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Baja Fishing Report

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Baja brings ‘em in, fires ‘em up at Fred Hall Show
Update:Tuna limits today at East Cape!

 

BY PAT McDONELL

Before you read the weekly report below, here's an update, from today the 14th of March. Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing fished  TODAY after getting back to Los Barriles from the Long Beach Hall tackle show, and his group of four on the charter boat Vaquera scored limits of small yellowfin before 11 a.m. It's going to be an incredible year in Baja, and especially the East Cape

A SHAKEDOWN trip today turned up these tuna, full limits for the Jen Wren crew at the East Cape. MARK RAYOR PHOTO
   
Now, for the regular report, on the Hall Show Baja exhibitors, the fishing and much more... 



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 ALEX VALDEZ OF Buenavista Beach Resort. Several new boats and updated rooms at the resort were announced. 


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PHIL BENISON of Hotel Rancho Leonero with a roosterfish last season. What a year, and another great season is shaping up for John Ireland's iconic Hotel Rancho Leonero and other popular East Cape operations. 

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PHIL AND PAM BENSIMON and Genie Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero were with regular hotel visitors Kurt and Michelle Christensen of Costa Mesa on Sunday the 5-day Fred Hall show and in talking with WON on Sunday, Phil (seen in background at booth and in the fish pic with the rooster fish) was pretty fired up about roosterfish, tuna, marlin and dorado action this year. The pelagics never really left the East Cape waters, and it looks like another epic year inside and out and big-boat additions to the hotel fleet with the nearby Sheraton Marina. PAT McDONELL PHOTO


 

East Cape’s Buenavista Beach Resort and Hotel Rancho Leonero are poised for another great year, with facilities open and already catching dorado, marlin and tuna; 


BY PAT McDONELL

EAST CAPE — The Fred Hall Show in Long Beach that went on a five-day rampage in Long Beach March 7-11 was chock full of news on the Baja front. All you had to do, like this reporter, was stop in on various booths and chat the folks up and you’d have found that the Baja is not only safe, but is opening up new and exciting fishing opportunities by outfitters and hotel owners, fishing clubs and marina operators.


This is supposed to be the slow time in Baja for fishing, primarily because fewer anglers are going, but if you avoid the wind and get out, it is remarkable to find the right kind of action going on. For example, the East Cape is poised for an epic season. All signs are there. Last year’s comeback season was amazing for huge roosters and tuna and wahoo, and the usual marlin.


This reporter realized most Baja people were at the show, so to get some current reports on Baja goings-on and updates on facilities and fleets being announced, I hit the show floor for its final day at the Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center and stayed on the Baja path.


Alex Valdez of Buenavista Beach Resort ( www.hotelbuenavista.com) was exhibiting and reported that Friday and Saturday weather conditions saw glassy water and the Dusty B II scored 1 striper, 2 dorado and several skipjack, although the wind was expected to jump back up after the weekend. Not epic action, but it shows the pelagics never left the East Cape area, he said.


Valdez was asked about the Buenavista Beach Resort facility and he said that in addition to a beach bar and expanded beach activities, two rooms were updated and upgraded and feedback for the effort was so positive that eight more are also being updated. In addition, he said, they are upgrading their fleet with a 35 Cabo, a 36-foot twin outboard center console and a 25-foot Everglades.


Hotel Rancho Leonero is up and running after its usual winter hibernation, and fishing on the super panga fleet has been very good since the re-opening March 1, said Phil Bensimon, who was at the booth with his wife Pam and booking manager Genie Ireland, the booth surrounded by patrons.


“It’s been great fishing ever since the ranch reopened,” said Phil. “The tuna and marlin never left after the best year in 20 years. The roosterfishing was off the charts. Yesterday we had a boat out and they had dorado limits (2 each) in the 10- to 25-pound class, plus pargo and bottomfish. Other trips since March 1 have gotten marlin and tuna, which also never left. It should be another banner year.”


Bensimon pointed out that although John Ireland’s “Ranch” has several Pro-Angler Hobie kayaks, and the largest super panga fleet (12) on the East Cape and a 28-foot cruiser, Ireland had added a trio of bigger boats to accommodate the growing demand for more room and comfort and offshore capability. While the long-awaited Sheraton marina two miles away is not complete, “by any means,” Bensimon said, it has docks. Thus, three new Leonero sportfishers await anglers. They are a Topaz 28, a Luhrs 32 and a Shamrock 28.


