TOURNAMENTS

April; Annual Isla Mujeres Red Cross Billfish Tournament; Michael Creamer, phone, fax: 011-52-987-70443; mcshorey@prodigy.net.mx

April, Cancun, International Light Tackle Tournament Assoc; Bonnie Powell, 813-689-2496, fax: 813/684-0370, iltta@aol.com

May, Annual Marina El Cid Invitational Billfish Fly Tournament, Mazatlan; Cam Sigler 206/567-4836, Fax: 206/567-4940,; camsigler@aol.com

May-June, Sonora; San Carlos Yacht Club 2nd Annual International Fishing Tournament; Rusty Price; +52 622 226-0763, scycintfishtourney@yahoo.com

June, BAJA CALIFORNIA, Eastcape Billfish Tuornament; Debbie House, 916/649-6733, fax: 916/641-8271

June, East Cape, BAJA CALIFORNIA: C/R No Kill Billfish Tournament; Steve Crouch; 800/355-6441 tandb@connect.net

July, WORLDWIDE: World Cup Blue Marlin Championship; Jim Hardiel 305/551-0320, fax: 305/559-8485; scribemia@aol.com

October, CABO; Bisbee´s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament; Wayne Bisbee; 888/492-4927, fax: 949/650-7822; julia@tournamentcontrol.com

November, Zihuatanejo, Fintastic´s Tag & Release; Paul Phillips; 250/768-3537, fax: 250/768-3592;
fintastic.com/zih-tour

November, ZIHUATANEJO, MEXICO: Fintastic´s Tag & Release Tournamentl Paul Phillips; 250/768-3537, fax: 250/768-3592l info@fintastic.com

November, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo Inshore/Offshore Total Tag & Release; Stan Lushinsky; 570/688-9466, fax: 570/688-9554;
ixtsptf@epix.net

REELING IN THE HONORS

Spanning the Yucatan to Los Cabos, Mexico offers thousands of species of game fish; Sport Fishing Magazine rates Mazatlan as one of Top 20 sailfish spots in the world.

From the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the sapphire blue Pacific Ocean, Mexico offers tourists a variety of fishing experiences for both the most experienced avid angler, and the recreational fishermen.

Whether it's reeling in a prized striped marlin off Los Cabos, hooking mahi-mahi in the Yucatan, or trying to eclipse the record 988-pound black marlin caught off the waters of Mazatlan, visitors are sure to be lured by thousands of species of fish in one of the world's top destinations for sportfishing. So get ready to bring in the catch of a lifetime rather than bringing home tales of the proverbial big one that got away.

FISHING HOTSPOTS



Affordability and charm make Mazatlan a prime starting point for fishermen of all levels; from the aficionado to the amateur. With approximately 10,000 sailfish and marlin brought in annually, it's obvious why Sport Fishing magazine named Mazatlan one of the top 20 sport fishing destinations in the world. Thousands of anglers visit each year and try to break the 1980 record by reeling in a catch bigger than the 988-pound, 12-foot black marlin that was caught off Mazatlan's shores.

A 407-mile seacoast makes the western state of Sinaloa a leading region for commercial and sport fishing. Straddling the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, the state and its popular city, Mazatlan, were discovered by the Spanish explorers in the 1500s and became a bustling port for Galleons returning from Asia in the 17th century.

A large part of Sinaloa remains unexplored by tourists, although enthusiastic bass fishermen often visit the central zone to fish the many wetlands and reservoirs. Today, Mazatlan, the largest port on Mexico's western coast, is a highly visited beach resort and home to one of Mexico's most vibrant carnaval celebrations. The modern Marina El Cid was completed in 1995 and includes a 90-slip marina and a deluxe hotel. A second marina is currently being developed in Estero del Sábalo, a salt-water estuary. Called Isla Mazatlan, this project will feature lodging, an 18-hole golf course, a tennis center and yacht moorings.

Fishing seasons are as follows: sailfish and dorado (dolphin) from March to December; swordfish and striped marlin from December to April. Tuna can be fished year around. Charter boat prices range from $350 to $400 per day. Two of the eight full-time fleets offering chartered fishing excursions are:

The Star Fleet is the largest sport fishing fleet on the Pacific Coast with more than 40 years of experience in Mazatlan waters. The Fleet consists of 15 boats from 34 to 43 feet, which meet U.S. Coast Guard standards. Fishing trips run daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All bait, tackle and ice included. Star Fleet clients have established several IGFA world records, including those for striped marlin and dolphin fish. Phone: 210/377-0451.

In the event that not every member of the family has fishing on their agenda, Mazatlan offers an array of on-land activities, including white, sandy beaches, botanical gardens, snorkeling, shopping, and even an archaeological museum. For more information on Mazatlan visit www.go2mazatlan.com



Nestled against the Sierra Madre Mountains, the sister cities of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo sit 4 ½ miles apart along Mexico's western coastline and welcome visitors to explore dozens of sandy beaches and coves. Fairly recently recognized as a top fishing destination, the waters surrounding Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are teeming with a variety of game fish including marlin, mackerel, wahoo, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, dorado (mahi-mahi), and sailfish, the primary game during most of the year.

Ixtapa is arguably the most modern resort town on Mexico's western coast. Developed by the Mexican government in the 1970s, Ixtapa has an ecologically minded master plan that requires the allocation of half the land as ecological reserve. Making room for the ever increasing number of sport fishermen traveling to the region, the new Marina Ixtapa is comprised of 621 yacht slips, private villas, restaurants and shops, a beach club and tennis center.

