plugs have been as reliable as anything, with the little jets not doing much. I had my 15 lb class spinning rod with me and decided to pitch a jig into a few crashing the surface and immediately hooked up to a 14 lb yellowfin. I've been thinking casting is the way to go when they're finicky, but the problem is they haven't been on the surface much lately either. The last four days have been abysmal, though, as I haven't been able to buy a strike. Clean warm water, but nothing around right now, nobody has been getting anything offshore. Tons of barrilete in the bays and just offshore, but nothing else.
Fishing Update - Jan 5 - Jan 12 Yellowfin fishing has heated up again, at least for me, though not a lot of other boats are getting many. I've observed a tendency among most of my fellow fisherman here to go blindly trolling every day without using past powers of observation to guess where the fish might be. This makes some sense for dorado and marlin, which roam the surface rather randomly. But tuna are attracted to ridges and canyons, and no one else fishes for them based on that knowledge.I've been getting them all year long in an area I call the "tuna zone" between Arrocito and Conejos,and it doesn't seem coincidental that there's a dramatic ridge that runs that length. I got seven yellowfin there on Tuesday and another six along with five skipjack on Thursday. Tastes change day to day and you have to keep switching up offerings, because Tuesday nearly all the action was on my jet head cedar plug out 125 yards long, and Thursday it got no interest but a 7" jet trolled short consistently got 21-25 lb fish.
Fishing Update - Dec 15 - Jan 4 Hmmm, have been remiss with the updates again, but was gone first half of December. Fishing had gone quiet when I came back, though a lot of people seemed to be getting into striped marlin before Christmas. The yellowfin made a brief appearance again a couple of days before Xmas and were gone again as quickly and haven't been seen since. Got a few down east the 23rd and then day before Xmas there were thousands of them off Santa Cruz and Cacaluta, jumping, crashing, everywhere. And no one could hook up. I've never seen anything like it. I got three nice ones, including a 30 lb one, on the small jets, but most boats were lucky to get one. They just wouldn't hit anything. I also got a 30 lb dorado that day too. Since then the winter dorado have showed up a little more consistently, but where my little jets were the go-to lure before, they no longer have been working as the bait they're feeding on has changed. All the dorado for the past week or two have been hitting 8-9" lures, often on the short lines. This week was a huge Tehuantepec gale so not much fishing. Tons of barrilete around inshore for some light tackle diversion, sierra at the Copalita, but not a whole lot going on otherwise.
Fishing Update - Nov 29 - Dec 3 Yellowfin tuna fishing has been fantastic, nearly every day just a mile or two off the lighthouse, they really start crashing the surface around ten in the morning. Has been easy to fill your box in a couple of hours with schoolies. Last Wednesday I went out on a day of hellacious Tehuantepecker windswell stacking up on an equally hellacious current line 1.5-2 miles out, and found the first of the winter dorado. They were feeding on small squid, and I was getting them on little 5" jets rather than any of my standard dorado lures. A Cabo sportfisherman that was one of the only other boats out trolled the same line all day long and did nothing, while I had four hookups and five strikes. The next day the current line was gone so I went seven miles offshore and found huge schools of bait and nailed a double hookup of 23 and 25 lb dorado fishing the little jets again short on the flat lines. Also got a big sail on a jet too, everything wanted them! But hadn't had a chance yet to switch out all the hooks to beefy enough big game hooks and didn't back off the drag enough on my International 30, and the sailfish bent the hook wide open and released itself. Water was 71 degrees but a clearish green, proving that the dorado and sails don't mind the cold so much as they mind the chlorophyll heavy water we've had with the upwellings. When I came in I found the tuna were at it again 1-2 miles out, so took a rest, changed out all the hooks, and went back out late afternoon to nail six yellowfin in short order - four of them in the 17-23 lb range - and lost a 25+ lb dorado on the gaff. All on the little jets. Best wintertime fishing lure in my arsenal. Collecting three more awesome new Okuma Cavalla reels in Florida and a mess of other new gear until the 13th and then back at it again. Excited that I've finally got a couple of Williamson 7" Wave Doctor lures for my arsenal again. The cheap knockoff reverse taper heads I've been using have done fairly well and have one blue marlin to their credit against the three I hooked on Wave Doctors, but the WD's are a sentimental favorite. Just a much better quality head too.
Fishing Update - Nov 1 - Nov 28 At the end of October, we had a week or two of Tehuantepec gales that created the largest and most severe Gulf of Tehuantepec upwellings I've ever seen here. Water temps dipped from 82 degrees to 67 degrees in places. Initially there was nothing to show for it but elimination of all blue water fishing, but as the cold water gyres circulated in from hundreds of miles off coast, we've had some great waves of yellowfin tuna come through, along with enormous amounts of chula and skipjack tuna. One day in mid-November was about the most active day of fishing I've had here, with ten yellowfin, five skipjack, and about 15 chula. Double and triple headers were fast and furious. Just the past weekend, the numbers were 11 skipjack tuna on Friday, ten yellowfin in the 15-20 lb range on Saturday, and three yellowfin and a skipjack on Sunday. On Saturday we found the yellowfin in the late morning off of Cacaluta, and there was at least a square mile of 15-30+ lb yellowfin crashing and jumping like I've never seen. Encouraging to see these kind of numbers after two or three dead years here for yellowfin. On Sunday, some local boats pulled in a couple of 50+ lb yellowfin, which is the first I've heard of in that size range around here for awhile. Only seems to be getting better every day, so hoping it keeps up. It remains at the sacrifice of blue water fishing, as there has been nearly zero action for dorado, sailfish, or marlin since the upwellings began. But when you've got yellowfin action like we've had, you can live without the other fishing for awhile!
Fishing Update - Oct 1 - Oct 12 The skipjack tuna seemed to have replaced barrilete as a staple of local waters. See barrilete rarely these days and almost never fail to come across schools of skipjack. Most of the locals think they're barrilete when they see them and don't bother fishing for them or don't have the right lures to catch them. Got six nice skipjack in a couple of hours last week trolling, nearly all on my standard small aluminum cedar plug out long. Another day I got about a 70 lb sailfish that had a fantastic initial speed run. It burnt off easily 250 yards of line before I turned around to go after it. Went for my 7" pink and mackerel Alien. Last day out I ran to Salchi Bay to try the bottom, and awful five way sea conditions and brutal heat defeated me after an hour or two of jigging. No action at all, even though I seemed to be reading fish on bottom. Discouraging, but jigging is a game of patience and just have to keep at it and trying out my whole lure arsenal. On the way back had no action 3-4 miles off until I found the schools of skipjack again off Santa Cruz, but curiously could not get them to touch my cedar plug this time. Lost my only small 4" jet on a previous trip that had been working so well. Re-stocking heavily on those next trip back Stateside.
Fishing Update - Sept 7 - Sept 28 Tuna held up thru first half of September east of the Copalita, had another day with four yellowfin and two skipjack, and a few days of some skipjack. Dorado have by and large been absent. Very little sailfish action as well. Most reports back from captains who have made offshore runs have been an ocean full of warm blue water and no action. Made one trip last week down to La Blanca and Temerosa, 40-50 miles down east on the coast. Was my first trip to Temerosa, which I had heard legends about from a friend who spearfished it with enormous success a decade ago. It's a shipwrecking set of offshore rocks that come up to just barely above the surface a half mile outside of a point west of Chipehua. Current stacks up on the rocks and the area is teeming with sea life. My friends got about a 50 lb roosterfish there the previous trip on live bait, and lost a couple more giants. We didn't have as much luck on my trip, though I pulled a couple of the biggest tigre I've ever caught off the rocks casting jigs. The current was so ferocious the other guys kept getting their live bait snagged on bottom, which is apparently riddled with caves housing huge pargo and grouper. We moved back up the coast to La Blanca, the island at Colorada, and I continued to get a variety of reef fish jigging but nothing big. We saw some large amberjack, but couldn't get any to hit. Working our way around the island, the variety kept up, from parrotfish to cabrilla to snapper to barracuda to endless agujon (giant needlefish). Seeing that I was having a lot of success with jigs and the live bait was doing nothing, my local friends switched to casting spoons and landing agujon on nearly every cast. They can be deadly to handle, as Enrique's bloodied arm demonstrated after he didn't grab one quickly enough to immobilize it. A few days ago I had orcas play with my boat three miles off the Zimatan, which was an experience of a lifetime. Nothing's more comical than watching a juvenile orca tracking a smoking lure, which one did for a bit. They also surfaced simultaneously on either side of my boat close enough to touch. They're supposed to be intensely social animals, but it's still unnerving when something that big wants to play with you. Otherwise in the past week, the offshore fishing has been stone cold dead, and a beach trolling trip between San Agustin and Salchi Bay produced a roosterfish and a good sized sierra. Mapped the 100-130' reef at Salchi for the first time, having heard there was good bottom fishing there, and it shows immense promise. Lost a nice fish trolling a deep diving Stretch 25 over it, quite likely an amberjack. Return trip trolling offshore produced 17 miles of nothingness except for one lazy sailfish finning around with its sail entirely raised and no interest whatsoever in feeding.
