San Carlos Fishing Report with yearly guide, weekly fishing reports and fishing tournament information. San Carlos Mexico has great fishing in the Sea of Cortez. Sports fishing has been popular here for decades with the waters full of big game fish like marlin (3 types: blue, black and striped), sailfish, tuna, and dorado.
What you can hope to catch changes from month to month. Here’s a general break down (see more details in the week-by-week San Carlos fishing reports below):
- You can find grouper, cabrilla and sierra all year.
- Bonita: May to December.
- Dorado: May until mid October
- Marlin & Sail fish: June through October.
- Skipjack: June
- Yellowtail: October through May.
Some of the good local fishing spots: the Island, San Antonio, Seamount (just outside the entrance to Marina San Carlos), Haystack, San Pedro Point, Doble, Deer Island, the Reef, the Horseshoe. Up the coast at Pando, White Rock, Ensenada. Long boat ride out to Tortuga Island. Lake Oviáchic near Obregon is popular for bass fishing. There’s a map on the bottom of this page.
Wondering where to buy your Fishing Licence?
San Carlos Fishing Reports: by Bryan Replogle, Team Margarita Sportfishing, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find the weekly San Carlos fishing report in the newsletter every week. Some photos by PQ Almada.
scroll down for the weekly San Carlos fishing reports
Fishing in San Carlos Video
December Fishing Report
By late December, the water starts to dip below 70 degrees.
Yellowtail season with some big yellowtail starting to show. Tuna (a 100 pound tuna). Skipjack.
Some Sierra, Bonita, snapper, cabrilla and Marlin (a 220 pound Blue Marlin) at the beginning of the month, but the season is pretty much over for them.
Dolphin spotting and maybe the orcas.
December 6 Fishing Report
The bite is starting up again in close after a couple difficult weeks. The water had similarly ‘turned over’, with cold deep water moving in and dropping visibility. While the cold La Niña water is still present, it’s now pretty clear, has some Bonita, and is even warm enough for northerners to swim in.
There is a lot of bait around, so maybe the fish were full or just waiting for the full moon party. Although weather kept many from reaching the Island, it sounds like the legendary bite is back on. A few yellowtail are in close now, for the few boats still trying. They are smaller, but some are close to 10 pounds. The Bonita are back too, with most being 3 – 5 pounds. There’s still a chance to fill those jars/cans.
I saw that one boat had returned from the other side with a tuna and Dorado flag. The warm water lingered 20 – 50 to the southeast, but it’s about time to give up hope. So here’s a YouTube of Team Telamon’s 7 fish day in the 2022 Hammerdown to end the season.
November Fishing Report
Water temps drop into 70s. Occasional storm early in the month.
Marlin in close. Big Sail (300 pound Blue on the reef). Yellowtail outside the Seamounts and around Deer Island. Skipjack, Sierra, bonita (the 15′ purple Rapala seems to be their favorite), some pargo, Roosterfish and Corvina. A lot of the bonita were 6 – 9 pounds, but as the water cools they seem to be getting smaller. Snapper, big cabrilla in close. Some dorado, but most have moved well offshore. Tons of bait in close.
We did find a few larger 10 – 18 pound yellowtail. Trolling within the first few miles for some 9 – 15 pound yellowtail taken on poppers, and jigging worked at times. We had an invasion of small yellowtail, and they came back on Tuesday. A lot of the fish have big mackerel in their bellies. There is a lot of bait out there. Purple seems to be hot at the moment.
I saw one boil of a thousand or so. Most are in small schools chasing limited bait though. It is still a little warm for them.
The shorelines have been black with bait at times.
Whales, dolphin and leaping rays spotting.
It seems to be a pretty consistent pattern. Get up early, catch a lot of fish, and then spend hours cleaning them.
October Fishing Report
Water temps in the high 80’s at the beginning of the month, then dropping to low 80s. Weather cool to hot throughout the days, with some showers possible. Winds from the Northwest pickup by the end of the month.
