Baja Fishing Report

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Sunday, August 19, 2018
Cabo report: Blue marlin move in

Bigger tuna off Cabo, to 250 pounds: It's going off
 Big tuna of 250 pounds caught on Bill Collector 

Editor's note: The following report from the Pisces Fleet came in past deadline for the print version, but it's worthy of note for the great catches. The regulate Baja report follows this. 

Pisces 32’ Bill Collector hit the dock on Sunday the 29th with a 
massive 250 lbs yellowfin tuna which angler Lauren Hodges reeled in. They landed the monster fish about 20 miles out at the 120 spot on a flying fish lure. The anglers aboard were Ralph Yanik and Ryan Hodges, from South Carolina.

Also noteworthy, were two large wahoo caught on consecutive days by Pisces 31’ Cabolero. The first, on August 2nd, was a 35 lbs wahoo which hit on ballyhoo bait about 2 or 3 miles off of the Lighthouse and the other was an approximate 50 lbs wahoo caught 7 miles off of the Lighthouse the next day.This time it hit on a guacamayo lure, and was enjoyed by anglers Alex, Vito and Zachary Badalamenti from Idaho.

And speaking of wahoo, the Pisces 61’ Viking, Pour Decisions closed this week with an impressive day of fishing on August 10th, which included an almost 60 lbs wahoo, 8 out of 9 striped marlin caught and released, 1 sailfish and 1 mako shark. They ran up to the Finger Banks, 50 miles up the coast, to find fish (as it has slowed quite a bit after the storm now). All fish, except for the wahoo were released and hit on dead mackerel bait.

For “smaller” game catches this week, fishing was great! Most notable catch was by Pisces Panga Samantha, with anglers Brad and Sara Isola from Texas catching and releasing two large rooster fish of about 55 and 60 lbs each! They caught these on the Pacific side, past the Old Lighthouse on caballito bait. Pisces Panga Poseidon also caught 1 roosterfish, of about 30 lbs, close to the Old Lighthouse on caballito bait and 1 jack crevelle of about 18 lbs, from longtime Pisces anglers from England, Ben and William Smith; a great father son duo who had many other notable catches this week as well! Again, Poseidon did well later in the week with 6 dorado of about 10 lbs each by angler Scott Seiler out from the Lighthouse. Pisces Panga Anamar topped this by adding one roosterfish to their catch this day, making it 6 dorado and 1 roosterfish of about 35 lbs, released, at Pozo Cota. The fish all hit on feather lures.

 In other Baja action:

SAN JOSE DEL CABO -- This past week was a very active time for tropical storm development in southern Baja. At one point early in the week there were four named systems tracking on westerly paths, in the direction off the Pacific,  reported Eric Brictson of Gordo Banka Pangas.  There was Hurricane Hector, a category 4 storm that ended up passing very close to Hawaii, there was Hurricane Kristy that stayed far enough off to the west of the Baja Peninsula and made no impact, then there was Ileana and John, they somewhat joined together and did pass within a couple hundred miles of the Southern Baja, bringing high oceans swells, several inches of rainfall.

“Winds were not too strong, some 40 mph gusts, all Port activity was closed for a couple of days,” said Brictson. “The streets in Cabo San Lucas were flooded, but also are now quickly being cleaned up, basically very minimal damage and minor power outages were reported.”

Onto the fishing: Brictson said schools of sardinas which had remained plentiful throughout most of the summer season were now scattered and for the most part unobtainable, and local fleets are now using slabs of squid, chunk bait of skipjack, some caballito and ballyhoo. This is the normal bait source for this latter part of the summer. Ocean water temperature is now in the 80 to 84 degree range.

“The main center of fishing activity has been around the Iman Bank,” said Brictson. “Highlight has been the yellowfin tuna, drift fishing with strips of squid, or at times sardinas, when obtainable, this produced quality grade of yellowfin tuna up to 80 pounds. No huge numbers, but nice quality, some lucky anglers had as many as four or five tuna, others were fortunate to land one, very strong fish and best chance of enticing a strike was on lighter leaders, which meant long fight times and higher percentage of lost fish.”