Fishing Update - Aug 5 - Sept 5 Yikes, fallen way behind again on updates. The tuna finally seemed to clear out for good, though I had one last great day in August with yellowfin, to my surprise. Had been doing nothing all day but kept trolling down toward Majahual in search of a dirty water line, found one but not much doing on it, eventually picked up a skipjack. On the way back toward the Copalita I saw a few larger crashes than the skipjack I had been seeing, and trolled by the spot and picked up a yellowfin. Suddenly in every direction for a half mile I started seeing 10-15 lb yellowfin crashing and jumping out of the water. Ended up with seven of them in the boat, though I nearly ran out of fuel on the way home from pushing my luck too much. The dorado fishing has slowly been coming around, moving in a bit more from only picking them up a long way offshore. Caught and released a 70-80 lb sailfish somewhere in this stretch. On Aug. 26, was advised by a local captain that there were marlin four miles off Cacaluta, and at 3.5 miles, sure enough, my port rigger went off. Was fishing 7" Aliens as usual on the riggers, not seriously expecting marlin, but they do seem to love those small reverse taper lures. Went hell for leather out to port for a hundred yards, ran back across the wake,and then turned and charged the boat at full speed. Was still going away from it at trolling speed, but I put the hammer down to get away from it and keep up tension. Was determined not to repeat past mistakes from earlier this summer of turning after it if I didn't need to. I had thought that the boat turning was causing the marlin to double back at me, but I think when they run out to one side, the bow in the line keeps changing the direction of the pressure on them, which causes them to keep changing direction til they eventually come back at you. I had it on a 50 lb outfit so was able to fight it with 13-16 lbs of drag, and had it by the boat in forty minutes, but then it went down about 30 to 40 feet and bulldogged me for another 20 minutes before I finally leadered it. Bill roped it, extracted the hook, and sent it on its way. Got an 18 lb dorado on the same lure about an hour later.
Fishing Update - July 28 - Aug 4 Quiet for a few trips before the skipjack reappeared, but large schools are still around in force. Last Saturday we got seven after getting plenty of action along the beaches down past Barra de la Cruz with big jack crevalle, barrilete, and giant needlefish. Yesterday got six skipjack and a 31 lb dorado, with lots of sailfish batting at the lures too. My aluminum cedar plugs are still the most dependable skipjack lure, though small weighted squid lures work well on occasion too. After the first five yesterday they completely turned off, though, and I threw everything I had at them and only managed to get one more. Haven't puzzled out why the marlin action is so quiet with the hordes of skippies around, but that's Huatulco fishing for you.
Fishing Update - July 14 Between Barra de la Cruz and the Copalita about five miles offshore, there were thousands of skipjack tuna on the surface running for miles. All the action you could ever dream of from the ridiculous little brutes. Casting, trolling, however you wanted to catch them. My arms just about wore out from fighting them. I found it hard to believe how much an 8 lb skipjack could bend over a stout 50lb trolling outfit. I knew with this bonanza there had to be marlin around, and eventually one of my short lines went off. Finally! A 200+ lb blue marlin took a lure on one of my beefy marlin rods, the best outfit I have. This time the choice was a Moldcraft Hooker standard head with my own custom rigged 8" pink skirt. I thought the outfit it hit would make it a sure thing, but I neglected to improve my boat handling skills. Since I switched over to only 50 and 80 lb gear, it hadn't sunk in that all my outfits sported between 650-900 yards of line and that there was no reason to turn after the fish like I had been doing with lighter tackle. So out of habit I eventually started into a turn once I had some lines cleared, and predictably the marlin ran right back at me again too fast for me to keep up tension on it. Fifteen minutes into the fight the hook came out yet again. Hopefully I've learned my lesson now and will get the next one right. Still, it beats screaming a sequence of contradictory instructions at a driver and blaming it on them.
Fishing Update - July 12 Went out for an afternoon trip in nasty afternoon chop and threatening rain, but settled down nicely about eight miles out. Found a blue water current line to follow eventually and trolled it in at an angle toward Chachacual for miles without any luck. Should have dorado on it, but the one thing that has been fairly absent this summer so far is dorado. I've seen incredible bits of structure, entire floating bamboo rafts and such, without anything on them. Finally got a strike from a big sail near the end of the current line that threw the hook on a Boone's Hoo Lili after the first jump. Was good to see my short term replacement for the Wave Doctor got some action. Then fifteen minutes later when I had turned off the line and was heading for home, a sailfish started assaulting my mighty Chugahoo creation. It's a big pink and blue softhead with a blue rubber ballyhoo rigged inside the skirt with a 10/0 Mustad 7732 hook on it. Makes a bubble trail like you wouldn't believe. The sail wouldn't leave it alone until he finally hooked himself solidly through the lower jaw. Biggest sail I'd ever fought, seemed to go a solid 100 pounds. Nice to have one good release for the day and keep up the string of billfish action.
Fishing Update - July 10 Took the 50 and 80 lb gear and started trolling five miles off Tangolunda, and got my first hook up 45 minutes later at 8 miles out. A blue marlin about 150 lbs took the Wave Doctor 7" off the rigger and headed for Puerto Angel at an insane rate of speed with my reel screaming. Fought him about 20 minutes before the hook pulled out. Was my first clue about the unbelievable speed and horsepower of a blue when you fish heavy enough drag for it to feel the hook, considering it wasn't even a very big blue. Occasional sailfish strikes but nothing much out to 15 miles and back to 10 and in and out some. Finally the same rod went off again and a much bigger blue, maybe 250 lbs, went crashing across the surface and smoking off line at an astonishing rate. Came around after it and just as the tension was letting up a little, the line broke. The 50 lb braid just snapped, probably at the apex of the large bow in the line. I've had problems with that braid in the past, and it seems I need to try another brand. Lost the Williamson Wave Doctor 7" lure finally, my all-time champion of lures. Hoping some similar replacements I'm getting in a couple of weeks work as well. For a 7" lure, it is the best big game lure I've ever used. Three of my four hookups with blues this year were on it. Had a sailfish take an 8" slant head a little later and mount a brief really strong run against a lot of drag, but then the hook came out. One of these days I'll get a blue to hit one of my outfits that can match up well to it, so far they've been unerring in picking out my weakest outfits.
Fishing Update - July 8-9 Yesterday headed 18 miles up coast on a 210 heading to put myself about 8 miles off Cuatunalco, and trolled east further off the coast back toward home. Some early action from a large sail or small marlin that threw the hook on first head shake out of the water, then had a sail batting lures half-heartedly for a bit. Quiet for a stretch and then a 15 lb dorado. Slow again til 10 miles off the Santa Cruz lighthouse, when a short line went screaming out that had a tubular softhead 8.5” lure on it. Next thing I know the biggest marlin I've ever seen is jumping by the side of my boat outrunning me forward. I was frantically passing the rod around the others to get clear, and got out ahead of him again. Still hadn't cleared the other lines, and one moment he’s running away and suddenly he turns on a dime and is leaping thru the air charging the boat. He went down and under the boat and somehow by untold miracles came free of everything. Problem was he was on my lightest outfit, a 25 lb class Ande 5’6” standup rod with 30 lb test on it! I could tell I was facing an exercise in futility, but you work with the cards you're dealt. He’d run off 100 yards, I’d turn the boat and reel it back, he’d turn and run off 100 again. After an hour the hook let go 50 yards from the boat, just fell out of his mouth. Wasn’t remotely close to catching him then, and it was just as well that I didn't have to deal with him anywhere close to the boat solo. It was a blue that went 300 lbs minimum, and I've never hooked into anything like that in my life before. I've loved the challenge of solo fishing for billfish, but I could tell with that size marlin I was out of my depth fishing solo. I did learn from the experience to leave the dorado outfits at home for the rest of the summer when I'm fishing offshore and bring my proper marlin gear so I can actually fight properly rather than just hanging on with 30 lb test.