Fishing for Bonita, grouper, snapper, cabrilla, sierra, corvina, Skipjack. Yellowtail season starting inshore. Last month for good Marlin, Sail fish & Dorado.
Wildlife spotting: dolphins. Maybe Orcas, mantas, turtle
HammerDown Tournament, every October
- 2022: 1st place – Scorpio; 2nd place – Baby Girl; 3rd place – Telamon
- 2021: October 8 – 10. 11 boats competed. 1st place boat: Rebel. Top angler, Gerardo Fausto Grajeda. 2nd place boat: Scorpio. Top angler, Ken Diaz. 3rd place boat: Baby Girl. Top angler, Jeff Golden
- 2020: cancelled
- 2019: Relax took first place with five releases. Only one Dorado made weight, by four ounces, at 12.4 pounds.
- 2018: Seven billfish were caught by 54 anglers on 16 boats. Baby Girl won with 5 billfish and 4 dorado
- 2017: 54 anglers on 20 boats caught 38 billfish. Reel Mistress won
- 2016: 20 fish were caught. There were no weigh-able dorado and no tuna or wahoo caught. On day 1, 6 Sail and 5 marlin were caught, and on day 2, 3 sail, 5 marlin and 2 blue marlin. Telamon came in first and qualified for the World Offshore Invitational Tournament in Costa Rica.
Bisbee’s Black & Blue Tournament, every October in Cabo on the Baja. Boats from San Carlos / Guaymas often compete. In 2019 San Carlosteam Predator caught a 377 pound Blue to win the daily and most of the jackpots for $450K. Tranquillo landed a 577 pound marlin to win $2.5M in the Black and Blue.
October 25: San Carlos Fishing Report
Things are starting to slow down after a few busy weeks. The first real front came through on Sunday and water temps have dropped several degrees in the last few days. We were still breaking a sweat with some morning easterly breezes, and a hurricane even went past Puerto Vallarta. Now we are watching snow on the radar and picking our days to head offshore.
The Bonita bite off of San Antonio was pretty good for us most of the week, with some fish near 10 pounds. We went by the east side of San Pedro, and it was loaded with small Bonita. We jigged up one big yellowtail on the North End. One big yellowtail found our 30′ Rapala trolled off a planer board just off San Antonio. A few Sierra were scattered around. It was slow Monday morning, but I think that this wind will trigger the winter fish to start biting.
The water is still plenty warm, but I am thinking that our fish are warm blooded these days. We found some better Dorado on the backside of San Pedro, although some good fish were caught to the south. I think that we will see another wave of the warmer water pull in from the west in a week. There are some Striped Marlin out there, but maybe the Blues have already left. At least I got to watch my 79 year-old friend crank a marlin in today.
Watch the Bisbee results this week. 186 teams just competed last weekend for over $2M in Cabo. A 554# Black Marlin won that two-day event. A few San Carlos teams are down there looking to get a piece of probably $10M.
Inshore fishing continues to improve. Lots of bait is around, as well as all the top predators. My favorite spot was taken over Friday evening. I got pushed to the rocks where four fish that took my live bait parted ways. The other guys got some nice snapper, although I am sure that the corvina were around too. I saw a few pics from the bass lake!
A number of Fin Whales were out Monday, with plenty of mantas jumping. Water temps were still 78 – 79, so not too bad compared to the pics of people with snow in their yards!
October 18: San Carlos Fishing Report
Things are changing quickly, but there’s still time. The billfish seem pretty reluctant again, as well as the Dorado. The Bonita are biting good around San Antonio, and they were running 10 – 11 pounds at times. Most Dorado are small right now, but I did hear of one 25 pound fish caught. We caught one yellowtail on the troll Friday, and friends jigged up a bunch of monsters at San Antonio. There are fish out there to put on the table.
Lots of bait in close, but not a lot offshore. Seeing a few dolphin and one Fin Whale. Lots of manta rays out there. We had one good thrill Thursday with a big 170 pound Striped Marlin ripping a 100 pound line. I thought maybe we finally had a Blue, but I’ll keep hoping. The bite should pick up with the moon phase and there is plenty of clear water out there. Inshore fishing is picking up too. The weather is nice, so go exploring.
