Baja Fishing Report

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Monday, October 08, 2018
Billfishing busts loose

It’s transition time for Baja Sur
Tournament in Cabo, Loreto tuna and dorado on the bite; East Cape wahoo and tuna and billfish still chomping, Midriff mothership Tony Reyes scoring solid yellowtail action, and La Paz pargo in jumbo sizes go off as remnants of Sergio stir the pot

CABO SAN LUCAS — The long-awaited big tuna bite is still in a holding pattern as the 2018 WON/Los CabosTuna Jackpot approaches (Nov. 7-10), but there’s plenty going on in terms of billfish, said Capt. Mike Tumbiero of the IGY Marina-based Renegade Mike.

It’s not that there are no tuna within striking range, he said. In fact, there are quality fish to 70 pounds and bigger spread from the East Cape to the Finger Bank. It’s just a matter of the boats getting after them on the outside. The emphasis for now as Baja transitions to fall weather and conditions is on billfish as stripers, sails and blue and black marlin have been fairly close. Although Pisces Sportfishing did not weigh in this week, the fleet scored five grand slams on billfish in one week. This week the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament in its 20th year is going on as of Monday morning, so count on some good reports from that event as well as the two Bisbee’s tournaments that follow.

“The billfishing has been very good and not too far away because it’s tournament time here and for the charterboats like us the price of fuel has gone up to $4.45 a gallon and people don’t want to pay the fuel surcharge to go after the tuna under the porpoise,” said Tumbiero. “They are there, but on the trips we do go after them on the kite they just aren’t biting yet. Maybe it’s a good thing. Save them all for the tournaments.”

Hurricane Sergio was not a factor this past week, moving way out, then up and then charged back into mid-Baja with greatly diminished winds as it moved across the peninsula Friday, dumping rain as a tropical storm. There was some wind but the positive aspect is that the storms have kept the seiners at bay off Cabo, which means the tuna population is substantial. Look for big fish over 150 to 200 pounds coming in during the next few weeks of billfish jackpot tournaments that have tuna categories.

If you are interested in going down to Cabo and fishing the Tuna Jackpot, go to and check out the latest Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot blogs that provide contacts for five sportfishers that are available. The website of the tourney at also has an updated charterboat listing. A field of over 150 boats is expected in the event’s 20th year featuring $700,000 in cash payouts, $100,000 in drawing prizes, two sit-down dinners, two days of fishing and weigh-ins and nine events. Last year nine of the 147 teams won money.

In other Baja news:

THE JEN WREN won the Buds and Suds East Cape Tourney last week with a great catch of yellowfin tuna that won the charter group $22,500. Sorry, no photos of the fish. They were too tired from pulling on fish!

EAST CAPE — Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing cranked out another great report on Sunday, and of course one of his three charterboats was in the thick of another tournament win. And he also commented on the weather as Sergio rolled over the middle of the peninsula. It was no big deal, but it was a factor, with rain and wind.

“Last week we had a couple days of north wind making it a little uncomfortable,” said Rayor. “This week the Sea of Cortez has been a little nervous. Conditions have been fishable but these old bones are very pleased that the boat I am skippering has a Seakeeper (a stabilizer). The forecast for next week is for the sea to be downright grumpy.”

Rayor went on, “We just finished fishing the Buds and Suds Invitational Tournament (based out of Spa Buenavista Hotel, a ‘contractor’s’ tournament of friends but with some pretty good money at stake). The excitement and adrenaline rush of the shotgun start and the tournament itself is a lot of fun. Winning is even more fun. The first day of this event I found myself in the same location with our other two boats on a school of porpoise. Captain Polo on Jen Wren III was the first one bit. Shortly after Captain Luis on Jen Wren hung a fish. We moved ahead of the porpoise and pitched out our calamari. No bites so we moved up to do it again with the same results. Polo wasn't having any more luck either. Luis's anglers landed their fish and moved up in front of the porpoise and pitched out again. It was instant for them and now they had a double going. We tried and tried but couldn't get 'em to go. Luis tossed two more in the box and moved up on them again. It was like his bait had magic dust on it and bang, he had a triple going. The fish gods never smiled on us while Polo had little luck and Luis bagged 14 tuna and 2 sailfish.”

