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Yellowtail kicking at Loreto
East Cape yellowfin limit-style


The spring season is here and when winds subside, the boats are scoring tuna, yellowtail and dorado; San Quintin Bay offshore forkies show, one to 25 pounds on the surface iron


LORETO — Spring hit, and then so did the winds over the weekend in Baja Sur, but before that the action was solid on the yellowtail at Loreto and the tuna at the East Cape and off San Jose Del Cabo.


Things also looked very promising on the northwest areas of Baja on Saturday out of San Quintin Bay before the winds kicked up Sunday, as surface irons under bird schools provided action on bigger grade forkies.


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KATHY HUNTER SCORED some nice yellowtail and a big cabrilla while fishing with Outpost Charters on the Cast N’ Reel on a run out of Marina Puerto Escondido.


The Fred Hall show season ended on Sunday in Del Mar, and that means the Baja hotel reps and owners are heading south, and the word is, business is very good with Cedros Island trips expanding into fall months. The East Cape’s Hotel Rancho Leonero saw bookings rise substantially after the great 2017 season and all the reports of the exciting start to this season with wide-open yellowfin, plus dorado and even marlin.


“We are way up in interest this year,” said Hotel Rancho Leonero owner John Ireland at the Del Mar Hall show on Saturday. “The fishing was so good last year and it’s already like summer now.”


Let’s take a look at Loreto first, as the yellowtail are finally spreading out to areas just outside the city instead of just to the south off Isla Catalan. More anglers are looking, and finding fish on the reefs.


Outcast Charters out of Puerto Escondido and Pinchy Sportfishing based in the Loreto marina are reporting big yellows on the mackerel and iron as spring officially arrived.


“Yellowtail are starting to show up at more spots around all the Loreto hangouts,” said Rick Hill of Pinchy Sportfishing, which can be booked through loretotours.com. “It might be more important to add that many more boats are heading out every day thus a more thorough search is yielding results.


“Easter week is here and I would expect to see almost every boat in town out on the water with many boats doing sightseeing at the islands,” said Hill. “This past week saw some good catches of yellowtail outside of Arroyo Blanco. Five years ago I got into some great fishing there for near limits… it’s tough, that bottom is super rocky and you lose half the fish. This spot can beat up the strongest rod.”


Hill said the weather has been inching into the mid 80s and the sun is moving north. Bait, both mackerel and sardinas have been available for sale and catchable most days.


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JEN WREN SPORTFISHING sent in some photos during a wide-open week of tuna action with dorado mixed in. Limits all around.


EAST CAPE — John Ireland, owner of Hotel Rancho Leonero, was at the Fred Hall show most days talking to customers, but he was in contact with his hotel staff which sent up a great report for the week.


The area saw warmer water from the lighthouse south and two or three miles offshore up to 74 degrees. On the inside it was 70 to 71 degrees. As for the calm weather, it was glassy until winds burst the bubble.


“Yellowfin have been the biting all week,” said Ireland. “Schools of porpoise are holding tuna outside, both north and south. Lots of dorado are closer inside. Striped marlin are plentiful with very little fishing pressure. Inside are big pargo and some good sized grouper.”


The tuna are the main targets, Ireland said, and are concentrated in the same areas as last week, 15 to 30 miles out with some fish to 30 pounds eating the cedar plugs and hoochies. The Pulmo Park north boundary is offering a slow but steady bite on smaller fish to 20 pounds on caballito.


Dorado are REALLY early, and it’s a great sign. Each boat is keeping a couple of decent fish 10 to 20 pounds. The bite is best north of Los Barriles and south of Pescadero. As for the striped marlin, they are plentiful and concentrated on the La Ribera bank.


“Almost all anglers are targeting the tuna and dorado. Anglers targeting billfish are guaranteed at least one release per day.


Also offering up an East Cape report was Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfshing who blogged from his charterboat website, “It is not often we take limits of yellowfin on four trips in a row. The season is barely getting started and fishing is about as good as it gets. We are experiencing a March tuna bite like I have never seen before. Last week the Sea of Cortez water was 72-73 degrees, blue and clear. The tuna bit well until the north wind puffed up and kept us pinned down on the porch for several days.”


He said after the wind, the water had cooled and was off-color and guess what? The fish didn’t care.


“The chaos continued right where it had left off,” said Rayor, “It has been limits, limits and more limits. Most of the fish we have been catching have been plugged with market squid. I'm metering bait everywhere and believe that has been key. The gamefish don't read the books that say they should be in clean warm water and are on the bait even when the water is cold and ugly. The dorado have not schooled up yet but we have managed several nice solo fish. There have been a large volume of marlin between La Ribera and Pescadero and we saw our first sailfish of the season.”


As for this week, the winds are blowing, so they are waiting for a break, and meanwhile installing a new Seakeeper stabilizer, a $50,000 add-on to the Jen Wren flagship Vaquero, a 35 Cabo.


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THE GORDO BANKS pangas saw yellowfin action at La Fortuna and inside Iman Bank, and those same grounds produced limited action off the bottom for yellow snapper, bonito, leopard grouper and an occasional amberjack. Dorado were still being encountered on these same grounds, though the numbers were way down compared to past weeks.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — No one knows more about the great fishing here than Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas, based in Puerto Los Cabos in San Jose Del Cabo.


“The official spring season has now begun, weather patterns are in transition and for the most part are on a warming trend,” said Brictson. “Though this week started off with a cooler front pushing in, gusty winds from the north and at times swinging back out of the southeast. During the later part of the week the conditions calmed down and anglers enjoyed much more comfortable conditions on the fishing grounds where they have been concentrating, from the Gordo Banks to La Fortuna and Iman Bank.”


He said the ocean water temperature is now ranging from 70 to 74 degrees, with the warmer currents being in the direction of San Jose del Cabo and to the north.


