Rocky desert hills drop toward the sea to form a large natural harbor for the San Carlos Marina. The most prominent of these hills is twin-peaked Tetakawi (also called "Tetas de Cabra" by locals - politely translated as "goat teats"). Tetakawi marks the marina entrance and provides a handy reference point to offshore boaters, much like El Arco in Cabo San Lucas. The steep terrain it illustrates is replicated offshore as quick drop-offs.
A month after Sport Fishing's visit, in mid-November when the billfish season traditionally winds down, Capt. Almada reported an unexpected hot striped marlin bite only a few hundred yards from shore. "We released a total of 11 fish in three and a half days of fishing, including a solo trip I was on for three hours, where I released one and lost another," he said. All the action was virtually in the shadow of Tetakawi.
City by the Sea
San Carlos is located on the Sea of Cortez just four hours south of the U.S. border by car, in the Mexican state of Sonora. Anglers driving from Arizona take Mex 15, a well-maintained and patrolled four-lane highway. Find more information at the San Carlos website, www.sancarlosmexico.com. (For updates on travel safety in Mexico, visit www.travel.state.gov and click on Travel Warnings.)
For air travelers, Aeromexico (www.aeromexico.com) provides regular daily service to Hermosillo, which is just over an hour away from San Carlos. Daily direct flights are offered from Los Angeles and Phoenix; multiple connecting flights are available through Mexico City from many U.S. cities. Catch-22 Sportfishing provides its customers complimentary pickup from Hermosillo.
We stayed at the Marinaterra Hotel and Spa while in San Carlos, which provides spacious and comfortable accommodations just steps from the charter docks at the San Carlos Marina. The Marinaterra (www.marinaterra.com) offers 92 deluxe rooms, 18 junior suites and two honeymoon suites, and many rooms have kitchenettes. A full-service restaurant, El Embarcadero, boasts a prime waterfront location and will gladly cook up your catch at the end of the day. Standard room rates generally run $160 a night in the high season (spring and summer) and $90 during the off-season.
We fished aboard the Prime Time, a 34-foot Phoenix owned by Eddie Davault of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Chris Strahan of Las Vegas, and skippered part time by Capt. Fernando Almada. Almada, owner and operator of Catch-22 Sportfishing Adventures (www.catch22mexicosportfishing.com), offers charters aboard two 26-foot Grady-White walkarounds, the Pez Vela and the Rubina, and a 26-foot Shamrock center-console, the Chanoc. Almada offers inshore and offshore charters. Rates run $250 for a half-day, $400 for a full day aboard the Chanoc, and $300 for a half-day, $500 for a full day aboard a Grady-White.