Today I took a short run past the Copalita and offshore a few miles looking for debris or a water change line, but nothing but pure blue water. Stopped to cast to what I assumed to be barrilete, and was pleasantly surprised when I reeled in a skipjack tuna. They were all skipjack, small schools moving up and down real fast between Tangolunda and Conejos a couple miles out. Again I was rueing that I didn't have a driver, because they were taking my jig when I could get it near them, but they were moving around so much I had a hard time staying near them. Brought home a couple. I had heard they had a fierce fighting reputation, but was amazed by the strength of 4-6 lb ones. I thought nothing was tougher pound for pound than barrilete, but I think skipjack are tougher. Would be a blast spending an afternoon fighting those on spinning tackle, plus they're great to eat too.
Fishing Update - July 4 Have to keep bobbing and weaving with the changes in fishing conditions here. Never know what to expect day to day. Fished the Coyula beaches and after sighting a 15-20 lb roosterfish when I didn't have any gear ready, I caught about a half dozen small roosters in a short time trolling cranks up and down the beaches. Ran offshore to do some trolling on the way home and finally located a sharp blue water line about 7 miles off of San Agustin. Birds were working it, spinner dolphin were nearby, all kinds of debris - looked promising. Trolled by a massive log and on the first pass an enormous dorado took the line on the port rigger. Had a great fight and a hell of a time solo trying to boat him, but finally got the gaff in and got him in the box. Weighed in at 43.68 lbs, shattering my own personal record by at least 10 lbs. Got one more peanut in the area but couldn't get any of the other decent ones I saw to hit. Part of the problem was that barrilete and small almaco jack were gobbling my lures as soon as I put them in the water, so I was having to waste all my time reeling them in, tossing them, and resetting the riggers only to have it immediately happen again. A small shark that had been hanging around when I had the dorado boatside finally chased down one of the barrilete I was reeling in and chomped it in half - the first time in all my fishing here I've lost anything to a shark. Saw a big sail or a marlin jumping nearby. The place was teeming with fish life. Had not brought much of my offshore gear with me, though, so I couldn't fully take advantage.
Fishing Update - June 21 Engine problems have been plaguing the new and improved Angel, finally diagnosed as a timing belt having jumped 8 teeth. Trolling on the way back from surf trips down the coast in early June didn't produce anything but the occasional peanut dorado, or sailfish strike, though there apparently have been sporadic tuna around for the last few weeks. Finally spent a proper day of trolling between Santa Cruz and San Agustin, switching up lures and distances in the spread to find out what the summertime fish wanted. No action all morning, but returning from San Agustin in the afternoon I got a couple of small dorado, a 10 lb yellowfin tuna, and a 6 lb skipjack tuna. I had heard from the locals that a few small "aleta azul" tuna had been caught, or bluefin, but it turns out they've been confusing bluefin and skipjack (not easy to do if you've ever seen both of them, but people around here rarely know the difference between a black, blue, or striped marlin either). The tuna were hitting an aluminum cedar plug at least 150 yards behind the boat. Seems like a spread of cedar plugs out long is the thing for the tuna around here right now, they don't seem interested in anything up in the wake.
Fishing Update - May 21 The new and improved Angel finally is in the water again! Went for an afternoon shakedown cruise in search of some dorado or stray tuna still around, and got more than I bargained for. Much of the time I was getting little action but knockdowns by sailfish, which are in great abundance, and trolled up to Chachacual between 5-7 miles out without much luck. On the return I strayed farther offshore to about ten miles off the lighthouse and was rewarded when an estimated 170 lb blue marlin took one of my best performing lures of this past year, a 7.5" pink/silver/blue concave acrylic head with reverse taper. Unfortunately it chose to do so on one of my 30 lb test Ande 7' graphite rods with a TLD 25 on it, so there was going to be no chance of making short work of this brute. Definitely over an hour spent on the fight, lots of jumping, sounding, back to the surface and jumping some more, basically having its way with me. And me cursing the uselessly small stock handles of a TLD 25. Finally began to wear it down though. Can't say enough about the solo billfishing wisdom of Peter Pakula and what I've learned from his article on the subject. Not having given any thought to hooking a marlin this trip, though, I hadn't brought a proper fighting belt or harness with me, so my life was made more difficult than usual by having to utilize a cheap small waist belt. But the boat handling knowledge is the most important part, I came right around in a turn when the fish hit without slowing down from trolling speed so it couldn't spool me on the first run which blues are famous for doing. Kept the fish at 2 o'clock to the boat most of the fight which kept the pressure on the line but kept me after it as well. Always maintained the same speed. As I got it closer and it was obviously flagging, I slowed the boat a little and started going in tight circles or figure 8's sometimes to keep it off to the side of the boat. Here is where you usually sweep it out to 3 o'clock and then 5 o'clock and bring the fish up to boatside to leader it, but when your rod and line class are overmatched and you're fishing a 6' leader for dorado, it's a lot harder to get a marlin to follow the program. Three or four times it shrugged and lazily motored away, then my first time I brought it boatside it just decided to plane down underneath the boat. I had to frantically put the rod as deep in the water as I could while backing off the lever drag to let it come out behind the boat without the line going into the props. (In a cat with widely spaced motors where I'm trolling on one engine, I always bring the fish to the boat on the opposite side of the running engine.)
Finally got the marlin whipped to where I could risk tightening down the drag a couple more pounds to pull it from behind the boat up to boatside and leader it. Got it by the bill and first retrieved the lure by pulling it up the line out of its mouth, because the fish was right at the margins of size to be sure whether I was going to safely handle it and get a deeply set hook out of its bill. Snipped the leader with my pliers (pliers on a lanyard are a must if you don't want to lose them to a marlin's head shake) and got the lure in the boat. With the rod safely disconnected from the fish, then I was able to concentrate on getting the hook out. I put my hand in his mouth – he ain’t got teeth, what can he do? – and he chomped down with his lower bill. Ouch, that hurt! Lesson learned - a marlin can gum you mighty good. Used the pliers again and worked the hook free. Clean release. I was one messy satisfied pile of sweat.
On the way in I had a sail nosing around on one of my new Hawaiian Plunger lures and I freespooled back to it and hooked up, only to think, am I a glutton for punishment? Do I want to go thru another solo release? But it hit a 50 lb standup outfit and I brought him to the boat green in less than ten minutes. That was where I could really see the benefit of the motor in gear the whole time, was with a green fish. I had to let it hound dog forward a couple of times while trying to leader it before I could get it by the bill, and it was much less docile than the worn out marlin trying to hold on to it. I could have afforded to have nudged up the throttle a bit so I was towing it more and it had less ability to thrash. But after the size and strength of the marlin, a 60 lb sailfish felt like child's play, and I popped the hook free and had it released still feisty. The whole affair took no more than 15 minutes. A lot of people bring billfish on board before release, I suppose mostly for photos, but I find just bill handling them and keeping them in the water the whole time makes it a lot more certain they'll survive. A useful tool I've subsequently learned for size estimation of blue marlin that is supposedly as accurate as you could hope for from one simple measurement is that if you measure around the "ankle" in front of the tail of the fish, a 12" circumference is a 200 lb fish and every additional inch is another 100 lbs. Fishing solo, though, I would have to bill rope it and tie it off to a cleat to be able to get back to its tail to take a measurement. I took a length measurement on the side of the boat and plugged in the numbers from lower jaw to fork of tail to a fish sizing calculator for an average thickness blue marlin to come up with the 170 lb estimate. A girth measurement at the thickest point helps to be a lot more accurate, but again, solo fishing doesn't really allow you the luxury of bringing out the tape and playing tailor with a marlin too big for you to lift in the boat.
Fishing Update - May 1 As anyone following this may have noticed, it has been devoid of entries for March and April while I was spending some time in Florida (experiencing excellent fishing). All I've heard about since I left here is how the tuna finally arrived and everyone and their retarded half-brother was catching them hand over fist, as well as lots of dorado and sailfish. This has apparently been true clear thru the beginning of May. I'm in the midst of a once every three year boat overhaul so have yet to get out and verify it for myself but should be back in the hunt next week. Will keep y'all updated.