“We saw the need for some bigger boats, so we added them, and the new marina is just two miles away, soif the conditions don’t allow us to pick people up safely from the beach, we will shuttle them over by van and board there.” Get more details at rancholeonero.com.


Here's some photos from scorpionsportfishing.com... (info below)

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SCORPION SPORTFISHING HAD some great action in recent weeks and the season is looking solid across the board for the many fleets. In these Scorpion photos, Sheila Giovanna Verduzco of Buena Vista, Matthew Clifton of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Josh Brokaw of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Sheila Giovanna Verduzco of Buena Vista are with their catches of dorado and striped marlin.


As far as other East Cape news, Scorpion Sportfishing provided WON a quick rundown and some great photos on the goings on, as of March 11.


— Billfish: “Striped marlin have been the most consistent catch throughout the winter and into early spring on the East Cape. On the aforementioned calm days, we have found good action for stripers, mostly trolling live mackerel over the La Ribera bank. Jigs and dead bait have also had some success as well. On Friday of this week, we had a school of 5 striped marlin crash our baits. After a couple of strikes from each fish, we were able to release two stripers with a third one throwing the hooks. With good bait in the area, we would expect this bite will continue to provide action for visiting anglers.”


— Dorado: “There have been schools of dorado on the East Cape throughout the winter and early spring, which have been a ton of fun. Most have been release size (we encourage release of smaller dorado for conservation purposes) but there have also been some taco keeper-sized fish mixed in. Action has come on a combination of live bait, ballyhoo and small lures. As dorado can grow rapidly, we are hoping that the release of these smaller fish will pay dividends in the future.”


— Tuna: “There have been reports of a good tuna bite on the banks to the south as well as on the south point of the island. A couple of tuna have also been caught at the lighthouse, Punta Arena, trolling live bait. We haven't really targeted the tuna with the strong marlin and dorado bite close to home.” Visit www.scorpionsportfishing.com for details.


Another Baja show booth we visited Sunday was Baja Pirates of La Paz, with owner Leonard Phillips manning the table. He said the fleet has been plying offshore waters when weather allows, and just this past Tuesday, a charter with Denny Lesnisky of San Gabriel and a friend fished the El Bajo spot northeast of Cerralvo and scored 10 yellowfin of 40 to 85 pounds, and 10 yellows.


The Pirate Fleet has been in business since 2000 and is not made up of pangas. It is a full lineup of 13 flyfishing skiffs, standard center consoles and three cuddys (Parker, Defiance, Sportcraft) that fish inshore and offshore on the outer banks for tuna and billfish, including huge blue marlin. A 700 pounder was recorded this past year, and if readers remember, this was the fleet that scored a customer a 428-pound yellowfin at the Bajo in July of 2017.


WON has a great Roosterfish Roundup trip with Baja Pirates the 7th to 11th of June, three days of fishing and meals at your choice of La Paz restaurants and your choice of three hotels, for just $1,165. It will be hosted by WON’s Bob Semerau. Contact kevin@wonews.com for more details. Go to bajapiratesoflapaz.com for more on the full-service operation for angling and other activities.


We can’t hit all the spots in this issue, but one operation slowly emerging that provides unique hosted trips to remote spots is BajaFishingConvoys.com in San Diego, owned by Orchid Martinez, in its third season. Some are drive-down trips she hosts to San Quintin Bay and Bay of Los Angeles, while others feature flights to Cedros Island, La Bocana located north of Mag Bay, La Paz and Loreto.


La Bocana is particularly unique in that it’s a long, isolated inland bay, located north of Mag Bay. The fishing lodge facility is owned by the local coopertiva and has eight very nice waterfront cabins, three pangas and kayaks. There you can fish the calm estuary waters of La Bocana for snook and other bay species, or fish the coast, or offshore. That entire Mag Bay region is drawing a lot of interest. Martinez said August and September are prime snook months. You fly from Brown Field to Guerrerro Negro and are transported by car or van to the camp. Fish three days, stay four nights. All meals and flight, just $2,295.


Among other booths visited were Cedros Outdoor Adventures, Club Vagabundos, Lynn Rose Tours, Los Barrilles Sportfishing and Tailhunter International.


In current Baja fishing news:


CABO SAN LUCAS — Pisces Sportfishing’s Rebecca Ehrenberg reported Sunday night, March 11, that marlin numbers continue to impress this week, with over 60 percent of boats catching them, as well as two sailfish caught and released. 


