|As hordes of fishermen gather for the 2012 Fred Hall Show – the de facto kick-off for this year’s sportfishing season – Baja’s East Cape is enjoying some of the best beach fishing in recent memory. The news that a small, hardcore group of fishermen were scoring some outstanding catches from La Ventana to San Jose, has attracted the interest of locals and visitors alike.
The abundance of schools of sardina appearing along the shoreline in spite of the prevailing north winds common this time of year was unusual. Sometimes the wind blew so hard the grains of sand felt like BBs when they struck bare skin but even on the windy days, there was a sweet spot from gray light until, well, until it ended.
Pictures of big yellowtail, jacks and, of course, enough sierra to feed plenty of families began surfacing on Facebook, as well as other Baja blogs. Mark Rayor, owner of Jen Wren Sportfishing, who usually blogs about East Cape offshore fishing, was one of the first to post the news.
As the bite continued to build, many local families began turning out in the dawn’s early light to get in on the action. No matter how cold or windy it was, the crowds seemed to grow larger.
Then Felipe Valdez, General Manager of Buena Vista Beach Resort, decided to put on the Felipe Valdez Annual Sierra Tournament offering cash prizes. The event drew a notworthy 32 excited contestants in early January. From early morning to mid-day, the anglers struggled against the elements and only one fish was caught.
While some naysayers declared that was the end of the East Cape sierra run of 2012, the hardcore continued to fish; and lo and behold, they racked up more enviable catches with some 30+-pound yellowtails topping the list.
Meanwhile, as the bite continued, Felipe decided the time was right to form a nonprofit “East Cape Sportfishing Club” and began to recruit members. Encouraged by his success, he decided to have a ‘do-over’ tournament.
The event, held in mid-February, began with a shotgun start and had much better results with Isrial “Cayuyu” Castro collecting $4,150 pesos with his winning catch.
Later that same day, my friend Cono Gastelum from La Paz landed a 30+ pound yellow near the lighthouse fishing from shore with a spinning outfit loaded with 40-pound braid and a red 3-ounce Cabo Killer.
Needless to say, Felipe felt vindicated and thought the event was a great unofficial kickoff for the new club while awaiting final approval from the Mexican government.
Once approved, the group will have a voice in the regulation and protection of sport fish in the area while introducing sport fishing to East Cape youth as well as promoting and supporting independent charter operators.
The unusually good fishing from the shore has continued, which is exciting news for the Fourth Annual Largest Sierra Tournament to be held at Migriño Beach, Cabo San Lucas, BCS, on Sunday, March 25, 6 to 9 a.m. This event has gained in popularity with its short format followed by lunch that attracted 350 participants last year. They offer an impressive list of prizes including a Shimano Stella spinning reel.
On another note, a quick polling of the 30-plus “Below the Border” exhibitors from Baja to Brazil showed they were cautiously optimistic, expressing their feelings that their respective businesses were beginning to slowly regain some of the ground lost over the past several years during the economic downturn.
Additionally, Baja Sur businesses were pleased by the U.S. Department of State’s recent updated Travel Warning that acknowledged that, “while crime and violence remain serious problems along the borders and in some parts of Mexico, there are no advisories in many of the top tourist destinations…specifically Baja California Sur (Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, etc.).” That indeed is a welcome admission that most of the problems existed in border cities or Mexico mainland.
LATER THAT SAME DAY, my friend Cono Gastelum from La Paz landed a 30-plus-pound pound yellow near the lighthouse fishing from shore.
AS THE BITE CONTINUED TO BUILD, many local families began turning out in the dawn’s early light to get in on the action.