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Baja Fishing Report

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tuna. wahoo slam La Paz

Baja scene warming up on all fronts
Loreto dorado starting to show and tuna watch is on; roosters debut for La Paz as tuna continue to bite, Iman Bank is top dog for San Jose Del Cabo boats, Coronados yellows move up, Cabo is in great spring form on tuna and marlin; Midriff mix is plentiful

EAST CAPE — This is the best time of year for fishing Baja. Why? Cooler temps but warming water as yellowtail are still in the mix but yellowfin and dorado and marlin are taking over with quality action.

WON is heading down in two groups to test these waters. This reporter was on a flight Monday to Loreto for three days of prefishing for the Los Rancheros tourney this weekend with friends and perhaps get an offshore look at tuna and swordfish in the trench mid-Cortez, while WON Editor Blake Warren is fishing with Tailhunter International all week in La Paz where tuna and now roosterfish and dorado are in striking range.

At the East Cape, John Ireland came in with the ultimate report. Flat water and great fishing, with air in the spring-lime mid-80s, clear and beautiful.

Water temps are up and down this week 76 to 81 degrees with light easterly afternoon breezes, and the Sea of Cortez has been table-flat all week. Now, every day isn’t wide-open. It is, after all, still spring.

“It’s a mixed bag this week, one day wide-open on the yellowfin, the next day slow, but there’s lots of striped marlin mixed in with a few bigger blues,” said Ireland. “Yesterday a hotel boat released a blue and a couple stripers. Inside the fishing has been good, the big gallos (roosters) and there are lots of good-sized pompano and pargo mixed in. Great live bait is available, big sardine and caballito.”

The bite kicked in later in the week after a full moon phase abated, with the fish 15 to 40 miles straight out from the Ranch.

“Early in the week the tuna were close inshore off the lighthouse and on the Pulmo Park boundary, with much larger fish to 65 pounds. Average fish outside under the porpoise was 20 pounds, most on hoochies and live sardines,” said Ireland. “Then it moved outside.”

See more below on the East Cape action in Mark Rayor’s Jen Wren Sportfishing blog.

In other Baja action:

THE GORDO BANK panga fleet scored a variety of fish, including this yellow snapper. The most productive fishing grounds locally continued to be from La Fortuna to Iman Bank. This is where both the sporadic bottom action for various snapper and pargo species were found, as well as yellowfin tuna on the surface. The tuna bite was dead to start off the week, picking up again on Thursday and Friday. GORDO BANKS PANGAS PHOTO

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas sent in his usually great and complete fishing report and wrote he’s seeing a warming trend now. Light crowds, warmer water and air, and more options for anglers.

We continue to see lighter than normal crowds of tourists for this time of year,” said Brictson. “As we move closer towards the summer season the weather patterns are now progressively warming, mostly clear sunny skies, with some marine layer offshore at times, average morning lows of about 70 degrees with the highs in the mid to upper 80s. Actually great climate now, plenty warm, but not overwhelming, as it can become during peak summer time. With light crowds, ideal weather and a variety of fishing options it is now the perfect time to visit.”

Brictson added, “As usual we are dealing with unpredictable and rapidly changing ocean conditions during this transition period. Ocean currents have been sweeping in from different directions, at times turning the water a bit greenish, but this is the common scenario in May. Ocean temperatures have ranged from 67 degrees on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas, up to 78 degrees in the direction of Los Frailes. Winds were moderate this past week, picking up a bit stronger late week, but overall it’s been much nicer than the previous week.”

He said anglers were able to obtain sufficient supplies of sardinas, also some caballito, mullet and the “candy bait” chihuil baitfish being used. The most productive fishing grounds locally continue to be from La Fortuna to Iman Bank.

“This is where both the sporadic bottom action for various snapper and pargo species was found, as well as yellowfin tuna on the surface. The tuna bite was dead to start off the week, picking up again on Thursday and Friday,” said Brictson. “The yellowfin were striking mainly on the sardinas, using 40- to 50-pound leaders, some boats landed up to three fish in the 15- to 55-pound range. Only a handful of smaller sized dorado were seen and reports of a few wahoo seen or possible missed strikes, none actually landed that we heard about, except from East Cape charters fishing closer to Los Frailes.”

Billfish action was scattered, he said, with only a few striped marlin being found offshore, with no particular hot spot. Inshore there were more numbers of smaller sized roosterfish showing up, and also good action on sierra closer to the Pacific and of course some jack crevalle actively patrolling the shoreline.

“In the coming weeks we expect to see greater concentrations of mullet to show and this in turn attracts the trophy sized roosterfish, as well as other pargo, snapper and jack species.”