“Some boats continue to catch up to 3 or 4 marlin a day, along with some dorado and other small game fish,” she said. “A few nice yellowtail are included in the small game catches this week, giving us great foreshadowing of the season to come.” 


Ehrenberg said the fishing grounds last week finally changed from the last few months, where fishing had been found consistently on the Pacific at Golden Gate. Now the marlin and dorado are being found, down south close to the 1150 spot or east past Punta Gorda. Some boats are still fishing on the Pacific side by Los Arcos and Migrino. 


For the most striped marlin caught in one day this week the Pisces’ 42-foot Yahoogot the trophy, finding 5 striped marlin on March 7 for anglers from Dallas, Texas. The marlin, four of which were released, weighed between 100 and 130 pounds each and were caught on mackerel outside Punta Gorda. 


As for tuna, one of the few lucky boats to find them this week was Pisces 33-foot Thresher, with anglers Beth Archer and John Templer catching 3 very nice-sized yellowfin that ranged in size from 30 to 50 pounds each. These were caught with sardines at the Iman Spot. 



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PISCES SPORTFISHING BOATS in Cabo scored billfish on the Sea of Cortez side for a change, and added some nice tuna and dorado and even a big yellowtail.


“As for smaller game, we’ve seen many more roosterfish being caught this week, as well as some nice yellowtail,” said Ehrenberg. “For example, the Pisces 32-foot Bill Collector caught 2 yellowtail of 10 and 25 pounds each on mackerel bait at Pozo Cota, as well as 2 grouper and 4 triggerfish for David Bergert and Gene Spence from Alabama.”


As expected, nearshore pangas caught the most roosterfish this week, the Pichurro catching 2 roosterfish of about 15 pounds and 1 jack crevalle of about 12 pounds at Los Arcos on trolled mackerel for David Tweats and Sebastian Amyes, all the way from Worcestershire, England.


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A MIXED BAG of fish were in the offing out of San Jose Del Cabo with Gordo Banks Pangas.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Gordo Banks Pangas posted this report Sunday for water outside Puerto Los Cabos Marina. Eric Brictson said the week started off with cooler days and more north wind, but by late week the ocean settled down as wind resided and also daytime temperatures warmed into the upper 70s. Ocean temperatures have ranged from 70 to 73 degrees, greener currents are working south from Los Frailes, near the Gordo Banks at this time.


Bait is critical to the pangeros, and Brictson said the main bait source continues to be sardinas, with the main concentrations now schooling near Cabo Real, also on the beaches north of San Luis, but that area has been more susceptible to increased swells and this made it harder for the bait netters to work that area.


“Supplies have been sufficient, though patience has been necessary in the morning, as these baitfish are netted each morning and not stored in a large receiver in advance. Offshore, near the Gordo Banks, there were reports of balls of baitfish being encountered, mackerel and chihuil and some of these have been caught on Sabiki rigs.”


As for the main targets, the yellowfin tuna action progressively came to a standstill thorough the week, early in the week there was wind to deal with where the yellowfin were being found near the Iman Bank and La Fortuna, but a handful of tuna in the 20- to 50-pound class were still being accounted for. By late week, the tuna developed lock jaw, they could be seen coming up and feeding on free swimming chummed baitfish, but were extremely finicky in striking any offerings, even when going down to 20-pound leader. With the entire fleet only accounting for a few fish per day in recent days.


“The dorado bite had become very slow as well, until later in the week when they rebounded strongly,” he said. “Most of this action was near La Fortuna while slow trolling or drift fishing with sardinas. Sizes were mixed, with the largest dorado seen being near 15 pounds. Despite the cooling waters there were several reports of wahoo being seen swimming in small schools on the same dorado and tuna grounds, though they proved elusive and would not strike.


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 74 charters for this week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 22 yellowfin tuna, 164 dorado, 4 striped marlin, 1 broomtail grouper, 34 yellow snapper, 28 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 24 huachinango (red snapper), 1 wahoo, 11 bonito, 1 yellowtail, 4 amberjack, 2 pompano, 4 surgeon fish, 31 sierra and 70 triggerfish


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JULIO CESAR MARTINEZ of Loreto was out on his boat north of town and scored this nice yellowtail. He and other area sources reported the yellowail fishing north of town and south of Puerto Escondido is picking up as the weather slowly settles.

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OUTPOST CHARTERS IN Loreto reported yellowtail and amberjack fishing continued to shine on runs on the 40-foot Luhrs Cast N’ Reel out of Puerto Escondido to high spots off Isla Catalan.


