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Baja Fishing Report

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Yellowtail kicking at Loreto
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Baja warming up!


Baja is a mood to party, spring bite taking off
Loreto yellows emerging into a steady bite, marlin take over the spotlight off Cabo, tuna are light tackle targets at the Iman Bank, and La Paz dorado are in the bay, East Cape tuna action kicks up again as winds die

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — This past week saw some stiff winds that settled by the weekend, and that’s a good thing because Mexico in general was in a mood to party.


“It’s a busy week locally, as spring break is now for Mexico, and schools are in recess for two weeks and this past weekend is the popular Easter holiday when people all head to various beaches, wherever they can find room,” said Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas based in Puerto Los Cabo Marina. “Many of these families go for extended camping excursions. Many local businesses shut down to take time off, and it’s hard to find too many people who work this weekend. Also we saw quite a few tourists arriving, many of them tried to book late notice sportfishing charters.”


Good timing because the fishing is rolling, especially off Cabo, East Cape, Loreto and La Paz. Billfish, dorado, tuna, and yellowtail all bit after the winds settled in Baja Sur.


Here’s a rundown of the top areas.


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THE PISCES FLEET in Cabo saw a little bit of everything this week from striped marlin to tuna, from sierra to wahoo, and even mako sharks, yellowtail and grouper. PHOTOS BY PISCESSPORTFISHING.COM


CABO SAN LUCAS — The Pisces Sportfishing Fleet saw spring action bust loose and while dorado fishing slowed a bit, the other species make up for it as billfish made up 43 percent of the catches, tuna 18 percent, dorado just 2 percent and various other fish at 46 percent of the catches.


“We saw a little bit of everything this week, and even though dorado catches have slowed right down, we’ve seen all other catches varying from striped marlin to tuna, and from sierra to wahoo, and even mako sharks, yellowtail and grouper,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg at the Pisces office.


The 31-foot Pisces Ruthless was the leading example this week of a boat that caught just about everything possible. They started off the week with anglers, the Deforest family from Illinois, catching and releasing 1 striped marlin of about 140 pounds on mackerel, as well as 2 mako sharks of about 40 pounds and 1 red snapper, all out at Golden Gate. They also caught 1 sierra on a hoochi lure and 10 triggerfish, out at Migriño. The next day, Ruthless caught and released 2 striped marlin of about 110 pounds each out of the 110 Spot (32 miles out) on mackerel bait, and the only 2 dorado caught this week, of 15 and 20 pounds each. All fish were caught on mackerel bait.


On March 29, Pisces 31-foot La Brisa and anglers Larry and Rhea Metcalf also caught 4 striped marlin, which they released out at Golden Gate on mackerel. They also landed 2 mako sharks of about 100 and 150 pounds, which they released. These also hit on mackerel at the Golden.


The Valerie scored a nice 35-pound yellowfin on a feather lure out at the 1150 Spot. They also found a nice wahoo of 53 pounds that hit on a Petrolero lure. Anglers were Jeffrey Hackett, Lawrence Miller and Stepen Dubane from Palos Verdes, CA. The wáter temperatura was cooler on the Pacific side, about 68 and the Sea of Cortez temperature was around 74 degrees.


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THE GORDO BANKS Panga fleetconcentrated at La Fortuna, the 25 spot, just on the inside of Iman Bank where the yellowfin tuna are now schooling. Light tackle is required, 30-poumd line and the average sized tuna being landed are in the 20- to 50 –pound, though even larger sized yellowfin were reportedly seen feeding on the free-chummed sardinas.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Action off Puerto Los Cabo Marina by the Gordo Banks Pangas saw the first part of the week hammered by stiff winds, though by the weekend things calmed down.


“The main choice for bait now has been sardinas, and are being found schooling near Palmilla, Cabo Real and the north near San Luis,” said Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas. “The surf was a little higher earlier in the week and this made it harder to get the bait off of the beaches to the north. On some days the pelagic red crabs were found drifting to the surface and these were being used for various pargo and snapper, though this was a sporadic deal from day to day.” Ocean water temperatures ranged from 71 to 74 degrees, air up to 80, chilly in the 50s in the morning.


Brictson said most sportfishing charters were targeting La Fortuna, just on the inside of Iman Bank where the yellowfin tuna are now schooling.


“These fish have been at this spot for several weeks now, seem to become more finicky each week, between the crowds of boats, pesky sea lions and the plentiful natural food source these yellowfin are very leery to strike any batfish with a hook, so anglers are using 20- to 30-pound leaders to enhance their chances,” said Brictson, “Once a fish is hooked it is a delicate battle to land it. The average sized tuna being landed are in the 20- to 50-pound range, though even larger sized yellowfin were reportedly seen feeding on the free chummed sardinas. Individual charters were doing well to land one or two tuna during a morning trip, other charters worked hard without ever even having any opportunity.”


He said the pangas on those same grounds produced a mix of bottom structure species, mostly fish in the 5- to 15-pound class such as leopard grouper, yellow snapper, bonito, triggerfish, huachinango, amberjack, island jack, barred pargo and others. The best technique proved to be with fresh sardinas, with a few fish also taken on yo-yo jigs.


