KEY WEST, FLORIDA:
Key Westis a light tackle paradise for tarpon and bonefish and offers anglers a wide choice of fishing options, boats and customized charters from half-day to multi-day adventures. Sailfish are available in good numbers through April when they are replaced by blue marlin offshore. The big attraction, however, is fishing the flats or shallow water. As temperatures rise both tarpon and snook start congregating on the flats to feed. Conventional live baiting, spinning and flyfishing are all effective during the peak months from March to May.
The convenience of having experienced charter operators and reliable fishing action combined withKey West’s active nightlife, “sunset” gatherings and unique social environment make it a favorite destination for many anglers. Key Westis ready for fishing after last year’s hurricane season. Contact:Key WestChamber of Commerce (305) 294-2587.
ZIHUATANEJO / IXTAPA, MEXICO:
Part of the Mexican Riviera, these neighboring Pacific resorts offer visitors a scenic glimpse of authentic oldMexicoor modern, upscale, high rise hotels, respectively. The offshore waters have consistent action with sailfish and yellowfin tuna from schoolies to 300 pounders. Black and blue marlin are lightly pursued but those charters that target them do fairly well with fish up to grander size. Inshore variety with roosterfish and jack crevalle helps spice up a family vacation. Located in the tropical doldrums the offshore waters are usually calm. Charter boats are generally of local origin and vintage quality but some fast, twin diesel Cabos and other modern craft with professional crews are now available. Boats depart from Bahia de Zihuatanejo as well as Ixtapa Marina and fish the same offshore waters.
All manner of accommodations, restaurants and typical resort activities can be tailored to your lifestyle. It is generally less expensive to stay in a hillside bungalow with a view ofZihuatanejoBaythan a hotel in Ixtapa but you may sacrifice some service and room amenities for the view. December to May is the dry season peak with good fishing still available between June and November. Contact: Ixtapa Charters (570) 688-9466; Cass Tours 800-593-6510; or Cortez Yacht Charters 619-469-4255.
EAST CAPE RESORTS
Spring is the time of year when hordes of striped marlin migrate from Cabo San Lucas and enter theSeaofCortezvia theEast Cape. Abundant forage including Pacific mackerel hold these prolific schools for several moths with a peak from March to May. There are nine oceanfront fishing resorts with charter fleets spread along this scenic 45-mile coastline. All of the resorts are constructed on either rocky promontories with majestic views, or beach-level sites. They are self-contained and equipped with fast super pangas and a mix of cruisers run by savvy local crews. Competition between these independent resorts has led to improvements in amenities such as more deluxe rooms, great food and a broader range of activities while maintaining the East Capes reputation as a bargain destination. It is common to find kayaking, windsurfing, canoeing, skiing, horseback riding, satellite TV, sports bars and private luxury homes sharing the shoreline with traditional resorts. In contrast to trendy Cabo San Lucas, theEast Capedraws visitors to its feeling of remoteness and tranquility experienced after a full day of fishing action.
It’s relatively easy to get to theEast Cape. There are international airports atLa Pazand San José del Cabo that are served by major airlines fromU.S.cities. Fishing packages can be made through severalU.S.– based Baja travel outfitters such as Cass Tours (800-593-6510), or directly with independent charter fleets and resorts. Professional outfitters are highly recommended especially for first time Baja travelers since they can provide you with an overview of what’s available to best suit your individual or group needs. East Cape resorts provide their own boats, crews, accommodations, dining and a variety of optional things to do in a “package” format that has been popular with visitors for decades.
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The Roving Angler