Baja Fishing Report

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Saturday, November 17, 2018
Rayor weighs in on Cabo event

Tuna central off Baja Sur
The WON Cabo Tuna Jackpot stirred the pot for the bigger fish, with the best overall action on the porpoise with cows mixed in with footballs; Finger Bank striped marlin action was wide open

OFF THEY WENT, all 163 teams vying for a record payout in the 20th annual Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot held Nov. 7-10. Several fish over 200 pounds were officially weighed in. Another 200 pounder, a 266, came in just over deadline the second day. Six teams shared a record payout of $841,600. DANNY MATTHEWS PHOTO

THE CHAMPIONS, Team Cloud Nine, celebrate their $392,800 victory and paycheck after claiming the Cabo Tuna Jackpot title on Saturday at the awards dinner. Team Cloud Nine’s 272-pound yellowfin the first day took all the tuna optionals and eventually the $68,000 first place overall money for the record payout. DANNY MATTHEWS PHOTO

CABO SAN LUCAS — Great weather greeted the anglers for the 20th annual WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament that finished up Saturday. There were big fish on the banks but more of them were targeted on the porpoise to the outside.

While this issue of WON and the wonews.com event blog will have more details, suffice to say the fish and weather and anglers all combined for what many say was the best event in the tourney’s history.

There have been bigger fish, well over 300 pounds in other years, but the jump of teams from 147 last year to 163 this year and the prize money leap from $639,000 to $841,600 in one year awarded to six teams further established it as the biggest tourney in Mexico, and the richest and largest team tuna tourney in the world.

The winning fish was 272-pound yellowfin the first day by team Cloud Nine, a locally owned boat by Greg Lewis that was across the board in pay-ins and loaded up on $392,800 for taking all the optional tuna money for $324,800 and another $68,000 in overall first place winnings to reach that single team payout for the event.

Another team, on the Hooray, was also across the board, won all the second day tuna optionals for $324,800 with its 241-pound tuna. Weather was calm with no storms both days of fishing Thursday and Friday, and the 800-person awards dinner under the stars on the Cruise Ship Pier Saturday capped four days of fishing and celebrating Cabo San Lucas as the Sportfishing Capitol of the world. As good luck would have it, it rained the next night.

More results on the annual tourney can be found at www.loscabostunajackpot.com and wonews.com in the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot blog.

In other Baja action:


THE LARGEST YELLOWFIN of the week off Cabo, including the WON Cabo Tuna Jackpot that ended Saturday night, was caught aboard the super panga Killer II on the eve of the Nov. 7-10 Tuna Jackpot by skipper Chame Pino. He was hosting SoCal anglers Craig Kojima (a WON reader) and Steve Terp. They teamed up to battle the super cow, a 302.5-pound yellowfin. Pino, by way of history, was the captain on the first-ever Cabo Tuna Jackpot in 1999 on the pangas Estrella Del Mar. He also competed this year.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas based in Puerto Los Cabos Marina said big tuna are in the picture, but of course a huge tuna tourney will get things stirred up on that front.

“This is the week of the 20th annual WON Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament, and 163 teams were in the hunt for more than $840,000 of prize money,” said Brictson. “Large crowds of anglers are filling sportfishing fleets to capacity. Weather patterns have been typical for fall, sunny days with high temperatures in the 80s and variable winds, mainly from the north. Ocean swells were minimal and water temperatures averaged 82 to 83 degrees.”

He added “Bait suppliers were working overtime trying their best to find enough resources for all of the fishing charters. Sardinas have been scarce the past few weeks, schools of these baitfish are now being found off of the Chileno area in limited quantities, though they are smaller than average size. Supplies of giant squid slabs have run completely out in recent days, waiting for new shipments to arrive.

“Caballito are being netted inside of the PLC marina channel and numbers seem to be holding up okay, ballyhoo is another bait being offered, rig for surface trolling, special for dorado, wahoo and billfish. Small sized skipjack on the offshore grounds have been used for the larger gamefish, also some chihuil are being found on high spots, time consuming to try and catch these candy baits.”

He said the majority of charters from Puerto Los Cabos Marina are now concentrated on the Iman, San Luis and Vinorama banks, though there has been a percentage searching out the waters off of Santa Maria and Red Hill.