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 66 charters for this week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 3 striped marlin, 4 dorado, 26 yellowfin tuna, 45 yellow snapper, 7 surgeon fish, 28 spotted rose snapper, 23 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 15 huachinango (red snapper), 12 bonito, 9 amberjack, 5 yellowtail, 11 barred pargo, 34 roosterfish, 8 jack crevalle, 8 sierra, 15 flag cabrilla, 8 grunt and 90 triggerfish.

LORETO YELLOWTAIL FISHING on the eve of the Los Rancheros tourney this weekend has turned on at the local reef spots and off the islands. The watch is on for more dorado (two so far confirmed) and yellowfin tuna on the outer banks.

LORETO — Rick Hill of Loreto said the yellowtail bite went off closer to town as the action was more consistent as the annual charity event the Los Rancheros tourney approaches this weekend. It is based out of the La Mision Hotel.

Meanwhile, the search was on for offshore tuna by local boats and the Outpost Charters boats out of Marina Puerto Escondido, and another nice dorado was recorded by the Cast N Reel reported Capt. Jay Yadon as the water continues to warm.

“Lots of yellowtail and closer to town than some of the other bites recently,” said Hill. “They are still a little shy when it comes to putting the bite on a live mackerel. The numbers fell in the range of one to three fish per boat with most success happening for the first boats on the high spot.”

San Bruno all the way south to La Cholla got the focus for most of the boats,” said Hill. Average sizes are running 15 to 20 pounds.

“I think the numbers would be better if the bait was smaller,” Hill said. “Most of the mackerel are 12 to 15 inches and lively. Nothing like 9-inch blue or green mackerel for getting fish.”



longtmewon3LONGTIME WON SUBSCRIBERS Cody Montana and Allie Madduz had a great day aboard the charterboat El Meno out of Cabo San Lucas. Maddux caught his first-ever striper after a 1 1/-hour fight and also ended the day with 4 roosterfish, 2 jack crevalle (toro), and a bonita. The marlin was gut-hooked and had to be harvested.


THE PISCES SPORTFISHING fleet saw consistent action recently, maintaining roughly the same averages with slightly more tuna being caught. By Friday marlin numbers started to pick up as well, with every boat out catching marlin, except for one. Weather has continued to be nice, with hot sun and some days with wind picking up only for a few hours. Top spots were the Jaime Bank, off Punta Gordo, the 1150 Spot, and Cerros de Arena. Temperatures varied greatly between locations on the Pacific and East Cape, ranging from 68 to 83 degrees in some areas, but with an average of about 73. PISCES PHOTOS

THE REDRUM SPORTFISHING fleet in Cabo San Lucas is going great guns for the marlin and yellowfin for its customers like this fellow who looks pretty pleased about the sashimi prospects for that evening. REDRUM PHOTO

CABO SAN LUCAS — WON readers Cody Montana and Allie Maddux sent in a report on Saturday to and reported a great trip on the charterboat El Meno.

Last week I went fishing with my fiancée out of Cabo,” he said. “I caught my first striped marlin measuring 8 feet length. We wanted to catch and release but it was gut hooked so we were forced to keep it. It was caught on a live mullet and took 1 1/2 hours to land. We also ended the day with 4 roosterfish, 2 jack crevalle (toro), and a bonita. A great day fishing aboard the El Meno.”

Rebecca Ehrenberg reported to WON that the Pisces Fleet saw 81 percent of their trips produce gamefish, with billfish at 24 percent, tuna 43 percent, dorado 7 percent, and assorted other fish, 17 percent of the catch.

“Fishing has been consistent this month, with this week maintaining roughly the same averages of species caught per boat,” she said. ”Slightly better this week have been the tuna numbers … This Friday we saw marlin numbers start to pick up as well, with every boat out catching marlin, except for one. Weather has continued to be pretty nice, hot sun and some days with some wind picking up (only for a few hours).”

Starting off with the tuna this week, the fleet saw Captain Tito Olascuoga, known for his expert kite fishing skills find the biggest tuna we’ve seen this week. Anglers on board the 34-foot Sea Bum landed a 62-pound yellowfin which hit on a flying fish lure under a kite. They also caught another football size tuna, with both taken at the Jaime Bank. Anglers were Brian Hansen, Eric Witcher, Martin Klingman and Ryan Tognetti who came as part of a large group that chartered several Pisces boats that day.

They chartered, in addition to the Sea Bum, the Tracy Ann , La Brisa, Ruthless, Rebecca and the Valerie in a self organized fishing tournament between them.