“The striped marlin bite was good now, a bit more scattered this week, as the balls of baitfish that were being found dispersed and the marlin were found more moving onto different grounds,” said Brictson. “The stripers ranged nicer sized, up to150 pounds striking on trolled lures, rigged ballyhoo, bolito, skipjack and chihuil. With most of the billfish action coming within 3 to 8 miles from shore.”


Numbers of dorado were down this week, he said, though there still were some of these gamefish hanging around up to 15 pounds with a chance at wahoo, though not many were landed.


“More of these fish should start biting when the water temperatures warms up, as it does the later part of April. Not much talk of inshore action now, a few roosterfish and sierra, but no numbers and actually more anglers are now targeting the more prevalent offshore species.”


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: 3 wahoo, 37 dorado, 42 striped marlin, 36 yellowfin tuna, 38 yellow snapper, 29 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 32 huachinango (red snapper), 35 bonito, 4 amberjack, 6 island jack, 16 barred pargo, 2 dogtooth snapper, 5 roosterfish, 23 sierra and 135 triggerfish.


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JOHN IRELAND OF Hotel Rancho Leonero said the water is cleaner about five miles offshore and the winds died and that has led to some nice action on the yellowfin 15 to 30 miles off, on 20 to 35-pound fish. HOTEL RANCHO LEONERO PHOTO

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THE BEACH WAS packed for Easter campers at the East Cape, and after a week of wind, the seas were calm and dorado were on the bite, and the tuna were being hunted under porpoise schools once again by Saturday. PHOTOS BY JEN WREN SPORTFISHING


EAST CAPE — John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero sent a report late Sunday and said after the winds died on Friday the action went solid on the offshore yellowfin tuna.


“The water is 73-74, a little dirty inside but it’s clear and clean about five miles offshore,” said Ireland. “It was windy early in the week, but it’s been flat since Friday. This week it's been all about the yellowfin with no pressure on the stripers. If anglers are finding the porpoise they are scoring nice yellowfin 15 to 30 miles offshore due north. They are nice fish, and all are on squid.”


Ireland added the bite inside has turned up good catches of pargo, and the weather, perfect spring-like conditions, 80 degrees in daytime, cool mornings.


Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing in Los Barrilles blogged on Saturday (before the tuna had a chance to show again) and also posted a live FB video of beautiful flat water after a week of wind and showed folks camping on the beach for Easter.


“Easter vacation at the East Cape is to La Paz and Cabo San Lucas what Palm Springs is to the greater Los Angeles area or like Daytona Beach to the East Coast of Florida or New Orleans is to Louisiana. Folks want to get out of town for their vacation and party, said Rayor. “Here in Mexico Semana Santa (Easter) is the most celebrated holiday of the year. Government offices, banks and many large businesses close Thursday through Sunday for a 4-day holiday. It is the only time of year I find our beaches crowded with people from the big cities camping and partying.”



He added, “Although this is a fishing destination, that is not on the agenda of the families pouring in for this weekend. Seas are calm and weather beautiful now but we are coming off of a very windy week. Traditionally Easter is when we experience the last northern blow of the season. Rule of thumb is our fishing season starts after Easter and ends just before Thanksgiving. So, with the windy conditions there were very few departures this week. We were out on Tuesday and found it difficult. The sea was churned up and we found warm spots, cold spots, blue water and green water. The thing we couldn't find in the wind, whitecaps and waves were the porpoise but we did manage one very nice dorado. Now conditions have changed for the better and it is going to be game on.”


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MITCH CHAVIRA OF San Diego has been fishing La Paz for years and knows his stuff. He’s also handy on the iron and got this fat cabrilla to hit the jig just off Espirito Santo Island north of town. PHOTO BY TAILHUNTER INTERNATIONAL


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International is back in La Paz and getting the lowdown on fishing out of La Paz Bay and Muertos Bay on his pangas.


“Just in time for spring break, Semana Santa and Easter, the winds kinda gave us a bit of a break this week. There were still some really windy days, but at least there were some windows of opportunity. Definitely, more folks are in town for vacation. More fishermen are on the water and for sure the beaches are just jammed.


“Normally, our beaches are pretty empty, but during Semana Santa, it looks like Woodstock! Makes you wonder where everyone is the rest of the time? I mean, on some beaches, there’s not a square inch of empty space and in Mexico, the beaches are public so you can pretty much camp and picnic anywhere and anytime. Afterwards, it makes for quite a cleanup as you might imagine. At least, it’s once a year and everyone is having a good time.”


The fishing prospects are outstanding. It’s as if the fish never left for the winter. Just the boats and anglers.


“If the windows of opportunity are open and the waters are fishable, the bite is there to be had!” said Roldan. “It’s far from wide open, but fishing is a lot better than might be expected with a lot of variety possible.”


At Muertos Bay, it is evident waters are changing with both warm and cold water fish occupying the same water space!