Fishing Update - Feb 11-20 Dorado fishing finally starting to dry up a bit, becoming more of a typical February. But an exceptionally good winter of fishing for dorado to date. Tuna remain nonexistent, as they have been all winter. Major new discovery has been finally making a long 40 mile run down coast to the east to Isla Colorada, a small rock island a half mile offshore. Had heard rumors of good snapper fishing there, and it did not disappoint. Nonstop action on lead spoons, both jigging and casting, of cabrilla, snapper, parrotfish, triggerfish, giant needlefish, and some mystery monsters. A giant needlefish I had on was crashed 3-4 times by a 30-40 lb grouper or snapper. I rigged it as live bait and had something take it, only to reel up a giant moray eel. The island waters are teeming with sealife like nowhere I've seen on this coast. Went back for an overnighter on the 19th and 20th and witnessed the attacks on giant needlefish again. Most likely are huge snapper. Got a handful of nice snapper, both yellow and colorado - interestingly no huachinango - cabrilla, and jack crevalle, and lost some other sizable fish in the rocks. Fishing conditions were fairly marginal though with cold water upwellings and nutrient blooms. Snorkeling the inside of the island confirmed the abundance of sea life. Really a magic place.
Fishing Update - Feb 1-10 Steady but not overwhelming dorado fishing has continued. The winter ones all seem to be big bulls, averaging 25-35 lbs as of late. The odd blue marlin is being pulled in now and again. Took another group to the Coyula beaches and got a 6 lb rainbow runner and 10 lb roosterfish. The roosters on two of those beaches are as close to a guarantee as I can make of catching a certain fish somewhere every day I go.
Fishing Update - Jan 21-31 Took a group out inshore fishing a couple of days down at the Coyula beaches and got a 6 lb roosterfish, crevalle, and small sierra the first day, and the second time out got a small roosterfish, crevalle, and an 8.5 lb sierra. Had a 5 lb snook on casting into the surf one day but after four jumps he came off. Offshore everyone seemed to be taking turns day to day catching big dorado.
Fishing Update - Jan 11-20 Steady diet of sailfish action, have been catching and releasing sails almost every day out, mostly in the 60-80 lb range. Dorado action is slow and has moved back way offshore again, though on one trip 25 miles out we landed a 26 and 32 lb dorado and released a 60 lb sailfish. The little Moldcraft Junior has proved the most popular lure in my arsenal as of late, bagging the 32 lb dorado and the sail. It seemed irresistible to sails until yesterday when I raised a dozen sails and hardly any showed interest in it. But their behavior was erratic and cautious, nosing around lures and scarcely even batting at them, as well as oddly avoiding the outrigger lines in favor of a bird rig out long and a big marlin lure in the wake. Barrilete are swarming just on the edge of the bays, for great light tackle fishing.
Fishing Update - Jan 1-10 Only got a couple of days of fishing in during this time, and while the dorado are fairly sparse, there is tons of sailfish action lately. I had a fun hour long fight with about a 60+ lb sail on a 15lb class spinning rod, trolling a Moldcraft Wide Range Junior. Though only 4 1/2" long, the Juniors have proved irresistible to sailfish and I've gotten a sailfish strike every time I've trolled those lures so far. Some reports of striped marlin being caught as well, but no word on anyone getting tuna yet.
Fishing Update - Dec 22-31 Dorado came back and the locals were slaying them earlier in the week only two miles out. There seems to be more natural debris floating around than there has been recently, and some big logs full of dorado. I joined my friend Dan in casting to one log he'd found, and though the dorado were absolutely impossible to interest, I got a 3 lb tripletail (what the locals call cherna) fishing a dead sardine, and Dan shortly thereafter pulled a whopping 8 lb tripletail out from under the log, casting a red lead spoon. Dan found another similar log a couple of days ago and though the dorado were proving finicky again, he eventually managed to land a 20 and 28 lb bull.
Fishing Update - Dec 8-21 The dorado vanished again for a couple of weeks, but some inshore discoveries made up for it. Fished past San Agustin down to Coyula, and had a banner day of variety. Mainly trolling diving cranks and some shad tail jigs around some rock pinnacles near the beach and right along the beaches - sierra mackerel, giant hawkfish, cubera snapper, giant needlefish, roosterfish, green jack, and jack crevalle. There are plenty of snook along the beach in front of Coyula Lagoon also I haven't managed to get to hit yet. Definitely potential for a ten species day just in a two mile stretch of coast. Otherwise, the random circulation of dirty cold upwelling water has made fishing hit or miss, and other days inshore along there have been total busts.
Fishing Update - Dec 4-7 Dorado fishing continues to be lights out, the best of the year. Strange, because this is typically a lousy time of year for dorado, the water has been generally dirty and cold, but 15-25 lb dorado are abundant between 5-10 miles out. Longlining pangas out of Puerto Angel have been catching obscene quantities, so it probably won't last. (Longlining for dorado is illegal in Mexico, but apparently the 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile longlines the pangas run aren't considered commercial longlines, or else it's just the fact there's no enforcement.) Lost one of my deep divers when a savage strike broke the line, either a tuna or a sailfish most likely. Had another broken line from a possible marlin strike that cut it above the leader, and had a knockdown from a sailfish closer in to shore. Lots of action.
Fishing Update - Nov 28 - Dec 3 - Finally managed to catch a robalo (snook) at the Copalita rivermouth using lures. Had watched local handline surf casters get them on bait but to date had trolled plugs on miles of beaches and around rivermouths with no success. Picked it up almost in the surf zone in 8 feet of water trolling a 6" Bomber-type diving lure right above the bottom. As I had previously come to realize, early early morning and getting the lure right into shallow water in the surf is the key. The previous week when I was out of town for Thanksgiving, a lot of the boats were catching good size dorado steadily. Spent a few more days fishing inshore to give dorado fishing a break and got some small cabrilla one day and a hefty 10 lb chula in front of the Santa Cruz lighthouse on another day.
Fishing Update - Nov 15-20 2010 - Sierra are around inshore in abundance, especially near the Copalita. Otherwise not much action to be found between 2 and 20 miles, still warmed up nutrient bloom water from the upwellings. Ran 34 miles on a 210 degree heading to the edge of the Middle America Trench, 20 miles SSE of Puerto Angel, and not much action to be found up that way, though got into dorado as I trolled east back toward Huatulco. They weren't interested in trolling lures, but when I stopped and cast to the first pair I saw, I hooked right up. Had a long hard fight on my light spinning gear and the leader was too short to hold it by the side of the boat to gaff it. When I did manage to grab the leader finally, it shook its head so violently it cut through it. Always an adventure trying to boat a good size thrashing dorado on your own. A few miles later I found a log with dozens of dorado on it, mostly peanuts but a decent share of 10-20 lbs ones as well. Ended up with a 15 and 16 lb one off of there after an exhaustive run-through of my whole casting lure selection to see what they wanted. They were both serious workouts on the spinning gear as well, and a lot of acrobatic fun. It was a lesson on not to give up too easy, when they seem really finicky about what they'll hit, just keep trying something new one after another.
Fishing Update - Nov 9-11 2010 - On the last day of the recent five day Tehuantepecker, ran out in some moderate windswell that was keeping everyone else close to shore and hit a hellacious upwelling current line at 13 miles out on a 150 degree heading from Chahue. Water was 71 along the current line, seemingly too cold to have hopes for much but tuna, but we were in for a surprise. The best day of dorado fishing I've had in Huatulco, we picked up five in the 15-20 lb range and lost one or two more. I've started tipping my smoking lures with strips of dorado skin that I save every time I filet one, and it seems to make a difference in getting a lot more strikes. Two days later I went out solo on a calm day, and though the water got blue after 15 miles - the first real blue water I've seen in awhile - there were no current or debris lines clear out to 23 miles. Out there I came across a panga longlining for tuna, just inside of where a huge pod of dolphin was balling up bait. There appeared to be tuna running underneath them at 60-100', but I hadn't brought my tuna lures with me and got no strikes trying a dorado lure on the surface and a deep diver. Trolling back in I picked up a nice 22 lb bull dorado at the 22 mile point and about a 17 lb cow at 19 miles out. From there on in, nothing. Since I'm the only one around who seems to be pulling dorado as of late, I think I may have made a breakthrough to figuring out winter fishing for dorado this year. November is being its typical lousy transition fishing month anywhere inside of 15 miles, but if you're willing to run far enough, you're usually rewarded with fish. My cat is made to run long distances real efficiently and handle a wide range of sea conditions, so while I prefer the days I can get fish closer to the coast, I've learned I can get fish when no one else is just by running far enough out to find good current or debris lines, bait schools, and blue water.
