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Baja Reports: East Cape – Marlin in the winter? You bet
The mild winter has kept the winds off the water, the temps higher than normal and the pelagics like marlin are just offshore for the few charters going out; it all points to an epic season

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THE EAST CAPE in winter? It doesn’t look too windy. Spring is coming, and with it the promise of another incredible season inshore and offshore, says Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing.


EAST CAPE — “From the perspective of a fisherman, not a wind sailor, for the last couple of weeks our weather has gone from excellent to spectacular,” said Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing. “According to the almanac, the spring equinox starts March 20. Looking out my window I'd say spring is already here. Punxsutawney Phil doesn't agree and has returned to his burrow for another six weeks.”


He joked that the lack of typical winter wind has proved frustrating for the windy crews.


“Kite boarders and wind sailors who rely on the wind for their sport have taken to cycling on mountain bike trails in our hills. There has been a traffic jam at the Los Barriles bike shop.


“The lack of wind has reminded me of Jimmy Buffett's, ‘Son Of A Son Of A Sailor.’ Unlike Jimmy, I fell in love with the East Cape and have tossed 'out my anchor' but like Jimmy, 'I'm just glad I don't live in a trailer.'”


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THE EAST CAPE — It looks slick and primed after a mild winter. Pictured is the Vaquera of Jen Wren Sportfishing.


Lack of north wind for days on end backs up Rayor’s theory that spring has arrived. More evidence is the high 60 temperatures after dark and 80-degree daytime temps.


“Phil can stay in hibernation, I'm getting ready to go fishing!” said Rayor.


The fish count has followed the weather and has gone from very good to wide open. There is still little traffic as anglers are not prepared for the great conditions this early in the year but the few boats departing in the mornings are returning with their laundry out, said Rayor.


“Three to five marlin released has been the norm this week with dorado, a few yellowtail and snapper in the daily reports,” he said, adding, “This is only the second week in February and anglers are already killing it. Last year yellowfin tuna showed up in March and never left. From all the signs I'm seeing with excellent conditions and an abundance of bait, this is going to be the year we have been waiting for.”


Ray will be exhibiting and answering questions and taking reservations at the PCS Sportfishing show in the Orange County Fairgrounds.


“The show is intimate and gives anglers good opportunity to spend time with exhibitors,” said Rayor. “I pulled some strings and got us located directly across the aisle from the bar. Stop by for a visit and I'll buy ya a beer.”


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PISCES SPORTFISHING CHARTERS last week had a 97 percent success rate on a variety of species, mainly striped marlin, dorado and small yellowfin, athough a blue marlin was in the mix as well as bottomfish.


CABO SAN LUCAS — The Cape region enjoyed another week of great weather and fishing in Cabo this week, with 63 boats on Pisces charters catching one species or another, topped by striped marlin at the Golden Gate, while dorado were showing up in greater numbers and small tuna were outside.


The Pisces 31-foot Rebeccastarted off strongly with the only blue marlin caught by any boat this week. Anglers Greg and Jack Sullivan from Tucson caught and released an estimated 500-pound blue that ate a ballyhoo on a run outside Las Margaritas. The Rebecca was captained by Rosendo Gomez, who is usually on the 31-foot Tiburon, but was covering for the regular captain, J.R. on this day. They also caught and released 2 striped marlin of about 130 pounds each, and were hooked on live mackerel at the Golden Gate Bank.


“And with an amazing introduction to the fleet, we had the newcomer, Pisces BajaMark, a 27-foot Boston Whaler, captained by Luis Lieras, catch 6 striped marlin that ranged from 100 to 140 pounds each,” reported Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing. Californians Andrew and Dan Avila released 5 of the marlin, which ate live mackerel at the Golden Gate Bank. They also caught 1 grouper of about 12 pounds, 8 red snapper and 3 triggerfish by chumming closer to shore inside the bank.


The Pisces 28-foot Adriana also had some luck this day, catching 6 striped marlin and releasing them all, with the biggest being about 150 pounds. Anglers Greg Lien and Brian Jablonski from Minnesota also caught 3 grouper of about 15 to 20 pounds at the Golden Gate Bank.


The 42-foot Yahoo and its anglers from Massachusetts caught 3 striped marlin, two of which were about 130 pounds and the other about 170 pounds. “One of the biggest we’ve seen this year,” said Ehrenberg. The fish were all released at the Golden Gate. On a trip earlier in the week, the Yahoo targeted dorado specifically and found 5 of 'em, ranging from 10 to 20 pounds each at the Las Margaritas and Pozo Cota areas.


