Apart from the odd reference to fly fishing and a few sub notes on some web pages it was obvious we would be flying blind. Even the hotel staff couldn't really help much as most anglers fish the boats only.
The beaches on the East Cape are generally steep too and fairly deep very close in. I reckon 30-feet deep at 40-yds was about average and the beaches can run for several miles, broken only occasionally by rock outcrops or headlands. Some of the smaller coves were much shallower though, and just 10-feet deep with a seabed of sand and rocky reef.
Our accommodation, the Punta Colorado Hotel complex, looked over a shallow cove with rocks and areas of sand, but to the south there was a long, four-mile-plus open storm beach we thought looked promising. We elected to fish the first night a few hundred yards to the north along the beach to where a sand point stuck out into what looked like deeper water.
We were using the local sardinios for bait. You guessed it, they are like a sardine, silver, but full of oily scent. We cut these into chunks or strips and decided to fish two-hook rigs with tough Mustad Big Red hooks on as we knew most of the fish had teeth here and UK style hooks can literally get crushed by hard mouthed grunts and groupers.
Fishing buddy Rob was straight in to a fish. Nothing massive but a 2lb metallic silver yellowfin croaker hit the sand after a spirited fight that wouldn't have put a 5lb UK bass to shame. He hit another, then I noticed a tweak on my rod tip and I broke my duck with a slightly bigger croaker, followed by a dog snapper that weighed all of 3lbs and took line off a 7000C multiplier reel. These foreign fish fight! Then it all went dead. We fished on, then threw in the towel given we had an early start on the boats the next morning
Having digested the information from the night before, the following nights fishing would be in the shallower cove right in front of the hotel. The close proximity of the bar had, of course, nothing to do with this choice.
The ground was mixed rock and sand. The tide was just coming up to high and had just a very light swell that gently broke on to the sand. The sky was full of stars and we could see what we thought was the Southern Cross low in the south sky. Fishing in shorts, light shirt and no shoes with a gentle warm wind blowing in off the sea lulled us in to a semi comatose state. What we thought would be a leisurely couple of hours fishing then turned in to total chaos.
We were both fishing two rods. One a carp or bass rod with a fixed spool reel and 12 to 15lb line, and full 13ft surf rods with multipliers and 25lb line. Big mistake fishing two rods each!
Rob's carp stick went first. The fish ran parallel with the beach to the left, sulked, changed direction and ran parallel the other way. The fish was on for two minutes before the line parted with a crack and Rob cursed. Having re-tackled, he was instantly in again. Another big fish that took off for pastures new. I was at his side in case I needed to go in the surf and grab the beast when I saw my own bass rod dip twice and fold over towards the sea. I had brief contact with a fish before it bit through 40lb mono.
Rob was, by now, heading along the beach with the fish dictating terms. He was using a 50lb mono hook snood and the fish shut its mouth and cut through the line almost clean. Time for a re think!
We set up running ledger rigs with a single wire trace and a 3/0 hook. Half a sardinio was the chosen bait and we lobbed these out about 50-yards. Neither of us strayed from our rods.
Both in to fish straightaway. I quickly landed a small barred pargo, but Rob was grunting and groaning as yet another tidy fish powered off. The fish made long runs, then sulked, ran again, but five minutes later I saw a swirl of white water in the edge of the surf and went in to grab a beautiful guitarfish of around 10lbs. It fought like a 20lber!
I was doing three jobs here. I was trying to record a radio programme, take pictures and fish myself. Another big mistake! I was in the middle of recording when Rob hit yet another big fish. I walked over to him, radio mic in hand, when my ratchet on the big multiplier sang out loud and clear as a fish headed for the horizon. Professional to the last I dropped the mic and recording gear and made a beeline for my rod. Fish on! I was playing this fish when I noticed my other rod dip and nearly fly out of the rest.
After a cracking scrap of a few minutes I beached a beautiful barred pargo, a sea-bream-like fish with vertical brown bands running down the flanks and a large yellow eye. I'd give it 4lbs plus. Meantime Rob was still battling what he'd now christened "The Thing". Whatever it was kept heading for the rocks and his 15lb line was literally singing and close to breaking point trying to keep the fish out of the snags. When it eventually arrived in the surf, I wasn't too chuffed to see a double figure moray eel with teeth like an Alsatian glaring back at me. I checked the hook hold and decided discretion was better than valour and hauled the fish up the beach by the wire trace.
