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CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Baja Reports - by Pat McDonell

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Baja Sur warm and calm, the fish are lovin’ it
Spring is coming! Cabo marlin on the wane, with tuna emerging as the go-to species; La Paz is kicking out yellowfin to 50 pounds; Loreto yellowtail limits are fish 25 to 30-plus pounds near El Seco


LORETO — Captain Jay Yadon of Outpostcharters.com based in Puerto Escondido said he fished El Seco and Catalan Island Saturday and said the weather was rough on the 40-foot Luhrs Cast N’ Reel. The tuna were still there on El Seco, which was good to see, but the catches were made up of quality yellows in rough weather.


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OUTPOST CHARTERS OUT of Puerto Escondido fished Saturday at El Seco, a pinnacle off Catalan Island, and scored yellows 22 to 35 pounds on live mackerel at 120 feet in rough conditions.


“We took off this morning from Puerto Escondido at 6:30 a.m.” wrote Yadon toWON Saturday afternoon. “The wind was blowing hard from the north at about 14 knots. The yellowtail didn’t seem to mind, though. We ran out to Catalan and got into the yellowtail immediately. We were fishing live mackerel off the bottom at about 120 feet. We marked some large tuna but the wind was too bad to fish for them. It was nice to see they were still there. We ended up with limits on yellowtail ranging from 22 to 35 pounds.”


On Sunday he posted more photos of quality fish, so the bite is consistent when you can get on the reefs and/or high spots like the six mile reef and El Seco with mackerel between blows.

Rick Hill of Loreto Bay Tours and pinchysportfishing.com out of Loreto had a different story to the north: “The weather continues to cooperate for most days of the week but the fish bite is a little less friendly.


Yellowtail, said Hill, are being caught but mostly by the commercial hand line fishermen that spend 18 hours tied to a high spot.


“Most of our clients are the "eco-types" that are here for whale watching. Gray whales are in the lagoons on the west side (coast) of Baja and blue whales are doing their annual food stop on our doorstep. Huachinango and pintos can always be found but the bigger yellows may be another month away.”


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DR. GUY NAZARENO from Fremont, CA came down for the first time to La Paz to get some fishing and sunshine and was surprised by some nice yellowfin tuna in the shallow high spot at the south end of Cerralvo Island while fishing with Captain Adolfo of the Tailhunter Fleet.


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter had some interesting news. It’s winter, and the tuna are biting. Say what? That’s right. The season “ended” and he and Jill Roldan have been on their western states promo tour at various shows, but the fish never left. Apparently. The Muertos Bay Fleet continues to fish between blows, and the yellowfin are biting, to 50 pounds.


“Again, we had some atypical fishing for winter in La Paz,” Jonathan reported. “As usual, there were some days when the winds were blustering and the currents were strong so we ended up fishing around the rocks and reefs of Bahia de los Muertos to keep in the protected waters. Fishing produced jack crevalle, sierra, bonito, snapper, cabrilla and pargo.”


Roldan went to address the tuna fishing, “However, once again, we were surprised by the showing on yellowfin tuna, which we don’t usually see so early in the year, especially during the winter months. Using live sardines or frozen squid, we caught fish running a healthy 15 to 40 pounds. Fishing was best when the winds and current were diminished, which allowed us to get to the live bait spots and then make the short run to the south end of Cerralvo Island.”


He added, “Earlier in the week when waters were calmer, we were getting one to six tuna per panga. Later in the week as waters got a little more choppy, fewer but larger fish moved in with schools of bonito limiting the tuna bite although the few fish we got were generally larger than the earlier fish. The same area also produced a few dorado as well.”


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — “This week began with light crowds of visiting anglers, ended up being very busy, particularly on Friday, when everyone decided to go fishing,” reported Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas in Puerto Los Cabos Marina. “Weather patterns were a little up and down as well; some wind early in the week, then laying down, before picking up swiftly again from the north on Friday. Water conditions are now more stable in the direction of Cabo San Lucas, where cooler, greenish water has steadily been pushing in the from the north, with water temperatures ranging from 67 to 74 degrees.”


Brictson told WON that the majority of the fishing action centered from off of Santa Maria, to Palmilla and north to San Luis. The yellowfin tuna action slowed down progressively throughout the week – early on there were decent reports of yellowfin being encountered with moving porpoise, at times within a few miles of shore, then they moved further offshore and were hard to even find and often when the porpoise were found there were no tuna associated with them, that type of action can often prove to be sporadic. Most of these yellowfin that were found weighed in the 20- to 30-pound class.


“These fish were striking best on various baitfish. The sardinas became a bit more scattered, but these baitfish were still being netting near the rocky beaches from Palmilla and to the south,” said Brictson. “Mackerel also proved to be a good option, and these had to be jigged up off of the San Jose del Cabo hotel area, several miles offshore – not a guarantee with the Sabikis, though at times they proved to be the more productive bait.”


