October 20, 2017

2017 Mazatlan (Day 6)

This was our last day in Mazatlan. We were not going out without a bang. With the current still heavy and our big fish targets basically impossible to catch, evident by two wrecks that had fish marked but nary a sniff, we decided to fish Sealion Rock and the galleon wreck for more species potential.

It was a great decision as there were plenty of life around Sealion Rock. On arrival we saw a school of Green Jack puddling on bait and that continued the entire time we were at the rock. I threw the Gomame jig into the school but none wanted to hit the large jig. Instead, a Snapper came up the the surface and hammered the lure. I had the fish to the boat, but in the process of grabbing the leader, the fish shook off. It was most likely a Pacific Dog Snapper.

We started dropping chunks of shrimp into the deep outer wall of the rock. A few drops later, something beautiful came up the line.

Species #772 - Mexican Hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia)

Apparently, these were more common in Cabo area but rare in Mazatlan. Captain C had only seen a few caught in years of fishing the area.

We adjusted the boat position again and found something even more rare.

Species #773 - Spotted Head Sargo (Genyatremus dovii)

Rare as they may be, perhaps the current was just right or we were anchored directly over the right structure, I would catch 2 more that day, George would catch 2 and Josh would catch 1. We all caught our lifer Spotted Head Sargo that day. And it was a huge accomplishment. In the past, it would be spectacular to even catch one a trip.

We decided to move to the galleon after a while. The fishing was much slower at the galleon. George was once again trying hard to find a Mottled Soapfish, and Josh was just simply happy to find more lifers, but the Vacuocua Croaker or the Mexican Lookdown was what he'd like to catch. Finally, Josh caught his Vacuocua Croaker and we all celebrated. And I got lucky with two Mexican Lookdown that kept Josh yearning for more.

Species #774 - Mexican Lookdown (Selene brevoortii)

Our species party was promptly ruined by Finescale Triggerfish. Either a school moved in or they suddenly started to bite. While they are hard fighter and willing biters, we were being intercepted on our species effort. Being that it was almost 1pm and too late to move to another spot, we decided to call it a day.

After the panga fishing, George wanted to go back to the rocky point to catch a Bumphead Damselfish. He might have caught one yesterday but failed to take any photos. I decided to join him for a chance to find a Giant Hawkfish casting among the rocks, or maybe a Longfin Silverside that Josh caught yesterday. Josh decided that his 35 lifers on this trip were quite satisfying so he went to the aquarium and a walk around town instead.

When we arrived at the point, George had trouble catching the Bumphead Damselfish because he was using too small a splitshot and the bait simply wasn't getting deep enough to the right targets. If the bait was too high, it was just intercepted by juvenile Panamic Sergeant Major and Mexican Night Sergeant. When George finally put on a larger splitshot and plunk his bait deeper, he caught his Bumphead Damselfish.

George then tied on a tanago hook and poked around the tidepool for a Longfin Silverside. It took more time for him to tie on the hook, and put on bait, than to catch one. In fact, he needed my eyes to put on the tiniest bit of bait on the tanago hook. After he caught one, I borrowed his tanago rod to catch my own as well.

Species #775 - Longfin Silverside (Atherinella eriarcha)

With our targets met, we returned to the hotel. If there was a Giant Hawkfish in the area, I simply couldn't find it. It will remain as yet another new nemesis of mine.

It took more time to get to the rocky point and back than the time we spent at the tidepool. We arrived at the hotel just a minute after Josh stepped in. Instead of the pool, we spent some time to pack before dinner. It was another great dinner at Mr. Lionso Playa Bruja. I skipped the tortilla soup to save space for an entire order of coconut shrimp which I shared half with Josh in exchange for his tequila shrimp. I'm going to miss the food...probably more than the fishing!

And so our Mazatlan adventures came to an end. I had been quite nonchalant about species fishing since January. But this trip - with a knowledgeable and accommodating captain, great food, fantastic company and some really cool fish, my wanderlust and thirst for new species might just have been rekindled a bit.

