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Baja Fishing Report

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Cabo gets early, mild hurricane test

Bigger grade tuna show up off Cerralvo
Hurricane season arrives but with little threat, but big waves and mixed currents stalled a few bites for tuna before things warmed up by the weekend; Next up: Hurricane Bud is approaching as a Category 2 hurricane and will dump rain into Baja and southwest U.S. by late this week but little damage expected

LA PAZ — Cerralvo Island’s big tuna, well, bigger than what has been around all spring, were eager biters and that put many anglers into some long fights, said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter. Usually, the bigger tuna show up outside the island in July or August, particularly at the 88 Fathom Curve. They are a bit early in 2018.

IDAHOAN TOM MULLICAN was at the north end of Cerralvo Island last week on a 10-day vacation, his annual pilgrimage to the area, and used light line on two bigger grade yellowfin while fishing out of La Paz with Tailhunter International.

Not a great week for a lot of fish, but a great week for BIG fish!” Roldan said. “There’s still a lot of pargo and cabrilla around and more and more dorado, but everyone eschewed the fast action and ability to fill an ice chest to go for the bigger boy tuna that showed up at the north end of Cerralvo Island. Everyone had shots at these quality tuna that were as small as 30 pounds, but some in the 60 to 100-pound class!

Not everyone caught fish and the week started a bit slow, he said. But the fish were there. Some got ‘em, some didn’t.

“One boat would get them and another boat next to them would miss. One guy would hit two or three and his buddy would only run interference and pick off bonito. Or needlefish. Like I said, these fish were powerful and strong. Stronger then most of our anglers had ever tangled with. Fights of one to two hours were not uncommon.

More heartbreaking were the stories of fish that broke off after long fights or came unbuttoned. Tougher still were stories of even larger fish that straightened a hook or broke a rod.

“For some of our anglers…1 fish was enough for the day! Careful what you wish for,” said Roldan, who said live mackerel were the ticket, although jigs also worked for those who knew how.

One example was Tom Mullicanwas fishing in La Paz at the north end of Cerralvo Island when the “smaller” 60-pound class yellowfin smashed his live mackerel while on only 40-pound line and a light travel rod.

The resident of Idaho, who fishes each year for 10 days with Tailhunter, battled the fish over an hour before getting it to gaff. Then he said, “I made the mistake of throwing another mackerel into the water and it immediately got crashed again. I was an idiot. The next fish was the larger 90 pounder!”

He fought that over two hours. He said he was too tired and his arms too shaky to hold either fish for a photo.

As for category 4 Hurricane Aletta that formed of Manzanillo early last week, it petered out to the west but provided big swells to southern Baja, but overall it was not a threat, but another hurricane, dubbed “Bud,” might bring showers later this week and some worrisome winds.

In other action:

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Tropical storm season arrived last week with the formation of Hurricane Aletta, which as of this report was tracking some 300 miles off to the west of Manzanillo and forecast to continue on a more north westerly path. This is a major storm, predicted to reach category four strength before encountered cooler ocean conditions where it will quickly weaken.

BEFORE THE BITE waned off San Jose Del Cabo the yellowfin bite was pretty solid. The tropical storm/hurricane watch is on for the region as two storms formed to the south 300 miles. Water off Cabo is still too cool to pull in any hurricanes.

“This first storm of the season was not threatening the Los Cabos region by making any land fall, but we are feeling higher humidity and most notably seeing larger ocean swells build to over 10 feet throughout the weekend,” said Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas. “We are more preoccupied now watching closely the formation of a second system (named Bud) right behind Aletta which is forecast to move directly in the direction of the Southern Baja California Peninsula, so all eyes will be closely watching this and preparing accordingly.”

In his report, Brictson turned to fishing conditions, and said last week started off with winds out of the south pushing back in cooler Pacific currents in the direction of San Jose del Cabo and to Los Frailes. Inshore water turned greenish and cooled off into the low 70s, this in turn shut down most of the inshore and shallow water structure fishing, though outside of the Iman Bank and to the north, water temperatures were warmer, in the 74 to 76 degree range and also cleaner.

“Here on the Desteladera Bank is where the best action of the week was found, huge concentrations of baitfish, including sardineta, mackerel, chihuil, skipjack and bolito were found, this in turn made for very good striped marlin action, many charters accounted for three, four or more billfish per morning,” said Brictson. “Sizes of these fish were impressive, not all the smaller sized striped marlin we were becoming more used to seeing, this week many of the fish hooked into were in the 100- to 140 -pound class. Sportfishing fleets were arriving from all directions to get in on this frenzy.”