Fishing Update - Nov 5 2010 - Have had a vicious round of cold water upwellings the last month as the norte gales crank up in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Water dropped down to 70 degrees along the beaches at times. Ran out in the midst of some large east windswell during the latest Tehuantepecker when no other boats were offshore and finally stopped myself 11 miles out when the wind started to pick up along with the swell. At 8 miles off the lighthouse the 50 lb outfit bent over double, and I settled in for a brutal 15-20 minute fight with what I only assumed could be a yellowfin. Stayed down the whole time and when I got it close to the boat I saw it was a dorado. Wanted nothing to do with the boat and kept bending the rod over and running off line with 10+ lbs of drag on the reel. Didn't even turn out to be as big as I imagined it had to be, only 20 lbs or so, but I'd never had a dorado under 30 lbs fight like such a beast before. Fishing Update - Sept/Oct 2010 - Got the boat back in the water late September and started to find small dorado offshore. One day 25 miles out we got a half dozen small dorado off a palm tree trunk, casting with light spinning gear, and in the midst of it I got a strike from what I assumed was a bigger one. Turned out to be a 10 lb yellowfin tuna. A few days later I got a 10 lb dorado off a trash line nine miles out down off of Barra de la Cruz, but otherwise not very good conditions for fishing anywhere near the coast. One of the last days of October I found another good trash line 25 miles out and a big piece of plastic with all sizes of dorado on it. The peanut dorado (3-4 lbs) were the quickest to strike, leaving me reeling one of them in while I haplessly watched a 15-20 lb dorado follow it around and had no one with me to cast to the bigger one. There were at least three or four 15-25 lb dorado in the group, but they were more wary than the peanuts and I only had a few spinning gear lures with me, none of which they wanted. No luck trolling back and forth by them with the smoking lures, and another lesson to never go out without the tackle box of lures for the spinning outfits.
Fishing Non-Update - July/Aug 2010 - Summer has been a mechanical nightmare starting with a dead truck that took two months to fix, and just when I got that resolved, the shifting on my port engine became impossible. Some routine maintenance on the lower unit escalated into another nightmare involving the need for Honda parts not available anywhere here. By mid-September hoping to be back on the water again.
Fishing Update - July 7-8, 2010 - The ongoing drama series The Year of the Missing Dorado continues. Lot of rain the last few nights, great color change lines offshore to troll, baitfish around, everything but dorado. Got into some of the first barrilete yesterday I have in months casting spoons to them, and was reminded what fantastic little brutes they are to fight. Today had no luck offshore but just off Arrocito I picked up the biggest sierra I've ever caught on a cartoonishly detailed deep diving lure I acquired recently. (My brother ridiculed it as a bathtub toy, but it's working as well as anything lately.) The sierra came in at 11 lbs.
Fishing Update - July 6, 2010 - If there's one thing Huatulco fishing is good for, it's surprises. Because of the severity of the deepwater drop-off in places, inshore fishing and offshore fishing can be totally blurred. Was rough windswell today so made it a short run offshore and didn't do anything coming back in from four miles out. Switched to inshore lures off of the Santa Cruz lighthouse, a diving plug and a little 3/4 oz jig with a shad tail on it. Trolling by the rocks underneath the lighthouse, only 50 feet off of them or so, I had a good hit on the light spinning rod with the shad tail. Saw a large dark shape thrashing around the surface and thought I'd snagged a ray. Turned the boat back toward it and was somewhat surprised to discover I had about a 60 lb sailfish on. Lot of chasing, lot of tug of war with him getting the better of it by far since my rod couldn't do a whole lot to stop him. Finally wore him down and got him boatside once but with a real short leader and no one to assist me, wasn't a whole lot I could do. He went down again and I horsed him to just under the boat when the mono leader broke at the knot with the 30 lb braid. Was amazed it had lasted that long through all his relentless slashing at the leader. Called it a catch and release, and saved me the effort of handling him myself in pitching windswell.
Fishing Update - June 5 - July 5, 2010 - Worst offshore fishing year anyone can remember is the general chorus these days. After high hopes the late start of rainy season in mid-June would finally bring dorado and good offshore fishing to this area, we still have nothing to show three weeks into rainy season. The first week and a half was almost a non-stop mess of tropical storm conditions, and since then the ocean has seemed completely lifeless. The storms once again produced upwellings and nutrient blooms, which is a major contributor to the poor fishing. There are no baitfish anywhere off the coast, and thus no sign of blue or black marlin yet. On the reefs inshore, there is still good action to be had with the spotted cabrilla at times. Snook are around for the surfcasters, at La Bocana and Zimatan rivermouths.
Fishing Update - May 28 - June 4, 2010 - Mostly an unfishable week due to Tropical Storm Agatha followed by howling daily sideshore winds. Still waiting on rainy season to start, it's late this year. Looked like it was happening a couple of weeks ago, but after a couple of nightly showers there's been nothing. Offshore fishing remains slow. The water cooled down to a more reasonable 84 from the overly hot 85-87 it was running for a couple of weeks. Yesterday I trolled a long arc from five miles off of Santa Cruz - where I saw a completely out of season and seemingly lost humpback whale headed toward Guatemala - around past San Agustin to the shipwreck near Coyula. Not even a knockdown the whole way. Switched to Rapala's as I got inshore and picked up a nice chula trolling over the wreck. No luck jigging the wreck or nearby mounds. Unfortunately snagged a turtle with a Rapala trolling over a pinnacle and spent an exorbitant amount of time getting the lure back from the turtle while trying to do it minimal harm. Finally completed a clean release of it. Part of my new Leave No Lure Behind campaign which I think I should hit the White House up for funding for. I'm motivated by cheapness as much as noble concern for wildlife, but I have noticed fishermen all too readily sever the line and abandon lures when anything looks like it might be difficult to extricate. Or they kill whatever the lure is attached to. After that I got a small spotted cabrilla (grouper) jigging in 160', a big jack crevalle near the beach, a barrilete, and finally after picking up and running back thru the National Park, caught a 10 lb giant needlefish off Santa Cruz lighthouse. So it seems most of the action is still to be found nearshore fishing cranks. The spotted cabrilla was encouraging, because I'd never caught anything on that 160' mound before, and got a few other strikes there. I'm sure there are some full size spotted cabrilla somewhere around on deeper patches if I keep at the jigging.
Fishing Update - May 5-27, 2010 - Due to an incredible month of surf in May - my primary vice aside from fishing - I haven't had many opportunities to fish. Along the coast, big jack crevalle are still plentiful. I had not even finished letting out line with my Mann's Stretch 30 diver one day when a 12 lb jack inhaled the lure. Big snook are abundant in the surf if you're fishing bait, but continue to be difficult to target with lures. A friend caught a roosterfish last week on a Rapala, so they're around. Yesterday I was having an unproductive offshore troll back from Majahual when something hit the Mann's diver about three miles out and after watching a good bit of line burn off the 30 lb Penn International I saw a big sailfish leaping. Imagine my surprise. Now I'm guessing what I assumed to be a tuna last month could well have been a sail. Had assumed they would only hit surface lures. Caught and released him after a good fight, and would guess he ran about ninety pounds.
Fishing Update - April 24-May 4, 2010 - Only a couple of days on the water during this stretch, howling sideshore winds in the afternoon made down coast runs impossible. The most notable and welcome change is that my Mann's Stretch 30+ deep diving lure finally started to produce results after getting nothing but one tuna all winter long and virtually no other strikes. I repainted it and epoxy coated it, and got a couple of nice strikes a few miles out, most likely chula. About six miles out something really bent the rod over on the 50 pound outfit and I held on for a few minutes to what was most likely a 40+ lb yellowfin before it threw the hook. On the way in I finally got some redemption in front of the Santa Cruz lighthouse, picking up the biggest chula I've caught here yet. The water was over 84 degrees and the next day it was as high as 85.4 offshore, prime marlin and dorado water, but couldn't get a strike on anything I was running on the second trip.
