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Baja Fishing Report

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Conditions changing in Baja California Sur

Quality tuna on the Gordo
Cooler water and air but the 50- to 150-pound yellowfin make an appearance, while Loreto winds keep boats close for down-deep yellows; Cabo billfish action on fire!

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas, operating out of Puerto Los Cabos, has appreciated the great weather this winter, and even though cooler water and air moved in these past few weeks, the tuna are still on the Gordo Bank.

Not huge fish, but quality fish.

THE HIGHLIGHT FOR action off San Jose Del Cabo for pangeros recently has been on the Gordo Banks for quality yellowfin tuna in the 50- to 150-pound range taken on the drift. Pat Delaney was fishing with Gordo Banks Pangas last week and scored this pair of yellowfin.

Through December and the first half of January, the weather patterns in the Los Cabos area were very ideal, warmer than usual,” said Brictson, “with the normally very persistent north winds being much lighter and not even much of a factor. This in turn also contributed to the ocean water temperatures holding several degrees warmer than normal.”

All this was good news for keeping the pelagic game fish such as dorado, yellowfin tuna and wahoo on local fishing grounds.

This past week, light crowds of visitors were greeted with stronger gusting winds from the north, starting last Sunday and finally tapering off by later in the week. Water temperatures were down in the 70 to 75 degree range, with the coldest currents now pushing south from Los Frailes in the direction of the Gordo Banks.

“The bait supply remained steady for sardinas, with the main concentrations of these preferred bait now centered near Cabo Real – other options being used are caballito, mackerel and strips of squid,” said Brictson. “The highlight for action recently has been on the Gordo Banks for quality-sized yellowfin tuna, with fish in the 50- to 150-pound range being hooked into while drift fishing. Finicky action, where the wind made it even much tougher, but fish were still being hooked into, some lost and a percentage landed; basically if you did account for one or two of these tuna, you were fortunate.”

A lot of factors were involved, he said. First, the fish were hitting best on leaders not heavier than 50 or 60 pounds, which resulted in many of the larger fish breaking off; then there were sea lions and sharks taking their share as well. Heavy pressure was on these grounds now, as this was one of the better options available.

“Late in the week the action was progressively slowing down as compared to last week and the first few days of this week,” said Brtictson. “Other tuna action for a smaller grade of fish was found off of Santa Maria, but there were no big numbers there either and that bite was on one day and then off the other – very hit or miss – but it was a decent option since it was close to shore in more protected waters.”

Dorado action is tapering off as well, which would be normal for this time of year, but some fish were found on the same grounds, as were the tuna and other found close to shore. Best chances were on various baits and sizes ranged up to 15 pounds. Average catches for dorado were now less than one per charter. No wahoo to report, though chances are there are still a few them hanging around.

He added that close to shore there were small roosterfish off San Jose del Cabo hotel zone, and around on the Pacific, there was better action reported for sierra, and hopefully this is a favorable sign that these fish are heading in the direction of the Sea of Cortez as well.

Billfish activity increased some out of San Jose del Cabo, and while still no big numbers, every day anglers are reportedly spotting a few striped marlin on the local grounds and some were hooked on trolled lures, as well as on various larger baitfish.

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 69 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of: 1 black marlin, 1 spearfish, 11 striped marlin, 11 sierra, 55 yellowfin tuna, 62 dorado, 12 amberjack, 17 yellow snapper, 6 barred pargo, 15 Eastern Pacific bonito, 18 roosterfish, 18 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 3 broom tail grouper, 25 huachinango (red snapper) and 65 triggerfish.

FLAGS TELL THE TALE — Marlin are what's up for the Pisces fleet.

yellowfinarestillYELLOWFIN ARE STILL in the mix off Cabo for the Pisces fleet, even though marlin are the No. 1 targets.

CABO SAN LUCAS — Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing reported that striped marlin were running thick during the final week of January and that the action and mild weather should continue on this winter.

“It has been a truly magical week of fishing here in Cabo,” said Ehrenberg on Sunday. “Not only has the weather been delightful, an average of 80 degrees with nice crisp mornings, but to top it off, whatever species of fish anglers targeted this week, they found. If you’ve dreamed of ever catching a marlin and you want to almost 'guarantee' your odds, now is the time to be here.”

She said the trend continued as last week, with upwards of 3 marlin caught per boat, with top performers catching up to 10. Those who targeted tuna and dorado also found them and small game fishing has been “off the charts,” said Ehrenberg. Big sierras were caught, plus nice-sized groupers and a few roosterfish fish thrown into the mix to boot.

Ehrenberg said she fished on the 31-foot Pisces Tiburon. She needed the time on the water.

“Writing these fish reports the last few weeks has been torture with how good it’s been out there and me being stuck in the office,” she said. “Thus, the Tiburon, and what a trip! They caught 5 striped marlin, all on mackerel at the Golden Gate Bank.”

“Three of our marlin hit on live bait … while the other two hit on weighted dead bait while trolling the area,” she said. “As we arrived at the Golden Gate, we encountered the Tracy Ann, hooked up to their second marlin of the day already, at 9 a.m. They caught and released 5 striped marlin total. Across from us, the Ruthless was also hooked up. Anglers Cynthia Carvill, Larry Freeman and Max Pierce, all from San Pedro, caught 8 striped marlin, which they released.

“We saw marlin free jumping, frigate birds and seagulls trying to steal our bait and causing commotion, but also guiding us to the spots with most action. There wasn’t even much competition between boats, we all knew there was enough marlin to be caught here by everyone. An hour later I noticed the42-foot Hot Rod also hooked up, their marlin fighting impressively, leaping through the air.”

