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Sunday, July 15, 2018
Loreto's jumbo El Seco tuna return
Monday, July 23, 2018
Cedros Outdoor Adventures buys plane


Cedros Outdoor Adventures soars with new plane
Cedros Outdoor Adventures flies to new heights in services

 

In their 10th year, owners of Cedros Outdoor Adventures (COA) and Baja Magic Lodge on Cedros Island take a major step in upgrading and expanding the operation with the purchase of an eight-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain embarking from Brown Field in San Diego County

JOSE SANCHEZ AND MELANIE LAMAGA of Cedros Outdoor Adventures in front of the company’s 8-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain. Up to 7 anglers and a pilot will depart from Brown Field in the U.S., thereby cutting transportation times to the island from an average of 4-6 hours down to about 2.5. Fast, easy, private travel in comfort

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BY PAT McDONELL


CEDROS ISLAND -- A decade ago Cedros Island on the west coast of the Baja Peninsula was isolated from recreational fishermen except for the multi-day boats from San Diego and a handful of yachts that used its protected marina as a pit stop for runs north and south. Located 20 miles from the coast at its nearest point, Cedros’ primary industries for decades were commercial fishing and its use as deep-water salt transfer facility.


In sportfishing circles, the calling cards have always been hoards of yellowtail, trophy calico bass, halibut, and summer yellowfin and dorado. The island now has a handful of fly-in, fly-out operations that ferry anglers in on commercial small-plane flights, from Ensenada or Tijuana, and the trips have opened the island’s fishing to scores of anglers. Fishermen --and a growing number of eco-tourists discovering this diverse island’s flora and fauna -- are brought across border by vans to Ensenada where a 13-seater Mexican regional airline takes them to the airport on the island for 2 ½ days or more of fishing on local panga fleets.

THE LEATHER INTERIOR (seen here in Pano and regular photo) of the private plane offers individual seating walnut fold-down tables for up to seven customers and their tackle. It will fly into Mexico to one of several airports for customs inspection before continuing to Cedros Island. U.S. Customs inspection will take place at Brown Field after the return flight.


Cedros Outdoor Adventures (COA) owners Melanie Lamaga and husband Jose Angel Sanchez, an avid fishermen and Mexican marine biologist, started Cedros Outdoor Adventures in 2008 with two trips using commercial planes, local hotels and training local pangeros. COA added four trips the following year, eight the next and have not looked back. Along the way they have purchased 5 deluxe sportfishing pangas and added the bluff-top Baja Magic Lodge with all ocean-front rooms in 2012.


Seeking new heights in service and comfort, COA has just purchased a Piper Navajo Chieftain, a luxurious and fast (200 mph) twin-engine, turbo prop eight-seater. The plane will fly out of Brown Field Airport (Otay Mesa, CA) on the U.S. side. It will sidestep the sometime onerous issues of commercial flying out of Ensenada, the border crossing by land, and occasional flight delays. 


Faster travel equals more fishing time, and will allow COA to utilize Baja Magic odge’s growing capacity. Two bluff-top private cabins with private decks and panoramic views of the Pacific have been added for two people each, bringing COA’s capacity to 28. The plane will allow for multiple flights, shuttling groups to the island on less restrictive schedules.


“We are just beyond thrilled. This was the next step in the evolution of the business, the transportation, where we can control the flights, the plane itself, the pilot and the schedule,” said Lamaga. “Because we are already running a full schedule of trips for this season, we will offer some of those who have booked the option of what we call the Premium Guide Service. This features an experienced pilot-guide working for us, who will transport clients to and from the U.S., from Brown Field Airport in Otay Mesa. This option provides more comfort, more security, and more fishing time.”


Flights from Brown Field in the morning will take about 2.5 hours after they depart Brown Field and stop in San Felipe, Tijuana (rarely) or Ensenada for required customs inspections, arriving at the island between 11 a.m and noon, she said. Groups currently on commercial 13-passenger flights from Ensenada after the van ride generally arrive at the lodge at 2 p.m., and often get in a few hours of afternoon fishing. The new plan will expand that by three to four additional hours on the water the first day, and an additional half-day of fishing the last day. The return trip to Brown on the Piper Navajo Chieftain, of course, avoids the dreaded border wait, which averages between 1-4 hours.

THE NEW Cabins offer a deck and private lodging for two people.

THE BAJA MAGIC LODGE can now accommodate a maximum of 28 anglers.


“We did a survey of customers and 80 percent said they wanted the Premium Guide Service from Brown Field. It’s something many of our clients, especially return clients are super-excited about,” said Lamaga. She runs the business and booking side of the operation, while Sanchez keeps things flowing with on-site island staff and anglers, and expanding the lodge operation, and each year adding more boats to the panga fleet. “It’s a huge investment for the company to buy this plane, not an easy thing to put together, but we felt we needed to do this to expand the operation, control the scheduling, cut travel time, and improve the experience for our clients.”


Sanchez said fishermen and a growing number of eco tourists have been tipped off on the possibility of a private COA plane. “They are excited about the prospect of flying to and from the island, avoiding the border, and doing it all in style,” he said.


This year the U.S. to Cedros Premium Guide Service, as it is referred to, is an option, and will cost $350 more.


“People who have already booked this year will be asked if they want in, to upgrade, and the seat availability is based on what date they booked for this year,” said Lamaga.


As far as weight and tackle restrictions, the plane will provide more flexibility and no extra baggage charges for rods or taking back fish. The basic limits are 250 pounds on the way down, and 300 on the return flight. Andrew Principe of San Diego, a U.S. commercially-licensed pilot with extensive Baja flying experience has been hired by COA as the main pilot-guide.


“Our own plane, our own maintenance, and our own pilot-guide flying a plane that is faster, works on our schedule, and gives our customers an added experience of comfort and adventure. That’s what this plane brings to the operation,” said Lamaga.


Get more information on the lodge on their website at 

https://cedrosoutdooradventures.com


COMMERCIAL PILOT ANDREW PRINCIPE will handle the bulk of the flying duties for Cedros Outdoor Adventures. Here he prepares the plane for takeoff from Las Vegas last week on the Piper Navajo Chieftain’s first flight into Brown Field. The plane is being pressed into service immediately as an option for the summer/fall fishing season.

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For fishing reports for the week from the island, stay tuned to this blog. It's going off on white seabags, yellowtail and big calicos.



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