The highlight for most common catches has been the yellowfin tuna. Though overall action has been hit and miss, lots of pressure day in and day out, at times bait shortages as well, the best chances seemed to be early morning on the San Luis Bank, drift fishing squid or slow trolling skipjack, caballito or chihuil produced a quality grade of fish, no big numbers, but fish in the 10- to 80-pound class were most common.

The largest fish of the week was caught aboard the super panga Killer II with skipper Chame Pino, anglers Craig Kojima (a WON reader) and Steve Terp teamed up to battle the super cow yellowfin which was weighed in at 302.5 pounds.

“This is the largest tuna we have seen weighed at our dock area this season,” said Brictson. “At least one tuna in the 250-pound class was landed off of the Gordo Banks during a recent tournament and a 270 pounder won the Cabo Tuna Jackpot that ended its fishing Friday. It’s encouraging to finally see the cows moving in, we have not seen any of these giant tuna on these grounds yet this season. Warm water temperatures should help keep these fish in the region later in the year. The overall action for yellowfin seemed to have been more consistent early in the week, progressively tougher as the week progressed. Heavy pressure on these local fishing grounds can make fish that much more spookier.”

He said they have seen many more dorado being landed, later in the week. These fish were found closer to shore, such as off Palmilla Point or Punta Gorda, once schools were located they would readily hit various bait, especially the small caballito.

“We saw a handful of larger specimens up around 25 pounds but wahoo action was hit and miss, though these fish are definitely still in the area and we are seeing some of them caught every day, some days many more than others. These fish seem to be the most wary of heavy boat and angler pressure. Wahoo were striking on lures and bait, but bait seemed to produce greater chances, sizes up to 45 pounds and a 57 pounder won one of the daily optionals in the tuna Jackpot.

Warm currents have kept some sailfish in the area, also there was a 200-pound black marlin landed as well as a scattering of striped marlin. Off of the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas the striped marlin action was breaking wide open off of the lighthouse, with feeders, tailers and free jumping marlin in good numbers. Up the line at the Finger Bank, it was wide-open for those wanting to make the 50-mile run.

The combined panga fleets launching out of La Playita, Puerto Los Cabos Marina sent out approximately 228 charters for the week. Anglers reported a fish count of: 1 black marlin, 14 striped marlin, 12 sailfish, 84 dorado, 44 wahoo, 290 yellowfin tuna, 150 bonito, 90 white skipjack, 12 amberjack, 16 barred pargo, 8 yellow snapper, 4 dogtooth snapper, 18 cabrilla, 10 sierra, 15 roosterfish, 12 jack crevalle and 200 triggerfish.


TRAVIS AND MELINDA Woodward own the Steamboat Lodge on the Umpqua River in Oregon and escaped for a few days to fish with Tailhunter Sportfishing in La Paz for the first time. They got into a double hook-up on big roosterfish just outside of Muertos Bay with Captain Pancho. Both fish were released.

LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International reported that last week was a mixed bag of fish as La Paz transitions into the cooler aspects of the season.

“Not really many folks fishing these days,” he said. “Many are walk-in visitors or snowbirds who are spending time in town and just want a day of fishing and sunshine, rather than folks coming specifically for fishing. So, many aren’t very serious fishermen either and just want some fun and action.”

He added, “This is that time before the holidays when folks aren’t really travelling much. Families are doing other things. Also, the weather and waters are changing. It’s wonderfully sunny, but definitely cooler and also getting more and more breezy. So, it can be a tad rougher. That makes it harder to get live bait, either because the bait guys aren’t going out very much since there’s not many folks fishing or because of the weather, the live bait is scattered.

Roldan said that despite all that, they still got some action.

“Good bites of bonito keep things interesting,” he said, “But in between, we’re still getting a few yellowfin tuna up to about 25 pounds. There’s some nice dorado not too far offshore. Inshore, pargo and cabrilla are becoming more predominant, especially as it gets tougher to get too far from shore because of weather conditions. Also, surprisingly, some nice 30- to 50- pound roosterfish still around as well.

LORETO — Rick Hill of Loretotours.com reported, “Great week for fishing with low winds and super comfortable temperatures. The action continues with sierra joining the fish count along with larger dorado than we saw at the beginning of the season. Roosters, cabrilla and lots of different snapper round out the action and all close to town!

Still seeing acre upon acre of sardina almost everywhere you go.”

Contribute to the Baja reports by sending reports and photos to baja@wonews.com. Deadline for print publication is Sunday afternoon

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