IXTAPA-ZIHUATANEJO — Maybe it was just the “super” full moon that busted up the fishing for the previous week’s “Kill Tournament” for sailfish, bad water conditions or maybe it was just a sign of the times, regardless, the event was a bust with very few fish caught in the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area for the event.
“I really do not know whether to laugh or cry,” said IGFA representative for the area Ed Kunze. “The 148-boat tournament this last Friday, Saturday and Sunday only gave up a total of 12 sailfish, 2 blue marlin and a few dorado. This was great for the billfish, because there were no fish to be killed. But it is very sad that the species is being so decimated by long lines all up and down the coast that it is finally beginning to show.
“A person may argue the full moon effect or bad water conditions hurt the fishing and no doubt it did,” Kunze said. “And, they may say there were also few dorado or marlin caught, but over the years, this has been typical in past tournaments. After almost 30 years, the tournament has been held under a full moon many times, with few dorado or marlin taken but there were always hundreds of sailfish killed.
“Plus, there was a lot of controversy, very heated arguments and a lot of short tempers at the final weigh-in,” Kunze said. “It appears the person who won the tournament is also a known long line fisherman. Many a captain said the sailfish turned in had been dead for a long time, like the day before.
“It was so bad, they actually held up the awards ceremony for the first time since the tournament’s inception, until the next day,” Kunze said. “But, the captains deserved it. They allow long liners to work in their backyard. Heck, they are cousins, brother-in-laws, and compadres involved in the illegal long line fishing. When the captains charter their long liner boats, the charters are guaranteed the daily rate and usually a decent tip. This happens if they catch fish or not.
Kunze said what they are not paying attention to is the lack of fish compared to what we have had in the past. “They see it, but write it off every year as some other factor,” he said. “But they also blame the lack of anglers fishing here on the bad economy in the states, bad press from the drug wars, etc. It is incredible that the captains are always optimistic; thinking things are going to rebound. The U.S. economy will, but the people will not come back if there are no fish left to catch.
“However, when the captains pay more than $1,000 of their very hard-earned money to fish in the tournament and don’t even have a chance because a long liner took their principle prize; hopefully this finally got their attention,” Kunze said. “I can’t speak for the captains but it had to open their eyes a bit with the poor results of the tournament. They are professionals and have fished these waters and the tournament for almost 30 years now. Maybe this year we will see some actual support from them to put an end to the long lines.”
Reporting for the Independent Sportfishing Fleet, Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters said he had another very down-sided fishing report from Capt. Temo Verboonen for the Zihuatanejo area that reflected a continuation of the red tide and green waters throughout the area that continue to hamper the fishing results.
“While the water temperatures were okay, the clarity was terrible and the catching almost non-existent,” Edwards said. “Of the 155 boats (the numbers were inconsistent) fishing in their International Fishing Tournament this past week, many skippers reported no strikes for the entire three fishing days. That's unquestionably very tough fishing for both anglers and crew and can make for some extraordinarily long fishing days.
“As of this report, there was no visible sign of water conditions improving and this could continue into another week of poor fishing results for both inshore and offshore fishing,” Edwards said.
In other Mexico fishing action:
— CANCUN TO COZUMEL: The Marina El Cid Sportfishing Fleet reported a "Baker's Dozen" mixed-bag catch week for the Puerto Morelos area that produced a 13-species variety for anglers’ efforts.
The white marlin reappeared in the fish counts this past week, though, with three fish reported by the boats, along with 5 sailfish, 9 wahoo, 2 king mackerel, 10 dorado, 9 blackfin tuna, 8 Atlantic barracuda, 19 bonito, 3 Spanish mackerel, 7 amberjack, 6 grouper, 11 triggerfish and 21 snapper.
Puerto Morelos continues to be one of the most fascinating fishing areas, as week after week, it continues to have interesting catches reflected in the fish reports.
— MAZATLAN: The water temperatures are rising rapidly throughout the Mazatlan area and it is time for the dorado to restart their annual action at the buoy any day now.
“The billfish bite was off a little this past week, but the boats still averaged a billfish per boat day fished in the offshore waters,” said Larry Edwards of Cortez Yacht Charters, speaking for the Aries Sportfishing Fleet.
“Even the super pangas landed a few sailfish as the water temperatures moved up,” Edwards said. “The numbers of offshore charters were very slow, with only four boats reporting for the week that included 3 stripers and 1 sailfish, 1 dorado and 1 jack crevalle for their efforts.
“The inshore super pangas reported in for 12 charters and included 2 sailfish, 45 red snapper (quality-sized fish for the most part in the 10- to 15-pound range) 14 barracuda and 7 triggerfish,” Edwards said.
Reporting for the Bibi Fleet, Tadeo Hernández Kelly said there were very few anglers this past week, but dorado fishing picked up and inshore fishing for red snapper was very good.