Fishing Update - April 16-23, 2010 - Still no luck with snook dragging cranks around the Copalita and down the coast, but my mistake is that I'm too far outside the surf line because there's too much swell running lately. I need to be pitching cranks into the surf from the boat. Picked up a 12-15 lb jack crevalle in the mouth of Bahia Tangolunda on my small deep diver (with new hooks finally!). A few days later I ran down coast again about 18-20 miles, and produced nothing along the beaches, but had more action when I moved out a half mile. There are some patch reefs in 85 feet that the local commercial panga guys out of the El Faro fishing camp work, and while I was searching the depth recorder for structure I got a nice strike on the spinning rod I was trolling a surface crank on. Turned out to be a 44" giant needlefish, big enough to get some very nice filets off of. Shortly after that I got a strike on the spinning outfit again that went screaming off and I had to chase it down I was losing so much line. After a tough fight, I pulled in a 34" jack crevalle, running at least 15 lbs, and gave it to the guys on the nearby panga that were bottom fishing. (When you're fishing other people's territory, never hurts to make peace offerings.) I ran the outriggers and some trolling lures for a short time because the dropoff to deeper water was pretty quick in that area, and aside from a knockdown by a giant needlefish, the only other thing was the smallest dorado I've ever seen which I'm amazed even knocked the line off the rigger. It came in about 14". The wind started to howl ferociously so I headed back toward the beach, and got another 15 lb crevalle. Once again it hit the light spinning outfit and was another brutal fight. Pound for pound they're one of the toughest fish there are. My Dad fought a 38 lb crevalle for two hours once, convinced it was a 200+ lb shark. Though I had seen the whitecaps offshore, I wasn't prepared for how quickly and savagely the wind hit inshore, and the run home was the worst one I've been through since I've had my boat here. For once the cat was in a little over its head. I would not have believed conditions could change so fast here, most of the time you see it coming where you can get home before it gets too bad.
Fishing Update - April 1-15, 2010 - Finally smartened up a bit and stopped chasing offshore big game and went back to inshore fishing, which aside from bottom fishing I honestly haven't tried enough yet. The water warmed up to 84 and the deep blue moved in again, and everything looked great for offshore except for one problem - nothing was hitting. Ran a couple of long trips offshore without a bite, not even a barrilete. So inshore it is, especially since I'm starting to do combined surfing/fishing trips down the coast now that it's wave season again. I've got a whole lotta headlands and coast to troll every day I come back from one of my surf trips. If there's one lure the locals really favor, I've found, it's the always versatile Rapala. I hadn't had any luck with big diving lures offshore nor inshore, but had not made use of my small ones much. So far it's been a mixed bag of success. I've trolled miles and miles of beaches outside Huatulco running cranks behind me without a strike, but then get action when I least expect it closer to home. The first day I got a handful of barrilete on a shad tail way down the coast, and then nothing until I had a good strike on a crank a mile away from La Bocana that came free. Shortly after that I got a nice sierra on the shad tail jig. I picked up a couple of small jack crevalle between the Copalita and Conejos, and then had something take the small diving crank just at the entrance to Bahia Chahue. It didn't fight too much on 30 lb gear until I got it to the side of the boat, whereupon it tore off and bent the trebles wide open. It was the first California yellowtail I'd ever seen here, about 30", which are supposed to be one of the more prized gamefish of Mexico. Lesson learned - make sure your hooks are up to any caliber of fish. I'd followed that with my offshore rigging, but these small cranks a friend had given me had freshwater hooks that any ocean fish worth its salt could bend open before you could say Uri Geller. Both fish I lost that day bent the trebles open on that crank.
Fishing Update - the rest of March, 2010 - Okay, for anybody that bothers to follow my exploits, I stopped keeping this up for awhile. The winter fishing was so discouraging I decided to fish a lot less during transition season and wait for the warm blue water to come back once and for all. Had a very nice marlin on for about five minutes, but when I turned the boat to chase it, the guy fighting it let the line wrap around another rod and busted it off. Otherwise not much happened in March beyond the usual barrilete.
Fishing Update - Mar 1-4, 2010 - Two days of chasing large schools of tuna that won't hit anything, as per usual, but made up for somewhat by a spectacular dolphin airshow that looked like something out of Sea World. Then today the wind and seas finally laid down and I ran 10 miles off of San Agustin and fished 13-15 miles off the coast on the way back. Saw a large splash from a distance that I thought might be a marlin, and sure enough, about when I got to the spot I turned away from the wheel to see a decent marlin jumping out of the water with one of my lures trailing from its mouth. Looking frantically around to see which line it was on because none were bent over, I finally saw the broken line flying in the air of a short line I had in the wake with a 12" Moldcraft Senior on it. Must have slashed the line on strike with its bill because the drag was set light and I never heard the clicker go off. Bad luck. I like to fish 30 lb outfits for the most part, but with marlin as likely to hit as anything, I think I'll be leaning toward running my heavier gear. Came across a pair of sailfish later on and got one to bat one of my smoking lures around a bit but didn't even knock it off the outrigger.
Fishing Update - Feb 24-27, 2010 - Well, the big news here today was the tsunami surge that wreaked havoc with Santa Cruz Marina, sinking at least four or five pangas. The ports were closed due to the tsunami warnings which seems mildly insane since the water is deep enough in the bays that anyone would be perfectly safe OUTSIDE the harbors. Instead they kept everyone in. Being given the impression nothing much was expected, and unaware the port was closed, I loaded up my boat and went fishing offshore without anyone stopping me. There might be something to be said for tsunami fishing, because after a bunch of barrilete I got a strike on my long flat line with a bird and daisy chain of tuna feathers on it. The difficulty in getting it out of the holder suggested this was a real fish, and the sustained run confirmed it. Then a 140-150 lb striped marlin took to the air repeatedly. Landed it in 35-40 minutes and performed a clean release boatside, reclaimed my lure, and sent it on its way little worse for wear. Proving the mettle of some of my trusty old family gear, it was landed on a Sears/Daiwa 6/0 bought in the late 70's by my father, with 50 lb braid and a 75 yard topshot of 50 lb mono. The rod was an old 5'6" Bass Pro Shops Tracker stand-up rod that has just enough backbone to really lay into a fish like that. I was unsatisfied with my initial drag setting, and cranked it down during the fight to at least 18 lbs, which helped make relatively short work of the fish. A marlin that size would have been much better suited to one of my 30 lb outfits, but I wore it out a lot less this way. Despite some awkwardness playing fisherman, mate, and captain all at the same time since I was flying solo, I got it swimming well again without much trouble. No photos of it, but even if I'd had my camera with me I wouldn't have had much of a chance to get to it. The past few days have been on and off stormy conditions, huge schools of barrilete around for sport fun on the spinning gear, but not a whole lot else going on. But where there are abundant barrilete offshore, and the water is warm - it was over 79 degrees six miles off the Santa Cruz lighthouse today - there are likely marlin to be had.
Fishing Update - Feb 19-20, 2010 - Another stint out of town for five days, but didn't miss much of anything except stormy weather from 11th to the 16th. Still sporadic bursts of tuna being caught, but wildly inconsistent. The snapper bite started up in the past week, though, and the local pangas are handlining them hand over fist some days on some of the structure in 80' immediately off Arrocito and Isla Montosa. The vast bulk of them are under 10" though. Fishing a 2oz lead spoon, Russ got a spotted cabrilla about 3 lbs, the first one of those I'd seen here. They're a real grouper rather than the other small cabrilla common to the local reefs, and they grow up to 45 lbs or more. Saw an adjacent panga handline an amberjack, which was also the first one of those I'd seen. I'd been wondering where the hell the amberjack were around here, they're usually common and voracious. Then we went out and had some mad action casting to barrilete on light tackle just for fun, triple hookups of the little brutes tearing back and forth. Was a very encouraging day, which of course means... it had to be followed by an equally frustrating day. A new round of cold water made its way inshore, and the snapper and other bottom fishing went quiet. Even fishing a live well full of little grunts and greenies, could not attract the interest of anything. Went offshore 5-7 miles chasing tuna, and spent the whole day following a big pod of dolphin with tuna intermittently under them at 50-150', but no action. Though there seem to be (very) brief windows that yellowfin are hitting on any given day, they are constantly feeding 24 hours a day. The trick is getting what they want to them. If there's not much bait lower down to keep them occupied at their standard depth of 50-70', they will shoot to the surface to crash a surface lure in an instant, because they love flying fish. But it seems on the days I've been unable to get them to the surface, there's been a wide array of baitfish between 20-50' that they're feeding on. In those instances it seems deep diving plugs or downriggers should solve the problem, but it all depends on the lure and whether it captures their interest among clouds of live bait. Not easy.
Fishing Update - Feb 4, 2010 - Took a break from the frustration of winter fishing and spent five days in Oaxaca City. Came back and heard there had been a steady diet of schoolies caught in my absence, but never more than a few per boat. Fished the ten mile zone from Tangolunda down past Barra de la Cruz and slow going through the morning, but had a marlin strike about mid-day. It was brought in toward the boat by the smoking lures, but chose to hit a witch with a strip bait trolled way back. It was the last of my lures I expected a marlin to go for, but you just never know. Was a "five second catch and release", a little too small a hook on the witch for the size of the marlin. Lost a big dorado an hour later after five or ten seconds when it threw the hook on a Williamson Dorado Catcher. Frustrating, but action at least. Mid-afternoon found a big pod of dolphin working and read tuna under them. In short order, the bird and tuna feather out long was taken. Brought in a 14 lb yellowfin and in short order got another on a Mann's Stretch 30 diving lure. The rest of the afternoon couldn't get them anywhere near the surface, though, the recorder was reading them at 60-100' and they moved too quick to be able to stop and jig. I have a feeling that's the story a lot of the time, and why no one is catching many. Everyone is surface trolling, and a lot of the time you've got to get down 60' to get into them. For the most part I've never seen a point in downriggers around here, but this is the one instance they would have been useful.
