Any non-resident alien 16 years or older must possess a valid Mexican Sport Fishing License before fishing in Mexican waters. This license covers all types of fishing and is valid anywhere in Mexico. Everyone aboard private boats in Mexican waters must have a fishing license if there is fishing gear of any kind or fish (or fish parts) on board. A fishing license is also required for underwater fishing.
Except when skin or scuba diving, fish must be taken by angling with a handheld line, or a line attached to a rod. The use of nets (except handling nets), traps, poisons or explosives is strictly prohibited. Skin and scuba divers may only fish with handheld spears or band-powered spear guns. It is illegal to sell, trade or exchange the fish caught. Fish can be eviscerated and filleted, but a patch of skin must be left to permit identification.
The taking of Abalone, Lobster, Shrimp, Pismo Clams, Cabrilla, Totuava, Oysters or Sea Turtles is prohibited by Mexican law.
If you're bringing your own fishing gear, here are some basic rules: make sure your rods and reels are in the best working order. The hard-running fish in Baja will push the limits of your tackle. Make sure you have fresh main line on your reels, and fresh leader line on your lures.
Take care not to confuse 100# mono leader with 100# mono line. Many manufacturers use a harder, more abrasion-resistant mono for their leader material. Most manufacturers also tend to under-rate their mono leader by 25% or more (300# actually breaks at 400#). Hard, under-rated 100# leader like Momoi is fine for striped marlin, but a piece of a nice, soft 100# line like Berkeley Big Game may get sawed off fairly quickly.
In general, 500 yards of 80# line with drag set properly will slow down and catch a marlin. Or you can have a 700-yard reel with 50# line. Most blue marlin caught in the Cabo region are males in the 250-350 lb class. Those above that weight are usually female. Rods are five-and-a-half to six feet, usually E-Glass, with a minimum of tip and stripper roller guides. The rod butt must have a trolling gimbal; otherwise, it will not set in the boat trolling slots properly (the reel will turn over).
Blue Marlin Lures and Rigging
There are five basic lure colors that the local skippers use: green-black, yellow-orange, blue-pink, purple-black and green-blue. The size is 10 to 12 inch, and the style is plastic or soft (soft lures are gaining popularity). Rigging is 400# 12' clear mono leader with a tandem double hook 12/0 Mustad big game.
Blue Marlin Live Bait
There are several different ways to rig large live bait. The Mexican skippers simply attach a 9/0 chrome stainless Mustad hook, with a 250 to 400# 8-12' leader. They then run the hook through the Bonito tuna's nose. Other techniques include wire threading and attaching the live bait hook to the bait's forehead.
Leader length for lure fishing: 12-15' of 200-300# for striped marlin. 12-15' of 100-150# for live bait for striped marlin and sailfish. The leader is usually tied to the main line with an albright.
Leader length of 8' of 80# for live bait or chunking for tuna over 100 lbs. A swivel is optional for live bait, but mandatory for chunking. 5' of 50-60# for trolling or bait for tuna over 40 lbs; 20-30# for smaller fish (usually no leader).
Leader length is usually 6-8' with 50-80# line. Live bait is the same with 60# line.
Leader length of 2-3' of 60-100# single-strand wire for live bait and trolled lures, 40-60# cable for iron (Hopkins, Tady, Salas, UFO, etc.), and 250# cable for Marauders, Bonitas, etc. Sierra: Leader length of 5-7', with a swivel clipped to a CD4 Rapala.
Roosters & Pargo
Leader length of 3' of 30-40# (green mono may work better than other colors) with a rubber core sinker for Pargo.
Leader length of 3' of 50-80# with a dropper loop, and whatever weight of torpedo sinker (usually 4-16 oz) is necessary to get to the bottom for Amberjack, Cabrilla and other fish living in rock piles. Make the dropper with a spider hitch, with a foot loop and 3' tag, with the hook on the loop and sinker on the tag, and with a half hitch in the tag near the sinker, so it breaks off first when you get hung in the rocks.
What You Can Do With Your Fish
We believe in the conservation of billfish, and therefore request that you release the billfish you catch, unless it is your first or you want to eat the meat.
It you want a souvenir of your fish as a wall trophy, it is no longer necessary to kill the fish. New "catch-and-release" reproduction techniques create high-quality replica mounts, taken from molds of the live fish you catch. Skin mounts are still available, but the quality deteriorates after a few years.
Billfish are cleaned at the main dock, subject to rates on the dock (usually $12).
If you want to take your fish home, bring a cooler with you. Local stores normally have a good supply, though they are generally quite expensive. Usually a 42-quart cooler will satisfy the 44-lb restriction on most airlines. If you bring a bigger cooler, you will have to pay the excess baggage charge, usually $1 per lb. Airline rates vary, so check with the air carrier on exact cost. Also note that a cooler is considered one piece of baggage. Most airlines allow you to check in two pieces of baggage and one carry-on. Unless your trip home is extensive, most fish make it back in a perfectly fresh state.
You can also arrange to have your fish cooked at a local restaurant. Your charter crew can recommend the best local options.