“Marco Sánchez and Kevin Smith caught 5 dorado, with the heaviest weighing 28 pounds and measuring 4 feet, aboard the Mahi Dreamer with skipper Alfonso,” Hernández said.
“The water temperature was 78 degrees and we had no port closures.”
MORE FISH THAN ANGLERS — Marco Sánchez and Kevin Smith caught 5 dorado aboard the Mahi Dreamer with skipper Alfonso. There were very few anglers around, but those that were, enjoyed the dorado fishing that is picking up, and inshore fishing for red snapper. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BIBI FLEET
— PUERTO VALLARTA: NOAA is predicting this corner of the world will have heavier than normal rain and humidity. Puerto Vallarta is already seeing the first tropical storm of the year, which is early by any measurement. This storm is not predicted to turn into a hurricane before it fizzles, but is an early indication that summer is moving in aggressively.
“Blue marlin are starting to move in, which is early for them; June is more normal,” said Stan Gabruk of Master Baiter’s Sportfishing and Tackle. “But the biggest indication that we’re aggressively moving into summer is the first tropical storm warning which came into my inbox Sunday morning. We normally don’t see tropical storms or hurricanes, which they can turn into in May. NOAA is predicting heavier weather, or I should say rain and tropical storms, for the Americas this year, and believe it or not, for fishing that is not bad news, either.
“With the downturn in tourism, there are very few boats going out, which, of course, makes it difficult to report on what is happening,” Gabruk said. “But those that are going out are doing well. Dorado at the Marietta Islands are getting a little bigger, in the 25-pound range, the snappers are in the 20- to 30-pound range, skipjack are coming in the area, as well, and with the increases in baitfish, the roosterfish have been a nice size, in the 35-pound range, as well.
“Sailfish off the reefs are becoming more abundant… as they should be,” Gabruk said. “And jack crevalle are thinning out with warmer water moving into the area. All in all, this area is still one of the hot spots for those looking for action and not a huge price tag.
“We’re moving into the time of the year when what is happening at the Marietta Islands will most likely be happening off Punta Mita, as well,” Gabruk said. “Roosterfish are off the Anclote area (Sayulita) and dorado are off the point if you are lucky enough to find a log, dead something or anything small baitfish can hide under.
“The area off the Marietta Islands has held sailfish all the way out to Corbeteña,” Gabruk said. “Football tuna, cubera snapper, rainbow runners and amberjack weighing about 45 pounds have been here for some good bottom fishing. There have also been some blue marlin sightings, but, as yet, nothing boated to get any pictures of.”
Gabruk said El Banco is also producing smallish striped marlin, rainbows and yellowfin in the 60- to 80-pound range, as well as sailfish, like everywhere else. “We have also seen some flying fish moving in,” he said.
Inside the bay, it was still all about the skippie,s but some needlefish were also seen; which are the first indications of warmer waters moving in.
— SAN CARLOS (SONORA): The water has quickly warmed up in San Carlos; it may not be blue water, but it sure looks clear.
“The water is blue right into shore where it is 72 to 76 degrees, farther out it read 83 degrees,” said Bryan Replogle of Team Margarita Sport Fishing and SC Aquatic Adventures. “The yellowtail bite at the island is still good, but a lot tougher than the previous week. The same holds true for the fish in close. They are still there right outside the harbors, though.
“We landed a nice 15-pound cabrilla and an 8-pound sierra, along with a few yellowtail pargo,” Replogle said. “The dorado are starting to show up, with some larger 30- to 50-pound fish caught. And there have been a lot of marlin jumping, but not a whole lot caught.
“We went out a few days ago, leaving at 4 a.m. hoping to find tuna,” Replogle said. “Within a half hour we had a nice 150-pound striped marlin jumping that proceeded to pull off 350 yards without any hesitation of stopping before it threw the hook. We got our revenge 10 minutes before sunset though, when we solidly hooked one.”
“Fishing in San Carlos was hot all week long,” Jon Hilderbrand from Will-Yums Adventures reported. “Yellowtail were boiling in huge boils and there were a lot of small fish in and around the sea mounds; you just had to be there at the right time and place. And there were a lot of big fish at San Pedro Island. I heard commercial boats were getting 600 kilos on live baits. Other boats were getting limits and then catching and releasing.
“The water is in the 70s out front and a few billfish are also being hooked,” Hilderbrand said. “One boat, the Reel Lady, while fishing at Tortuga got a small bull dorado. There aren’t any long liners here yet but they always seem to set up in the canyon, which is the migratory route for the dorado and billfish.
“We had a few boats out today (Saturday) and were hearing mixed reports,” Hilderbrand said. “No big marlin, just a few peanuts. My good friend was bottom fishing at the reef and trolled his way home and said he caught and released 6 really small marlin, the biggest one being maybe 2 feet. He said there was a big school of these little guys, which is good news for us.”
The Ladies International Billfish Tournament is coming up on May 25-27. This is a release tourney and one this writer hopes to go over to join one day!
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