Fishing Update - Jan 19-24, 2010 - Raised a marlin on a rough water afternoon trip down toward the Zimatan, but didn't strike due to the wind fouling the lines. Tried 70 miles of fishing one day out to the Trench and back, but only a chula to show for it. The last couple of days though, the barrilete have showed up for the first time in huge schools this winter a couple of miles out, with thousands of birds working on them. Nice to have some dependable fun fish fighting action again. Farther out people are finding tuna, but throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them without getting hookups. The yellowfin are being particularly finicky as of late. Water warmed up again abruptly, though, between 79-81 degrees, but back down to 78-79. Tons of sardines between 2-5 miles out getting hit by barrilete, lots of bird action, hopefully all the baitfish will bring some other bigger fish in to feed.
Fishing Update - Jan 15-16, 2010 - If whales were fish...that's been the story of late - great whale watching, not so great fish catching. Yesterday I decided to try something different and fish live bait, so I picked up some small jack on a sabiki rig in Tangolunda Bay and fished the Copalita rivermouth with them for a bit without luck before heading offshore a few miles. Had some fine whale watching for awhile and then settled down to drift fishing. After a half hour or so, something took one of them and moved off slow before pulling it off the hook. The other one seemed like it had been left alone until I pulled it in and found something had been gnawing on it but not big enough to take bites out of it. Trolling home I picked up a chula on a diving lure, and suspect it was probably chula or large sierra that were going for the live bait. The mood around the marina is pretty low right now, since people are going out and trolling for 30 miles sometimes without a thing to show for it. Still seems like no one goes so far as the Trench, though, which is where I think the action is to be found right now. Just hasn't been the best weather for it the past week. Water is still in the very low 70's (22 C).
Fishing Update - Jan 13-14, 2010 - Huatulco continues to confound, but not always in a good way. Seas stacking up against a strong current slowed down my run 12 miles or so out of Chahue, so I started trolling without any signs of tuna and eventually ended up a little over 20 miles off Copalita rivermouth before working my way back to the marina. No trace of tuna. Andres on the Mini Toy, who I passed by 12 miles out, raised a sailfish and got some barrilete, but that was it. Water was between 73.9 and 76.4 degrees, Wednesday was dead calm at times as far as wind, but was the most evil five way jumble of seas I've encountered yet. Thursday looked so calm when I checked the ocean conditions in the morning that I thought it a good chance to try all over again but make the full trip to the Trench this time. The first ten miles while I was still not far from the coast were fairly mild, and the chop started picking up until by 15 miles it was getting a little jarring at times even in the cat, and at 20+ miles it was getting downright snotty. At about 24 miles from the marina (18 miles off of San Agustin), I found a hellacious current line that had every bird in the ocean on it. I trolled with the seas heading west, and though I was trolling at 7.5 knots, I was only making 3 knots of headway against the current. The water was deep blue and a chilly 72. 5 degrees, thus answering my question whether there was such a thing as warm blue water anymore in the area. The current line looked fantastically promising, but not much action until I had a good knockdown on my starboard rigger that was on for a few seconds before throwing the hook, and about 20 minutes later a knockdown on the port rigger that was an undetermined billfish, most likely a sail. I had people to pick up that afternoon, so I unfortunately only trolled the line for an hour before running all the way back to Chahue. The chop was a whitecapping mess on the current line and me and the boat got drenched, but it had the feeling of good fishing, which hardly anywhere closer to home has had of late.
Fishing Update - Jan 12, 2010 - After three days of the port being shut down from howling frontal winds, it finally laid down a bit today. I fished inshore between Chahue and La Bocana and only got one sierra, but the nature display I got more than made up for the slow fishing. Saw two humpback whales and a killer whale family, along with a peregrine falcon attacking a petrel, turtles having sex, and rays jumping out of the water. I'm not sure how many other places in the world you see all that in the same place with warm weather. Word from offshore was slow as well, other guys on the radio had one chula and a lost dorado. But it was too rough to go much more than five miles out, apparently. While I was gone, the tuna were incredibly thick at times 15-20 miles out and probably still are. Will run toward the Trench tomorrow if weather allows and see if I can find them.
Fishing Update - Dec.17, 2009 - Back to the cold upwellings again. Ran ten miles out with water 78 degrees at best. Didn't even have a bite, though another boat found the school yellowfin in the area and brought in ten that day. Should have probably kept running til I found better water or found tuna, but didn't have the gas for it. Encouraging to hear about the yellowfin bite though. Taking a two week break from fishing for the holidays and will be back with new updates at the beginning of January. Adding a Shimano TLD 50W to my arsenal for tuna season along with a pair of TLD 25's, so looking forward to getting into some big ones. Happy holidays to all!
Fishing Update - Dec.13, 2009 - The magic word for today is...dorado! The blue water has been coming and going from day to day inshore as strong currents are pushing good new water in, but it takes time to clear out those nutrient blooms. I finally made a run out to the Middle America Trench today, and it wasn't until 20 miles out that the water temp finally got over 82. Picked up a 12 lb dorado about 22 miles out on a 170 degree heading out of Chahue Marina, and started paralleling the coast toward Puerto Angel. To my joy I finally spotted a massive piece of debris about 27 miles from port, a huge log. Raised a good dorado trolling by it and it threw the hook, so I pulled in all the trolling gear and started casting with a spinning rod to the log. There were turtles hanging out by it, a whole bunch of Pacific tripletail of varying size I couldn't get to take anything, schools of small almaco jack, barrilete crashing baitfish nearby, and a couple of small three foot sharks cruising under my boat. It took awhile of hanging out there before a nice dorado came cruising by, and as soon as I cast a 1 oz lead spoon out past it, it beelined over and took it. Great fight on the spinning gear, came in at between 23-25 lbs. Got another 20 lb dorado after 3 or 4 miles when I started trolling home, but once inside the 20 mile line, nothing, even though the temp was the warmest I've seen in awhile, 83.3 degrees around 15 miles out. I had been wondering whether the long distance trips were worth it when the "inshore" offshore fishing (up to ten miles out) seems dead, and this trip pretty much sold me on running out to the Trench when things are slow closer to home. If nothing else, you stand a much better chance of finding some great debris by covering that much more distance.
Fishing Update - Dec.4-6, 2009 - Just when I had abandoned all hope of seeing blue water again anytime soon, and only took the deep jigging gear out, of course we had a day with warm blue water again on the surface. Nearly have put the nail in the coffin of deep grouper fishing hopes here, because even fishing with squid we didn't even get so much as a bite at the most promising rock ledge in 400' that I've found anywhere around here. The only thing making me willing to flog the dead horse some more is that with the upwellings as of late, it's possible and even likely that the bottom is so cold at that depth that the grouper have moved further inshore. (Where they would go I have no idea with no reef or structure until it is too shallow for these sort of grouper. But that's one of life's little fishing mysteries.) My experience when we have the cold upwellings though is that all offshore fishing goes to hell, surface or bottom, so the only thing to do is fish inshore at this time. Since the sierra mackerel are around in droves at the moment, there's at least the prospect of non-stop action with them inshore. So far the average size I've been catching has been impressive, toward the large end of the Spanish mackerel in Florida. They even bend over a 30 lb trolling rod a bit at that size, and are a great fight on 15 lb spinning gear. Yesterday they were the only action to be found, as the dark green upwelling water returned with a vengeance, and the highest temp I registered was 79.1 degrees at ten miles offshore (the blue water has been running 81-82 degrees) and inshore it was around 77.4.