October 19, 2017

2017 Mazatlan (Day 5)

We're on our second last day of panga fishing. We figure we would focus on the wrecks to find White Snook, Orangemouth Weakfish and Blackblotch Pompano. We headed north a long ways to some deeper water wrecks that Captain C knew well. But with a drop in the swells and a switch of the current, the deeper current was moving much too fast to fish properly.

At the first wreck, we caught a few Spotted Rose Snapper that were suspended over the wreck. However, if there were larger fish, they were not biting. Captain C and I did managed to land 3 Mexican Barracuda. It would have been a lifer for Josh, and in fact his hook and bait was likely cut off by one. But the school moved on quickly and we didn't see another one landed. We decided to move on after a while.

At the second wreck, there were fish on the graph but again, these fish would not bite. And so it went for the rest of the day...wrecks and reefs with fish showing on the bottom that simply would not bite.

We were on a more comfortable boat with some seat cushions up front...and Josh and I ended up doing a lot of this between moves...such is the life on a slow day of fishing...

Everyone actually went liferless after a whole 6h of panga fishing. Captain C tried hard and I think he was very hard on himself for not getting us into feeding fish. We could tell because he didn't get his usual celebratory Modelo cervaza when he returned to the marina.

As a group, we discussed the possibility of fishing the shore spots in the afternoon during low tide. Since we were liferless, everyone was game to fish the rocky point. On the way to the point, we drove along the Malecon. It was evident that the tide is low and the swells has calmed down significantly. It might just work out at the tidepool.

While the outer rocks were still pounded a bit, the inner areas were perfectly fishable. The tidepool looked really good.

I looked down and could see a number of Damselfish species around the rocks. I also noticed what appeared to be a Butterflyfish coming in and out of the tidepool. But it was a complete surprise that my first hookup was the Butterflyfish! Usually they take a lot more work to catch since other species are quickly to the bait. I must have dropped the bait directly in front of the fish.

Species #768 - Threebanded Butterflyfish (Chaetodon humeralis)

As great a catch it was, it wasn't the Giant Damselfish that I'm after. That Giant Damselfish had escaped my efforts on the last trip to Mazatlan. Not only did they mostly refused my bait, but the one solid hookup that I had pulled me under the rock and cut the 2lb fluoro I was using. This time, I wasn't taking any chances. I was using 8lb fluoro and #16 hooks. If I hook that buggah, he's not escaping.

But of course, other fish were jumping on the bait much quicker. I was catching a couple of Banded Wrasse and lots of Mexican Night Sergeant until something else came up. Brown-coloured Damselfish are a pain in the arse to ID. But this guy looked different. It had brilliant blue-violet eyes and a more olive body and fins. There were also those pearly white spots on the scales toward the lower back half of the fish. Josh caught one earlier as well so we took some photos. It is always a good practice to photograph fish that looked slightly different...and this time it paid off because this is a new species!

Species #769 - Bumphead Damselfish (Microspathodon bairdii)

Now...if only these guys can leave me alone...

I had to plunk the bait deep toward the base of a rock to reach the Giant Damselfish that I saw. They were mostly hidden under their rocky cave and only came out to chase other fishes away. But with a bit more tempting, one finally came out to take a nibble. I missed the initial hit, but with more persistence, I finally hooked it! It is so beautiful. The deepest sapphire blue with snow white edged caudal fin and this juvenile had turquoise blue spots on the back. Perfect as perfect can be.

Species #770 - Giant Damselfish (Microspathodon dorsalis)

Of course, Josh was trying for his Giant Damselfish as well, but keep hooking up Tinsel Squirrelfish. Since I had yet to catch that species, I went over to his tidepool to poach one. But as lifer hunting rule dictates, a previously difficult lifer will become too easy to catch once that cherry had been popped. And on my dip into Josh's tidepool, up came a magnificent adult Giant Damselfish specimen...one that Josh had been trying to catch for the past too many minutes. Sorry Josh...

