Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Gateway to Baja opens at Shelter Island
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Yellowtail bite solid before the storms

It’s 2019 and winter, but don’t tell Cabo tuna
CABO SAN LUCAS — It sounds like a broken record, but the ballistic striped marlin fishing north of Cabo is still going off, and dorado have now moved in with good numbers, and sure enough, the yellowfin are still biting on the porpoise, including some quality fish over 100 pounds. Yes, it is now officially winter in 2019, but it still seems like summer on the fishing grounds.

Cabo’s Dreammaker Sportfishing was in the thick of the Lands End action and Grace Cote at Gricelda’s Smokehouse said the Dreammaker charterboat slammed a nice wad of small yellowfin. On that trip the charter group, made up of Rick and Tim Británicos, fished Christmas day and after loading up on yellowfin, donated it all to the local families through the Cote’s church.

“Thank you ever so much!” said Grace Cote.

Mike Tumbiero of Renegade Mike charters was all over Facebook last week on a string of winter holiday charters and nailed quality tuna on the kite for Robin and Ed Schwers of Texas, “We had such a great time today!” said Tumbiero. “Two striped marlin and 7 tuna! And we got a surprise hitchhiker into the marina (Pancho, the trained seal)!”




THE PISCES FLEET had another great week of marlin and big tuna and small dorado action on the local banks but especially — again — the Finger Bank 50 miles up the Pacific side. PISCES PHOTOS

Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing weighed in on Sunday just before the new year kicked in, and boy do things look fantastic for January after an epic December. If there is a time to run down to Cabo and charter a boat for catch and release striped marlin action, this it. The weather has been fairly mild, the water temps on the Pacific hovering at 74 degrees. Dorado have been a nearby surprise to go with a mix of tuna and stripers.

“This week doradonumbers have risen and we still have ongoing Finger Bank action, which never disappoints!” she said. “Although we have seen marlin and tunanumbers go down a few percentage points compared to last week, some of the tuna caught in the past few weeks have been of great size! Most have been around the 20- to 30-pound mark, but we have seen a couple over 100 pounds hitting the dock. Again, a wonderful week of fishing in Cabo.”

She said the Finger Bank bite was still rolling on the stripers. The Pisces 52-foot Free 2 Play had some great days, with releases of up to 18 striped marlin in one day, while most boats released around 10 to 15 stripers each. The Normandu family from Winnipeg, Canada fished two days aboard the Free 2 Play, heading up north to the Finger both days. On Dec. 24 they released 18 striped marlin between 100 and 120 pounds each, using live mackerel bait. Two days later they released 15 fish around the same size, this time using ballyhoo bait and also landed 3 yellowfin tuna of about 15 pounds each on cedar plug lures just before arriving at the Finger itself.

“But the Free 2 Play didn't only fish the Finger the week,” said Ehrenberg. “They stuck closer to home and also did well to find striped marlin and tuna nearby. The Todd and Roth families from Missouri caught and released 1 striped marlin with them at Golden Gate, on live mackerel bait and also landed 8 yellowfin tuna between 15 and 22 pounds, which hit on feathers and cedar plugs at the San Jaime Bank.”

Similarly, the Pisces 28-foot Andrea caught a small striped marlin at San Jaime on a cedar plug and went on to keep 15 yellowfin tuna of 20 pounds, although one brute was 115 pounds. That is the nature of the bite. Multiple hookups, and once in a while a bad boy slams the lures. All were caught on trolled cedar plugs out of San Jaime. Anglers were Edith and Robert Gogny from Illinois. That same day, Pisces 31-foot Tracy Ann caught a 132-pound yellowfin for angler Abigale McGee from Montana. The family caught 12 yellowfin tuna, all about 15 pounds except for this big one, which only took Abigale about 25 minutes to bring in. The fish hit on cedar plugs and petrolero lures out at the 270 Spot.

In other Baja action:

BILLY WONG FROM Colorado Springs, Colo. found this nice yellowfin tuna not far offshore from where he was staying in Muertos Bay near La Paz. He also got dorado and bonito while fishing with Tailhunter International. TAILHUNTER PHOTO

LA PAZ — “It was a bit of a windy, cold and cloudy week for the Christmas holidays, especially as the week went on,” said Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International. However, being off-season, there weren’t that many folks out anyway or wanting to fish, specifically because of the winds and rough seas. There was even one day where it was so rough the La Paz port captain closed the port prohibiting all boat traffic in, out, or on the water.

“For the sturdier folks that did go out and braved it, the fishing was about as erratic as the weather, but they found some fish. And it was a nice mix. Fortunately, it was all close to shore too which offered more protection. There were a few nice yellowfin tuna hooked. Surprisingly, also some scattered dorado as well. It’s a bit unusual to have warm water species like these hanging out this late in the year. Add in some snapper, cabrilla and pargo fishing over the rocks and reefs plus nice numbers of bonito that are always good for action and it wasn’t too bad.”

Roldan said the coming week after New Years looks like about the same with some strong bouts of wind with partially cloudy skies and temps in the high-70’s and at night in the mid-to-high-60’s.