As far as tuna go, they have been around, but outside.


Captain Erick Orozco of the 42-foot Pisces Hot Rod had a successful day, although he had to go out 30 miles out to the 180 Spot to find the yellowfin. Anglers from Texas caught 11 yellowfin, all on feathers and cedar plugs. The tuna ranged in size from about 10 to 15 pounds.


Total catches for Pisces boats this week were: 71 marlin, 164 tuna, 79 dorado and 160 others. Water temps were about 75 degrees.


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THE ACTION FOR the larger grade of tuna to over 100 pounds faded out on the Gordo Banks, mainly due to the conditions turning over with greener water, reported Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas. However, tuna was turning up at the Iman Bank for customers like this angler.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Much has been written about the mild winter, and although the water temperatures are now in the low 70s, the winds have been light, allowing for consistent access to the nearby banks.


“The weather continued to be a bit unpredictable from day to day, as is normal for this month of February,” said Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas, based at Puerto Los Cabos Marina. “Recently we have seen warmer conditions, and earlier in the week we had much morning cloud cover; it finally burning off later in the day, and by Friday we saw more sunshine, highs up into the 80s. Wind was lighter as well and anglers had great ocean conditions most days.”


Brictson said ocean water temperatures are still ranging from 70 to 75 degrees. Clarity was a bit off-colored on the Gordo Banks and towards the north. Most fishing action was centered from Iman Bank, at Punta Gorda, straight off of San Jose and towards Santa Maria.



As for bait, sardinas were being netted near Cabo Real and towards Chileno. Strips of squid and some rigged ballyhoo were also being used. Mackerel and sardineta schools were still on local grounds and have been another bait option.


“The action for the larger grade of tuna to over 100 pounds faded out on the Gordo Banks, mainly due to the conditions turning over with greener water. There were some yellowfin tuna coming up on the Iman Bank earlier in the week, but these fish proved very elusive and not many were hooked up,” said Brtictson. “Midweek, there were sizable pods of porpoise encountered, from 2 to 4 miles outside of San Jose del Cabo and towards La Laguna, and the yellowfin tuna were traveling with them.”


Charters were able to land from one or two, on up to 10 tuna in the 20- to 35-pound class, all depending on where you were at a given time, as these schools were moving quickly and had to be chased around. Dropping various baitfish into the action was the best bet, as very few were striking on lures.


Dorado action continued, the majority of these fish found within a couple of miles of shore, and most of these were under 10 pounds with an occasional exception of a fish up to 15 pounds. They're striking on bait best, with a smaller percentage coming on lures.


He said that along the shoreline, particularly near to Cabo San Lucas off Chileno, there were some decent-sized sierra hitting on slow-trolled sardinas, with a few up over 8 pounds. Also, there were a handful of juvenile-sized roosterfish.


Brictson said that there was more activity with the pelagic red crab, as some days they were found drifting to the surface and were netted and used for bait, with some decent catches of red snapper coming in, though this was not a for-sure consistent deal from day to day.


“Commercial fleets were eager to get a supply of the red crabs, at times saving some in make shift live tanks to be used for the next day, in case they were not found on the surface,” said Brictson. “So we will follow this action closely. This was the same scenario last year during approximately this same time frame.”


Other bottom action was slow, besides the red crab bite with the huachinango, red snapper. A few bonito, cabrilla (leopard grouper), barred pargo, medium sized amberjack, yellow snapper and triggerfish were reported.


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 61 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of: 2 striped marlin, a wahoo, 76 yellowfin tuna, 105 dorado, 3 amberjack, 9 yellow snapper, 8 barred pargo, 14 Eastern Pacific bonito, 68 sierra, 6 roosterfish, 11 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 110 huachinango (red snapper) and 40 triggerfish.


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STEVE REICH FROM San Diego got out to the south end of Cerralvo Island just off Punta Arenas near La Paz and got into some feisty yellowfin tuna using chunked bits of squid while fishing out of Muertos Bay with Tailhunter International.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan and his wife and business partner Jill are headed to Long Beach and Del Mar for the March Fred Hall shows, and he is keeping up with the action down south while on the outdoors sports road show in the western states. Not much has changed in the last two weeks, he said.


“Our fishing report this week is almost identical to last week,” said Roldan. “Not many folks are fishing this time of year. Typical windy days and then great sunny days, and the key is really figuring out which days will be windy or not. On the days it’s windy, there’s two choices: either stay ashore and figure a different day to fish or go out and fish inshore, where we’re catching the usual structure fish like pargo, cabrilla or snapper. Just a little outside, bonito, sierra and jack crevalle add to the catch. Maybe the occasional dorado too.”