Rayor said the following day the fish gods still had their backs turned on them.

“Luis searched all morning for the porpoise but couldn't find them. Giving up and turning his boat toward shore the porpoise popped up in front of him. They continued right where they had left off the day before and returned to the dock with another box full of tuna. End of both days the anglers were too wiped out to hold up the fish so I have no fish photos. The result for the team was $22,500 prize money.”

GORDO BANKS PANGAS concentrated most efforts on the Iman to San Luis banks where the yellowfin tuna were the main target species. The anglers saw many more smaller sized yellowfin tuna and white skipjack in recent days, fish ranging from 5 to 15 pounds but the larger tuna up to 70 pounds plus were still on these same grounds.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas operating out of Puerto Los Cabos Marina said weather patterns are now feeling like fall, as evening and early morning temperatures are cooling off to about the 70-degree range, with daytime highs still reaching into the upper 80s.

“We are seeing greater numbers of anglers now arriving, the next five-week period is the busiest season of the year,” said Brictson. “Hurricane Sergio which had headed far west, nearly halfway to Hawaii, pulled a U-turn and came back rapidly to strike the central Baja region as a weakening tropical storm, but still made quite a mess of the areas which it did strike, before continuing on towards mainland Mexico. This all happened on Friday morning. The Los Cabos area received some isolated rain showers early Friday, along with increased storm swells, followed by 20 mph wind gusts from the south.”

He added that ocean temperatures were reaching into the upper 80s, and expects that this has peaked after the long hot summer and now anglers will see water temperatures begin to cool off in the coming weeks.

He said the bait situation is okay but ready to take a hit.

“Schooling sardinas are still being found near the marina channel entrance, but heavy charter pressure will soon have the fleet scrambling to maintain sufficient bait supplies,” he said. “This week the fleet concentrated most effort on the Iman to San Luis banks where the yellowfin tuna were the main target species. We saw many more smaller sized yellowfin tuna and white skipjack in recent days, fish ranging from 5 to 15 pounds but the larger tuna up to 70 pounds plus were still on these same grounds, just getting them to bite became more of a challenge. Drift fishing while chumming with sardinas and strips of squid continued to be the most productive option.”

As for dorado and wahoo, only a few were being seen on the same grounds, he said, adding that billfishing is picking up on the sails.

“Quite a few sailfish were found on these same fishing grounds, as these fish prefer the warmest of currents, a handful of black marlin, striped marlin and blue marlin were also reported, spread out and not in any significant numbers. Closer to shore a few early season sierra were reported, as well as smaller sized roosterfish, again these were in limited numbers.”

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 84 charters for the week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 2 black marlin, 1 striped marlin, 8 sailfish, 1 blue marlin, 9 dorado, 3 wahoo, 220 yellowfin tuna, 22 bonito, 310 white skipjack, 26 red snapper, 5 amberjack, 10 barred pargo, 4 pompano, 2 surgeon fish, 9 yellow snapper, 13 cabrilla, 5 sierra, 2 roosterfish and 150 triggerfish.

JIM GATTI AND Nino Bonfiglio used whole bonito fishing with Captain Victor of the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz to get 3 big dogtooth snapper this past week in the shallow reefs near Bahia Muertos. They also lost several others that broke off 150-pound test. The largest fish bottomed out a 60-pound scale. Check out the fish on the table!

CAPTAIN MONCHO FROM the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz tries to hold up a big dogtooth cubera snapper while angler Steve Weber from Prescott, AZ and Mike Asbury from San Diego goof off.