GORDO BANKS ACTION is a selection of this and that on the local banks by Gordo Banks Pangas operating out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos. Wind has been an issue. ERIC BRICTSON PHOTO

SAN JOSE DEL CABO — Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas filed this report on Sunday from Marina Puerto Los Cabos: “Last week of the year, we are seeing a fair number of families visiting for the holiday vacation, though with continued north winds the fishing has been subpar on the local grounds out of San Jose del Cabo and this has hurt the numbers of charters. Winds have been relentless since November and conditions have turned over, greenish, swift currents, water temperatures near 73 to 74 degrees.

“Anglers are using a combination of caballito, slabs of squid and some ballyhoo for bait. There are now reports of mackerel showing up on bait grounds off of San Jose del Cabo, if conditions settle some, this could open up some new options and bring in gamefish species such as striped marlin.”

Brictson said the majority of local charters are fishing the grounds from Red Hill, and the Gordo Banks to the Iman Banks. At times it was limited where boats could comfortably fish due to weather conditions. Air temperatures have been moderate, lows down to 55 degrees early morning, with mid-day highs near 80 degrees. Mainly sunny skies, morning cloud cover burning off as sun rises.

“Yellowfin tuna, dorado and wahoo action were all very scarce,” he said. “Best chances were for possibly a tuna or two near the Iman Bank, but only a handful of yellowfin tuna are being landed, so you are lucky to catch one at this time. Most of the tuna landed were in the 15- to 20-pound range, and striking on strips of squid. There were a couple of tuna specimens in the 60- to 80-pound class accounted for, so there still is a chance at a nicer grade of yellowfin. Only an occasional dorado is being seen, with even less talk of any wahoo.”

The more productive action now was for a variety of structure species, the most common being the Eastern Pacific bonito, ranging up to 10 pounds, striking various lures as well as on bait. Also red snapper (huachinango), glass eye snapper, baqueta, triggerfish, ocean whitefish, yellow snapper, flag cabrilla and tijareta.

The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 66 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 6 striped marlin, 8 dorado, 29 yellowfin tuna, 145 bonito, 1 amberjack, 12 glass eye snapper, 16 red snapper, 8 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 14 baqueta, 6 ocean whitefish, 12 yellow snapper, 25 tijareta, 12 flag cabrilla, 22 sierra, 16 roosterfish and 80 triggerfish.

MARK RAYOR OF Jen Wren Sportfishing said that while fishing has been curtailed by wind most days from the north, the pelagic fishing for marlin and tuna has continued through December and likely will go into January. MARK RAYOR PHOTO


THE GOOD STUFF on tuna habitsby Robert Douglas that might give you a sharper edge on the water. MARK RAYOR PHOTO

EAST CAPE — Capt. Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfishing filed his popular blog, prefacing it by writing that it was a short report on fishing due to wind but believe it or not, the fish are still biting but the anglers are scarce. Meanwhile, he’s putting the spit shine on his three-boat fleet.

“This is the first December in many years that gamefish are still biting,” he wrote. “The difficulty is that we have run out of anglers who want to fish. Weather has also been an issue with strong north wind 5 days out of seven.”

He added, “A few years back one of my mentors, Jack Nilsen (Accurate reels founder) gave me the book Tuna Smart written by Robert Douglas. The book is not a ‘how-to’ but talks about the patterns and habits of yellowfin tuna. Douglas, a scientist, did an extensive study and published his findings in this book.

“It is always good to know your opponent so I have spent time studying the book. It opened my eyes to learn how tuna move up and down the water column and how they only feed a few hours a day. Also, how they adapt and change habits to environmental conditions and the pressure of being hunted. On days when the bite is full speed I don't think about Tuna Smart. It is the days we find them, we can see them but we just can't get them to go that I appreciate the book.”

Rayor said another mentor is Baja columnist Gary Graham.

“Now he mostly writes for fishing publications and does photography but in the day when he tournament fished and guided there was none better,” said Rayor. “He is not only accomplished at fly fishing but also light and heavy conventional tackle. I had the good fortune to skipper for Gary a couple of years while he guided fly fishermen. He paid me to drive but the truth be known I should have been the one paying for the education I received. One of my biggest lessons was to think like a fish. Gary has an uncanny ability to do this. We caught many a fish that might not have ended that way without thinking like a fish.”

SAN QUINTIN BAY — Kelly Catian of K&M Charters in San Quintin said winter yellowtail runs to the high spots are producing.

“Super fun day pulling on yellowtail out at the high spots with Randy Peters and Buddy with Capt Kelly. Fish were slurping up big yoyo iron blue/white and mint were fuego.”

Facebook had several posts by lucky anglers who have been fishing with Capt. Jaime Gonzales of Jaime’s Pangas In San Quintin Bay (001 521 616 101 9056) with plenty of pictures on his Facebook page of quality yellows. This is a great time to get in on some forkies on the grind.

LORETO — Rick Hill of reported: “The final week of the 2018 year went out with a bang! Fishing continues to focus on the waters north of town for a mixed bag. Schooling yellowtail have been popping up at the cabrilla rockpiles and points with most fish in the 15-pound range. Sardinas have been the ticket just as for the cabrilla and occasional roosterfish. The water is still a little on the warm side for December and dorado are still being caught. Add a blast of the north wind with some white caps and you have the start of the 2019 season!

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