September Fishing Report
Water temps in the mid to high 80s and up to 90 degrees on the surface. Summer SE trade-winds.
Fishing for Dorado, Bonita, Marlin & Sail fish, skipjack, grouper, cabrilla and sierra. Maybe some yellowtail down deep by the end of the month.
Wildlife spotting: bottlenose dolphin, Orcas, rays
August Fishing Report
Dorado. Small ones are within a mile, right up to the harbor entrance, and up and down the coast. Small lures work best. Bigger dorado are further out.
150 pound marlin come in on a 3″ lure inside the Bay.
Skipjack and Sierra. Some bonita and yellowtail. Red snapper down deep.
Weather: hot and humid, possible rain or storm
July Fishing Report
It’s hot out! There are some pleasant days on the water though. Water temps in the 80s. The fish are biting, but you need to be in the right areas.
Beginning of July: Lots of small dorado within the first mile weighing up to 12 pounds. Starting to see Sailfish scattered in close and around the Reef – a couple caught a mile out. Occasional Wahoo.
Mid July: 20 – 30 pounds Dorados. 70 pound wahoo. Yellowtail. Big grouper. Occasional Roosterfish. Marlin in close and around the Reef. A few skipjack and Sierra are around. Corvina. Good action beyond the Reef. Water temps to mid 80s.
Wildlife spotting: Hundreds of Risso Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin, a few whale sightings, Turtles, Manta Rays.
International Billfish Tournament, every July:
International Billfish Tournament Results: Click for detailed results and photos from the annual International Billfish Tournaments.
- 2022: August 5 – 7.
- 2020 & 2021: cancelled
- 2019: 32 boats and 101 anglers. A boat had released 14 marlin a little farther out on Friday. Several of them were Blue Marlin, and they saw one big enough for us to win the grand prize of a new truck. We picked up a few marlin that day, but the hot bite was found mid-afternoon farther out. We passed a few on the surface Sunday, catching the first fish of the day, but we only released two more that day. We were getting closer to a hot area the previous day at 35 miles, but the bite exploded 5 miles inside of us. We did hook one there that upon the initial jump looked big enough for the truck, but it was probably only 175 pounds.
- 2018: 26 boats competed in the 71st International Billfish Tournament. The grand prize was for a truck with a 200+ pound marlin. We had the big gear and 16 – 20″ lures out. We ran a lot of skirted ballyhoo too, which got the bites. Telamon won with about four marlin and a sail release.
- 2017: 70th Anniversary of Ernesto Zaragoza International Billfish Tournament. back & white photo below is from the 3rd International Billfish Tournament in 1950
- 2016: The 69th International Billfish Tournament saw 9 boats releasing 24 billfish. No dorado were weighed. Kryptonite took the tournament, but Eleanor on Predator won top angler with six releases for the first woman ever to be top angler!
- 2015: Thirteen boats and 38 anglers came out for the 68th International Billfish Tournament. 21.4 Dorado. 72 pound sailfish. 33 sails and 6 marlin were released.
June Fishing Report
Weather and water temps heating up. By late June, water temps are in mid 80s. Seaweed / sargasum starts to clear out.
Fishing for Marlin, Sailfish, dorado, bonita, skipjack, cabrilla and sierra. Bottomfishing for red snapper and grouper.
Wildlife spotting: Turtles coming in, with a few of their favorite jelly fish to eat. Bottlenose Dolphin, Spinner Dolphin, Thresher Sharks, Fin Whales, mantas. If you’re luck, a Humpback whale, sperm whale or Hammerhead shark.
The Rescate Yacht Club Fishing Tournament every June:
- 2022: June 3 – 6. Tournament info. 66 anglers (4 of them juniors) on 19 boats competed in this year’s Yacht Club / Rescate Fishing Tournament. 12 billfish were reported and 15 dorado brought to the weighing station.
