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Baja Fishing Report

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Tuna of all sizes pick up speed off Cabo


Yellowtail bite solid before the storms
Cabo tuna action offshore with porpoise still outstanding, marlin are still thick, and big wahoo were taken on the Gordo; and there was a monster 38-pound snook caught by a surfcaster

ENSENADA — Storms hit the west coast of Baja, and truth be told it wasn’t too nice either on the Sea of Cortez all last week, but there were plenty of opportunities to slide between blows and big swells for good fishing on the Pacific coast from Bahia Asuncion to San Quintin and on up to waters off Ensenada.


boysfrommontana
THE BOYS FROM Montana had a field day on the yellows while fishing with Shari Bondy near her La Bufadora Inn in Asuncion Bay just as the swell was building.


Shari Bondy, who with her husband owns the La Bufadora Inn in Bahia Asuncion and hosts anglers eager to fish the nearby reefs, said the yellowtail fishing has been outstanding. By the weekend, the yellowtail bite was full-on, and then the swells came, and the situation won’t be much better until this next Pacific Northwest blow moves through. That was the same for San Quintin Bay’s Capt. Kelly Catian of K&M Sportfishing, who took clients to the high spots outside the bay over the week for a solid smack on the quality yellows.


Ensenada has been a tough nut to get information out of this past year. Few PBer’s go down any more due to the paperwork required (licenses, passports, visas, import docs, boat reg, insurance and rumor has it, your first born child) when you arrive and check in with the harbor master. But nothing has changed in terms of the quality fishing except most Americans simply don’t run to Ensenada any more by trailer rig or run down by water from San Diego for a weekend at the Hotel Coral and Marina. The short trips are just not worth the trouble, especially in winter. But, there are windows of information that pop open occasionally.


WON readerPaul Montgomery is an avid Baja angler and was just coming off a Baja Fishing Convoys charter out of Ensenada aboard the charterboat Gamefisher. The group of eight met at Brown Field at Otay Mesa at 4 a.m. and headed south via Baja Fishing Convoys owner Orchid’s van.


“After a two-hour ride we arrived at our destination and with the assistance of the crew of the Gamefisher, loaded ourselves and our gear on board,” said Montgomery in a Sunday Facebook post. “We headed south of the bay to Punta Banda, had breakfast and spent the day in that general area catching a very nice variety of bottomfish. I think everyone on board would agree that it was a very good trip with everyone getting limits of fish.


“Since we snuck out between storms the weather was very good with little or no wind and reasonably calm seas. We all had a great time and it was at great start to our fishing year. Our next trip is on Feb.11-13 on the Relentless (H&M Landing) headed for Colonet on a 1 ½-day trip limited to 16 anglers.”


coryidedafirst
CORY IKEDA’s FIRST cast from the beach on the Pacific side with Cabosurfcasters owner/guide Wesley Brough turned up this monster snook of 35 ½ pounds Jan. 5 on a topwater lure. CABOSURFCASTERS.COM PHOTO


Huge snook: One of the toughest targets in Baja is the snook, because they are rare catches in any size or numbers. But they are caught in nearshore areas near freshwater lagoons that are sand-blocked rivers where groundwater seeps into the ocean or rivers or streams flow into the Sea of Cortez. Mag Bay, the Pacific beaches above Cabo, San Jose Del Cabo in front of the estuary, La Paz Bay and the docks in the marinas, the Mulege River and many other areas where freshwater mixes with saltwater. And where this condition meets nearshore bait, primarily mullet.


Cory Ikeda was fishing before dawn on a beach north of Cabo when on his first cast he hooked a 38½-pound snook on a surface lure while being guided by Wesley Brough of Cabo San Lucas. Brough, 30, owns Cabosurfcasters.com guide service and hosts one to four clients a day, five to six days a week. It was not the biggest snook that Brough has ever guided customers to, that being a snook of 44 1/2 pounds a few years ago, but Ikeda’s 48-incher was his biggest-ever fish.


“It was caught so early and in the dark we couldn’t even get any video of the fight,” said Brough, a father of two, who grew up in Cabo and has forged a reputation as the go-to guide for Cabo’s beaches. “Two pumps of the lure and he was on.” The fight lasted 15 minutes. The snook catch is rare, of course. Primary targets are jacks and roosters, said Brough, “but once in a while we hook them.”


In other Baja action:


sixtypoundwahoo
A 60-POUND WAHOO was this angler’s reward while fishing with Gordo Banks Pangas out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos.


jamesrosenwaldof
JAMES ROSENWALD OF St. Croix, Minnesota, a two-time Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament champ on the Estrella Del Norte, did pretty well on a midweek run for the Gordo Bank wahoo out of Marina Puerto Los Cabos.


SAN JOSE DEL CABO — The highlight of the week in waters from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose Del Cabo was the wide-open wahoo action encountered on Monday and Tuesday off of Punta Gordo, reported Eric Brictson of Gordo Banks Pangas.