For a change of pace, travelers can visit the traditional pueblo of Zihuatanejo, just a short taxi ride away. The sleepy town was once used by the Spanish as a trade port with the Orient and later became a retreat for Mexican nobility. Through the years Zihuatanejo has retained its quiet charm and serenity and remains a classic Mexican village with an unpretentious air. The village sits on the Bahía Zihuatanejo, lined by half a dozen beaches and a municipal pier from which boat rentals and fishing charters can be arranged.

From both Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, fishing excursions depart on vessels ranging from 24-foot pangas to 38-foot sport fishers, each guided by an expert, bilingual skipper. "Catch and release" fishing is often encouraged here. Charter costs range from approximately US$120 a day for near-shore, smaller game fish excursions, to $250-$500 for deep-sea trips.


Whiskey Water World offers some of Zihuatanejo's most luxurious sport fishing yachts equipped with air conditioning, modern bathrooms, and even with a cook and bartender upon request. Charter fees include bait and tackle and fishing licenses. Rates vary by season and length of outing. For more information visit www.ixtapa-sportfishing.com

The Ixtapa Sport Fishing Charters fleet is operated by some of the most experienced local tournament-winning captains and crews. Excursions on these luxury yachts range in price from US$190 per day to US$900 per day and include Penn International tackle, an 8-hour charter day, Mexican fishing license for all on board, tackle, dead bait & lures, all dispatch fees & taxes, ice, and participation in the Billfish Foundation's Tag & Release Program. For more information visit www.ixtapasportfishing.com



Jutting out into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and separating it from the Caribbean Sea, is Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, a geologically unique region. Lush, tropical jungles lie on a surface of porous limestone and the peninsula is believed to have once been a coral reef that, over time, rose above sea level. Networks of underground rivers called cenotes attract divers wishing to explore the undersea labyrinths.

The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are home to hundreds of species of tropical fish, making the Yucatan and its islands an inviting spot for all types of fishing, including deep sea, fly and bone fishing. Game fishing in the region is so popular that Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos, and Puerto Aventuras each hold their own annual billfish tournaments.

From Cancun's several marinas private and group charters can be commissioned and usually include equipment, bait, licenses and lunch. From February to April, top catches include king fish, barracuda, small shark, grouper, and blue marlin. From April to August there are blue marlin, sailfish, tuna, bonito and mahi-mahi. From September to February, top catches include barracuda, grouper, snapper, mackerel, and amberjack. For more information on Cancun, visit www.gocancun.com.

Since the famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau filmed his 1961 documentary here, the island of Cozumel has been internationally recognized for its superb diving. The popularity of scuba diving off the island sometimes overshadows its excellent fishing. During the billfish season in March through June, marlin and sailfish can be caught within 550 yards of the shore. In May, Cozumel hosts its annual billfish tournament attended by hundreds of avid anglers. Most fishing excursions depart from the Club Abrigo Nautico de Cozumel located on the northern side of the island near the airport. For information on Cozumel visit www.islacozumel.com.mx



The southern tip of Baja California Sur — where the grand Pacific Ocean and the bountiful Sea of Cortez meet at Lands End — continues to be one of the world's top spots for billfishing. The waters of Cabo San Lucas, depending on the season, are known as one of the most fertile fishing grounds in the world, providing an excellent variety of game fish: yellowfin tuna, dorado, grouper, wahoo, sailfish, and blue and black marlin, striped marlin (year-around).

Get Tropical Gear HereIn the 1930s, a small fishing village and cannery occupied the north end of the Cabo San Lucas harbor. The cape sportfishing craze of the 1950s and 60s helped earn it the international distinction of "Marlin Alley." All sportfishing companies have adopted a tag-and-release program and insist that you let billfish go.

With its white sand beaches and cozy reputation, San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas maintain a small-town charm. Other activities in San Jose del Cabo include horseback riding, golf and shopping in an authentic Mexican setting. In Cabo San Lucas, vacationers can also find a bustling nightlife, fine cuisine, shopping, kayaking, and windsurfing. The waters of Los Cabos are also ideal for snorkeling and diving. For more information on Los Cabos, go to www.visitcabo.com.

Solmar features fiberglass diesel-powered boats, featuring custom fishing tackle, dual fighting chairs, in-board live wells, cold storage fish box, clean onboard heads and comfortable cabins. For more information, call 800/344-3349 or visit www.solmar.com

The Pisces Fleet Sportfishing has been recognized on numerous occasions by the Billfish Foundation for releasing the most striped marlin on a worldwide basis. Rates vary by season and length of outing. For more information visit, www.piscessportfishing.com




No matter what you are seeking, Mexico offers a variety of experiences that are close to home and difficult to match anywhere else. Where else can you climb a pyramid in the morning, snorkel before lunch, shop for exquisite crafts, dine on authentic Mexican cuisine and dance until dawn? From excitement and fun to rest, relaxation, and reflection, Mexico offers it all.

By Alberto Girlado, Latin America Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.



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Boating's Top 60 Tips: Saltwater Fishing (DVD)

Boating's Top 60 Tips: Saltwater Fishing (DVD)

This program covers a world of information in a detailed step-by-step informative manner for the experienced and novice angler. Features amberjack, dolphin, grouper, king mackerel,marlin, wahoo, redfish, sailfish, snapper, tarpon and tuna. Subjects covered include locating fish, preferred baits, hooking, fighting & landing fish, species habitat, lure presentation, tackle selection, bait rigging and weather patterns. 45 min.



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