But he took revenge on me by catching Tinsel Squirrelfish one after another. I must have caught another dozen fish of non-lifer kinds before I finally flipped a Tinsel Squirrelfish into the air, which promptly unhooked in the air and flipped into a deep tidepool behind me...forever out of reach. Such is my luck...

But persistence always pays (if you have enough time to keep trying). Another 10min later, I finally had one in hand...and then another. And the second bugger poked me in the hand with one of its spines. That searing pain felt too good...only because it was a lifer.

Species #771 - Tinsel Squirrelfish (Sargocentron suborbitale)

Finally, Josh caught his Giant Damselfish. He poked around the the tanago hook for some micros and found a Longfin Silverside. I had already caught 4 awesome lifers on the day and felt no need to try for more (yeah, you read that right). We were quite content and goofed off a bit.

We called it a day, took the air conditioned bus to the hotel and celebrated at the pool. It was followed by a 10oz rib eye steak, salad and baked potatoe at Roy's for only $12 USD. Life can't be this good, can it?

October 18, 2017

2017 Mazatlan (Day 4)

We decided to take a break from panga fishing and spend the day to fish from some shore spots. It also gave us time to sleep in a little which was much needed.

We started the morning fishing a small beach area that has a rocky bottom about 30 yards outside. There were a lot of small bites, some of which were Largemouth Blenny.

Aside from the Largemouth Blenny, our group also caught Yellow Snapper, Pacific Spotfin Mojarra and a couple of new species for Josh - the Mexican Barred Snapper and a juvenile Jack, which at the time he did not ID as a Bigeye Trevally.

Finally, one of the small bites turned out to be a Banded Wrasse.

Species #766 - Banded Wrasse (Halichoeres notospilus)

It was high tide and our intended rocky point was still pounded by the heavy swells. We tried to fish the foamy white water but it was impossible to fish without our rigs being swept and snagged. We tried for a couple of times and decided to fish in a smaller, sheltered tidepool closer to the beach.

There were a number of species in the tidepool. Josh caught a lifer Pacific Frillfin Goby quickly.

I caught a couple of Bigeye Trevally back-to-back so I called Josh over to try catch his lifer. But they were simply not cooperating for him. I was hoping to find a Giant Damselfish by blindly drifting small bits of shrimp under a float. However, I was simply catching one Mexican Night Sergeant after another. Then the Burrito Grunt moved in and it was grunts after grunts. The tide was not dropping fast enough for us to fish the prime spots for the Giant Damselfish. We decided to move and fish at a marina dock instead.

An interesting taxi ride later (where we took a scenic detour due to road construction), we arrive at the marina dock. The dock is private, but George has connection with the owner of the charter and we had permission to fish it. George saw a Guineafowl Puffer a few days ago so I prepared a high-low rig hoping to find one by soaking chunks of shrimp. At the same time, I was fishing a lighter rod and smaller hooks trying for any smaller species that were around.

The fishing was much slower than expected. We caught the odd Beaubrummel and a few Chameleon Wrasse. I had a stronger fish bent out my #16 hook and I wondered if it was a Snapper, a Jack or perhaps it was the Guineafowl Puffer. A few more smaller fish later, something else appeared on my line. I was lucky that it was lipped hook just well enough, but not deeep enough, such that the fish did not bite through my light leader and I was able to lift it 10 feet up the pier.

Species #767 - Longnose Puffer (Sphoeroides lobatus)

I had constant bites on the larger high-low rig, but most of them were tiny nibbling bites likely from Wrasses or Damselfishes. Finally, I had a good hit that bent the rod solidly and the fish started to run off with the bait. It felt like a larger fish that gave a couple of decent run. I finally saw the disk shape and was hoping it would be a new Skate or Ray species. But upon further inspection, it turned out to be a Haller's Round Ray (Urobatis halleri).

