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Baja Fishing Report

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Monday, July 30, 2018
Tuna in bigger grade showing

Cedros Outdoor Adventures buys plane
Cedros gets a plane, East Cape gets big dorado, marlin


Cedros Outdoor Adventures (COA) takes major step in upgrading and expanding the operation with the purchase of an eight-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain; In Baja action, Van Wormers Dorado Shootout big fish topped by 47.5 pounder; tuna plentiful off Cabo; East Cape black and blue marlin to 500 and 600 pounds, perfect timing for upcoming Bisbee’s Offshore

JOSE SANCHEZ AND MELANIE LAMAGA of Cedros Outdoor Adventures in front of the company’s 8-seat Piper Chieftain. The plane 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.


Special to Western Outdoor News

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.

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 Lodge’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, and 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.

“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.”

The Baja Magic Lodge and one of the new cabins.

This year the U.S. to Cedros Premium Guide Service, as it is referred to, is an option. The extra cost is $350 per person.

“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.”

THESE WHITE SEABASS were a Cedros Island surprise on the flylined mackerel for, from left, Ceviche skipper Jose Hermoso, and anglers James Bentley, Matt Bentley, and John Gilkerson.

In terms of fishing, the lodge is in full-on mode, and so is the angling. The calico fishing on the western end of the island has been outstanding, but the yellowtail action has been stalled by the mass of red crabs and bait near the lodge on the lee side, so boats have been venturing to other areas, including a run to Benitos Island for wide-open action on fish to 30 pounds.

The groups have also been getting some white seabass,

“After rumors of yellowtail at Benitos islands our pangas took our guests on a very calm! Yellowtail up to 40 pounds and many more lost than kept because of their size and strength, but the important thing is that our anglers finally got the action they have been looking for,” said Jose Angel Sanchez at the island. “On the other hand, calicos , no problema. The southwest dense kelp can, and have been producing hundreds of catch and release consistent days of fun.”

Sanchez said there is always variety a the island, but “what is always a surprise is the white seabass. I have seen them biting for our guests on every single lure or bait available, and on every region of the island, either on the kelp, on rocks, or a few feet from shore. In this case a couple days ago, using live mackerel our guests with skipper Jose Hermoso driving Ceviche) scored several big ones. They guests were James Bentley, Matt Bentley, and John Gilkerson.

CABO SAN LUCAS – Renegade Mike Tumbiero of the charterboat Renegade Mike said customers are pretty happy right now.

“Conditions continue to improve with the arrival of our hot summer conditions. Straight out from Cabo San Lucas and towards the east water is consistently 80 to 84 degrees and pretty much the same as last week as far as clarity with slightly off-color water inside the continental shelf and as you venture well offshore. The water becomes a deep purple, blue. Towards the West and Northwest on the Pacific side of Cabo. Our cooler water continues as we have water anywhere from 74 to 79 degrees and areas of green off-color water shifting around constantly.

He said striped marlin fishing has been pretty steady although that bite usually starts to decrease a bit this time a year as many stripers move into the northern Baja Southern California region.

“Our blue marlin fishing continues to get better and better every day. Most fish are the 200- to 300-pound range. There are some sailfish being caught but not in the numbers we are quite used to yet.”

He added, “Our talk of the town fish continues to be the yellowfin tuna as just about all the boats that ventured out looking for them caught several with many boats catching limits. There are some bigger tuna being seen but not many being caught just yet but I expect that to change here pretty soon. Fishing has been straight south and towards the east around the Cabrillo Seamount. There were a couple days this last week where there was a good tuna bite up towards the Pacific, just west of Cabo as the water. In that area were starting to really clean up but then the current change in the water turned into a off-color green again shutting the bite down.”

Dorado fishing continues to improve from last week as several fish in the 30-pound range were caught this week.

THE PISCES FLEET scored some great fish last week with a dorado seen here aboard the Rebecca, a larger grade tuna on the C-Rod, the crew and anglers aboard the Rebecca and a nice dorado here with this young lady aboard the Flora T.

Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing saw their fleet scored 92 percent of the time, with billfish caught 37 percent of the time, with tuna success 76 percent, dorado 16 percent.

“Headlining the fish report again this week is the Pisces 38-foot C Rod, leading anglers once again to the blue marlin,” said Ehrenberg. “The 250-pound blue marlin was released by anglers the Wheeler and Stettner families from Katy, Texas. The blue hit on a pink feather lure about 25 miles south of Cabo. They also landed 7 yellowfin tuna that ranged from 10 to 35 pounds each.

There are a ton of reports of great action on the Pisces website catch report, but another trip worth a mention was the “fantastic” day by their 28-foot Andrea by anglers Alexis Tolley and Brandon Page from Connecticut on July 15, with 3 marlin caught, 14 yellowfin tuna and 3 skipjack. Two of the marlin were small stripers and were released. The other was a 200-pound blue marlin, also released, also at the 130 Spot on caballito bait. The yellowfin were all of good size, with the smallest weighing about 10 pounds and the largest of 40 pounds. They also landed 3 skipjack on feathers at the 11:50 Spot.

