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East Cape Mexico
Fish Species on the Sea of Cortez

Offshore/Pelagic Species
Nearshore Species

 
Offshore/Pelagic Species
Pacific Blue Marlin Dorado
Striped Marlin Wahoo
Black Marlin Skipjack Tuna
Broadbill Swordfish Yellowfin Tuna
Pacific Sailfish

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific Blue Marlin make their homes all across the Pacific, including Mexican waters.  The best season is considered July through December, but just like any species and fishery, yearly fluctuations do occur.  Many major tournaments targeting Blue Marlin take place in October when most anglers feel the highest populations exist.

The Pacific Blue Marlin is considered by many to be sportfishing's ultimate prize.   Growing as large as 2000 pounds (the largest caught on rod and reel was 1,805 pounds in Hawaii in 1970), and often seen in Mexican waters from 300-600 pounds in season, the fish is as acrobatic as it is powerful.  Alive, the Pacific Blue tends to make colossal runs - like times trial on a liquid dragstrip - and perform aerial shows that give even non-anglers the opportunity to witness their majestic beauty.  The Blue Marlin is truly a treat to catch.

Anglers like to troll artificial plugs, but when conditions dictate, live and dead baiting techniques are used extensively.  Drop-backs are often employed, using Ballyhoo or similar fish as baits.  When using live bait such as a skipjack tuna (7-15 pounds is a good size), the bait will exhibit certain behaviors while attached to the line.  It will become nervous when a larger fish is near and a strike is impending, and this is where the angler's and the boat driver's skills must work in unison.  Although many claim the right approach is to count to 10 or more after the initial strike, Marlin open their mouths wide and engulf the entire bait with a vacuum-like force, and the hook is often safely set about 3 to 5 seconds after the taking of the bait.  Any longer and the fish tends to have swallowed the bait making for a less enjoyable fight and a higher chance of mortality caused by gut-hooking.

Though many biological characteristics distinguish the Blue Marlin from the Black, the easiest way to tell is from the pectoral fins.  On a Blue Marlin, the pecs are hinged and will retract close into the body, whereas a Black Marlin's pectorals are fixed.

The current IGFA record for Pacific Blue Marlin is 1,376 pounds, and this fish was caught in Hawaii in 1982. 

Striped Marlin

One of the fun things about Stripers is multiple hookups are quite frequent when they are in season.  Unlike the Blue, which is essentially a lone-wolf predator, the stripers often travel in pairs - male and female - and schools.  The most distinguishing characteristic of the Striped Marlin (Blue Marlin have plenty of stripes on them, too, when in the water) is the dorsal fin, which extends much higher than on a Blue.  In fact, given a fish of comparable size, the Striped Marlin's dorsal find will extend about 30% higher than on a Blue.  The average size of the Striped Marlin in Mexico is 100 - 200 pounds with some ranging in Mexico up to 250 pounds.  The IGFA record is 494 pounds, caught in New Zealand in 1986, where it is widely acknowledged that Stripes grow much larger.

Although not as large on average as the Blue, the Striper is a fun fish to fight, especially on light tackle.  Because of this, anglers like to switch to lighter tackle in areas and seasons when Stripers are more prevalent than Blues.  The prime season for Stripes in Mexico is May through November, though early and late season runs are frequent and this species is caught to some degree year-round.

Dead bait, sighting tailing fish, and trolling lures are the common methods used to hook this acrobatic surface fish, and crews that truly pay attention to the waters with a keen eye will usually catch considerably more Stripers in the course of a year.

Black Marlin

Black Marlin are not as common in Mexican waters as they are in the Southern hemisphere, though they certainly show up unannounced often enough to keep everyone interested.  It is thought by some that the Black Marlin that travel away from their "home" down under strayed following a school of bait and either forgot about or didn't care about the way back after a feeding frenzy dissipated, then followed one current after another until they crossed the equator and onto another current or school of baitfish. 

Not much is known about the breeding or feeding habits of the Black in Mexico, and many are incidental catches while trolling or baiting for Blues.  They put up one heck of a fight, and anglers have spent way too many hours at night arguing whether or not it fights as hard or harder than the Blue. 

Growing as large as the Blue in some parts of the world, the largest Black on record for IGFA purposes remains Alfred Glassell's 1560 pound monster caught in Peru in 1953.   Reports of commercially caught fish in excess of 2000 pounds do surface now and again, and most anglers do believe it's just a matter of time before one that size is harnessed on rod and reel.

Catching the Black is much the same as the Blue, and the season is about the same.  Trolling with lures or baits, live and dead, is the predominant method.