It was getting too hot for George so he left early while Josh and I stayed to fish a little longer. Josh sent out baits to try for a Ray, but the Rays decided to take my baits again and I caught a second. After the tide has switched, the bites completely stopped. It was getting way too hot on the exposed pier at 2pm, so Josh and I called it a session.

It took a good hour of bus ride to return to the hotel. Luckily, we got on an air conditioned bus so there was plenty of time to cool off.

Before we left for a swim, I made some ceviche with the Threadfin Jack fillets. A little salt and pepper, some lime juice, a bit of soya sauce, a touch of mango puree, chopped hot green peppers and avocado. After our swim, the ceviche was ready. Delish!

After the appetizer, we took the remaining fish fillets to La Zarapes. We had Coconut Snook and grilled Pompano as usual, plus the addition of Colorado Snapper Veracruz style. Everything was fantastic as usual...and we have leftover Coconut Snook and grilled Pompano for next day's lunch.

October 17, 2017

2017 Mazatlan (Day 3)

George talked about a rare Threadfin Jack in Mazatlan that was caught recently. Captain C said he knew a couple of locations to find them so our morning started with a good run out to deeper water to find these Threadfin Jack.

We put on smaller live shrimp and dropped them down to the wrecks. It didn't take long before I got a bite and it felt like a decent fish. But what came up to the surface was not a Jack. It was a nice Spotted Rose Snapper (Lutjanus guttatus).

Fishing was quite slow when we kept our baits on the bottom, hoping for maybe an Orangemouth Weakfish or a White Snook. But once we raised the baits 10 feet over the bottom, the bites came fast and furious. Apparently, a school of Threadfin Jack was suspended over the wreck. Unless you get your bait to their level, they were not going to bite.

Species #761 - Threadfin Jack ((Carangoides otrynter)

These were juveniles with really nice long extensions to their dorsal and anal fins. We started to stop using live shrimp and substituted to chunks of shrimp instead. Fish were still biting very well. So I started to make it more of a challenge. Out came the vertical jig.

Apparently, they loved the vertical jig just as much. It was simply too much fun dropping this down 70 feet, reeled it up 10 feet and immediately hooked up to another Threadfin Jack.

After a while, Captain C suggested that we should check out another wreck to see if there were any White Snook. There was another boat already fishing the wreck, but the people on the boat were barely getting any fish. We saw one client catch a bigger Threadfin Jack while we were anchoring. Once we dropped down our baits, the same pandemonium repeated. It was Threadfin Jack one after the other as fast as we could land them.

But these were also bigger fish that pulled even harder!

At one point, one of the clients in the other boat landed a Black Skipjack...a fish that was high on my target list. So I switched to a heavier spinning combo with a 1.7g Gogame jig and started to jig intensely. Unfortunately, it was Threadfin Jack intercepting the jig every drop.

While the fishing was fun, we were not catching any new species. After about an hour of jigging, we decided to head south to a galleon wreck.

Once our boat was properly positioned over the wreck, we dropped high-low rig with chunks of shrimp. While the bite was good with many species, many of them were recaptures such as Brassy Grunt, Cortez Grunt, Spotted Rose Snapper, Finescale Triggerfish, Rivulated Mutton Hamlet and Panama Graysby. Finally something different came up to the surface and it was a lifer Grey Grunt (Haemlon scudderii). The Grey Grunt can look similar to the Burrito Grunt with its black spots in the center of the scales. However, the Grey Grunt has a much more pointed head, dusky fins, and a white patch on the caudal peduncle.

Species #762 - Grey Grunt (Haemlon scudderii)

I sort through all the other species until something else felt different. It fought more like a small grouper but a bit more determined. I was surprised and completely excited to see a Mottled Soapfish on the end of the line! George has been trying for this species at this location for a while. They are rarely caught. I'm happy to have found one.

Species #763 - Mottled Soapfish (Rypticus bicolor)

Somewhere alone the way, George caught a Pacific Lookdown to equalize my Mottled Soapfish. But I fought back with a Gungo Highhat which was an even rarer catch!