“Of course with so many people in the area, the word gets out in a hurry and no secret bite can be sustained, with everyone and their brother out trying to get in on this action,” said Brictson. “Water also turned off a bit on Wednesday, turning greenish, and between that and all of the pressure the bite tapered off. The best bet for these wahoo was on slow-trolled live chihuil, which are no guarantee to obtain.


“This was a new group of wahoo, appeared to be a spawning run, and many of these fish were in the 40- to 50-pound range, some over 50 pounds. Many charters were landing two to four or more wahoo, losing at least as many other strikes. Dorado were found on these same inshore grounds, but were not as numerous as were the wahoo, though once found they were a higher percentage of actually landing, the dorado weighed in the 10- to 20-pound class.”


Brictson said in his report that billfish 70 to 100 pounds are still more active on the Pacific, but they are now being found off the San Jose del Cabo grounds as well, as mackerel and sardineta baitfish schools are now shifting in this direction.


Bait options remained much the same, live caballito being netted in the marina area, but no sardinas are to be found, but ballyhoo and slabs of squid are available.


“Another option was to try and catch chihuil on the inner Gordo Bank, this proved the hot ticket the first half of the week,” said Brictson who added the bottom action was scarce, with more triggerfish than anything else, with an occasional cabrilla or pargo. The currents were strong and most anglers were preferring to target more glamorous surface species as long as they were still prevalent.”


As for yellowfin, the bite in his area within striking distance of pangas on local banks dropped way off, with the only action reported has been by the local commercial pangeros fishing late in the afternoon on the inner and outer Gordo Banks, taking yellowfin in the 60- to 90-pound range practically every day.


“No huge numbers, but enough to keep them working at it, and all of this action was on various baits; chihuil, chunk of caballito, skipjack or squid,” he said. “Very little action was reported for sierra or roosterfish. Once again, there are just not many people trying that now, especially without live sardinas available, limits inshore options during the winter season. We are optimistic that if weather allows, that the wahoo will be in the region through this month.”


As for the weather, he said, it seems to have stabilized some, with warmer conditions.


“At least the lows were not in the mid-50s like they were previous week. Scattered cloud cover, highs of 80 degrees. Ocean swells were moderate and winds from the north finally laid down, water clarity improved and ocean temperature was in the 72 to 75 degree range.”


The combined sportfishing fleet out of the panga area from Puerto Los Cabos Marina reported an estimated 78 charters for the week and anglers reported an approximate fish count of: 19 striped marlin, 72 dorado, 3 yellowfin tuna, 76 wahoo, 14 bonito, 12 red snapper, 5 cabrilla (leopard grouper), 8 yellow snapper, 15 tijareta, 5 sierra and 65 triggerfish.


troyturnerwho
TROY TURNER, WHO also caught 25 striped marlin on Free 2 Play with friends celebrating his birthday this week, shows off his dorado and snapper catches at the Cabo Arch. He also released a roosterfish.


pisces31foot
PISCES 31-FOOT Ruthless anglers scored 14 yellowfin, the largest weighing in at 93 pounds caught by Meredith, sitting in the chair.


CABO SAN LUCAS — You want to catch big tuna, medium sized tuna, or just stick to catching and releasing striped marlin, as many as your arms can handle? Go to Cabo. Now. That’s pretty much the scenario this winter, which has seen the Finger Bank marlin pileup draw boats from Cabo 50 miles away. It was thought that bite was slowing, but it picked up where it left off a few weeks ago, but the better news is that the fish are moving down the line closer to Cabo.


That’s good news for everyone but the fuel docks.


“Our catch rate was 95 percent this week,” said Rebecca Ehrenberg of Pisces Sportfishing. That means every boat, every day, caught something 95 percent of the time. Billfish was the top catch with a 63 percent success rate, followed by yellowfin tuna of 29 percent, and dorado 6 percent. “Another beautiful week of fishing in Cabo San Lucas to report here. Successful fishing, no matter what species was targeted, but with higher and more consistent numbers of marlin than any other species.


“The crews are finding the marlin are now very close to Lands End, with the Finger Bank (which we thought was starting to slow) now picking back up as weather has warmed slightly again. Yellowfin tuna are still found in decent sizes, ranging from 30 to about 100 pounds each, but with anglers heading about 30 miles out to find them. Scattered dorado catches, and very nice catches of smaller game like grouper, roosterfish, red snapper, sierra mackerel, skipjack and others.”


The Pisces Sportfishing website has the full report and many photos, but here are a few examples of the solid action. For marlin fishing close by, 12 striped marlin were released on the Pisces 31-foot Ruthless on Jan. 9 by the Dunn family from Charleston, South Carolina. That day was one of the top producing days for marlin.