HUGE PARGO LISO (mullet snapper) caught by Steve McBride with Captain Moncho with the Tailhunter Fleet from La Paz. Normally, we don’t see these fish until the springtime and rarely do we pull them out of the rocks this big!

FIRST TIME VISITOR fishing La Paz, Pete Wilson from Boise, ID dropped a big bonito down about 30 feet into the rocks and battled this big dogtooth out of the reef while fishing with the Tailhunter Fleet in La Paz.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International checked in and asked a pertinent question: “Is the great tuna bite of 2019 over? Has the season already changed over to cooler winter conditions?

“After this past week, I might have to concur in the affirmative,” said Roldan, who runs and owns Tailhunter Adventures with his wife Jill with fleets in La Paz and Muertos Bay. “It was a weird, strange week. First, air temperatures abruptly dropped 10 to 12 degrees almost overnight. The sun was still out most of the week but suddenly, it was like someone threw a switch and humid tropical 95- to 98-degree day time temps suddenly hit the mid-80s and the humidity almost disappeared.

“On top of that it got windy from the south brought on by concurrent hurricanes Rosa then Sergio that played out in the Pacific Ocean and made landfall hundreds of miles north along the Baja Peninsula, but caused enough of a pressure change to bring in some fairly strong wind and waves from the south, all of which contributed to really difficult fishing.”

Roldan told WON that the effects from Sergio on Friday turned out to be more severe than expected. Enough to mess up fishing plans.

“The ‘rain showers’ we knew were going to happen and were supposed to be benign turned into basically a baby hurricane with the sun out! Winds of 20 to 30 mph whipped the ocean into a froth and strong morning rains didn’t help either. We had to shut down fishing for the most part when the La Paz port captain understandably shut down all boat traffic on Friday as big waves in normally calm La Paz Bay were strong enough to throw spray on cars passing by on the waterfront. It was like having a baby hurricane with the sun still out.”

Added Roldan, “So, fishing took the biggest tumble of the season. It went from red-hot to barely tepid. I think the fish were as confused as we were. Although we got some nice tuna and some huge tuna were lost, the volume of tuna we’ve enjoyed for several months diminished. Same for dorado and other species. There were a few wahoo and way too many bonito!”

He said his captains and anglers had to work hard to find fish and even when they did, so many of the fish were larger that many were lost which might have made their counts look better.

“But, just the same…action was way, way off,” said Roldan.

The biggest surprise was the appearance of huge dog-tooth cubera snapper and giant mullet snapper (pargo liso).

“These huge red fish are generally a spring-time fish and during the season, maybe we get a half-dozen or so, maybe!” said Roldan. “These huge fierce fish are not only big, but powerful and they’re in the shallows in the rocks and reefs. They have scales like armor, sharp gills and gill plates plus a set of long sharp teeth. When the blue water fish weren’t biting, we went inshore for some action on pargo and cabrilla just to get the guys some fish and these big dogs started biting. More than I have ever seen in more than 20 years here.

“These fish were 50 to 80 pounders and larger ones were lost! They were breaking 150-pound test line and the guys were using whole live bonito to hook them. Guys were losing 2, 3, 4 or more fish in some cases and getting 1 to the boat, but it could be the fish of a lifetime.

“This coming week, it looks like the winter northern winds are starting early. The north winds are the vanguard of what we get during the months of November to April. It’s what we call our off-season.

“We are also expecting a ‘little rain’ this week again. Looks like winter might be starting pre-maturely. If the winds persist, water temps will also start to drop and the fishing will change even more dramatically.”

MIDRIFF — The Tony Reyes mothership just returned from a 6-day trip that was threatened by a hurricane heading across Baja but it traversed south of the fishing area only affecting the last day of the trip with rain some wind and medium size swells, reported Tom Ward, owner of Longfin Tackle in Orange which books the trips that originate from San Felipe.