Unhooking the eel was a nightmare. The damn thing went berserk thrashing all over the beach and trying to bite anything that came within reach. I managed it somehow and Rob grabbed the eel by the tail with a cloth for a quick photo. "No way I'm grabbing that without a cloth", he spat back at me, which I thought showed a lack of courage after my exploits with the eel in the surf.
Two other rods were now carrying slack line. Mine was bitten off at the wire and Rob beached a saltwater catfish. More croakers and what I think was a grunt came our way before it suddenly went quiet.
I'm not usually into telling stories, but I figure relating our adventures this way best illustrates just how good the beach fishing was. Other night sessions saw more guitarfish, pargos, Colorado snapper, grunts, croakers, catfish and red snapper. Two rods were just too much really, and only our inquisitive nature kept us working two rods each just to see what was out there. We lost a lot of big fish that were just unstoppable on the gear we had.
We fished a few pre dawn tides with the spinning gear and found equal success. Lures like Dexter Wedges, Landi Herri and ABU Toby lures in 1 and 2oz weights and silver chrome finishes produced numerous snappers, croakers and pargos. I bagged a 4lb jack crevalle right in front of the hotel fishing a long spoon with green reflecto strip along the sides. The knack was to watch for the baitfish breaking surface, then work your lure round the edge of these just a few yards out to get a hit from a predator.
We also spun the open surf beach. This went much the same producing loads of yellowfin croaker, grunts, sea breams and weird looking lizardfish that were well named. Often, after making a 40 or 50-yard cast, the fish would hit the lure right in amongst the surf breakers. We quickly realised this and span along the beach right through the small surf tables picking up fish after fish. I also lost a much bigger fish, I think maybe a roosterfish, which snapped off my lure as it ran out to sea.
The surf fishing in Mexico is just unbelievable. Talking to the boat skippers, they get dorado's and bonito within an easy cast of the shoreline during feeding frenzies. Massive stingray can often be seen just beyond the surf line. We also saw a small hammerhead brought in by one boat, and there are stories of marlin being seen a few hundred yards out from the deepest beaches. Having fished there, I believe it!
TACKLE TO TAKE
We got it about right. A bass rod and fixed-spool reel are useful for general beach fishing and long-range spinning. I'd also suggest a powerful 12 to 13ft surf rod with a multiplier or fixed spool holding at least 250-yards of 25lb line. If you want a chance of holding those unidentified biggies, then a bigger multiplier taking 400-yards of 30 to 40lb line might be more appropriate.
You'll need a selection of 15lb, 25lb, 60lb and 100lb wire, plus suitable crimps for the toothy critters. We hooked much bigger fish than we landed and I think sharks are a possibility here, probably hammerheads and sand sharks. Tough Mustad Big Red or Eagle Claw Live bait hooks are heavy enough. Mustad O'Shaughnessy 3406's were also okay in the 4/0 size and upwards. Carry hooks from size 2 to 8/0 to cover all needs. There is little tide run on these beaches, so weights of 1 and 2oz cover pretty much everything, though a few 5oz weights for long-range fishing are also useful.
Take two 20-inch lengths of 2-inch plastic waste pipe, sharpened at an angle at one end, which can be pushed in to the sand to hold your rods while waiting for bites. If you tape the ends of your rods with reflective trailer tape it will also enhance bite identification when using a headlight.
My light 9ft spinning rod casting 1 to 2ozs was a real fun stick matched to a fixed spool and 10lb line. This was perfect for working the surf line with lures and gives a huge variety of species that fight like crazy on the light gear.
I'd also suggest a 9 or 10-weight fly rod with forward taper floating and sinking lines and a selection of flies between small shrimps and baitfish simulators around 2-inches. Use 15lb Fluorocarbon tippets as the sea is ultra clear at all times.
All the hotels have bait available from netters working just offshore. Buy some sardinios for standard fishing, but use fillets of pargo or croaker for the bigger fish. There are also sand crabs burrowing in the sand, which make good bait too.
If you wade in the surf, wear wading boots, or at least old trainers. There are always stingrays in the surf sunning themselves that don't take kindly to being trodden on.
Wear polarised sunglasses and you'll see scores of fish working the margins.
Check small fish baits every 10 minutes. There are lots of small fish and crabs here, which can quickly pick a hook clean.
Jack crevalle's are unbelievable fighters and best targeted in the surf with lures just before sun up. Look for the scattering baitfish shoals to find the Jack's.