Species #764 - Gungo Highhat (Pareques viola)

But Josh had to spoil my fun with a Jewel Moray on his line. That eel species simply doesn't like me! I kept catching some Silvergrey Grunt (Anisotremus caesius)...at least I could get better photos of this species...

Then George caught a really cool little croaker species. I tried and tried and finally toward the end of the morning I found one too. It was the Vacuocua Croaker. They may be small, but they are so visually appealing!

Species #765 - Vacuocua Croaker (Corvula macrops)

George caught a Pacific Moonfish to end the session. It was getting to 1pm and we ran out of time. Although we catch a lot of small fish to barely give Captain C a good catch for his boat, the species we caught today were really special.

We returned to the hotel for more pool time. Before jumping into the pool, I made ceviche based on Captain C's recipe. I cubed the Treadfin Jack fillet then sprinkle on salt and pepper. The cubes are returned to the fridge for 30min until the cubes are translucent. (While the fish are in the fridge, we went for a swim.) Then I add in lime juice to completely cover the cubes and some soya sauce to taste. It was "cured" in the fridge for a further 10min until the surfaces of the fish cubes start to turn opaque. And it's done.

After the little appetizer, we went to Mr. Lionso for tortilla soup, coconut shrimp and shrimp imperial. It was another amazing meal for a very reasonable price.

October 16, 2017

2017 Mazatlan (Day 2)

We started our second day of fishing in the marina to search for the "black donkey"...a species of grunt. We didn't catch any so I have no clue which species it might be. But along the way, I caught a few Burrito Grunts which was a new species. In the past, I thought I had caught the Burrito Grunt. But looking back at the photos from the previous trip, I had misidentified the Silvergrey Grunt (Anisotremus caesius) as a Burrito Grunt. So it was lucky that I can add a species without taking one away.

Species #754 - Burrito Grunt (Anisotremus interruptus)

After a short session in the marina, we motored out to the wrecks. Things were looking really promising when my live shrimp was hit on the first drop and a strong fish pulled back. This is fought different from the Blackblotch Pompano. It was diving for the bottom but in slower and shorter bursts. Finally, we had colour and it was a nice snapper. Chalio said it was a Colorado Snapper, and the dorsal scales that paralleled the lateral line confirmed the species identification. Actually, I had caught juveniles of this species in the past but misidentified it as a Pacific Dog Snapper. It feels a bit more legitimate to cross off this species with a decent 5lb fish.

Colorado Snapper (Lutjanus colorado)

The Colorado Snapper was the only customer to our shrimp. We moved to another wreck and saw some fish on bottom. It took a while to positioned the boat properly. But when we had the boat just right, it took only 5 minutes before Josh was into a nice fish, which turned out to be a White Snook. Not long after, I had a double tap on my shrimp seconds before George hooked up to another White Snook. Darn! Either George's Snook spat out my shrimp or another Snook was around...but I missed it. We lingered on the wreck a while longer and finally I had a good thump on the rod and it doubled over. My heart was pounding as I anticipated the black line of a White Snook. But alas, it was another Blackblotch Pompano. I would have traded that Blackblotch Pompano to Josh for his White Snook! But that's not how it works LOL.

While I missed out on the White Snook, a saving grace was the Longfin Salema, a lifer that I caught while fishing a sabiki when the fishing slowed down.

Species #755 - Longfin Salema (Xenichthys xanti)

We moved to a spot in the south called Sealion Rock. There's a reason why it was called Sealion Rock.

The current was just perfect and we anchored over the steep outer wall of the rock. It was a buffet of species coming up. And for a while, every drop yield a different species on everyone's lines. It was another species buffet as quickly as we could drop our lines.

My first fish was unfortunately a recapture...the Spotfin Porcupinefish. I would have traded Josh for this Longspine Porcupinefish he caught not long after.