Broadbill Swordfish

This fish is one of the reasons why Mexico is able to provide such diversity to the Angling Adventurer.  The Broadbill, a colder water fish that primarily feeds at night and lazily basks during the day, was once the pride of the Southern California harpoon fishery before less discriminatory commercial harvesting techniques reduced stocks significantly.  

A rare catch for East Cape waters, there are occasions when they show up, and are often caught on some type of live bait rig such as the abundant mackerels.  The fight of a Broadbill is legendary.  With its huge, powerful pectoral fins resembling a weightlifting Marlin and it's uncanny ability to conserve strength during the fight, it rarely jumps.  It just stares anglers down and waits for its moment to strike, almost as if it is planning the entire battle.  Broadbills win more battles than they lose, and for many anglers, catching one ends up being the last of a long line of species on their life's "to catch" list. 

The Broadbill is a delicacy known as shutome in Japan, and they have commanded high prices all over the world.  But because little is known about their breeding habits and they have been largely exploited for their flesh, like other billfish species, the Broadbill is considered overfished in many oceans. 

The current IGFA Record for a Broadbill Swordfish is 1182 pounds, and like the Black Marlin, this mark was set in 1953 off another country in South America - Chile.

Pacific Sailfish

The East Cape often has a nice abundance of Sails during the months of July through October.   A terrific light tackle opponent, the sailfish is known for its schooling, multiple hook-up tendencies and aerial acrobatics.  Though they generally don't get much larger than 80 pounds, they will sometimes come in up to 180 pounds on occasion.   Most sport anglers release Sailfish.

Caught by trolling, teasing, and drop-back baiting methods for those paying close attention to when they arrive in the lure pattern behind a boat, schooling Sailfish are the target of tournament anglers from Baja to Peru on the Pacific side and Florida to Brazil on the Atlantic side, with places such as Panama and Costa Rica considered prime. 

The IGFA record for Sailfish was set in 1947 at 221 pounds, off the coast of Ecuador.

 
Dorado

This Mexican staple table food fish is also one of the most exciting to angle for because of its abundance and aerial acrobatics.  While out looking for Marlin, many anglers will often find a cargo net, a piece of plywood or some other floating debris with a nice school of Dorado underneath it.  They are also often found in open schools during spawning seasons, and peak times are April or May through October. 

Mexican for "golden," the Dorado is also known as the Dolphinfish or Mahimahi.   There is another fish bearing the Dorado name, but that fish resembles a salmon and lives in South America, so don't be confused.  In the East Cape, the fish come closer to shore as the summer progresses, and while it might take a trip to 30 or 40 miles in the early season to find them, Dorado will often come in just a couple miles offshore as the temperature warms up. 

A popular technique for multiple hookups is to angle the first catch to a position off the stern of the boat, where it can either be left on the rod or connected to a floating bottle.  The fish will return to the school, and as he does, one crew will get out the light tackle casting gear while two or three crew will watch the bottle and the floating debris.  Then the fun really begins. 

 
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Dorado

Live baits (so long as the bait man is paid well in the morning), spoons or small plugs with or without dead are cast bait into the school, and many times the bite will remain hot for hours, keeping anglers exhilarated fighting beautiful, rambunctious fish.  The lighter the tackle, the more fun the fishing!

The IGFA record for Dorado is 88 pounds, a mark set in the Bahamas in 1998.

Wahoo

The rule of thumb for catching one of the fastest and the most delicious and sharpest toothed of the Mexican species of gamefish is to use the depth recorder religiously in order to stay right at 40 fathoms.  Although it is essentially unknown what the reason for Wahoo's preference to this depth is, scientists have acknowledged they often hang around near the bottom in this part of the water column and then attack surface lures with a vengeance, often trying to slice their prey in half with their extremely sharp teeth.  

Our theory is the pressure gradient at 40 fathoms allows them to be comfortable yet still have the ability to feed on both the bottom and the surface.  Mexican waters have many ledges very close to shore, and the depth often drops from 40 fathoms to a few hundred fathoms in only a few miles. 

Wahoo are pelagic, but very territorial.  Catches in deeper water are also common, and many skippers will mark the spot of a hookup and return to it for more action.  The Wahoo average size is 30 pounds, but frequent catches to 60 and 70 pounds occur, and once in awhile fish over 100 pounds do make it to the docks.  The current IGFA record is 158lbs 8 oz, and was caught off of Loreto in 1996. 