Fishing Update - Dec.1-2, 2009 - Though it had become a running joke that the bad fishing of late was entirely the fault of it being November, and that everything would change as soon as the month rolled over, it actually turned out to be true! The last week of November continued the pattern of upwellings and poor offshore fishing, so moved back inshore to start the new month and caught four nice flag cabrilla in a short late afternoon trip, jigging on the reef patches off of Arrocito. Yesterday we ran to San Agustin to try the bottom fishing there in 150-220' but had no luck at all on some promising looking mounds. On the other hand, there was a brutal looking thermocline showing up on the sonar at 80', so nothing might be active at those depths right now. We ran five miles offshore and trolled back to Santa Cruz, and started catching Mexican bonito or "chula" for the first time. We also got a steady mix of barrilete in with them, but ended up with 3 nice chula in the 5-7 lb range. They invariably favored my custom tuna feather/skirt combo with a barrilete strip on it trolled long, where the smoking lure on the outrigger saw no action. It was my first taste of true bonito, and I was not disappointed. They are more of a mackerel than a tuna, but in every way from appearance to taste are a near perfect hybrid of the two. Fantastic on the grill.
Fishing Update - Nov.25, 2009 - Doldrums persist offshore, dark green water is still with us. The odd dorado to be had here and there, but a good time to turn away from trolling and concentrate on bottom fishing. On the plus side, the schools of what I took to be barrilete nearshore turned out to be sierra mackerel, which are good eating. Their close Atlantic cousin, the Spanish mackerel, was one of the wintertime staples of my diet growing up in Florida. My favorite recipes for them are filets - you need not bother skin them - coated in chunky salsa and baked, or baked in a Dijon mustard/olive oil sauce.
Fishing Update - Nov.16-23, 2009 - November doldrums have seriously set in, as current/color lines to fish dorado have gotten scarce and the tuna aren't likely to be in for another month yet. Still managed to find a subtle color change just east of the Copalita the other day in about 150-200' that was good for a couple of dorado. Fishing inshore near the Copalita we got into swarms of small barracuda, which are excellent fried. Dan was not pleased with losing one of his Rapala cranks to one, though. They are a line-severing menace. This past week a nutrient upwelling hit seemingly the whole Gulf of Tehuantepec, a seasonal hazard. Water switched from deep blue to dark green, and a trip 20 miles out failed to locate any blue water, or any fish for that matter either beyond a handful of barrilete. Tom from North Carolina fishing on his boat the Desperado got one sail and a dorado out of the green about five miles out, and last week got a small marlin and a tuna off San Agustin. Yesterday produced some jack crevalle and barrilete fishing along the beaches east of Copalita, but not the robalo (snook) I was seeking.
Fishing Update - Nov.10-14, 2009 - My jigging efforts for grouper continue to be hampered by the unexpected and undesired. Fishing in 160' with a butterfly jig near San Agustin, I only managed to hook a balloonfish, and moving out to 420' where the deep dropoff slope begins, I hooked of all things a large ray on a 12 oz spoon on the bottom. It was a lot of backbreaking work to get most of my line back, but could never horse it closer than 30-40' from the boat to get my lure back. It had to be a manta, because it was too deep for an eagle ray, but even still, 400' is about the limit of a manta's range. Yesterday I ran 24 miles out of Chahue off the coast of Puerto Angel to see if I could find yellowfin. Raised a sail that batted a smoking lure for a bit before losing interest, but otherwise a lot of trolling in the deep blue with few signs of life. We did see a number of commotions of large fish crashing bait that appeared likely to be school yellowfin, but they were up and down real quick and not very large schools. Had one brief hookup and pulled the hook. Still far too early to expect much action on that front, but I was curious and wanted to explore some of that coast. Ran back inshore and there's tons of good looking snapper structure between Puerto Angel and San Agustin in 40-60'. A really beautiful stretch of coast not a lot of people ever see.
Fishing Update - Nov.5, 2009 - My friend Mariano stopped in Puerto Angel a few days ago and was told the tuna have already started to arrive there, which is great news. Without a "linea" to be found anywhere, dorado fishing has become a lot slower and it took four hours of trolling to bring in a pair of ten pound dorado. Trolling works great as long as there's a water change line to work, but when it's all just deep blue then the best bet is drifting with bait if you really want to catch them. And that's miserably hot and pretty much rules out the chance of any other action. May run toward Puerto Angel this week and see if the tuna rumors are true.
Fishing Update - Nov.1-2, 2009 - There was a color change line 3-4 miles off Chahue on Sunday, running out to the SSW which a lot of boats were fishing and getting action on. I picked up one dorado, and lost another at the boat. Out of curiosity I kept following the line out about seven miles beyond where anyone else was, somewhere off Chachacual, but it sort of petered out and there was no action out there. Monday I ran out early at 6:30 am and headed back down toward the zone off of Mojon and Barra de la Cruz. Lumpy five direction seas made it a bit of a rough ride even in the cat. Nothing much doing the first hour or two, but finally found a color change farther out and started trolling it east toward Playa Grande. Eventually got a dorado on, but threw the hook as I was hauling it over the side. The next one threw the hook beside the boat. It's what dorado are famous for doing, but still frustrating, especially when fishing alone and trying to handle everything at once. I got two more strikes that kicked the lures right away, and finally around 10 am off Copalita got a 10 lb dorado in the boat. Things improved from there and in the next hour I got a 20 pounder and a nine pounder in the boat, called it good, and ran for home. The smoking lures off the outrigger are killing them, my Williamson Ballyhoo Combo smoking lure has been thoroughly mauled. While a Japanese feather alone brought no action most of the morning, I put a barrilete strip on it and got two of the fish on it.
Fishing Update - Oct 29, 2009 - Dorado heat up even more down east of the Copalita, fishing 4-5 miles out. Within an hour, raised a sailfish, got a 35+ lb dorado to side of the boat before the hook pulled, and landed three of 28, 10, and 9 lbs. Had a water change line heading out to the SE that was the best looking dorado zone I've seen yet though still not much debris on it. Finished off the day with one more 7 lb dorado. Installing one of my outriggers finally got the smoking lures smoking considerably better, and the largest dorado was on one of those. Otherwise they were equal opportunity, taking an octopus skirt (orange/green/yellow again), another smoking lure, and a Japanese feather.
Fishing Update - Oct 25, 2009 - Dorado continue to be found off the coast east of the Copalita, between Majahual and Barra de la Cruz. Trolling primarily with spinning gear today we landed two ten pound dorado that were acrobatic and quite good fights, and about five barrilete. Mariano got one barrilete on his fly rod. They seem to favor the same area, 280-300' of water, and while we trolled extensively farther out and farther in and back toward Huatulco, most of the action was in the same place as before. Keeping up a steady variety of lure offerings seems to be the key, this time a medium orange/green/yellow octopus skirt with a sinker in its head was getting most of the action. The second dorado was caught on 15 lb Yo-zuri mono, with a skirt/red feather combo lure. The smoking lures are seeing surprisingly little action to date.
Fishing Update - Oct 22, 2009 - Finally found dorado down east of the Copalita River. In 280' of water hooked into a 15-18 lb dorado on a light spinning rod with 20 lb braid on it, trolling a small plastic head with skirt. Immediately the line next to it went off too. I landed the dorado and let him beat the hell out of my boat while I picked up the other rod just in time to see a marlin leap out of the water twice, not what I thought I hit in the first place. I fought him for a bit on my Penn 310 GTI with 30 lb braid thinking it was a big Pacific sailfish before deciding that icing the dorado took greater priority and put the rod in the holder. When I got back to the marlin, it seemed much less feisty and I hauled in a slightly dazed but still strong four pound barrilete. Apparently was a barrilete all along and while I was fighting the dorado, a marlin came along and swallowed the barrilete before eventually spitting it out. The barrilete didn't have a mark on it. Ended up with three barrilete and the dorado before I got distracted investigating bottom structure around there for deep dropping, it drops from 380' to who knows how deep real fast. I had more dorado and barrilete strikes, and could've had surface action all day there with anyone with me to handle some of the other rods, but no need to fill the cooler any more than I needed to for myself.
Fishing Update - Oct 20, 2009 - Having better luck with the bottom fishing in close, just off the cliffs at Arrocito and Isla Montosa in Tangolunda. No end of structure in 70' of water around the headlands. The small cabrilla are so voracious you're lucky to have a bait down long enough for a chance at snapper, though, and the cabrilla - like most grouper - dart into the nearest hole at a moment's notice and "rock" you. I've found the bigger the chunk of bait I fish, the better chance I have of catching one of a size worth keeping. I got into giant needlefish on the bottom in 80' off of Isla Montosa and landed one about three feet long. They're fun because they're very acrobatic on the surface. While mexfish.com says locals regard them as poor table fare, Enrique the harbormaster at Chahue Marina assures me nothing could be further from the truth. He likes them better than snapper, and while I wouldn't go that far, they are quite good, tender, flaky white meat.