But the next drop yielded a double of Bigeye Trevally, a welcomed new lifer that I did not expect to find in Mazatlan.

Species #756 - Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)

Josh caught a Pacific Creole-fish and I followed up with my own lifer too!

Species #757 - Pacific Creole-fish (Paranthias colonus)

Out of the blue, a Gafftopsail Pompano was on my line. I was familiar with this species as a surf target, but finding it out on the steep wall was a surprise as well. I'll take it!

Species #758 - Gafftopsail Pompano (Trachinotus rhodopus)

I switch between the sabiki rig and the high-low rig to maximize species opportunities. While fishing the high-low rig, a stronger fish turned out to be a nice Pacific Dog Snapper. So in the end, even with prior misidentification, I was able to still add this species to my list! It was a decent 14" fish as well.

Species #759 - Pacific Dog Snapper (Lutjanus novemfasciatus)

Apparently, one sealion was not happy we were catching all its fish. It struck a pose to tell us this was its fishing grounds. Later on, it even got into the water and tried to steal one of my fish off the hook.

On one bait check, I saw a few larger fish followed my sabiki up to the surface. They were Unicorn Leatherjacket Filefish which George caught a little earlier. There were 5 or 6 of them circling down below the boat. Using small chunks of shrimp on the sabiki, I hooked one but it eventually chewed or broke my line during the fight. I would lose a couple more before landing one.

Species #760 - Unicorn Leatherjacket Filefish (Aluterus monoceros).

In addition, George caught a Mexican Moonfish and Josh caught a Mexican Goatfish which I missed out. We all picked up some new species and were satisfied to end the day at Sealion Rock.

We passed by more islands on the way back to the marina. This one had a landscape that reminded me of Jurassic Park.

After a long, hot day, we decided to relax at the pool again before going to La Zarapes with our White Snook, Orangemouth Weakfish and Blackblotch Pompano fillets. We decided to grill the collar and fillets of the Blackblotch Pompano (fantastic), breaded the Orangemouth Weakfish (a little overcooked but still wonderful) and coconut-coated the White Snook (freaking phenomenal!!!). If you haven't tried Coconut Snook before...do it before you die. It is out of this world good!

October 15, 2017

2017 Mazatlan (Day 1)

I traveled and fished a lot in 2016, so much so that I may have been burned out a bit in 2017. This year, although I did fish in Florida, New Hampshire (twice), and a roadtrip to North Carolina and Virginia, the desire to species hunt was waning. For those familiar with this blog, you saw very little update since...Indonesia last November. In addition to other obligations and happenings in life, I simply took species fishing rather nonchalantly this year.

This summer, I was supposed to visit Mike Bryant in Yellowknife to fish for Inconnu. But with Mike looking for a new home for his family and a late decision on my part, I was not able to find available flights north.

I learned that George and Josh were planning a trip to Mazatlan. Ben was also in conversation but his move to California restricted his ability to take a trip. So I decided to spend my Yellowknife trip budget on Mazatlan instead.

Up until the day of departure, I had a disinterest to travel. There were simply too many other happenings at home that kept my mind occupied. But once I step foot in Mazatlan airport and felt the hot humid air, the sense of adventure returned.

Our plan for the first day involved fishing some wrecks and reefs for three main targets: Orangemouth Weakfish, White Snook and Blackblotch Pompano. George had already been in Mazatlan for a week and fished 4 days. He reported that the water was warmer than usual. The big blue shrimp has not arrived and thus our target were sparse. The Blackblotch Pompano seemed to be the more common of the three at the moment. But we were hoping that cooler water would arrive during our stay and bring in more fish.

Our captain, Captain C, knows these area well. We fished each spot quickly with big live shrimp. If there was no bite within the first 10 minutes, or if the current doesn't seem right, he would suggest to move to another spot.

