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Baja Fishing Report

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Time to fish hard, party harder
20th Year for Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot next Wednesday through Saturday and you can keep tabs on the action on the tourney blog and live Facebook updates all week

CABO SAN LUCAS — After a year of preparation, the WON staff and sponsors and nearly 600 fishermen are headed to Cabo San Lucas for the 20th annual WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot slated for Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 7-10.


You can get all the news and updates on catches on the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Blog at www.wonews.com, and on the event’s Facebook page with updates all week and live video from the weigh-ins Thursday and Friday. You can easily get any of those links via the official CTJ website www.loscabostunajackpot.com .


The tourney began in 1999 and remains the biggest team tuna tourney in the world with anglers from all over the world participating on a variety of boats from pangas to super sportfishing yachts. There are two days of fishing, and nine events including two exciting shotgun starts at the famous Arch, two weigh-ins, and three nightly parties.


In other Baja news:


CABO SAN LUCAS — The third and final day of the Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament last Friday saw a 510-pound black marlin brought in by boat owner and team captain Charlie Lee and his California-based team of Chinito Bonito to win the title and a cool $3,004,900.


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THE BISBEE’S BLACK & BLUE Marlin Tournament was won by California team of Charlie Lee and his California-based team of Chinito Bonito to claim the tourney title and a cool $3,004,900 on Friday. The tourney boasted 114 boats and a full payout of $3,693,625, second highest total in the tourney's history behind 2016's payout of $4,165,960.


This week is pretty quiet in Cabo as the tournament scene gets a rest as teams arrive and prep for the 20th Annual WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot that starts Nov. 7 with check-in with fishing Nov. 8 and 9. A field of 150 teams is expected and a $700,000 payout. Follow the event at wonews.com, the tourney’s Facebook page with live updates during the event and especially during the two weigh-ins from 3 to 6 p.m.


Three yellowfin over 200 pounds have been caught in recent days by tournament boats, and wahoo fishing has kicked in with solid fish. For more on the event, go to www.loscabostunajackpot.com.


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VICTOR LOCKLIN AND teammates Luis Roberto Beltran Cazessusl, and Juan Guillermo Amador Peralta from San Jose Del Cabo won their second East Cape jackpot tourney. Last week the team caught a yellowfin of 76.7 pounds in the 45-team event staged out of Palmas De Cortez and his team won $59,000 for winning all the optionals and the overall money. A 304-pound fish was weighed in 15 minutes late.


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DAN FUGERE AND family from San Francisco fishing with Hotel Rancho Leonero fleet. Biggest pargo of the season for the East Cape hotel at 49-1/3 pounds. There have been big pargo all season for the hotel fleet. This fish, though, broke the hotel fleet record 42.5 pounds from last month. A harnessed live bonito did the trick, said John Ireland, owner of the Hotel Rancho Leonero.


EAST CAPE — The annual Palmas De Cortez Tuna Shootout was held over two days late last week, and Victor Locklin and his team won its second East Cape title of the season with a 76.7-pound yellowfin. The team won the recent East Cape Wahoo Shootout, also run out of Palmas De Cortez.


The team was made up of Locklin, a Compton-based law enforcement officer, and his crew of Luis Roberto Beltran Cazessusl, and Juan Guillermo Amador Peralta from San Jose Del Cabo. Locklin is an avid tourney angler in Baja. He will be back defending his 2017 Cabo Tuna title in a week at the 20th annual WON Los Cabo Tuna Jackpot, Nov. 7-10. Last year Locklin, fishing with the North Star team on the private boat Estrella Del Norte, caught a 338-pound yellowfin, winning $252,425 of the $677,300 paid out to nine teams.


In this 45-team tourney on Saturday, he was entered across the board and his fish swept the first place money and the optionals for $59,000.


Locklin told WON that on the practice run the team fished on the charterboat El Borracho at the San Luis Bank, located about three miles north of the Gordo Bank. Fishing was solid on yellowfin with several fish 60 to 80 pounds. But the next day the El Borracho's engines broke down 20 minutes after the tourney shotgun start and it took two hours for a replacement boat to be secured. They then headed to the bank.


“It was obvious that word got out about our practice day catch and location because most of the tournament boats were there prior to our arrival,” said Locklin. Despite the delay and the crowd they caught several fish using 40-pound fluorocarbon, and the biggest fish on the chunk squid was the winning fish, a yellowfin of 76.7 pounds.