As far as yellowfin, that bite faded out as ocean currents changed, and the same with dorado, but that will change back quickly.

“There was some sporadic success found for the anglers that did target the bottom structure, most common species were yellow snapper, leopard grouper, surgeon fish, barred pargo, triggerfish, with a few amberjack and pompano also encountered.”

With the heavy wave action comes green water inshore, so while mullet are still around, fishing along the beaches and two miles out was poor, said Brictson.

“With mullet around, particularly now inside of the marina, s we do expect to see some of the larger roosterfish, dogtooth snapper and amberjack to arrive once conditions settle down. So far the roosterfish season has gotten off to a slow start, with spotty action and not as many large size fish as we would normally expect to see, it is still early in the month, so a lot and change in a matter of a week or two this time of year.”

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 62 charters for this week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 84 striped marlin, (majority released), 5 dorado, 6 yellowfin tuna, 32 yellow snapper, 12 surgeon fish, 14 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 10 huachinango (red snapper), 7 amberjack, 6 roosterfish, 1 sculpin, 7 barred pargo, 5 pompano,12 jack crevalle, 11 sierra and 60 triggerfish.

VIRGINIA SALVADOR OF the Bay Area fished with Los Gringos Charters before the big waves hit from Hurricane Aletta and fished the shore for some great roosterfish action. This fish, her first-ever rooster, was released.

EAST CAPE — Southwestern winds hit the region last week and stalled the action as water cooled, but by Saturday the temps rose from 71 to 83 degrees and the tuna and marlin bites as well as the roosterfish and pompano inside kicked in again over the weekend, reported John Ireland, owner of Hotel Rancho Leonero.

He said the marlin never stopped biting during the cold switch but he numbers of stripers and blues rose with the higher temps, and of course the tuna in bigger grades on both the north and south edges of the Cabo Pulmo Reserve were turning out bigger yellowfin on sardines 40 to 80 pounders, and on Saturday the boats found porpoise 20 miles off holding 20 to 20-pound yellowfin. Inside, the roosterfish and pompanos kicked back into gear, and some of the pompanos are bigger grade. The region has several species like pompano and jack crevalle that are world record quality but they are never weighed or submitted (often the case everywhere in the world, really), but he said his hotel is now an official IGFA weigh station, “so we’re going to go after some of those records.” WON will be fishing the Cabo and East Cape regions next week, so look for an on the spot report from Pat McDonell.

MIDRIFF — The mothership Tony Reyes returned from a chartered 6-day trip out of San Felipe to the Midriff island, led by chartermaster Clarence Becker from Victorville.

“They had heavy fog Tuesday and Wednesday in the area of San Francisquito,” reported Tom Ward, owner of Longfin Tackle in Orange which books the trips. “The yellowtail were of good size but it was hard to spot them in the heavy fog. They fished Snake Island which had good fishing for yellows and cabrillas. Casting plastics at the rocks was producing some nice fish. Trolling the pink Mirrorlure was very productive for cabrillas.

The count: 321 yellows to 30 pounds, 234 cabrilla to 20 pounds, 10 grouper to 30 pounds, 15 pargo to 12 pounds, 12 sheephead to 12 pounds. 276 bass and 274 assorted other fish, most released. For more on the trips booked at Longfin Tackle in Orange, go to

LORETO — Rick Hill of Loreto sent this report Sunday: “The sun is roasting and the air temperatures are skipping around in the 90s but still the water is not where the dorado like it, apparently! Yes, we still are without dorado but it's right on the edge of "early."

“The big news is we are still seeing lots of sargasso that hasn't "launched", yet. That means there should be plenty around to hold the golden dodos when they slide intotown. Tons of sardinas swimming in the bay at Coronado. Cabrilla and yellowtail are hitting the fillet tables everyday.

Only time will tell, maybe one more week!”

PUERTO VALLARTA — The 2½-day WON/Yo-Zuri trip to Tres Marias Islands aboard the 65-foot Apollo out of Puerto Vallarta is detailed in a feature in this week’s WON this week by Pat McDonell in the special charterboat supplement.

The trip saw all 13 anglers catcha tuna, and three of them were 200 pounders and one was a 327-pound super cow by Clairemont angler Mark Stoerner on a flylined cabbie.

The PV season is ended now as the Apollo head home for the summer tuna season. The final trip of the season tyat ended strong. How strong? Apollo owner Jodie Morgan sent a text to WON over the weekend, reporting that a 3½-day charter right after WON’s produced 10 tuna over 200 pounds.