He added, “However, on the calmer days when we can move off just a bit further, especially over to Cerralvo Island, there’s yellowtail, big dog tooth snapper and some decent 15- to 30-pound yellowfin tuna. Slow trolling deep-running Rapalas, live sardines and chunked frozen squid have been working best.”


Roldan said a customer, Steve Reich from San Diego, fished out of Muertos Bay and got out to the south end of Cerralvo Island just off Punta Arenas near La Paz, where he got into some feisty yellowfin tuna using chunked bits of squid.


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THE PUERTO ESCONDIDO Marina is expanding rapidly with the depth to accept larger vessels to 150 feet with drafts of 12 feet of more. It expanded in January and another expansion in March will bring the marina to more than 100 slips.


LORETO — Rick Hill of pinchysportfishing.com and loetotours.com reported San Bruno is the high spot for the yellowtail action.


“Fishing continues to bubble along at the high spots north of Coronado, but this week it moved further off to the San Bruno high spot,” said Hill. “Good numbers of pintos, reds and huachinango are being caught on both cut bait and live mackerel.”


He added that big numbers of yellowtail are also on scene but only a handful were hungry. There is so much food in the water it is hard to figure how any yellow could be hungry!


In other news, Puerto Escondido Marina continues its aggressive expansion, opening up access to a vast area of the Sea of Cortez’s outer banks and islands to sportfishing on larger charter and private boats.


The key element for Loreto-based sportfishers is safe dockage in a region of Baja that is susceptible to hurricanes., and Marina Puerto Escondido is providing that. In January the marina accepted its first 150-foot yacht, and since 2017, had undergone expansion to take in boats with a draft of just over 12 feet and up to 200 feet in length. In March, 80 new slips will be coming on line for a total of 100, and more importantly, the natural harbor of Puerto Escondido offers nearly 360-degree protection from storms.


This writer visited the marina with Jay Yadon of Outpost Charters, which operates two sportfishers out of the marina, and saw the new docks and the amenities for guests with a rooftop restaurant and pool, a 50-ton travel lift, laundry service, a marina store and office space for charter and eco tour companies. For more info, see Marinapuertoescondido.com, or contact harbormaster Javier Fuerte at harbormaster@marinapuertoescondido.com


ENSENADA — From the Vonny Fleet pangas in Punta Banda comes this report from Ivan Villarino: “One of this week’s lucky fisherman was Sal Hernandez and Robert Conell from Los Angeles with limits of bottom fish reds, johnny bass, calicos and one nice yellowtail on the Vonny 1 with Capt. Beto Zamora.


PUERTO VALLARTA — Stan Gabruk of Masterbaiters Sportfishing and Tackle here said, “For the last few weeks I’ve discouraged people from taking fishing trips longer than eight hours. Now, as we surprisingly see that water temperatures have jumped back to comfortable range at Corbetena and other fishing grounds as high as 80 degrees, it’s almost like late-fall fishing as we even have dorado in the area. Yep, I said dorado! The Marietta Islands are showing signs of life and of course, short day trips will guarantee some arm burning action for both young and old alike.


“This week the previously dead fishing grounds of Corbetena and El Banco are showing that this area is never really ‘dead,' just sleeping. Yellowfin tuna from 30 pounds up to 60 pounds or maybe larger. Striped marlin at 120 to 175 pounds are not big, but fun to fight and then release. Sailfish are also in the area and they’re all hungry. With 80-degree water temperatures and plenty of bait in the area, anything is possible. Throw in jack crevalls, bonito, skippies and more means anything is possible, so stay tuned.”


Gabruk said the area from Punta Mita to El Morro and the Marietta Islands is finally showing life. Pompano are hanging out around El Morro to the Marietta Islands of good size from 15 to 30 pounds, while amberjacks are picking up in numbers and size around the Marietta Islands. Dorado to 30 pounds are hanging around the buoy at the point. Yellowfin tuna in the 30-pound range are running with spinner dolphin.


“Kick in jack crevalle, bonito and possibly sailfish, and you’ve got great fishing in an eight hour day,” said Gabruk. “Well worth your fuel dollars to take a chance at some fun-sized fishing. Frankly, anywhere from Punta Mita out 6 to 10 miles off the point at a heading of 300 you could also run into a striped marlin of 120 pounds or even a nice sailfish.”


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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 baja@wonews.com . Reports here are compiled from phones calls, emails, social media and personal fishing trips of WON staff.


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