“The bait situation saw sardinas schooling along the rocky shoreline near San Luis and continue to be the main bait source for the all-around fishery,” said Brictson. “Some anglers were trying strips of squid with varying success for the yellowfin tuna. Other options included trolling with rigged ballyhoo, as well as finding bait concentrations offshore and using sabikis to jig them up, these mainly being sardineta and chihuil.”


Most of that bait action was concentrated in the vicinity of the inner and outer Gordo Banks. Also later in the week there were pelagic red crabs that were found drifting to the surface, so pangeros are optimistic that this will become a more consistent scenario and open up a bite for the red snapper.


Yellowfin tuna in the 20- to 50-pound class continue to be found in good-sized schools on the La Fortuna Bank, inside of Iman, and these fish have proved very finicky now for the past couple of weeks, freely coming up to the surface to feed on the chummed sardinas.


“But trying to get one of these yellowfin to bite the baiting hook has been a different story, and light leaders of 20- to 30-pound were being used, often resulting in broken lines once a fish was hooked up, or aggressive sea lions waiting for their chance at an easy meal. On some days more tuna were hooked early in the morning, while on others there was more of a chance later. Fortunate anglers caught up to three fish, while others were doing well to land one.”


These same grounds produced limited action off the bottom for yellow snapper, bonito, leopard grouper and an occasional amberjack. Dorado were still being encountered on these same grounds, though the numbers were way down compared to past weeks. Inshore trolling produced limited action, a few early season roosterfish to 15 pounds and a handful of sierra.


Brictson said the highlight the past week would have to be the increased activity of striped marlin off of the San Jose Del Cabo grounds, most of these fish being found anywhere from two to eight miles from shore, striking on trolled lures, sardinas, ballyhoo, chihuil and sardineta.


“Many stripers of 80 to 120 pounds were being hooked, as good numbers of fining fish were also being spotted, with many of these eager to strike any baitfish,” said Brictson. “Not much was going on with the wahoo bite which briefly started off of Punta Gorda, though the spear fishing fleets certainly caught more than their share before spooking the schools out of the area.”


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina, sent out approximately 84 charters for this week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 35 striped marlin, 1 wahoo, 56 yellowfin tuna, 65 dorado, 26 yellow snapper, 20 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 120 huachinango (red snapper), 18 bonito, 2 amberjack, 3 dogtooth snapper, 8 roosterfish, 24 sierra and 65 triggerfish.


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AN AREA OFF San Quintin Baysaw great surface action on the yellowtail for K&M Sportfishing. Lot of show and little go on Saturday. But the one fish was a beauty, this yellowtail of 25 pounds that slammed iron. The winds kicked up the next day, Sunday.


SAN QUINTIN — Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing reported on their Facebook page that Capt. George Catian on Saturday was runnin’ and gunnin’ with Pablo and other friends on George’s 25-foot Parker Offshore III. Capt. George said the bird action was heavy and there were puddling bait schools, and the first few casts produced hookups but only Pablo managed to get one in the boat. Lots of bonito and barracuda were around as well.


“The wind came up heavy this afternoon so mañana (Sunday) looks like we’ll be stayin’ on the beach,” said Kelly.


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JORGE ROMERO WAS soaking a sardine when he got this nice yellowtail while fishing with Tailhunter Sportfishing. He also caught quite a few bonito. 


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International was in Salt Lake City at that area’s ISE sports show and his wife Jill was in her Tailhunter booth four days in Del Mar at the Hall show that ended Sunday and from there both were headed to La Paz after being on the road four months. But they have diligently turned in weekly reports sent north by their pangeros throughout the winter.


“There were few bright spots for fishing this past week as it was mostly a windy, cloudy rough time,” said Jonathan on Sunday. “It’s fairly common during the winter months which is why we don’t have many folks fishing during these months. We had one or two days at most that were somewhat fishable and even then, it was picky fishing at best. Some snapper, some pargo, a few cabrilla and a few yellowtail were about it.”


He added, “Oh, and a lot of bonito for some grateful action. And that was the whole enchilada for the week. Fortunately, there are not many anglers. However, with spring break and Easter on its way, things are going to start getting crowded and we can only hope the weather and winds drop back a notch or two. Early predictions so far look a bit iffy. Just being honest.”


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GONZAGA BAY ACTION has been good on the grouper and orangemouth corvina. Fishing with Capt. Juan Cook were Anthony Hayward, John Fitzgerald and Terry Kline as they show off a black seabass caught March 19, in the second photo Dennis Quesnel from Action Lures and Leeland Letcher and Lou Roulings with two big seabass.


GONZAGA BAY — Capt. Juan Cook headed over to run charters out of Gonzaga Bay and he told WON over the weekend he will be there through May in his 2320 Parker.


“Fishing has been good, with lots of orangemouth corvina from 1 to 6 pounds, lots of yellowtail from 5 to 15, good golden spotted bass, and while the leopard grouper have been slow so far we’re looking forward for them to get active any day.”


He sent in two photos, in the first, Anthony Hayward, John Fitzgerald and Terry Kline show off a black seabass caught on March 19, and in the second photo there are Dennis Quesnel from Action Lures and Leeland Letcher and Lou Roulings on March 22.


CEDROS ISLAND — The show season is over for Cedros Outdoor Adventures and Jose Angel Sanchez is headed to Cedros Island to get ready for the season. The best summer dates are almost filled. Be aware, WON has its annual charter Sept. 14-17, and the cost is $1,720, which includes all transport to and from the lodge, meals, 2 ½ days of fishing, and all packing and filleting. For booking that trip, contact Kevin@wonews.com. For all other trips, check their website at www.cedrosoutdooradventures.com and call them at (619) 793-5419.


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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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