He said there have been few dorado seen in recent days, in small schools of ones or twos, fish up to 15 pounds found mainly on the same grounds as were the tuna or billfish. A couple of wahoo also reported, on trolled Rapalas, yo-yo jigs and incidentally on strip bait while targeting tuna. Bottom action was spotty, some of the Eastern Pacific bonito, a few red snapper, cabrilla, yellow snapper, dogtooth snapper, amberjack and triggerfish.

As for billfish, he said, they are spread out, with a couple of sailfish, striped marlin and blue marlin being found, and better action for this seemed to be towards Cabo San Lucas and out around the 1150 spot.  


EAST CAPE – John Ireland of Hotel Rancho Leonero fired off a report for the area up until Sunday in the aftermath of the Bisbee’s Offshore tourney last week that produced black and blue marlin, some 100-pound class tuna and quality dorado and a lot of striped marlin in the release category. That story was covered in WON last week.


This week, said Ireland, it was a great week again with flat calm water, 85 degree water inside and 88 to 89 degree water on the outside, and just one “bumpy morning all week.


“We had good fishing with mostly quality yellowfin and roosterfish this week,” said Ireland. “Big tuna were 25 to 80 pounds, and the dorado bite was slower than usual; and the billfishing was on and off. Lots of good bait with sardine, caballito, squid and ballyhoo.   


“There were a couple of big yellowfin per boat per day, nice fish with lots of hour-long fights with a lot of breakoffs. Almost all the fish were taken on sardine and squid, whilke drift fishing off Rincon 1 to 3 miles off the beach,” said Ireland. Roosterfish were plentiful with big gallos in the 20- to 60-pound range are being released daily.  As usual for this time of year, we are seeing very good fishing.”

Capt. Mark Rayor always has a great blog at Jen Wren Sportfishing: Click here to see it.




CABO SAN LUCAS – Mike Tumbiero of Renegade Mike Sportfishing said the bite has been up and down as ocean conditions changed due to Hurricane John that passed close enough to Cabo to dump quite a bit of rain and create a huge swell.


“Our tuna fishing continues to be hit or miss,” said Tumbiero. “But if you do find the right school you can score big-time as there were several fish over 100 pounds reported this past week. About half the boats going out looking for tuna are not scoring would still be able to catch some billfish, including blue marlin while out there looking for the tuna.”


The blue marlin fishing, he said, continues to impress as the fish are scattered throughout from inside well offshore. Still plenty of striped marlin to go around. A few sails, with hopes for more, he said. It’s that time.




“That peanut sized dorado bite on the beach to go along with the Pacific bonito bite was going pretty good until the seas conditions changed,” said Capt. Tumbiero. “I expect that to get up and running. Here in the next few days as our conditions start to improve.”


As for the weather, he said Cabo has been a pleasant mid-90s for the most part.


“The humidity not quite up there, but I expect that to get going as far as humidity here in the next couple weeks,” said Tumbiero. “We have had some strong Northwest winds on some days preventing fishing on the Pacific side comfortably but straight out and on the sea of Cortez side weather has been very nice.”


LA PAZ -- Hurricane John interrupted a solid, steady bite here, but that’s southern Baja in the summer. It did not hit the area hard and dumped rain and delivered winds. Some flights got missed, fishing trips were cancelled with the port was closed, but soon it was over and it was back to business, said Jonathan Roldan at Tailhunter International. Sort of. 


“The port opened, but for several days, we didn’t know if the port captain would change his mind and shut things down again,” said Roldan, adding, “So there were days when we had everyone ready, but also telling them they might have to head back to their rooms if the port captain shut things down again.”


Because while “John” moved off, it never really completely left, and almost each day, they had threats of wind, rain and big seas and occasional thundershowers and left everyone wondering what the next day would be like and days when we went fishing and still got wet.


“Fortunately, the waters didn’t take too hard a hit from the storm and fishing the rest of the week was a lot better than I thought it would be although it still was not quite as good as it had been,” he said. “Everyone still got fish.”


At Las Arenas/ Muertos Bay for the Tailhunter Las Arenas Fleet, the big tuna were still around although a bit pickier.  However, smaller fun football sized 10- to 20 pounders showed up right off Punta Arenas not far from the lighthouse. Also, decent dorado up to about 25 pounds rounded things out and surprisingly we got pompano and nice big pargo liso snapper that usually we only catch in the springtime. 


