|I might be committing a bit of heresy. Fishing can be crap in the winter. Okay, I said it. But, hold on. Before I’m ex-communicated from the fishing brotherhood, let me explain.
We’re doing all these fishing and hunting fishing shows and expos for the next three months. Just finished Denver and, by the time you’re reading this, we’ll have just finished the ISE show in Sacramento and are on our way to the Seattle area for the next show. These expos are great. It’s an incredible opportunity to chat with old amigos and folks interested in coming to fish in Baja.
But, so often, I hear:
“We’ve fished down in Mexico three times and didn’t catch a thing.”
“Long boat ride. Just trolled all day.”
“Five trips and no marlin. No tuna.”
“They always lie and tell us there’s a lot of fish but we never get much. Really disappointing.”
Then, I ask them, “What time of year did you go fishing?”
So often I hear, “Uh, December.”
I kinda shake my head. I can certainly understand when I speak to these good folks who live in the frozen, wet, cold winters of Montana, Colorado, Alaska, Canada and Washington.There’s a definite need to toss off the down jackets and thermals and bolt as fast you can to the land of flip-flops and margarita! If you’ve ever spent any time in these beautiful places, there’s only so much you can take until you crave some sunshine and Vitamin D.
But just cuz the sun is shining south of the border doesn’t necessarily mean the fish are biting. At least not ALL the fish!
Sure, the brochures and websites all look good with all those pretty fish and sunny beaches, but so often, folks fail to check whether those gamefish species are biting during their vacation. Just ask! Or they fail to take a look at fish reports (like those in Western Outdoor News) or online reports.
Although you really never know what you might hook when you fish in Baja, historically, most species run during particular seasons. Just like anything else and everywhere else on earth, there’s a time for the whales to migrate; a time for the salmon run; for geese to fly south and yes…for marlin, dorado and tuna to show up as well!
Very often tourists will book a boat and just tell the captain, “We want to catch a marlin” or “Let’s go for tuna!”
The Mexican captain and crew, anxious to please, and understandably sometimes lacking the ability properly verbalize other alternatives, fire up the engines and off they go with a shrug and as much enthusiasm as they can muster. If it’s a good day, the captain is a hero. If it’s a bad day, he’s a goat.
The better option would have been for the clients to ask what’s biting (no matter what time of year!) and pursuing those species or just letting the captain fish.
Give the green light.Tell him you want some action. (It’s an easy word in Spanish…”accion!”)
Most captains I’ve known over the years that are worth their salt and lime don’t want to go on a long boat ride anymore than you. Pragmatically, why burn the gas for nothing? Believe me, they want to catch fish as much as you do! When our own captains in our fleet hear the word “accion,” I usually see big smiles and hear an enthusiastic, “Vamonos!” (Let’s go!”)
Especially, for Mexican winter-time fishing, when there can be so many variables in wind, current, tides and fish, find out what’s going on and do a little research before booking your trip. It will be worth your effort. Maybe you’ll find out it’s better to go another time; change your fishing strategies or even go somewhere else!
The Baja is 1000 miles long with about 2000 miles of coastline and bordering two different oceans. What’s biting in Cabo isn’t the same as what’s biting in Mulege. What they’re catching in Ensenada or off Cedros Island isn’t the same as the catches in Bahia de Los Angeles. Common sense!
I often get prospective clients telling us, they are coming in the winter and “I want to catch a marlin.” Or, “I’ve never caught a dorado.”
I’ve found it’s better to possibly lose the booking and be up front. Better to have a happy satisfied client than disappointing a client that had unrealistic expectations.
So, I tell them when the optimal time would be to catch the fish they are looking for or, if their vacations are already set, I make sure to give them realistic expectations for what they are most likely to encounter.
For instance in winter it might be cabrilla…pargo…snapper…sierra…jack crevalle…bonito…yellowtail…etc. I also throw in the kind of weather and ocean conditions that might arise as well. Of course, Baja being Baja and the fish gods often being fickle, if they do catch some trophy blue water fish, expectations have been exceeded. We’re suddenly heroes and my captain is the best thing since the invention of the tortilla.
But, lacking that, I encourage folks to ask what’s biting and be flexible about the fishing as the best way to avoid disappointment. Nothing is ever guaranteed in fishing, but plan your fishing as carefully as you plan your hotel and the rest of your vacation and you’ll max your vacation memories.