“We hooked the fish at 1:30 and it was in the boat by 2:15. The scales closed at 4 p.m., and they were declared the winner. Good thing because 15 minutes later a 300-pound class yellowfin was brought in.”


In terms of overall East Cape fishing and conditions, John Ireland at Hotel Rancho Leonero reported into WON on Sunday. Just another week in paradise.


“A very good week of fishing,” said Ireland. “Yellowfin, dorado, wahoo, billfish, roosterfish, all biting, very, very excellent bottom fishing, and it all made for an excellent week of fishing. There’s lots of live bait available, sardine, caballito and some mackerel.”


He said the yellowfin were both inside and outside, with smaller fish inside from footballs to 40 pounders, but under the porpoise the fish are bigger, to 70 pounds. Tuna under porpoise were taking cedar plugs, hoochies, squid, and both sardine and caballito. As for the dorado, there were lots of smaller schooling fish in the 5- to 10-pound range, mixed with some nice bulls.


The wahoo, he said, were in the area of Cerro Colorado, 1 to 2 miles offshore, with 2 to 3 fish a boat the average. It’s a long ride, said Ireland, but fish are up to 50 pounds. There’s a lot of wahoo close to home, too, he said. All biting on the Rapalas and Marauders.


Billfish are around with those targeting them getting about 1 per day. He added that Accurate Reels’ founder Jack Nilsen, fishing on El Jefe , released the only spearfish caught this season on the East Cape.


Pargo have been big and close to shore all year. The hotel has a new record dogtooth snapper, as Dan Fugere from San Francisco took a 49.5-pound pargo this week.


“We’ve had large pargo all season with at least one 30 pounder taken every week,” said Ireland. “Dan broke our record of 42.5 taken last month. A harnessed live bonito did the trick. There’s lots of pompano and sierra taken inshore off the bottom as well.”


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas turned in a Saturday report from Puerto Los Cabos Marina.


“Very busy times now in Los Cabos. The richest sportfishing tournaments in the world are now underway, charter fleets are operating at full capacity.”


He said that with the large crowds of anglers, there is heavy pressure now on all resources, particularly now on bait supplies. Very hard to even find sardinas, best bet near Chileno Bay, but this is limited, squid has also become scarce, only so much squid is delivered to local sources and there can be shortages this time of year.


“Most days there have been fresh ballyhoo and caballito available, said Brictson. “Other options are smaller skipjack, tuna and chihuil. These can be caught on offshore fishing grounds. Ocean temperatures were averaging 82 to 83 degrees through most of the region. Swells were diminishing, breezes from the south and north have been variable from day to day. On Wednesday we had major south wind pick up, made for a long wet boat ride in from the northern grounds.”


With the heavy angling pressure skippers have been searching in all directions, local San Jose del Cabo fleets have had best success working grounds from Iman to San Luis Banks. With the stormy seas, full moon and limited bait supplies, the overall action became that much more challenging. Mixed sizes of yellowfin tuna, fish from 5 to 90 pounds were landed, though there were limited numbers of tuna over 50 pounds being accounted for and there were more small sized black and white skipjack being caught than anything else. Anglers were fortunate to land one of the nicer grade of yellowfin, though some people had as many as four quality yellowfin in one outing.


Dorado remain scarce, though occasional encounters resulted in a few fish up to 12 pounds in the mix. Wahoo were showing signs of more activity but still no hot consistent bite day to day. Areas from Palmilla Point, Iman, La Fortuna to Vinorama also held wahoo, these fish hit on various baits and lures, average size 10 to 30 pounds a few to 40 pounds. In the next couple of weeks we should see some great wahoo action, as water conditions come into their preference zone.


Billfish were spread out, more numbers on the Pacific now, some sailfish still hanging around in the warmer currents. Off the bottom there were more triggerfish than other species, but various cabrilla, pargo, bonito, and pompano were also found. Strong current was a factor.


The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 124 charters for the week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 3 striped marlin, 8 sailfish, 21 dorado, 35 wahoo, 270 yellowfin tuna, 90 bonito, 155 white skipjack, 22 red snapper, 4 amberjack, 8 barred pargo, 5 pompano, 14 yellow snapper, 22 cabrilla, 16 sierra and 180 triggerfish.


