Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or you’ve never fished a day in your life, there are plenty of options near San José. For newbies, your captain and crew will find the right spot for the day, rig up the bait, and handle boating the fish. All you have to do is reel and smile for the picture. Later, top off the day by taking your fresh catch to a local restaurant to have it prepared to your liking.
Fishing boats for hire fall under two general categories: pangas and cruisers. Cruisers are the larger boats you’ll see in the marina slips. They’re often equipped with tuna towers, enclosed cabins, a bathroom, and other amenities. Pangas are the ubiquitous open launches, powered by outboard motor and sometimes featuring a sunshade and center console. If you see a panga with a newer four-stroke outboard, center console, sunshade, and mounted radio, jump in—you’ve got a winner. The fish don’t care what kind of boat you’re in, but the cruisers can handle the larger game fish and a non-fishing passenger in comfort.
Don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, food, waterproof camera, sandals, and a windbreaker. Take motion sickness medicine the night before and morning of the trip if you are prone to seasickness (or if you aren’t sure).
There are a few extra costs to factor into the planning: Tips for the captain and fish-cleaning crew are the norm. About 20 percent of the cost of the trip is standard. Live bait is often not included in the cost of the panga, so expect to pay US$20 per boat. Fishing licenses cost US$8 a day or US$20 a week. You do not need a fishing license to fish from the shore. Licenses can be purchased online through the state tourism office.
For tackle, bait, and fishing books, head to Deportiva Piscis (Castro and Green, 1 block south of the Mercado Municipal, tel. 624/142-0332, 8am-7pm daily).
All hotels in the Zona Hotelera can arrange guided fishing trips. Well-known La Leona Fleet (formerly Francisco’s Fleet, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/521-2281) is based at Palmilla Beach on the Corridor. A six hour super-panga trip for two or three people costs US$195; bring your own food and drinks.
Puerto Los Cabos
Gordo Banks Pangas (Puerto Los Cabos, tel./ fax 624/142-1147, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/408-1199,) launches out of La Playita and rents 22-foot pangas for US$210 (six hours, 1-3 anglers) or 23-foot super-pangas for US$250 (six hours, 1-3 anglers) and cruisers for US$380-470. Jaime Castro (Puerto Los Cabos, cell tel. 624/154-9110, U.S. tel. 858/922-3355, US$200-280 per boat) runs panga fishing charters by day and manages the kitchen at Buzzard’s by night. Boats depart at 6am daily from B dock at the La Playita marina and return at noon. Bait, lunch, drinks, and fishing license cost extra. Reserve online.