And so we were on the second spot of the day when we soaked our live shrimp for a few minutes and caught a couple of Pacific Jack Crevalle. Then it was silent and Captain C said "no customers". Since we were species anglers (and Captain C knew this well), he suggested that we should try to fish small chunks of shrimp on a high-low rig for other possible species on the wreck. I had just dropped the shrimp chunks for a couple of minutes when the rod suddenly arched downward. It was a fairly substantial fish that put up a few good runs. Perhaps it was a big Snapper, or maybe it was a big Finescale Triggerfish?

After some tense moments, we finally had colour. Everyone was surprised that the Orangemouth Weakfish passed up three big live shrimp in favour of a small chunk of shrimp.

Species #751 - Oraangemouth Weakfish (Cynoscion xanthulus)

Once in a while, we'd be fooled by a Pacific Jack Crevalle...

That spot didn't give up any other Weakfish and we moved on.

We fished a few more wrecks and decided to make a longer move north to a reef that was known to host some Jeweled Moray and Mexican Barred Snapper. Both species were high on my target list since I missed catching these two on the last trip. Before we got to the reef, we spotted a shrimp boat that was on anchor.

The boat has just dumped a huge amount of bycatch and it attracted all the local wildlife.

The bycatch consisted of mainly Shortnose Mojarra and Pacific Moonfish. Both of which would be lifers. There was even a Jewel Moray that was alive...but it likely would not have bite any baited hooks since it was still recovering from the ordeal.

We got a bag of shrimp heads from the shrimp boat. They make really good bait. The fishing was steady and we were catching some Grunt species, a few Finescale Triggerfish and a few Spotted Rose Snapper.

Then...something else different was on the line. The fish pulled a little harder and dove a little more determined. It didn't have the surges and pulses of a big Triggerfish, so I was expecting a larger Snapper. When the fish finally surfaced, I could see the alternating red and white vertical bars and my heart skipped a beat. A smooth swing into the boat and my lifer Mexican Barred Snapper was in my hand!

Species #752 - Mexican Barred Snapper (Hoplopagrus guentherii)

George caught one not long after and we were rooting for Josh to catch one for his lifer. As it often in species fishing the first of the species could take an immense effort and years to achieve...but once you crossed the species off, they jump on the hook often and without intention. And so it was on this day. I would catch 2 more Mexican Barred Snapper and George would catch one more before they stopped biting. It left Josh longing for the species...and I can completely relate to that feeling from two years ago.

Even so, Josh was doing quite well on the day with a few species added. We fished the reef until the action slowed down. It was getting toward noon when we headed south again to fish a couple of wrecks closer to part to finish up our day.

On the first wreck that we tried, we were soaking the live shrimp for a while and Captain C suggested we should make a small adjustment of the anchor. When he said it was good to drop our baits again, my shrimp had barely arrived on the bottom when it was thumped hard and the rod loaded up. This fish ran with a lot of power and I had to tighten the drag a little a couple of times. After what felt like a few minutes (probably less...it always felt longer), we saw a broad silvery shape circling under the boat. Our mate grabbed the gaff and a missed gaff shot had the fish diving again. Luckily the second gaff attempt struck and my lifer Blackblotch Pompano was in the boat. This species look very much like their Atlantic cousin (the Permit). If Permit fight as hard as this species, I look forward to catching a nice Permit in the future.

Species #753 - Blackblotch Pompano (Trachinotus kennedyi)

The presence of the Blackblotch Pompano got everyone excited. Usually if there was one there would be others. But On this day, either the others were not in the mood to feed, or the school had moved on. We fished another wreck to end the day and did not find any other Weakfish or Pompano.

Instead of doing some shore fishing in the afternoon, we decided to take it easy and visited the hotel pool to cool off. What a treat it was! Even better was the full rack of ribs at Roy's in Cerritos that cost only 130 pesos. Fishing in Mazatlan is good. But the food is phenomenal!

Just like every other trips, I had set some targets for this trip. I was hoping for 15 new species and among these there were 6 lifers that were high on my list. To be able to knock off 3 of the top 6 on the first day was spectacular. And there were 5 more days of fishing to come.