Dorado numbers were down, as can be expected for this time of year, with scattered fish in small schools and many of these were very juvenile, under 5 pounds, and Brictson said these juvenile fish should really be released if at all possible – just an occasional dorado now being landed that are over 10 pounds. “I did not hear of any wahoo, which is also expected during this out-of-season period.”


As for the billfish, while it was good off Cabo and up the Pacific side, it has not been a heavily targeted fish for the pangeros.


“Only a handful of striped marlin are being found on the local grounds; surprising since their favored food source, the mackerel, are present,” said Brictson. “Not much action being found offshore now, as most charters are having more success closer to shore for species such as sierra, pargo, snapper, cabrilla, island jacks, triggerfish, etc…Not a lot of trophy-sized fish now, but there has been a variety of smaller good-eating specimens to be had while soaking bait off the bottom, as well as yo-yoing and casting jigs.”


There’s been no yellowtail to report, but it is the time of year they should start showing, but there have been some smaller-sized amberjack found and the highlight off the bottom rock piles have been leopard grouper, ranging in sizes up to 20 pounds for those drifting live mackerel.


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 76 charters for the week, with anglers reporting a fish count of: 5 striped marlin, 18 yellowfin tuna, 85 dorado, 9 amberjack, 24 yellow snapper, 12 island jack, 6 surgeonfish, 12 barred pargo, 16 Eastern Pacific bonito, 135 sierra, 25 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 65 huachinango (red snapper) and 55 triggerfish.


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THE PISCES FLEET scored 311 fish over the week’s charters with billfish accounting for 27, tuna 96 and 132 other species. Water temps were at 74 degrees, with calm seas and partly cloudy weather. The season is shaping up to be a great spring,but the winterhas been one of the best in years with mild conditions.


CABO SAN LUCAS — Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing on Sunday reported that mild water temps of 74 degrees and calm waters have produced a solid winter bite for tuna, with billfish starting to go on the wane as the season is changing as spring nears. The total fish caught by Pisces Boats this week was 311 fish with 27 billfish, 96 tuna, 56 dorado and 132 assorted other species.


The best areas have been the Golden Gate Bank, the Jaime Bank, outside the Old Lighthouse and Los Arcos.


“This week we saw dorado catches increase, topping billfish, which we hadn’t seen happen this year yet.,” she said. “The season is beginning to slowly change, and we are also seeing the tuna pick up a just a bit. 132 tuna were caught this week, although only 22 percent of the boats caught them, but this gives you a better idea of what the tuna buzz is looking like in Cabo at the moment. Boats are still going very far to find them though. Small game catches closer to home are still strong, with Pisces Valerie making our list for top boat for small game this week.”


Ehrenberg said the week started a little slow compared only to last week, as on Feb. 10, every boat that went out caught 1 to 2 marlin each, but not much of anything else.


“Two days later, though, we had boats like the Tracy Ann catch 1 striped marlin and 19 yellowfin tuna. Anglers from Minnesota did a good job at landing their fish out about 35 miles out by San Jaime Bank. The marlin hit on live mackerel bait, weighed about 100 pounds and was released. The tuna hit on cedar plugs and averaged 15 to 30 pounds each. The Tracy Ann crew also went above and beyond to find tuna for anglers Amy and Tom Norris, as well as Will Middleton, who targeted this fish specifically, by going out 42 miles to San Jaime. It paid off, though, as they landed 14 tuna of about 8 to 10 pounds on feather lures and cedar plugs.”


Pisces 31-foot La Brisa also did well to catch 2 striped marlin and 1 dorado close to shore near Golden Gate later in the week using live mackerel. Anglers from California released both estimated at 130 pounds marlin and kept the 10-pound dorado.


The 42-foot Yahoo was on the billfish bite with 3 striped marlin caught, the most out of any boat on this day, as well as 2 dorado. The marlin were all released and weighed between 120 and 150 pounds each; the dorado weighed about 15 pounds each. All fish hit on mackerel bait out at Golden Gate and were caught by the Martin and Saville families from Delaware on Feb. 16.


“The previous day they fished on our other 42-foot boat, the Hot Rod, and also did well to catch 1 striped marlin and 4 dorado. The marlin was caught just outside of the old Lighthouse on a purple lure, and the dorado were caught; a great two days of fishing for this group!”


Panga fishing was also good this week, catching sierra, roosterfish, grouper, dorado and even marlin. A good example of this was their 24-foot panga, captained by Rafael Lopez, which did a great job to land 3 dorado out on a half-day run to waters off Punta Palmilla with dorado from 15 and 20 pounds on ballyhoo and feather lures.


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FISHING WITH HER favorite captain Jorge of the Tailhunter Fleet, Verda Boyd, rocked two nice yellowfin tuna and a nice dorado for the ice chest headed home.


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VERDA BOYD FROM Fremont, CA fished Magdalena Bay with the Tailhunter Fleet and caught numerous species on light tackle including dogtooth snapper, white corvina, pargo mulatto, yellow snapper and numerous tasty snook like this one.