LORETO — Rick Hill of Pinchysportfishing.com reported the season is advancing into spring, which will be bringing shorter stretches wind great yellowtail action for the bigger fish.


In recent weeks, WON has received reports from locals such as Loreto-based angler Julio Cesar Martinez, with quality yellows on the iron, and Outpost Charters Cast N’ Reel out of Marina Puerto Escondido scoring some great yellows and this past week spanked the big amberjacks to 60 pounds on live macks and iron on the reefs. Check out Outcast Charters on FB under Cast N’ Reel, the name of Jay Yadon’s 40-foot Luhrs charterboat.


“The big blue whales are starting to thin out and getting harder to spot, which is one of the flags we look for every March,” said Hill. ”The high spots are showing lots of yellowtail and cabrilla are starting to hit trolled baits along the coastline.”


Hill added, “Many times we have seen yellows on the spot only to find there are only a few biters. Reds and the other bottom fish are being caught as always but the wait is for the yellowtail to go on the rampage!”


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KEVIN SHIOTANI FROM Thousand Oaks comes to La Paz to fish with Tailhunter several times a year, and even with winter conditions on the water last week, he was out by Cerralvo Island and managed this chunky yellowfin tuna.


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JILL AND JONATHAN ROLDAN of Tailhunter International at the Hall Show. PAT McDONELL PHOTO


LA PAZ — Jonathan and Jill Roldan of Tailhunter International were exhibiting at the Long Beach Fred Hall show and now that the five-day monster show is over they are headed to Salt Lake City for another show next week and then coming to San Diego at the end of this month for the final Fred Hall event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It’s a fun booth to hang out at, and they are going to be busy this season with panga fleets in Muertos Bay and La Paz Bay and running their Tailhunter restaurant, and they have added runs over to the other side of the peninsula to Mag Bay, and have been getting swamped with requests for the estuary trips based at Lopez Mateos.


As for fishing this week, Jonathan said, “It wasn’t a great week for fishing, but there also weren’t many fishermen either, which is typical this time of year. And for good reason. It can be rough and windy which is what we had this week. After a few nice weeks of fishable weather, we’ve now had about three consecutive weeks where the majority of days weren’t exactly conducive to fishing. On those days fishing was scratchy at best. A few snapper. Some small cabrilla and a few bonito at best.”


He added, “I suppose the good side is that the sun was out and the majority of folks who do come down this time of year are really just looking for a day to get out and most of our clientele this time of year are from cold and wet places. I always tell folks it’s the off-season for fishing.


“On the other hand, on the few windows of time when wind and currents are not a factor, I’m surprised at the quality of fish out there, especially for this time of year. There’s some nicer grade of tuna; there’s chunky yellowtail; some free-swimming dorado and it seems like the big pargo liso (mullet snapper) are starting to spawn and school-up in the shallows.”



CEDROS ISLAND — Jose Angel Sanchez and booking agent Rowan Randol were at the Hall show and reported business is booming for Cedros Outdoor Adventures. They are adding trips to the end of the season to accommodate expanded interest, and most summer dates are already filled. In terms of fishing, the island is in a biosphere now, closed to purse seining, and thus the yellowtail fishing was epic last year, with dorado and yellowfin moving into local waters. The calico fishing is always exceptional. 


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CEDROS OUTDOOR ADVENTURES’ Jose Angel Sanchez and show attendee Robert Gebo of Malibu on Sunday at the Hall show. Jose is holding up the big full-color WON feature on his operation in WON’s official show program. PAT McDONELL PHOTO


Sanchez’ and wife Melanie’s Baja Magic Lodge operation, featured with a three-page full color feature in the show program, is expanding. Several “glamping” tents will be added above the gazebo, each with a private porch, with several units to be completed and offered by the end of May. It is part of a major expansion of the island lodge operation that in the coming years will feature more flights, and more flexible schedules, with details still to come, said Sanchez.

See more at  

https://www.cedrosoutdooradventures.com

and for a full color detailed feature by Pat McDonell on Cedros Island and Jose's COA operation click here:

 https://www.wonews.com/t-FeatureArticle_CedrosOutdoor_031318.aspx

 


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Baja and mainland Mexico reports from readers are appreciated when you return from your trip, or during. Just send any information or attached photos to Baja@wonews.com . Reports for the paper and wonews.com should be sent by Sunday mornings


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