Monday, June 21, 2010

Shore Fishing

Is there any shore fishing here in Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo? This is an often asked question. A lot of people, if they are not chartering a boat that day, like to hit the shoreline early in the morning, or late in the evening for some additional recreation. Shore fishing has a lot of advantages. You do not need a license to fish from shore. You can fish while the rest of the family enjoys the beach. And, you are not tired from a long day on the water, as you would be when on a boat. Also, unlike in a boat when the bite is not on, you have the option to put the gear away and do something else, or just kick back and relax.

          A typical e-mail reply, when people ask me about shore fishing, goes like this: “In the hotel zone of Ixtapa, and even around the bay in Zihuatanejo, the shore fishing is generally a hit or miss situation. If the bait is here, and the birds are crashing, it can be awesome. But, that does not happen very often in areas within walking distance of your hotel, or even by taking a short ride in a taxi.”
           The fact is, it does happen, but again, not within the confined limits of the average tourist. When I guide fly fishing clients for a beach trip, I expect a full day of travel. We load up in my Suburban, which is convenient because the 9 and 10 foot fly rods fit inside, all rigged to go, and either head North or South. From prior days on the water, or by calling my captain friends, I usually know where the bait and birds are. If we head north, we may go 1.5 hours up to the Ranch or Saladita, or we may head 1.5 hours south to Puerto Vicente Guerrero. We then hit all the beaches in between, and may actually end up on a beach, crossing back through Zihuatanejo, in the exact opposite direction we started out for in the morning.
           But, this type of fishing is not for the average person. First of all, you would need a rental car, and a decent knowledge of the area. Plus, you would not know the turnoffs for the best beach access, the highways, etc. However, some beaches almost always produce something. The Troncones area, Barra Potosi, and Playa Linda always seem to have something happening on a daily basis, and it is just a matter of which hour.
           Troncones is becoming a very popular spot for families to get away from the hotel scene. It is also a very popular surfing destination. With its intermittent sandy beaches, rocky points and rock outcroppings, it is a natural fish magnet. The only downfall, for fishermen that is, is the surf. As almost our beaches, we are directly facing the open Pacific. The surf, to reach the larger sized game fish, means long casts. Like in “real long”. A 50 yard cast will just reach the back of the waves on a normal day, and there is many a day I am not sure a 100 yard cast would be sufficient to reach the breaking jacks or roosterfish.
            Playa Linda is near the Hotel Zone II of Ixtapa. Located south of Ixtapa proper by about 15 minutes, the beach is split by a breakwater and pier for the pangas to transport tourists to Ixtapa Island. Within a short walk, the hotels Melia Azul, Club Med, and Qualton, also have great beaches and rocky points nearby that can be very good for shore fishing. On any of these beaches, and off the rock jetty, when the pelicans and booby birds are diving on bait, it is an almost sure thing to hook up with several nice jack crevalle. Plus, Ixtapa Island and the other rock pinnacles act as a natural barrier, so the surf is not nearly as bad as at Troncones, Saladita, or the Ranch. Just remember, when fishing near people swimming, or near the hotels, it is best to allow them the right of way.
           Barra Potosi is probably my favorite. The Barra is tucked neatly back into the corner of a major point, and is also protected from high surf. The palapa restaurants are great to sit back and have a cold one while waiting for some action to develop, or just to get out of the sun and relax. This is the place I go to when the family wants to go to the beach. The fishing is great for me, and they enjoy the mild ocean conditions for swimming. A full afternoon here, including a meal of fish tacos, quesadillas, guacamole, beans and rice and drinks for 4 people, is less than $30.

            For spin fishermen after jacks, roosters, and black skipjack tuna, a nine foot rod and a light to medium action salt water reel, loaded with a minimum of 200 yards of 30 or 50 pound braided gel spun (braided) line is best. For lure selection, use anything bright and shiny you can cast a long way. Three to four inch long Hopkins spoons, Krocodiles, and similar lures work well. But, the number one lure of choice would be a 6” to 8” surface popper. The game fish really turn on to a popper crashing the surface.
           Fly fishermen should use 8 to 10 weight rods for these larger fish, and again, at least 200 yards of backing. The flies should be no larger than the bait, but it is best to have a selection of flies from 1” to 4”. White, blue and white, green and white, and anything with a lot of flash will work.
           Another option, especially in areas of high surf, is to look for the holes the waves have cut out inside the surf line. You will be after small game fish of ½ to 3 pounds, so a 6 to 7 weight fly rod, or a light spin outfit with 4 to 8 pound test will be perfect. These holes can be located by finding a vertical cut in the sand, of about one or two feet, at the high tide line. Directly in front of the vertical cut will be a hole from 3 to 6 feet deep. Instead of standing in thigh deep water and casting out past the surf line, turn 90ยบ and cast parallel with the beach and into these holes. You will be surprised as to how much action you will get.
            A final option, for lots of action on smaller game fish, is to go to the Commercial Mexicana and buy a couple of dollars worth of California squid. A light spin outfit with 8 to 10 pound test line, with a number 6 or 8 hook is perfect for the small cut pieces of squid. It is also best to use a dropper loop or a 3 way swivel. On a short drop line, attach a spark plug, with the gap closed. You can get the used spark plugs from any local mechanic for next to nothing. Spark plugs make great weights, and when you get hung up in the rocks, there is no bite to the pocket book. You can expect to catch cabrilla, corbina, small jacks, perch, pargo, snappers, and a lot of others various species.
Ed Kunze