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HE’S A POPULAR outdoor writerand book author and has his own TV hunting show called “THE HUNT.” Scott Haugen of Springfield, Oregon made his first trip to La Paz to fish with Tailhunter Sportfishing and in a single day tore it up with a big dogtooth snapper, dorado and this wahoo.


LA PAZ It was a hit-or-miss week of fishing as the warm water season winds down and cooler conditions move in.


“It was erratic,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter Adventures. “One boat would find fish and a boat next to them would struggle. We’d look for tuna and only find dorado. We’d chase dorado and get dog-tooth snapper. A boat trying for pargo or cabrilla would hook a wahoo! Just no rhyme or reason. One day our Las Arenas fleet would be hot and the next day our La Paz fleet would have the hot bite!”


A lot of it had to do with the weather, he said, adding that winds are blowing stronger and coming from all directions at different times of the day. It’s cooling off the water temps. It’s clouding up the water. It’s making bait harder and harder to find as waves crash into the shallow areas disturbing the bait schools.


“The big hurricane Willa that hammered far south of us, did not do us any damage,” said Roldan. “The sun burned brightly every day. But it did throw up some big waves and southerly winds that forced us to cancel two days of fishing with our Tailhunter Las Arenas fleet. As the winds increase from the north, I imagine there will be more days that are tough to fish as the season diminishes. However, there was a good jag of wahoo this week. Some boats got multiple strikes and landed several.”


The tuna were a little more scarce, but little spots of tuna popped up if you could jump on them fast enough, said Roldan. The schools were very often busting water, but were hesitant to eat or would only eat quickly and move on so you only had a small window to get in on the bite.


“Again, we had unusually huge dog-tooth snapper and pargo liso come up off the shallows and busting rods and 150-pound test. We got about 1 out of every 8 or 9 hook-ups on these tough fish. Dorado are still around, mostly in the 10- to 15-pound class.”


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MARINA PUERTO ESCONDIDO’s grand opening is Nov. 3, showcasing the expansion and remodeling of the 100-slip state-of-the-art facility 15 miles south of Loreto.


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OUTPOST CHARTERS Capt. Jay Yadon hoists a 50-pound class pargo on his Cast ‘N Reel and Ricky Trevor and friends scored some nice yellowfin while off Loreto’s Puerto Escondido Marina.


LORETO — Marina Puerto Escondido is showcasing its new expanded 100-slip facility Nov. 3 in a grand opening. The marina dredged a deeper channel, added a protective breakwater, built marine dockage and repair services for yachts to 200 feet and remodeled existing boating and clubhouse facilities. It now provides a state-of-art public marina link between La Paz to the north and Cabo to the south.


Rick Hill of Loretotours.com said, “The fishing action has slipped into a routine of little roosterfish outside the marina, followed by sierra up the coast towards Coronado Island followed by cabrilla along any of the many rocky points. The offshore boats are coming back, straight to the ramp with few smiles and less talk. Dorado are still around and the water temperatures are good for the summer visitors. Still tons of sardinas for chum and bait. Shallow running hard baits are working well on the cabrilla with limits for many fishermen.” Outpost Charters on the Cast ‘N Reel reported excellent offshore tuna action, and on the inside reefs they were getting big pargo. One by Jay Yadon, owner of the Cast ‘N Reel, was over 50 pounds.


SAN FELIPE/MIDRIFF — The mothership Tony Reyes just returned from another 6-day chartered trip, this one led by Jack Lytle from Phoenix, Ariz. Booking agent and boat owner Tom Ward of the Longfin Tackle in Orange, relayed some information about the trip that originated from San Felipe.


“They had a very good trip with great weather,” said Ward. “Bait was available and the fish were eating jigs with a vengeance. They fished for yellowtail at San Lorenzo Island catching limits from the first day there. Next, they moved to another area to target red snappers, cabrilla, broomtail groupers and gulf groupers. The weather was so calm the entire trip Tony wanted to call it the ‘Lake of Cortez.’"


The count for the trip: Limits of yellowtail, 192 cabrilla, 222 bass, 77 pargo, 2 sheephead, 2 pinto bass, 8 grouper, 23 cola excoba, 1 amberjack and 1 dorado. For details on the trip, go to www.tonyreyes.com and www.thelongfin.com.


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