“This group had a lot of fun going for the largest fish (by length) and the Ruthless came up the winner, only by an inch,” said Ehrenberg. “The Valerie’s fish came in very close second, estimated at about 130 pounds and measuring 103 inches. Ruthless anglers Anthony Montez, Mantas Juska, Robert Downey, Charlz Boado and Scott Jewell took their first place with a 104-inch marlin also weighing approximately 130 pounds, winning $1,000 pooled between them. The Ruthless team caught and released both their marlin at the Gorda Bank on mackerel and caballito. All other boats in this group caught 2 striped marlin each, also off Punta Gordo.”

As for the tuna, an example of the good fishing for the yellowfin came May 7 when the 38-foot C-Rod turned a group from Montgomery, Texas onto 24 yellowfin, football sized, on feathers and cedar plug lures at about 4 miles from the Jaime Bank. The same day, the Pisces Ruthless with anglers Austin and Caryn Taylor from Texas (celebrating Caryn’s birthday) caught 20 yellowfin tuna ranging between 8 and 15 pounds each. Captain Beto Lira went all the way out to the 220 spot (about 30 miles) to find the fish, which hit on cedar plugs. The couple went out again on May 9, this time on the La Brisa, deciding to stay inshore this time. They caught 2 nice roosterfish, which they released, of about 20 and 30 pounds each around the Palmilla area and caught 1 jack crevalle of about 15 pounds on caballito bait around Marbella area.

In total, Pisces boats caught 241 fish this week, with 15 being marlin, 175 being tuna, 4 being dorado and 47 being smaller gamefish.

MIKE AINSWORTH IS a professional guide from Carnation, Washington and owns First Light Sportfishing. He was just north of La Paz when he took this beast of a roosterfish on light tackle with Tailhunter Sportfishing. The fish was released. He also caught dorado and cabrilla. TAILHUNTER PHOTO

THE SCHINMANN FAMILY from Oregon fished with Baja Birates of La Paz and caught several yellowfin on live bait on Avet LX reels and Ugly Stik rods on 40-pound line and with 2/0 hooks. They ranged from 40 to 55 pounds.

FROM ARLINGTON WA, Diane Kosnosky was on her first visit to La Paz with her husband and really wanted to get a roosterfish. She boated this pretty 40-pound class pez gallo fishing with Captain Victor from the Tailhunter Fleet not far from Bahia de los Muertos using an 18-inch ladyfish for bait. They also lost two other roosters. This fish was released. TAILHUNTER PHOTO

BIG DOGTOOTH SNAPPER (cubera snapper) for Craig Hoffman fishing with his dad, Rob. They were fishing a live bait in the rocky shallows just outside of Bahia de los Muertos with the Tailhunter Fleet. Both are from Scottsdale, AZ. TAILHUNTER PHOTO

LA PAZ — Leonard Phillips of Baja Pirates Fleet has been fishing the northern outer banks for tuna, and it’s been a solid bite.

“The yellowfin tuna bite continues,” he said. “The Schinmann family from Oregon caught several on live bait on Avet LX reels and Ugly Stik rods on 40-pound line and with 2/0 hooks. The bite is better in the afternoon during the incoming tide. They ranged from 40 to 55 pounds.”

Tailhunter International’s Jonathan and Jill Roldan fired off a late-week report with great news from La Paz Bay and outside Muertos Bay: “Roosterfish are finally showing up!” said Jonathan, saying they were 30 to 50 pounders. Diane Kosnosky from Arlington ,WA and Captain Victor caught a hefty one. They also lost two others! The fish was released, he said. WON Editor Blake Warren is visiting La Paz this week and will be providing a detailed feature on the inshore and offshore panga fishing this week. No word from Warren yet as of deadline Monday, but he figures to get into some great action inshore and offshore.

“Not a great week but not a bad week either,” said Jonathan Roldan on Sunday. “We’re in that transition time between cooler waters moving out and warmer waters moving in. Add in the variable winds that can still be very strong and erratic and there’s a lot of currents pushing water temperatures, conditions and the fish around. Quite frankly, you’re just never sure what you’re going to catch right now as it varies from day-to-day and even from boat-to-boat next to each other.”

He said that one day waters are blue and the next day or even the next hour in the exact same spot, the waters are turned over and coffee colored and you have to find a different spot. One day that only has picky fishing for bottom fish suddenly turns into a tuna or dorado hot spot the next day. For sure, if you’re looking for variety, this is time of year.

“For example for our Tailhunter Fleet from Las Arenas/ Muertos Bay, we had a nice jag of 20- to 40-pound yellowfin tuna early in the week just off Punta Perico, Punta Arenas and the south end of Cerralvo Island very close to shore and in relatively shallow water,” said Roldan. “The bite tapered as the week went on (but also probably had a lot to do with the fact that live sardines were difficult to find). But, then inshore species like big cabrilla (especially at the north end of the island), pargo mulatto, barred pargo, sierra, amberjack, bonito and others filled the gap. Not a lot of fish, but enough to keep things interesting.”