“I’m surprised that this early in the year, we have some dorado, tuna and billfish around,” he said.” Normally, we don’t see those until maybe a month or more from now. Not a lot of these species, but any day holds its possibilities. Likewise, there are still cold water species around as well. Cabrilla, snapper and sierra were caught this week as well as several species of pargo (dog-tooth / cubera snapper and barred pargo). Plus, add in the usual jack crevalle and lots of bonito on top of things and, you’re not quite sure what’s gonna bite.”


As Roldan explained, every day is not good. Every boat is not catching fish.


“I want to be honest about it. But there’s fish there and the signs are encouraging. It was one of the better weeks in a while. We’re using a combination of live bait, dead bait, jigs and Rapalas.”


In La Paz Bay, Roldan said,a few yellowtail and pargo are around but maybe they will see much of a yellowtail season this year because the waters are getting warm quickly as evidenced by a few tuna popping up, plus there seems to be dorado right in La Paz Bay. “We don’t usually see dorado in the bay until much later in the year,” he said. “The ones we’re seeing now are legit 10- to 20- pound fish! Plus, there’s sardines around too. All good signs!”


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LORETO YELLOWTAIL ACTIVITY is spreading with surface action on the forkies on pangas based out of Loreto and with Outpost Charters in Marina Puerto Escondido. RENE OLINGER PHOTO


LORETO — Rick Hill of Loreto Bay Tours said the spring yellowtail bite is on.


“Surface action and downriggers all on the south end of Loreto has been the standard for many boats this week,” said Hill. “Not every boat is coming back "happy" with good catches but your odds are better than fishing closer to Loreto's normal spots. Cabrilla and yellowtail with some 'tails close to 30 pounds. At one high spot south of Catalana Island I saw multiple hookups on big surface poppers that were cast long and chugged hard on the retrieve. Yellowtail in the 14- pound range were landed with lots of boiling bait schools and diving masses of birds in the same areas.”


CEDROS ISLAND — The season is going to start up soon. 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 cedrosoutdooradventures.com and call them at (619) 793-5419.


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PAUL DENNIS FROM Portland, Oregon and his son Patrick fished aboard the Marla IV with Capt. Scott Osuna and crew on a 2.5-day tuna trip and ended up with a 331 pounder for Paul and a 275 pounder for Patrick, both personal bests. PHOTO BY MARLA SPORTFISHING.COM


TRES MARIAS ISLANDS — This report needs a separate designation. The word from the U.S. based- Success, Apollo and Constitution and the local charter fleets headed by the Osuna brothers MarlaSportfishing.com, the ITres Marias are going off this season. Big time, says Marla Capt. Danny Osuna.


“It has been a great week to target 300-pound yellowfin tuna off the coast from Puerto Vallarta,” said Osuna.


Paul Dennis from Portland, Oregon and his son Patrick fished aboard the Marla IV with Capt. Scott Osuna and crew on a 2.5-day tuna trip, fishing out by the Tres Marias Islands’ buffer zone, an 80- to 110-nautical mile run.


“The guys ended up with a 331 pounder (personal best) and 275 pounds (a personal best for Patrick) and a mix bag of 90 to 175 pounders. The inshore trips are epic as well. It’s been a big run of striped marlin, jack crevalle, small 25 to 75-pound tuna and a lot of brown groupers from 5 to 35 pounds. The bite is hot in PV!”


PUERTO VALLARTA (BAY, PUNTA MITA) — Stan Gabruk, owner of Master Baiter´s Sportfishing & Tackle said fishing is good, but a little confusing off Punta Mita and in the bay right now. It’s a good kind of “confusing.”


“When you refer to the fishing charts for the area you would notice that sailfish are at the beginning of their season, striped marlin are not in season and of course the dorado are not supposed to be in the area as well. It’s a little hard to explain what’s happening, so I’m not even going to guess. All I know is what happened yesterday and the week before. The continuing trend is striped marlin running with sailfish which are both chasing super abundant bait in many forms. Yes folks, for the unsuspecting vacationer deciding to take a full-day fishing trip hoping for some possible dorado are coming back with any manner of billfish.”


He said water temperatures are about the same as last week, 70 to 72 degrees depending on if you find a warm spot or not.


“Bait, well it’s crazy abundant with many, many different types,” said Gabruk. “It just doesn’t make sense, but there you are, catching fish! At times it’s hard to understand what is happening, but I guess all you really need to know is it’s happening.


In terms of areas for marlin action, last week they saw sailfish running with striped marlin. Many times they’re schooling alone or in packs. If you’re targeting these billfish you’ll find them anywhere from Corbetena to Punta Mita and he said it seems the closer you are to Punta Mita the better your chances are for stripers.


“The other hot spot believe it or not is the bay! It’s still jack crevalle central, but at this time of the year jacks are our bread and butter. Not great tasting, although Victor’s restaurant on the malecon of Marina Vallarta does a fine job with them. We still have grouper to 15 pounds around the Ameca River along with possible seabass to 30 pounds as well. You’ll be jigging, but it’s working amigos.”


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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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