MAG BAY — Mag Bay had always been an isolated spot, an incredible fishery for yachts coming up from Cabo or down to Lands End with massive pileup of marlin at the Thetis Bank to the north, usually in December, plus wahoo and dorado just offshore. Mag Bay Tours out of Lopez Mateos is the best bet for chartering a boat and targeting these species. Or, if you are adventurous and ready to trailer down Mex. 1 to Lopez Mateos, it is wise to contact and work with Bob and Diana Hoyt of Mag Bay Tours on the details of launching, etc. and can they provide lodging options and recommend or provide a captain, which is also wise.


As for inshore and mangrove panga trips with locals through May Bay Tours and independents, the allure of snook and other tough bay species have kept anglers aware of it, but the hassle of getting to San Carlos or May Bay have kept the number of anglers to a steady trickle of loyalists. Many anglers and whale watchers drive from Loreto the two hours over the Sierra Gigante mountains (tours vans or rental car) or via La Paz three hours away through Ciudad Constitution via car or tour van.


Jonathan Roldan and his wife Jill of Tailhunter International have been putting clients from La Paz into whale watching pangas for years, but they are looking into providing pangas for inshore and mangrove trips. Fly into La Paz, shuttle to Mag Bay.


“For the first time, we sent out some exploratory trips to check out the inshore fishing at Bahia Magdalena about three hours from La Paz in the hundreds of square miles of calm, shallow lagoon waters,” said Jonathan this past weekend. “We are ecstatic about what we encountered using live bait and light tackle. Fishing in the brush and mangroves of the brackish water, they encountered numerous species including snook, dogtooth snapper, yellow snapper, big white corvina, black snapper, cabrilla and many others! We plan to send out a few more exploratory trips and may start running panga fishing there before the season is over.”


Verda Boyd from Fremont, Calif. was among those who fished off La Paz and then over at Magdalena Bay with the Tailhunter Fleet and she caught numerous species on light tackle including dogtooth snapper, white corvina, pargo mulatto, yellow snapper and numerous snook.


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SAN QUINTIN BAY turned up this nice grouper with K&M Sportfishing, as Andrew (pictured) scored this and a ton of other fish like sand bass on the plastics and especially the hardbaits with Capt. Kelly Catian.


SAN QUINTIN — Capt. Kelly Catian reported K&M Guided shore fishing trips are in full swing.


He posted on FB: “Bahia de San Quintin, Baja, Mexico…epic day today with Andrew and his girlfriend Gemma. Andrew was roping ‘em. Started on swimbaits with good results – sand bass and smaller grouper, but it was the bigger hard baits that got the party started! We (Andrew) caught and released dozens of sand bass and grouper before he got a good one at the end of the day. To top it off, we stopped at one of the many oyster farms and had six dozen served up fresh and BBQ’d.”


Sounds like a good day in the bay!


PUERTO VALLARTA — Stan Gabruk owner of Master Baiter´s Sportfishing & Tackle reported: “One thing about the world of fishing is you never really know what’s happening from day to day. Fish move, water temperatures change, and nothing stays the same for long. Some days you’re all smiles, others you’re not. Those ‘demanding’ to catch fish will rest assured there are fish to be had, amigos. Now if you’re going to be picky, then you could get upset and still have a great day of fishing. For now, some summer species are cruising Los Arcos, making short day trips worth their weight in dorado!


He added, “This past week we’ve seen some action happening around Corbetena, but not many boats are heading out this far as you can get the same species much closer in. Sailfish are not as thick as they were last week, as water temperatures now are cooler than inside the bay. As a result, the entire fishing community is targeting other locations. Still there are the normal players of jack crevalle, sailfish on an iffy basis, and dorado to 35 pounds are possible, but they’re also in closer to shore. Unless you’re looking for cubera snappers, which are in the 50-pound range, there is little reason to head to this world-class location.


He said those looking for late, late-season dorado to 25 pounds, you still have a decent chance at the buoy at Punta Mita. If looking for sailfish or striped marlin, go six to 10 miles off the point on a 300 heading you’ll put yourself in the right place to maximize your chances.


“The downside is once again they move,” he said. “Another downside is the water temperatures drop the farther you go from the shoreline. That’s right, the water is warmer in the bay than outside the bay. It explains a lot. Throw in jack crevalle running to 50 pounds, bonito in the 30-pound range, skipjack tuna, with a possible roosterfish near Sayulita, and you’ll have a fun day with a shot at larger ‘wrong’ season species.”


Gabruk said El Morro has 25-pound “football tuna” as well. If you’re seriously looking for sailfish, heading north of Punta Mita will just increase your chance of boating a billfish outside and a roosterfish inside.


To get your report in WON and wonews.com, be sure to send photos and a few words on your trip when you get back from your travels to baja@wonews.com.


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THE MAJORITY OF the fishing action centered from off of Santa Maria, to Palmilla and north to San Luis. The yellowfin tuna action slowed down progressively throughout the week – early on there were decent reports of 20- to 30-pound yellowfin being encountered with moving porpoise, at times within a few miles of shore.

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