- 2020 & 2021: cancelled
- 2018: 20 boats found a consistent bite of a billfish and a few dorado. Maybe a third of the boats released a billfish, with a handful of dorado topping the weigh-able 12 pounds mark. The winning fish was 24.8 ounds. A couple boats released two billfish. Baby Girl managed to find the hot spots and clearly won with five releases for their first major win.
- 2017: 73 anglers on 21 boats competed in the 2017 San Carlos Yacht Club Rescate Fishing Tournament. 178 billfish were released. Reel Mistress won with 25 releases, and Kryptonite and El Patron came in 2nd with 23 releases.
MarinaTerra Dorado Derby Fishing Tournament, every June
- 2022: results for this year’s Dorado Derby: 1st place – Luis Ross; 2nd place – Jesús Roberto Ochoa; 3rd place – Jose Rafael González; 4th place – Armando Pesqueira
- 2020 & 2021: cancelled
- 2019: El Zancudo took first and forth with a 24 pound bull leading the pack.
- 2018: Over 40 boats entered into the Dorado Derby this last weekend. The winds were up and by twelve miles we were watching peaks and walls of water all over. Rodrigo Luviano Silva brought in an 11.6 pound dorado to win the tournament. Check out this video of the Dorado Derby by Rada SC.
- 2017: over thirty boats. 1st place. Heriberto Velazquez, on El Fantasma: 11.4 kg. 2nd place. Fernando Escalante, on La Revancha: 10.7 kg. 3rd place. Jose C. Ojeda, on Mirage: 10.3 kg. 4th place. Mario Puebla, on El Fantasma: 9.3 kg. 5th place. Arvidson Joshoa, on Chasen Tail: 7.6 kg.
- 2015: 13 boats compete in good weather conditions. Grey Goose released two the first day for the win and the invitation to the World Offshore Championships. Second place went to Predator with a sail release and one 12.2 pound tuna.
Wounded Warrior’s fishing event, every June
May Fishing Report
Cool, dry weather. Water temps in mid 70s, getting to high 70s by the end of the month. Early May green water starts to turn blue and clear by the end of the month. The sargasso can be a nuisance at times.
Fishing for Bonita, Dorado, grouper, cabrilla, sierra, Barracuda and some yellowtail. Bottomfishing for snapper. Near the end of the month, skipjack, some billfish offshore and smaller dorado are further out with bigger ones on the way. By the end of May, the yellowtail fishing is usually done.
Good amount of all the bait – anchovies, ballyhoo, flying fish, crabs, and squid.
Wildlife spotting: Thresher Sharks jumping. Fin whales, mantas and maybe Orcas.
Ladies International Fishing Tournament, every May
- 2022: May 27, 28, and 29. Tournament info. 57 anglers competed on 20 boats. Relax won and Tawni King brought in the biggest dorado at 42 pounds.
- 2021 & 2021: cancelled
- 2019: Eleven boats entered and only Kryptonite was able to release two marlin. They went the distance to find them! Another boat nearby did find some better Dorado. The wind was up the second day, and only a few boats went out.
- 2018: Unfortunately, the official LIFT tournament was cancelled due to bad weather. But that didn’t stop the women from fishing the following week in an impromptu tournament in calmer waters
- 2017: 18 boats and 35 anglers. There were 5 billfish released. Vi West with Captain Mike on Catch-a-Lotta took first with the first release. A 7.4 pound dorado was the largest weighed.
- 2016: 18 boats with 35 anglers caught 25 billfish (marlin & sailfish). Congrats Judy on Kryptonite with eight releases for the win.
April Fishing Report
Water temps in high 60s to low 70s at begging of month and get into the mid 70s by the end of the month. North winds can blow.
Fishing for yellowtail, grouper, cabrilla, sierra, corvina. The Island is the consistent producer for big yellowtail in the Spring. Bottomfishing for Sea Bass, snapper, calicos. Could start to see the marlin. Inshore action picks up.
