Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Snook, Robalo or Snipe?

San Carlos-often overlooked
Andrew Martin recently posted on a Baja blog about an exciting trip that he and his nephew made to San Carlos, a Mexican resort community, (population: approximately 4,500) that lies about halfway down the mainland Mexico side of the Sea of Cortez in the State of Sonora, some 260 miles below the Arizona border.

An 8-hour run from Phoenix, they made their trip in mid-January. As usual, they encountered no problems either at the border or anywhere else along the route. The weather reports weren’t that great, and it was raining the whole way down, but they were going fishing no matter what!

THE TOP WATER bite lasted most of the afternoon with most fish coming on poppers, Waxwings, and a few on Salas.

Upon arrival, they checked into their beer-budget, $70 a night accommodations, which included an awesome view!

Their first day fishing from kayaks produced quality-sized yellowtail for both anglers within paddling distance of shore. On their second day, they fished with Fernando from Catch 22 Sportfishing Charters. Once at the island, meter markings showed big spots of bait with fish surrounding them; however, they were constantly on the move. Dropping jigs resulted in catching a couple of 20-pound class fish.

Soon, bird schools arrived and pinpointed the location of the fish. They began throwing poppers at the ’tails and bam, fish on! The top water bite lasted most of the afternoon with the majority of the fish coming on poppers, Waxwings, and a few on Salas irons.

Total for the day was13 to the boat ranging from 20 to 25 pounds and about half that many more either breaking off or coming unbuttoned. Certainly an impressive day in the dead of winter!

“I have fished with Fernando multiple times and WOW … each trip has truly been amazing. My most recent trip over MLK weekend was nothing short of fantastic! Fernando goes the extra mile to put you on fish.

“I booked a full day and Fernando knew the late evening bite was going to be great, so when other boats were going in, we stayed out. He gave us the option to stay for it. Are you kidding, of course we will.

“Not only will he cater to your skill level, he will gladly share his knowledge. He certainly knows the waters around San Carlos and his ‘fish sense’ is awesome! One of the things I like most is I always feel like I am fishing with a buddy. A huge bonus is the pictures he takes; they are truly fantastic and make awesome memories. If you are in San Carlos, Catch 22 is who you want to fish with, no question about it.” -Andrew Martin.

Exceptional numbers of dorado, sailfish, tuna and marlin (striped, blue and black) migrate north to this corner of the Sea of Cortez every year starting in May. Action continues into the fall with an occasional lull in August, when water temperatures can creep into the lower 90s. October is regarded as the absolute best time to fish with upward of 20 shots at billfish on a good day.

When offshore fishing cools down, wintertime yellowtail action here is legendary and is usually in full swing by late fall and will continue until April or May, when the water temps rise again and the pelagics arrive.

Despite San Carlos' lack of visibility as a top fishing destination, weekenders and retirees from the southwest United States regularly make the easy four-hour drive from the Arizona border.

For air travelers, Aeromexico ( provides regular daily service to Hermosillo, just over an hour’s drive away from San Carlos.

I visited the area for the very first time just over six decades ago. An uncle of mine from the Bay Area made an annual fishing pilgrimage with his buddies to San Carlos and invited me to tag along for a 16th birthday present.

Those shivers of anticipation I experienced are still a vivid memory all these years later, as I awaited their arrival in a service station at a wide spot in the then two-lane Highway 8. Finally, I spotted my uncle’s 1953 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight hardtop with a 16-foot Wizard Trailer boat in tow.

That trip to the then undeveloped bay was filled with many firsts! First visit to Mexico; first yellowtail, dorado and sailfish; first hangover and first bar fight. Those were just some firsts etched in my memory forever. Little did I know that trip was to be a prelude to a lifetime of Mexico adventures.

If you are looking for an authentic taste of the Sea of Cortez, San Carlos may be just the place for you. Easy access both by air and driving make it an attractive choice for either a quickie, long weekend or even a longer adventure.

Catch 22 Sport Fishing Adventures has two boats with rates to fit any budget. They are a Billfish Foundation “catch and release” operation whose mission is to provide clients a great day of fishing while protecting marine habitat and resources.

Catch 22, Suite 1, Marina San Carlos
(Mexico) 011-52-622-226-2161
011-52-1-622-855-9848 (24 Hours)

Trip Advisor provides a comprehensive list of the top 10 hotels in the area.

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