Captain Erick Orozco and anglers from California landed7 striped marlintotal, all on mackerel, as well. Of course, they released them all, said Ehrenberg. TheAdrianawas also on the grounds, catching2 marlin that day. Andthe Rebecca’s anglers, Andy Patch, Geoff D’sena and Peter Babros from California, had their work cut out for them as Captain Jose Ramon and Mate Luis Cota put them on 10 marlinthat day, with all of them making it to the boat and released successfully.

“The Rebecca was without a doubt, our top marlin boat this week. They fished every day and had 100-percent catch success rate. They caught a total of 28 marlin in seven days! They were also able to deliver for anglers aboard not looking for marlin. On Jan. 25, they literally went the distance for their client and headed 35 miles out to the 210 Spot, as angler Chris Lehman was hoping for tuna.”

That group landed 8 yellowfin on lures and ranged in weight from 25 to 40 pounds each. They also caught 1 dorado of about 20 pounds on a flying fish lure.

DAVE DISTEL OF Huntington Beach came down with his dad and got into some bonito and then got surprised by this chunky tuna in Muertos Bay while fishing with Captain Victor from the Tailhunter Fleet. They took the fish to Tailhunter Restaurant for dinner.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan is on the tackle show tour of the western states with his wife Jill Roldan, but he keeps tabs on the action down in La Paz with his Tailhunter Adventures pangeros for his weekly reports. Obviously this is the off-season, but some boats are fishing around periods of wind typical this time of year.

“Still not too many folks fishing,” said Roldan. “It’s been pretty windy from the north, as is pretty typical for this time of year and it’s the January slump when there’s just not that many folks in town either. It’s actually a nice time to be in La Paz. It’s sunny and relatively warm for the snowbirds, with daytime temps in the high 70s compared to where they’re escaping from. It’s just not necessarily the best time to be on the water.

“However, we did get some folks out for a few days for some scratchy mixed-bag fishing. Inshore, there’s snapper, bonito, pargo, seabass and good schools of jack crevalle. There should be more sierra around but it hasn’t been consistent. One day, they swarm and the next day they can’t be found.

He said the more quality fishing has been some firecracker 10-pound yellowtail around and also some surprising 20-pound-class tuna in Muertos Bay.

“Maybe still hanging out from last fall!” he said. “One of our captains saw some free-swimming wahoo as well, but they moved off.

Note: The San Francisco Chronicle’s award-winning columnist Tom Stienstra wrote an incredible feature story on Jill and Jonathan last week and interviewed them when they were exhibiting at the Bay Area for an ISE show. Google it. This is the link:

FISHING THE BOTTOM with Juan Cookout of San Quintin were Joe Zuniga, Gill Lopez and Rosarito Jimmy Decursay.


K&M SPORTFISHING IN San Quintin Bay also specializes in shorter inshore/bay trips for a variety of fish, and the action can be fast-paced.

SAN QUINTIN — Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing here reported they have been having great fishing in the bay.

“We spent some time this week fishing from shore in the bay and found great fishing for small grouper, some reaching 5 pounds or more!” said Catian. “Very fun on light tackle using swimbaits and crankbaits. We practice catch and release on all bay fish, especially the grouper, and encourage others to do so as well. A day of shore-pounding Bahia San Quintin can produce a variety of species, such as halibut, grouper (broomtail), sand bass, spotted bay bass, bonefish, calico and corvina.”

He added they will also do shorter charters for the bay trips.

In other SQ news, Juan Cook, a WON reader and Baja traveler/angler, has been fishing regularly out of San Quintin Bay and said the yellowtail action has been slow but “we have great vermillion reds, whitefish, sheapshead and nice lingcod. The weather settled down after the wind and swell, water temp is 61.4 clear and full of red crabs, crisp in the morning and nice warm days.”

LORETO — Capt. Jay Yadon at, based in Puerto Escondido 15 miles south of Loreto, reported on Sunday, “We only fished one day this week on the 26th because of the weather. We left out of Puerto Escondido around 6:30 a.m. We fished six-mile reef and caught 4 yellowtail, 3 snapper and 2 cabrilla. All the fish were caught on mackerel around 200 feet.” They fished on Yadon’s 40-foot Luhrs.

Rick Hill at and reported: “It's been the typical winter fishing in Loreto when the weather allows. Wind mixed with some minor earth tremors was the name of this week's tune. A few very nice days pointed most of the fishing boats back to Coronado Island for bottomfish. The boats that got burned out on the little pintos and reds ventured further north and got a bigger assortment of the same bottomfish.”

Rene Olinger of Baja Pensinsular Tours, which operates Loreto-based pangas, said, “This week brought a lot of wind and a lot of bait fish to Loreto. Thursday and Friday were the only real fishable days and fishing was a little slower because with the amount of mackerel and sardina both at the surface and along the bottom. North of Coronado Island, people were catching small yellowtail and decent-sized cabrilla, and out at some of the reefs a lot of big red snapper were brought in.”

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Would you want your trip to be included into our Baja report? Each week over the weekend we compile reports from anglers and operations, so all you need to do is write a few notes and attach a photo of your fish and email to  Reports here are compiled from phones calls, emails, social media and personal fishing trips of WON staff.


THIS OUTPOST CHARTERS trip Jan. 26 out of Puerto Escondido to the six-mile reef produced 4 yellowtail, 3 snapper and 2 cabrilla. All the fish were caught on mackerel around 200 feet.

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