“They caught live bait, enough for a couple of days fishing, but jigs were working well as were the Mirrorlures,” said Ward. “They fished Diablo point, Snake Island, Salsipuedes Island, San Lorenzo Island reefs and the coast north of La Guardia Island until the last day when they fished the Enchanted Islands area. Fishing continues to be excellent as the Tony Reyes is the only boat fishing from San Felipe into the Sea Of Cortez in the Midriff Island area.”

Ward added that many large fish are being lost to light line as “anglers learn quickly that fish that live in water with 16-foot tides have big shoulders,” said Ward. He provided WON with the following count: 295 yellowtail, 138 cabrilla, 53 pargo, 1 pinto bass, 5 grouper, 1 black seabass and 275 assorted fish, released.

More on the trips can be found at

OUTPOST CHARTERS’ Cast ‘N Reel got into the tuna under the porpoise off Isla Catalan after Tropical Storm Sergio rolled through Loreto.

LORETO’S operating out of Loreto marina reported solid dorado fishing and nice sailfish for clients Bobbie and Andrea from Seattle.

LORETO — Capt. Ricky Trevor of Outpost Charters and the Cast ‘N Reel fired off this weekend report about action out of Marina Puerto Escondido.

“Leading up to the storm Sergio we were on dorado pretty well, along with billfish,” said Trevor. “On the billfish we had four hookups and saw a total of seven in two days. Unfortunately those hookups didn't last long having a stretch of just bad luck and were unable to keep those fish on. There’s tons of activity on the water despite water temperatures starting to decrease. Tropical storm Sergio came and went mainly just bringing the area lots of wind (Friday). The next day the winds calmed down and we headed out, getting outside of Isla Catalan we spotted the birds and porpoise so we knew where we were headed.

“It was a great sight when we arrived, with birds all over, porpoise going crazy, and most importantly tuna jumping across the surface! Trolling cedar plugs and jigs it was game on, ended up with a four-man limit. The ones we got were in the 20- to 50-pound range. Lots of fun! Water temps have lowered to 83-84, and are a little churned up from Sergio, and more wind this week is in the forecast.”

Rick Hill of based out of Loreto Marina weighed in and said Loreto lucked out again as far as storm damage or even disruption of everyday life.

“Sergio petered out and slid through to the north leaving us with just a windy week.” said Hill. “Fishing continued with last week's results with more boats looking for something other than small to medium-sized dorado. There was also cabrilla, snapper of a few different varieties along with roosterfish with most fish under 15 pounds. As for the weather, the air is cooling and the mid-80s.”

In other action in Loreto, Rene Olinger, owner of a two-panga fleet out of Loreto Marina, told WON that clients Bobbie and Andrea from Seattle had “an excellent day fishing in Loreto as Bobbie brought in her first sailfish and had limits on dorado and a few skippies!”

To assist and gathering Baja reports for WON, send your reports to


It’s big $$ Tourney Time in Cabo

CABO SAN LUCAS — In any given week there is a tournament somewhere in Mexico. Mostly they are local tournaments, but the big bucks events drawing teams from the U.S and Mexico and other countries are always centered in Cabo this time of year.

This month it all starts in Southern Baja. Marlin Magazine’s Los Cabos Billfish Tournament based at Playa Grande Resort celebrates 20 years of competition, runs this week, Oct. 13-18. The Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Tournament is right after that, Oct. 18-21, and while it is called the ‘Baby Bisbee’s’ it draws a big field and doles out close to a $1 million.

That event is followed by the world’s richest tourney the three-day Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament Oct. 23-27 with check-ins and weigh-ins at the Puerto Paraiso Mall and the awards dinner at the cruise ship mall. That’s it for October but then comes the 20th annual WON Cabos Tuna Jackpot Nov. 7-10, the largest tourney in Mexico, again based at the Hotel Tesoro with the Saturday awards dinner at the cruise ship pier.

Watch for the full coverage on these events here as soon as we are able to gather the details.

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