Get more details on the trips for 2019 at and for a great short video of the trip, go to this link:

MARK STOERNER WITH his 327-pound tuna caught aboard the Apollo on a live caballito the first day at Tres Marias Islands on a WON charter out of Puerto Vallarta. He was using Yo-Zuro fluorocarbon leader brought by its rep, Tyler Freeman, who took this photo.

CORONADOS — Bluefin at the 371 spot and yellows at the islands in a wide-open forkie bite on iron and trolled Rapalas. Then the big swell and winds hit Sunday and that make life hard on small boaters, as if the armada of seals was not bad enough. Solid amount of fish, and there was an enormous amount of red crab, micro baits and mackerel holding the schools from the rockpile to the middle grounds.

CABO SAN LUCAS — Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing sent in a report Monday on the first big tourney of the season in Cabo, the Pelagic Summer Slam that had about 30 entrants.

“We have the inside scoop on this year’s Pelagic Triple Crown of Fishing that took place on June 8 and June 9 with over 30 teams competing for cash and awards estimated to well over $200,000. This is a billfish release tournament, with tuna, dorado, and wahoo taken to the scales to determine the winner,” she said.

“This year’s unofficial results put Team Tejas, a beautiful 39-foot Yellowfin, owned by Mike Darden, from Texas, in the No. 1 spot. The team raised an astounding 25 marlin over the two days of the tournament, with Captain Conejo at the helm. They won just over $100,000, estimated Ehrenberg.

TEAM TEJAS, 39-foot Yellowfin, takes first place in he June 8 and 8 Pelagic tourney in Cabo. PHOTO BY PELAGIC

Captain Conejo told Ehrenberg the team used live bait to get the staggering results, and went to the East Cape, where the striped marlin bite has been thriving for the past couple of weeks.

The No. 2 spot was taken by the Expedition, which caught a total of 15 striped marlin, and Go Deeper took third with 14. Our very own Pisces 72-foot Viking TagTeam made its tournament debut and placed 5th with 11 striped marlin caught. A great job by this new addition to the Pisces Fleet, which we expect will be turning heads in tournaments going forward. The 72 footer will be available for charter very soon, along with little brother 37-foot Viking Billfish, Tag Team III.

In the yellowfin tuna category, Feelin Azul weighed a 66.5-pound tuna for 1st place, with Sneak Attack and Dream Maker, taking 2nd and 3rd., respectively

The only dorado weighed was by Vivianas, a 12.7 pounder, good for first place As for wahoo, Team Salt N’ Sweet weighed in a 26.1 pounder, the only wahoo caught.

For other action in Cabo, go to this link for Pisces fishing reports.

CEDROS ISLAND — Cedros Outdoor Adventures’ Jose Angel Sanchez sent in this report on the beginning of the season for the lodge.

“Our first official group of the 2018 season arrived last weekend. One member of our small group of anglers joined friends to visit us and get his first yellowtail, to leave the few anglers that have never catch a yellowtail (properly known as “yellowtail Virgin”). His friends knowing the legendary abundance of yellowtail at Cedros decided we were the company on the right place to do this trip.

“Not disappointed, their weekend got them into some nice school of 20-pound fish taking one less of their limits the last day in a couple hours. Together with the previous days they took home a significant amount of nice, clean yellowtail fillet.

They found that mint was the color to go, and some fish liked the scramble egg and occasionally they will bite live mackerel on surface.

He added, “Location with most success was on the bank to the southeast of the island. Some substantial wind blowing from the west prevent them from staying long enough to try other places longer. Luckily, the fish was hungry and ready to bite allowing them to reach limits within a couple hours.

June fishing reports show that this month is nothing short of spectacular, with so much bait and yellowtail that we hope more anglers join last minute (see our calendar of trips).

“Weather, as mentioned, windy outside the lee side of the island, clouds dissipate around noon afterwards mostly sunny but on the cool side because of the wind.

Season starting slow for us, but its just to warm up to what will be the busiest season ever. For that reason, we are building cabins to be able to accommodate a bigger number of guests, as well as installing more beds in our big rooms.

Stay in the loop because very soon we will have some bigger news.”

CEDROS OUTDOOR ADVENTURES at the Baja Dreams Lodge was the spot for getting a first-ever yellowtail.

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Baja reports are created each week and updated through the week at If you would like to contribute to the report, send any reports and photos to by Sunday morning for the following edition of WON.

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