“The Pisces 31-foot Rebecca caught and released 7 striped marlin and 1 sailfish too, this time by solo angler Jon Svedsen, from Phoenix, Ariz., who had his work cut out for him! The marlin ranged in size from 30 pounds all the way to 150 pounds each, and the sailfish was quite large, about 110 pounds approximately. They used mackerel bait for all fish, usually dead and weighted or live when the marlin was seen on the surface out in front of the Old Lighthouse.”


Ehrenberg continued: “Not only did we see large amounts of marlin released, but we had the fair share of yellowfin tuna, too. The Rebecca caught 6 yellowfin, with the largest hitting 86 pounds and the others ranging in size from 30 to 70 pounds each. The fish hit on cedar plugs, and guacamayo lures out at the 110 Spot. Anglers March Schloss and Paquale Travolino also released 2 striped marlin on mackerel at the Old Lighthouse on their way out.”


The Ruthless had a great day for tuna as well, catching 14 yellowfin tuna for anglers Margie and Meredith Bledsoe and George Schul, the largest tuna weighing 93 pounds. Others ranged in size from 30 to 70 pounds each. The tuna hit on cedar plugs, feathers and green lures about 30 miles out, at the 180 Spot.


yellowfinincluding
THE YELLOWFIN, INCLUDING this one, were biting right off the bat in 2018, and will the East Cape have another sensational season this time around? MARK RAYOR OF JEN WREN PHOTO


EAST CAPE — There is not much happening on the East Cape. Few anglers and a lot of wind this past week. Hotel Rancho Leonero is on its winter hiatus, and few boats are out. It’s show season, which will come to SoCal with the trio of Hall shows in March, but for now it’s Northern California’s turn.


East Cape Guides will be at the International Sportsmen's Expo in Sacramento at the Cal Expo State Fairgrounds, Jan. 17-20 at the Baja's Van Wormer Resorts booth to answer questions and book trips for the 2019 season.


One thing is for sure, winter weather on the East Cape is unpredictable in terms of planning fishing trips. Mark Rayor of Jen Wren Sportfshing said in his blog over the weekend, “After a week of ugly weather with strong north winds, big seas and cold temperatures it has turned around. Now the Sea of Cortez is flat and I'm back to short sleeves and flip flops. Because angling conditions are so unpredictable in January not many fishermen are in town. For the second week in a row I have no report.


“March is when the relentless north wind starts to subside and fishing conditions become more favorable. I was going through some photos and found some from our shakedown cruise last March. We do this on each boat to make sure everything is in order after performing our winter maintenance.”


In the Jenwren Sportfishing website blog, Rayor posted photos from the successful shakedown cruise for one of his charterboats, Jen Wren.


“The day was March 14, 2018,” said Rayor who caught yellowfin that first day. “The whole season developed into one of the best in many years.”


kenwardand
KEN WARD AND Rich Chandler from Alaska found sunshine as well as some great inshore action on small roosterfish with their trout rods and had a hoot. They were fishing with Tailhunter just off the beach in Bahia Muertos/ Suenos Bay near La Paz.


stevegreenofwyoming
STEVE GREEN OF Wyoming was working the rocks off Punta Perrico near La Paz with Tailhunter International when he got these two nice cabrilla to chew.


LA PAZ — Jonathan Roldan of Tailhunter International is on the road for a string of western states fishing, tackle and travel shows. But he gets regular reports from his pangeros.


“Not a whole lot happening this past week to be honest,” said Roldan. “It was a bit cold and chilly and not a lot of folks on the water as we hit that lull after the holidays. It’s hard to get a true assessment of fishing if there’s not that many folks getting out, but then again, there aren’t that many visitors and vacationers in the city to begin with.


“However, there were a few out on the water who found some fun inshore action, especially on lighter tackle. Efforts produced a wide range of species that included a few dorado and even some small roosterfish that were all released.


“Over the reefs and rocky areas, cabrilla and yellow snapper put the bend on the rods plus bonito, sierra, jack crevalle and some smaller firecracker yellowtail and smaller amberjack. Enough to keep folks happy and some good action.”


LORETO — Rick Hill of pinchysportfishing.com reported the yellowtail bite is on and the pangeros are concentrating on the forkies.


“Some firecrackers are in the count but most yellows are mediums,” said Hill. “The rockpiles haven't switched "on" yet for the big yellows but some nice sized pargo and cabrilla are falling for live mackerel. Sardinas still hold the best odds for hooking up along the coastline with the still-cooperating cabrilla. When chumming a bunch of sardinas doesn't work, a productive alternative has been hardbait deep divers.”


* * *


Pat McDonell is the former editor of WON and director of the Cabo Tuna Jackpot in its 21st year. Contribute to Baja Reports by emailing him at baja@wonews.com or patm@wonews.com


apolloa1

apolloa2

apolloa3
THE APOLLO, A 65-foot sportfisher out of San Diego, is fishing in waters off Puerto Vallarta and has been scoring some big yellowfin like these, which were posted on Facebook on Sunday by angler Andrew Mack. Great weather, cow tuna. WON is hosting its second annual 3 ½-day Apollo charter on June 26-29.


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