He said the bite was more consistent, especially around Espirito Santo Island.

“We didn’t get a lot and some days were better than others, but some surprisingly legit-sized dorado running 15 to 25 pounds caught on live bait and dead stripped bonito. Some of the fish were taken in water so shallow you could see the bottom! The same areas also kicked out some hefty bonito, pargo, snapper, cabrilla and a few left-over yellowtail as well which will probably be the last of the season.”



EAST CAPE TUNA fishing was excellent early in the week, then toughened up for a few days. Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing said the moon phase may have shut it down, but in a Saturday Facebook update, he said the action on yellowfin kicked in again. These shots depict the action, and the use of Mark’s new drone. JEN WREN PHOTOS

EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing produced a blog last Friday, saying, “The area’s temperature is rising. The daytime high 70's were very comfortable but now we are experiencing low 80's and almost everyone is looking for shade. The Sea of Cortez water temperature has followed suit and gone from the middle low 70's to high 70's. Strong current has prevailed and water clarity has been different each day. Some days the water is a beautiful blue and other days not so much.”

And… “Tuna fishing was so good for a couple days anglers were hanging quality fish from the shore pitching poppers. I'm not a proponent of the moon phase theory but have noticed for the last several months we have had an outstanding bite right through the full moon until the last quarter. As we get into the last quarter again, the gamefish develop lockjaw. Fish are here, we can see them, they just won't go. Now we are in the last phase again and the bite is tough as nails.”

Rayor said that “Last week we caught tuna that were so plugged with sardines, calamari and caballitos their bellies looked distorted. This week they are showing and just teasing us. Yesterday was the first report of a blue marlin being hooked. The angler fought it for six hours on 50-pound gear before breaking it off. Dorado have become scarce but more wahoo are starting to show.

CEDROS ISLAND — The season is starting in a few weeks for Cedros Outdoor Adventures said owner Jose Angel and work is going on to expand the Baja Dreams Lodge with several cabins being built on the hill above the main facility. There are still spots available for the WON charter going to the island, Sept. 14-17, and the cost is $1,720, which includes all transport to and from the lodge, meals, fishing, and filleting. For booking that trip, hosted by Pat McDonell, contact For all other trips, check their website at and call them at (619) 793-5419.

MIDRIFF — The Tony Reyes mothership the Tony Reyes returned Friday afternoon from a 6-day Calstar Rods charter led by Gary Gibbs from Calstar.

“Fishing was very good and the weather was great except for the last day and a half of the 6 day trip,” said Tom Ward of the Longfin Tackle shop in Orange, which is booking central for the popular trips. “They fished the main islands trolling Mirrorlures and X-Rap Rapalas and casting jigs at the shorelines for excellent cabrilla fishing. Yellowtail were eating jigs yo-yo’d off the reefs. Calstar brought lots of giveaways and raffle items for the anglers. Fresh ceviche and an evening of carne asada topped off a week of outstanding meals prepared by the chef.”

He added, “Live bait has been elusive so far this season but Tony expects it to show up any time now as the water warms up.”

The boat count: 350 yellows to 22 pounds, limits of cabrilla to 20 pounds, 267 bass, 12 sheephead to 18 pounds, 3 baquetas to 44 pounds, 9 grouper to 38 pounds and various other fish, most released.

THE CORONADOS TURNED on last week before the winds blew with a massive amount of small 10- to 15-pound forkies moving within two to three miles of South Island for Pat McDonell of Carlsbad and friend Floyd Sparks of Olivenhain on McDonell’s 18-foot Yamaha-powered skiff last Tuesday. They used surface jigs and caught 20 fish, and kept 9 in two hours of casting to bird schools.

CORONADOS — The yellowtail bite which had been under the birds at the Finger Bank, moved up the line big time on Tuesday of last week before the winds kicked up. WON’s Pat McDonell and friend Floyd Sparks on McDonell’s skiff scored easy limits on the 10- to 15-pound fish three miles south of the islands. No other skiff was in sight. Word got out, but by Wednesday weather kicked up. But the volume of fish, said McDonell, was staggering. And, the bluefin action on larger fish locked up on 150-pound-plus fish at the inner banks, such as the 371, over the weekend. The bite has been good for 1 ½-day trips, but the bigger fish showing locally is great news. Water temps were at 63 degrees. In other news, the Shelter Island launch ramp will not be finished until the end of summer due to delays, the Port of San Diego announced last week. Anglers can launch at Pepper Park in National City, or Glorietta Bay (trailer/car parking for up to 72 hours on the Coronados city streets) or Mission Bay.

Contribute to WON reports by sending in a photo or two and a short writeup of your trip. Submission for the following week’s issue and are due Sunday mornings at

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