Zihuatanaejo, Mexico 2008
Getting to the venue proved a logistic challenge but then are not all the best things in life worth the effort? A Friday evening flight from Heathrow saw us landing at Madrid with just over an hour to make our onward connection to Mexico City where we had a 4 hour wait to make our final flight to Zihuatanaejo. Our group finally arrived at our accommodation just gone noon on the Saturday local time and a total of 28hrs in transit since leaving home.
The place we stayed at had a nice pool, loads of hammocks on the shady terraces and individual jacuzzis for some of the rooms coupled with superb views across the bay to the Pacific beyond and the fishing pier where the focus of our fishing activity would be centred. Things looked good from first viewing with lots of fish activity evident in the bay. Shoals of Pacific Jack Crevalle were laying siege to the resident baitfish with “Turbo-Gars” i.e. Needlefish patrolling just off the rocks picking up any escapees heading for sanctuary. Sunday was spent shopping at the local supermarket, preparing our tackle and exploring the town with a spot of Shore fishing to complete the day.
Alan Bird (Bod) had arranged offshore cruisers for our party the first day with a maximum of 2 anglers onboard and this was followed by 2 days in the Pangas; small 24-28’outboard powered boats that could venture offshore for Marlin and Sailfish or inshore for the fabled Roosterfish and Jack Crevalle and all the other assorted species. Prices for the cruisers ranged between $350-$400 plus tips, the Pangas were $210 plus tip. Live-bait could be purchased for $10 for a day’s supply per angler. Packed lunches were not needed as the locals provided freshly baked ballios (rolls) filled with a choice of mildly spiced Pork, Beef, Chicken or vegetables together with fresh fruit and fruit juice and coffee, there was always a good queue each morning at the pier for this food.
Practice day one saw a mixed bag of results with poor Bod and Andy Smith blanking for all bar bait fish and Peter Flowerday and Roy Shipway recording 3 Sailfish up to an estimated 120lb and a Mahi-Mahi fish (Dorado). My day was really special for 2 reasons; 11 years of trying for a Marlin was finally put to bed with a small Pacific Blue Marlin taking my 30lb outfit and a really great fight ensued. Secondly my 80 year old Mother was finally to give angling a go, and managed to fight an Eastern Pacific Bonito into submission from the fighting chair on a 30lb outfit, after much effort I was finally able to photograph the proud captor with her 12oz trophy fish! My holiday was already complete.
Practice days 2 and 3 saw us in the Pangas where Helen Verrall, Mick Toomer and Bod recorded Roosterfish. Helen photographed a 40lb+ specimen and Mick had 2, with one released at boat side in excess of 50lbs. Other catches were made up by Jack Crevalle, Needlefish, Black Skipjack Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Bonito and Cero Mackerel. The really game fight from Black Skipjack Tuna was something to be experienced on light tackle. Roosterfish had a particular aversion to the boat it appears, each time they it they just screamed off again. Jack Crevalle as ever just plugging away and never gave up. The fishing for the Roosterfish was done casting and trolling towards the shore and the swell and size of the waves that you had to see to believe!
The Shore fishing had been pretty spectacular with most of the party trying various locations with pretty special results, fish recorded included; Needlefish, Groupers, Guitar Shark, Puffer fish, Jacks, Moray Eels and Snappers. One day, Ray Barron, fishing from the rocks below our Hotel saw several Eagle Rays in excess of 60lbs gliding under his rod tip as he targeted the giant Needlefish that kept attacking his 2lb Grouper live bait.
The local town was just a short stroll along the paved walkway where loads of bars and restaurants provided entertainment and eating experiences. Prices in town were generally very reasonable and taxis on average cost the equivalent of £1.60 including a tip. Zihuatanaejo is a lovely unspoilt Mexican town having grown from a small fishing village. Those of you who are movie aficionados will know this was where the prisoner longed to be if he escaped in the film the Shawshank Redemption. The flea market had a good range of modern and traditional gifts and most importantly the locals were extremely friendly and everyone commented on just how safe the place was. The headquarters hotel was located in the nearby town of Ixtapa ; this was a Government funded venture with the tourist board and was built 30 years ago. The difference was as Chalk and Cheese, most of us went there only for the 2 official functions and never wished to return. In summary the place was soulless! Zihuatanaejo in contrast was “our town” bustling, lively, friendly and with a zest for life.
Having explored the day time fishing some of our group tried their hand and rods at night fishing. Mick not content with using a rod decided a bucket was the best implement for capturing a Pelagic Sea Snake. These Mexican Sea Snakes have venom that is 10 times greater than an Egyptian Cobra! Ray along with the boat skipper were really impressed with sharing the boat with the now captive Sea Snake, I am sure that was the correct translation of the term “loco gringo” that they aimed at Mick. The Moray Eels really came into their own on the night trips. Roy was successively bitten off with 50, 80, 120, 200lb mono then 50lb wire.
As always the competition proved nowhere near as good as the private practice days as far as personal fulfilment goes. Anomalies with the format for the scoring system meant that the best strategy was to target Bonito / small Tuna, however, this being little more than glorified Mackerel fishing so it was not adopted by most teams, other than the Germans and some Gibraltarians who had really studied the rules and the options necessary to win. Day 2 of the competition saw a change to the scoring on the small Tuna front with yet another change on day 3 to the numbers allowed. As in previous recent EFSA Game events this constant changing of the rules was not a welcome occurrence. The 2 English Teams; England Red, Captain Andy Smith, Ray Barron, Helen Verrall and Peter Flowerday and England White; Captain David Styles, Mick Toomer and Alan Bird fished to the best of their abilities and in the spirit of a Big Game Championship with the result that going into the last day England Red were in 3 rd place and the chance of the Bronze Pin. Despite their very best efforts England Red just missed out and eventually finished in 5 th place behind the Germans in Gold and Bronze position and a Gibraltarian Team who took the Silver Pin. The Team from Gibraltar had in Kenya finished 3 rd so were well pleased with their improvement and are already aiming for Gold at the next Championship, we though have other ideas on where the Pins should be heading!
A tired, fulfilled and happy group of anglers wound their way back home to England . In total we had been away 2 days short of 3 weeks and experienced a change of culture and cuisine, temperatures that never dropped below 32ºC, fantastic fishing venues, nice fish and the companionship and friendship of the EFSA family doing what they do best, having a great time and living life to the full.