Wildlife spotting: Dolphin, Fin Whale, humpback, hammerheads, turtles, maybe whale shark and Orcas.
Offshore World Championship, Every April
- 2021: Congratulations to the San Carlos Hammerdown team who fished in the Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica last week and came in 3rd. This is the largest and most prestigious sportfishing tournament series in the world. They qualified for the tournament by winning the 2019 San Carlos Hammer Down Tournament. The team included Pete Finocchiaro, Alex Hammer and Frank Kastl with Captain Gilberto Lachica. For Top Angler, Lachica came in second and Kastl fourth place. Read the results here.
- 2016: The crew from Grey Goose, the winners of the 2015 Labor Day Tournament, represented San Carlos in the 2016 World Offshore Championship in Costa Rica. They released 22 sails — good for 22nd place of 66 teams.
March Fishing Report
By mid March the water is getting into the mid-60’s.
Fishing for Yellowtail, Red snapper, grouper, cabrilla, sierra, barracuda. Some marlin could come through. Best fishing is often at the Island.
Lots of bait. Seaweed can make trolling difficult.
Wildlife spotting: Large pod of Bottlenose. Maybe Mako shark, turtle, Fin Whale, Orcas, rays
February Fishing Report
Water in the low 60s.
Fishing for Yellowtail, calico, grouper, cabrilla and sierra. Bonita earlier in the month.
Wildlife spotting: dolphin. Maybe Whale Shark, Humpback, Fin Whales, Grey Whales, turtle
Yellowtail Tournament, every February or March
- 2020 & 2021: cancelled
- 2019: 13th Annual Yellowtail Fishing Tournament. Many braved the high seas and went over to the Island. Most boats caught 2 to 4 yellowtail, although Team Catch-a-lotta weighed 9 yellowtail weighing 150 pounds, and the big fish of the day at 21.5 pounds. Their luck wore off for Sunday, losing the one fish that they needed to win. Team Fins Up weighed six good fish, and the big fish of 22 pounds for a second consecutive win. A few teams caught a number of smaller fish up the coast, and jigging off Lalo’s.
- 2018: Thirteen boats fished the worst tournament ever. The weather was at least good on Saturday, where Fins Up won the tournament with six fish, and the biggest at 26.2 pounds. Only four other fish were caught that day, and seven on Sunday. Fins Up caught two other fish for a total of 151 pounds. The next biggest fish were 22.2 and 20 pounds. I think everyone still managed to have fun though.
- 2017: 11th Annual Yellowtail Tournament. We had 14 boats and 49 anglers. Catch-a-Lotta took Day One with ten of their largest fish weighing 158 pounds, and the biggest of the day at 19.77 pounds. Day Two saw Zancudo weigh in at 132 pounds to take third being Telamon. Catch-a-Lotta held on to win with 220 pounds. Play Time weighed in the big fish of the tournament at 22.86 pounds. Day One saw rough conditions, but Day Two saw most every boat at San Pedro for some decent catching.
- 2016: 12 boats and 47 anglers. Day One saw very slow fishing after great reports the previous day. All the good reports had been coming from up the coast. That day though the fish came up at San Antonio where a few fish were caught. Many boats tried the Island where there was tons of bait and hopefully the big one for the jackpot. The Saturday jackpot though was won up the coast with a 14.1 pound fish. The total for the day was also taken late up the coast by Warpath. The bite was found up there again, with the best action 25 miles away at White Rock. The fish were chasing bait on the surface and several boats loaded up with limits of nice fish on poppers and jigs. In the end, Warpath took the day again, and the tournament with 185 pounds for their 15 fish. One other nice check though went to Rod Tuggers for their 19.1 pound yellowtail. I think everyone had fun in the nice weather.
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January Fishing Report
Water in the mid to low 60s.
Fishing for Yellowtail, bonita, calico, grouper, barracuda, cabrilla and sierra. Yellowtail season is in full swing. You might find some marlin.
Wildlife spotting: Bottlenose Dolphin, Mobula Rays. Maybe Orcas, Fin Whales, Humpbacks