“It makes me wonder if cooler waters are already moving in!  Several roosterfish also hooked and released in the 30-50 pound category.”


For the Tailhunter La Paz Fleet, dorado were centerstage again.  Most of the fish were 5 to 20 pounders, but if you find the right spot, it could be crazy frenzied fishing, he said.  


“Most days, the boats got limits or near limits although some days the bite didn’t take off until late in the day.  If boats left too early they sometimes missed the bite. So, overall, not too bad given the weather.  It could have been a lot worse.”


CEDROS ISLAND – The yellowtail bite has been spectacular at the island, and now that the fish are off the red crabs, they are hungrier and because of all that food they’ve been feasting on, they are bigger. A 40 pounder is not uncommon at the cleaning tables, said Jose Angel Sanchez, who with his wife Melanie Lamaga owns Cedros Outdoor Adventures. 


One of the biggest pieces of news about the operation besides the resurgence of the bigger yellows and the big calicos has been the purchase of a new plane the flies out of Brown Field in Otay Mesa, on the U.S. side. Bookings are way up, as people are willing pay a little more money to fly direct from the U.S. for more fishing time.  


So, how has it been going, and are there any spots left this season?  Lamaga said the response to the direct flights has been enthusiastic but there are seats on some seats available in September. Lamaga said  the Sept 17-21 trip  there are six seats remaining. For the Sept. 21-24 run there are six seats, and for the Sept. 24-28 trip there are four seats, and from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 there are three seats available on the Piper Apache Chieftain. Four day trips cost $2,070, five-day trips are $2,370. 


One angler who has been fishing with COA over the years is retired La Jolla Fire Captain Dana Kaplan. He described his recent trip, flying for the first time out of Brown Field instead of taking the van to Ensenada for the commercial 12-seater flight. 


The 8-Seater Piper Navajo Chieftain swing by the Baja Magic Lodge enroute to its destination in the U.S., Brown Field in Otay Mesa, San Diego County. 

“I’ve been fishing with Cedros Outdoor Adventures for many years, and I’ve always loved the simple, rustic beauty of Baja Magic Lodge,” said Kaplan. “You’re on the edge of town so it’s peaceful, just the hills and the ocean. Unlike other operations that have their lodgings in town, here you feel like you’re in nature. Last week, I got the chance to try flying direct from San Diego County in Cedros Outdoor Adventures’ new 8-seater Piper Navajo Chieftain. 


“I enjoyed the feeling of flying in a twin engine more than single engine. I felt a lot safer going over all that water. Meeting the plane was extremely convenient. I parked at the hangar, walked a few steps to the plane, and the pilot loaded my gear. The ride down to Cedros in the Chieftain was comfortable and we got there in about three hours, so we got more fishing time the first day. We also got to fish a half-day on the last day, which you don't when flying from Ensenada.


He added, “The return trip was great, too. When we cleared in customs in Mexico we were on the ground for less than 30 minutes, and then U.S. customs for less than 5 minutes. No border wait in the heat for hours. After arriving we pulled our vehicles up to the plane and transferred the fish and gear. It was all really easy. I had caught a big yellowtail on the trip, so I was able to take it down to my buddies at the fire station. We cooked it up and had a great meal. They loved it!”

LORETO – Rick Hill of loretotours.com said, “This past week's impending tropical storms petered out leaving us with only clouds, a little swell and enough of a breeze to totally throw off any hopes for sighting surface clues. This weekend saw a state wide fishing tournament with teams and boats from all over Baja competing for top honors and a nice pocket full of pesos… and with so many boats working the area somebody is bound to land a 40-pound dodo to get the season burning!”


SAN QUINTIN/CORONADOS – The northwest coast of Baja saw an  influx of offshore dorado moving north into the warm water off San Quintin Bay. K&M Sportfishing in San Quintin reported a solid dorado and yellowtail bite last week on charters. Yellowfin and dorado are moving up off Ensenada and were targeted by San Diego sportfishers. There were also reports of the continuing yellowtail bite at the Coronados, and scattered yellowfin outside in the inner banks of the 425 and 390 and southern end of the 9-mile bank. The yellowfin are not big, 10 to 15 pounds but there was a report of  few 40 pounders on trolled lures.  



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