In January of 1971, I was transferred to Phoenix and by the summer we were settled in, involved with the local Little League and hearing about two exciting get away spots in Mexico – Rocky Point and Mazatlan.

We chose Mazatlan as our first destination. At the time it was a quaint old town (now over a million inhabitants) located on the mainland directly across the mouth of El Golfo, the Gulf of California, from Cabo San Lucas. Back then, Cabo hadn’t been developed and commercial flights were few and only by Mexican airlines and a person would fly into Mazatlan and then catch the ferry to Cabo San Lucas.

On our first few trips to Mazatlan, we chose the train, the Ferrocarril Del Norte (Iron Horse Of The North), and caught it in Nogales, Mexico, right across the border from Nogales, Arizona. It was a twelve hour, plus or minus, overnight trip that deposited us in Mazatlan the next morning. Shopping and partying were the “sports” of most, but for me it was the fishing.

At the time, the only charter service was Bill Heimpel Star Fleet, also called Flota Mazatlan. They had twenty-six to thirty-two foot cabin boats as shown in the background of the photograph. The boats were seaworthy and reliable, the Captains put you on the fish, but with only one drawback, you had to keep all fish caught. Those not claimed by the fisherman, including the sailfish, were given or sold to the locals. My last visit in 1983 this practice had changed to almost all catch and release.

On my first trip out with Flota Mazatlan we raised fifteen sails, landed seven and returned to the dock with five. The picture shows two of the sailfish. I have caught sails, dolphin (not Flipper), white marlin and raised a large blue marlin and lost it. I was on a boat that landed a two hundred pound blue. I made eight trips down and always wanted to try the “small fishing”, but the excellent fare offshore always lured me away.

This picture from my last trip, shot into the sun, shows a billfish, tail walking across a very calm, Pacific Ocean. This one was released!