The biggest dorado this week was also caught yesterday aboard Pisces 31-foot Rebecca. Anglers Dylan and Eric Winchell, a father-son duo, landed one of about 30 pounds and the other slightly larger, at about 35 to 40 pounds The dorado hit on live caballito bait. They also caught 3 yellowfin tuna of about 10 l pounds each on feathers and cedar plug lures. All fish were caught at San Jaime Bank.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO -- Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas reported great offshore conditions and warm clean water of 83 degrees, drawing in striped marlin. The bait situation near the marina was good, too, with sardinas, caballito and mullet. Most of the fishing action has now been centered from the Gordo Banks to Iman, San Luis and north to Vinorama.

“Cleaner currents have improved the all-around action in recent days,” he said. “The yellowfin tuna that are schooling near and Iman and San Luis banks but continue to be very finicky from day to day, though the tuna that are being hooked into are 40 to 60 pounds and there were at least a couple of larger tuna up to 120 pounds.”

He said wahoo 40 to 50 pounds were showing, striking trolled Rapalas near Iman, San Luis and Vinorama areas, but not in big numbers. But it’s good to see them. Roosters are scattered but some epic 70 pounders are on stretches near Vinorama.

THE WINNERS OF THE 2018 EAST CAPE DORADO SHOOT OUT were the anglers on the Miller Time with a 47.5-pound dorado.

EAST CAPEJohn Ireland at Hotel Rancho Leonero reported conditions inside were 85 degrees and 90 degrees outside, clean and blue, air 80 degrees with cooling afternoon breezes.

“We’ve had very good fishing again this week,” he said. “A little slow midweek, but the bite really picked up the last couple of days. Nice sized yellow in, dorado, wahoo, a strong billfish bite and as usual this time of year, outstanding rooster fishing. very good fishing north toward La Paz. Most of our ranch boats were fishing the La Ribera bank south to Rincon and scoring big tuna, dorado and lots of stripers mixed with the occasional blue. There’s lots of good bait available.

WAHOO are now in the mix at the East Cape. Here, a Hotel Rancho Leonero guest hoists a nice one.

As for the yellowfin, trolled hoochies and cedar plus and drifting sardines were working , he said. The bigger fish being taken south of the lighthouse on sardine with yellowfin 30 to 40 pounds.

“The past couple of days all boats are scoring,” said Ireland. “Yellowfin are also outside under porpoise, really moving around. He added the wahoop bite has really picked up, no real size, 12 to 55 pounds, all on the troll off Punta Colorado.

Dorado have been big, and the 47.5-pound bull took the Shootout Saturday. The Bisbee’s Offshore is coming and that’s good timing. “Striped marlin mixed with some big mostly black marlin,” said Ireland. “We released 5 stripers yesterday (Saturday) fishing in the tournament. Some bIg backs and blues this week! A couple taken this week over 500, and one over 600!”

MICHELE CONKLIN from Washington fishes every year with Tailhunter Sportfishing in La Paz and knows how to pose with her fish. She caught several larger dorado plus had a big tuna on the line as well while fishing from Bahia Muertos with live baits.

ALL THE WAY FROM CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, Rafael Rios fishes every year with Tailhunter Sportfishing and was trying to get one big tuna. After two days of struggling, his last day, he finally tied into this big yellowfin while fishing with Captain Gerardo. Estimated size was 60 plus pounds.

LA PAZ – Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International said the week was marked by erratic fishing that pretty much coincided with the up-and-down weather patterns, cloudy and oppressively humid. Poor fishing, then good fishing midweek, then the weather slowed it down again.

“Fishing, especially early in the week was a hit-or-miss proposition,” said Roldan. “Fish were caught, but the bite was definitely off. Crazily, many of our anglers saw tuna, they saw dorado, they saw marlin, but the fish would refuse to bite even though the fish were chasing and breaking and seemingly feeding. They didn’t want anything attached to a hook. They didn’t want anything dragged behind a boat either. Mid-week, the weather cleared and bright sunshine returned. And the fishing picked up noticeably.”

Tuna at Cerralvo Island between 40 and 60 pounds finally decided to eat hooked baits although they were somewhat line shy and preferred very light leaders for long battles. Dorado decided to tear it up as well as wahoo and roosterfish. It was a complete turn-around.

“Then, late in the week the clouds returned but this time with winds!” said Roldan. “And the bite tapered off again. Everyone still got fish and there was action to be found, but we really had to work hard to find fish and get them to bite.”

LORETO – Rick Hill of provided some general info, saying, “Boom or bust seems to fit well in this week's report although the "boom" days are yielding bigger dorado.The afternoon winds have been slicing up the sargasso patches and turning them into finger size chunks. North of Punta Lobo has been a good spot that most of the Loreto boats will focus on and this is where the 15- to 20-pound dorado are being caught. Sardinas are still the bait of choice with bonito being the only catch on feathers.”

Contribute to Baja reports each week after your travels by sending photos and a report to, Deadline for the next blog and print edition is Sunday afternoon. Tight lines!

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