Skipjack Tuna

Many anglers target Skipjacks for their multi-hookup action-packed activity which makes for a fun time regardless of whatever else is caught on a trip.  In fact, many father introducing their kids to the sport of fishing like to target Skipjack to keep the child interested and motivated.  Once a Skipjack school is found and identified by constant surface boiling combined with active and organized bird feeding, get out smaller lures and bait rods with light line for hours of fun.  Multiple hookups are frequent, and the crew work will be constant. 

For big time sportfishing excitement, however, the Skipjack truly is the known hero for live-baiting Blue Marlin.  Where there's Skipjack, there's often a Marlin nearby.   Anglers like to catch a live Skipjack and bridle rig it, and troll at slow speeds just outside the school creating the disturbance and fear that predators sense so well.  

The great thing about live baiting Skipjack is if you catch a Marlin you have a story to tell your friends about forever.  If you don't catch one and the fish dies while trying, you can bring it back on board, ice it down, and make sashimi (raw cut fish) or poke (a salted concoction mixed with herbs and greens) for a delicious meal.

The IGFA record for Skipjack is 45 pounds 4 oz, and was caught off Flathead Bank in Baja in 1996.  The average size is 10-15 pounds.

Yellowfin Tuna

Some anglers will tailor their entire mindset to target and catch the Yellowfin Tuna.   From long range boats in San Diego to offshore charter boats in Hawaii to exploring new and exciting areas, the Yellowfin is a prize.  And the East Cape has its share also.  Prime season for Yellowfin is July through December, though like most species, they are caught to some degree year round in the East Cape. 

A long time staple in the Mexican diet, Yellowfin are succulent and flavorful, especially when prepared raw with Wasabi (a mixture of soy/shoyu and green-paste Japanese horseradish), and served chilled over a bed of shredded green cabbage. 

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Yellowfin Tuna

Hunt for the Yellowfin the same way you would for Marlin and other gamefish; look for piles of birds such as shearwaters that are active and organized.  Mix up the lures to see what they bite on a given day; sometimes it's big and purple, sometimes it's small and green.  Chrome jet heads are also effective.  The fun thing about Yellowfin besides their pure fighting power is once you learn what they're biting on a given day, multiple hookups are common.  Bait should also be carried when targeting Yellowfin, because these fish rise and drop frequently throughout a day, and there are many times when they are down that the only thing they will bite is bait.

The IGFA record for Yellowfin is 388 pounds, 12 oz.  This beast was caught off San Benedicto Island in Baja in 1977.

 
Nearshore Species
Roosterfish Jack Crevalle
Amberjack Sierra
 
Roosterfish

A great fighter without exceptionally sharp maneuvers and an extended runs, the Roosterfish is 101 is anglers love to cross off their life's catch list.  This fish exists throughout Mexico and is highly abundant in the East Cape area and can be caught from the beach frequently.   The body shape is remarkably similar to that of the Dorado, but that's where the similarities end.  The Roosterfish has a comb-like dorsal fin and have a couple of very pronounced stripes, one running along the lateral line to the tail, and the other remaining in the midsection.  Usually, the larger fish travel alone or in pairs, and the smaller fish remain in schools.

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Roosterfish

Common method of targeting larger rooster fish is to utilize an ATV to keep up with the  quick pace, set up to cast with a live bait, and try again.  The wait for the rooster fish ranges between 20 and hundred pounds and is caught anywhere from the beach out to 40 or 50 feet of water, either from the shore or from the boat.

The IGFA world record for rooster fish is when 114 pounds, caught off of La Paz in 1960.

Amberjack

This terrific fighting fish can often be found in the East Cape area.  While the IGFA record is 104 pounds (caught in 1984 in Baja), the average size is 10 to 20 pounds.

Jack Crevalle

This is another species that people add to their life's must catch list.  It is an aggressive fighter known for its explosive strike and powerful first-run, and the East Cape is one of the most prolific areas to target the species.  Though the months of March, April, October and November produce, the best months are May through September.

Small but powerful, the IGFA world record is 39 pounds, caught in Costa Rica in 1997, and this is a terrific fish for light tackle anglers to pursue.

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Jack Crevalle

Sierra

Many skippers will tell you, "when all else fails, let's look for the Sierra."   This particular fish is extremely abundant in the East Cape region, and is an excellent eating fish.  It is also good for bait, and is terrific fun on light tackle.

A host of other species including snapper and Grouper are also available in the East Cape, and can be accessed from the cliffs, the beach, and in and around the reefs.   Generally speaking, these fish are available all year-round to some degree.

 

 
If you have questions about fishing in East Cape, Mexico or would like to make reservations, please call us or email us and we will be happy to help.
 

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